пятница, 8 ноября 2019 г.

Astronauts Unload U.S. Resupply Ship to Continue Advanced Space Research













ISS - Expedition 61 Mission patch.

November 5, 2019

A new U.S. resupply ship is open for business and the Expedition 61 crew has begun unloading over four tons of new science experiments and station hardware. Two astronauts are also studying advanced repair techniques for a cosmic particle detector attached the International Space Station.

The astronauts opened the hatches on Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus resupply ship after its arrival on Monday and immediately started unpacking and activating critical science payloads. Mice delivered aboard Cygnus are now living in station habitats to help scientists understand how microgravity impacts metabolic rates. The rodent study may provide therapeutic insights into Earth-bound ailments such as diabetes and liver disease.


Image above: The U.S. Cygnus space freighter is pictured as the Canadarm2 robotic arm reaches out to grapple the 12th resupply ship from Northrop Grumman. Image Credit: NASA.

Cygnus science freezers containing valuable research samples for observation are now operating inside station research racks. The crew will utilize the samples to study a variety of microgravity phenomena to benefit Earthlings and astronauts. New experiments will research how microbes affect space hardware and astronauts and explore how weightlessness affects muscle gene expression.

Cygnus also delivered hardware to enable the complex repair job required to upgrade the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer’s (AMS) thermal control system. Astronauts Luca Parmitano and Andrew Morgan are preparing for several spacewalks to cut and reconnect fluid lines to ensure the AMS continues its search for dark matter and antimatter for years to come.

International Space Station (ISS). Animation Credit: NASA

Cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Skripochka logged their meals and medicine intake today to help researchers understand how space impacts bone tissue. The duo worked on a variety of Russian maintenance tasks then reviewed Cygnus emergency procedures with the rest of their Expedition 61 crewmates.

Related links:

Expedition 61: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/expeditions/expedition61/index.html

Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus resupply ship: http://www.nasa.gov/northropgrumman

Rodent study: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7906

Microbes affect space hardware and astronauts: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7955

Muscle gene expression: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=7654

Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer’s (AMS): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/explorer/Investigation.html?#id=729

Space impacts bone tissue: https://www.energia.ru/en/iss/researches/human/21.html

Space Station Research and Technology: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/index.html

International Space Station (ISS): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/index.html

Image (mentioned), Animation (mentioned), Text, Credits: NASA/Mark Garcia.

Best regards, Orbiter.ch

* This article was originally published here

Bronze Age Cist Cairn from Hastings Hill Barrow, Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens, Sunderland,...

Bronze Age Cist Cairn from Hastings Hill Barrow, Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens, Sunderland, 3.11.19.

The body is of an 18 month old baby with rickets.



* This article was originally published here

Exceptional fossils may need a breath of air to form


Some of the world's most exquisite fossil beds were formed millions of years ago during time periods when the Earth's oceans were largely without oxygen.

Exceptional fossils may need a breath of air to form
A fossilized mantle of a vampyropod, a relative to the vampire squid. The ink sacis the raised structure in the center,
and muscles have a striated appearance [Credit: Rowan Martindale/The University of Texas
at Austin Jackson School of Geosciences]
That association has led paleontologists to believe that the world's best-preserved fossil collections come from choked oceans. But research led by The University of Texas at Austin has found that while low oxygen environments set the stage, it takes a breath of air to catalyze the fossilization process.

"The traditional thinking about these exceptionally preserved fossil sites is wrong," said lead author Drew Muscente. "It is not the absence of oxygen that allows them to be preserved and fossilized. It is the presence of oxygen under the right circumstances."

Muscente conducted the research during a postdoctoral research fellowship at the UT Jackson School of Geosciences. He is currently an assistant professor at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa. The research co-authors are Jackson School Assistant Professor Rowan Martindale, Jackson School undergraduate students Brooke Bogan and Abby Creighton and University of Missouri Associate Professor James Schiffbauer.


The best-preserved fossil deposits are called "Konservat-lagerstätten." They are rare and scientifically valuable because they preserve soft tissues along with hard ones - which in turn, preserves a greater variety of life from ancient ecosystems.

"When you look at lagerstätten, what's so interesting about them is everybody is there," said Bogan. "You get a more complete picture of the animal and the environment, and those living in it."

The research examined the fossilization history of an exceptional fossil site located at Ya Ha Tinda Ranch in Canada's Banff National Park. The site, which Martindale described in a 2017 paper, is known for its cache of delicate marine specimens from the Early Jurassic - such as lobsters and vampire squids with their ink sacks still intact--preserved in slabs of black shale.

During the time of fossilization, about 183 million years ago, high global temperatures sapped oxygen from the oceans. To determine if the fossils did indeed form in an oxygen-deprived environment, the team analyzed minerals in the fossils. Since different minerals form under different chemical conditions, the research could determine if oxygen was present or not.

Exceptional fossils may need a breath of air to form
A fossilized lobster claw that may belong to a new species [Credit: Rowan Martindale/
The University of Texas at Austin Jackson School of Geosciences]
"The cool thing about this work is that we can now understand the modes of formation of these different minerals as this organism fossilizes," Martindale said. "A particular pathway can tell you about the oxygen conditions."

The analysis involved using a scanning electron microscope to detect the mineral makeup.

"You pick points of interest that you think might tell you something about the composition," said Creighton, who analyzed a number of specimens. "From there you can correlate to the specific minerals."


The workup revealed that the vast majority of the fossils are made of apatite - a phosphate-based mineral that needs oxygen to form. However, the research also found that the climatic conditions of a low-oxygen environment helped set the stage for fossilization once oxygen became available.

That's because periods of low ocean oxygen are linked to high global temperatures that raise sea levels and erode rock, which is a rich source of phosphate to help form fossils. If the low oxygen environment persisted, this sediment would simply release its phosphate into the ocean. But with oxygen around, the phosphate stays in the sediment where it could start the fossilization process.

Muscente said that the apatite fossils of Ya Ha Tinda point to this mechanism.

The research team does not know the source of the oxygen. But Muscente wasn't surprised to find evidence for it because the organisms that were fossilized would have needed to breathe oxygen when they were alive.

The researchers plan to continue their work by analyzing specimens from exceptional fossil sites in Germany and the United Kingdom that were preserved around the same time as the Ya Ha Tinda specimens and compare their fossilization histories.

The research was published in the journal PALAIOS.

Source: University of Texas at Austin [November 06, 2019]



* This article was originally published here

2019 November 7 Messier 45: The Daughters of Atlas and Pleione...



2019 November 7

Messier 45: The Daughters of Atlas and Pleione
Image Credit & Copyright: Adam Block, Steward Observatory, University of Arizona

Explanation: Hurtling through a cosmic dust cloud a mere 400 light-years away, the lovely Pleiades or Seven Sisters open star cluster is well-known for its striking blue reflection nebulae. It lies in the night sky toward the constellation Taurus and the Orion Arm of our Milky Way Galaxy. The sister stars and cosmic dust cloud are not related though, they just happen to be passing through the same region of space. Known since antiquity as a compact grouping of stars, Galileo first sketched the star cluster viewed through his telescope with stars too faint to be seen by eye. Charles Messier recorded the position of the cluster as the 45th entry in his famous catalog of things which are not comets. In Greek myth, the Pleiades were seven daughters of the astronomical Titan Atlas and sea-nymph Pleione. Their parents names are included in the cluster’s nine brightest stars. This deep and wide telescopic image spans over 20 light-years across the Pleides star cluster.

∞ Source: apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap191107.html

Bronze Age Funerary Pottery, Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens, Sunderland, 3.11.19.

Bronze Age Funerary Pottery, Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens, Sunderland, 3.11.19.



* This article was originally published here

Luca to lead most challenging spacewalks since Hubble repairs














ESA - Beyond Mission patch / EVA - Extra Vehicular Activities patch.

Nov. 8, 2019

ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano

The date is set for ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano’s first spacewalk of his Beyond mission. Friday 15 November marks the start of a series of complex spacewalks to service the cosmic-particle-hunting Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS-02).

It is the first time a European astronaut will take a leading role and the full spacewalk will be streamed live via ESA Web TV.

Location of AMS-02 on the International Space Station

Luca and his spacewalking partner NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan will exit the International Space Station airlock at around 13:05 CET (12:05 GMT). The spacewalking series is expected to be the most challenging since work to repair the Hubble Space Telescope.

As the lead spacewalker, known as ‘EV1’, Luca will wear a white spacesuit with red stripes while Andrew wears the white spacesuit with no stripes.

The pair will be supported by NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir who will operate the Canadarm2 robotic arm from inside the Station. This will help position the astronauts around their hard-to-reach work site, located on top of the Station’s S3 Truss structure between a pair of solar arrays and radiators.

The entire spacewalk is expected to take around six hours and it will set the scene for at least three more.

The hardware

AMS-02 records the number and characteristics of cosmic ray particles that pass through all of its detectors – over 140 billion particles to date. By tracking down the sources of these particles, scientists aim to gain a better understanding of dark matter and the origins of the Universe.