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  #21  
Old 12-08-2013, 12:27 PM
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Default Kamachatka Volcano Spews Out 6km High Ash Cloud

http://en.ria.ru/russia/20131207/185...Ash-Cloud.html

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PETROPAVLOVSK-KAMCHATSKY, December 7 (RIA Novosti) – The highest active volcano in Russia has thrown out an enormous ash cloud up to six kilometers high, the Emergency Services Ministry said Saturday.

The Klyuchevskoi volcano in the tectonically active Kamchatka region in Russia’s Far East has been erupting sporadically since August.

“We have observed the latest ash eruption from the Klyuchevskoi volcano,” the local branch of the Emergency Services Ministry said in a statement. “The ash cloud is moving in a north-east direction.”

The highest mountain in the Kamchataka region, Klyuchevskoi has erupted in 2005, 2008, 2010 and 2012, spewing out lava and ash over the surrounding area.

The Emergency Services Ministry said in the statement that a red aviation warning was in place around Klyuchevskoi and cautioned tour companies not to take tourists near the volcano.
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  #22  
Old 12-08-2013, 12:39 PM
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Default Volocopter Start-Up Breaks European Crowdfunding Record

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The EU-supported Volocopter start-up E-volo has raised €1.2 million in a recent crowdfunding campaign, surpassing the €500.000 mark after only two and a half hours.

E-volo’s Volocopter – supported by Climate-KIC, the EU’s main climate innovation initiative - is safer, simpler, and cleaner than normal helicopters. After successfully completing its first test flight last month, it is has now raised enough funding to turn from prototype to production.

The Volocopter is an environmentally friendly and emission-free private helicopter. Instead of one combustion engine, eighteen electrically driven rotors propel it.

The maiden flight and first test flights were conducted in the dm-arena in Karlsruhe with the prototype of the 2-person VC200 on 17 November 2013.

“There are already numerous requests for the Volocopter from around the world,“ said Alexander Zosel, managing director of E-volo.

The developing team of E-volo knew from the onset that the Volocopter was very easy to fly. Due to elaborate simulations at the Stuttgart University, they already knew that it was much more quiet than a helicopter. However, the pleasant low, rich sound and the lower-than-expected noise level caused great cheering among the E-volo team during the first flights.

Carbon lightweight design

People were eager to know whether there would be disturbing or even dangerous vibrations in the mechanic structure of the rotor plane.

“Such vibrations are a large problem for normal helicopters,“ stated E-volo managing director Stephan Wolf, adding that “there, the vibrations together with the deafening noise have lead to much discomfort on passenger flights in helicopters.“

Due to the complex structure of the Volocopter in carbon lightweight design, it was not possible to simulate the expected vibrations in the laboratory.

“The result of the first flight created a euphoria among the entire project team.“ Wolf and Zosel further stated that “not even the HD video cameras secured to the exterior carbon ring of the rotor plane captured the least vibrations.“
http://www.pddnet.com/news/2013/12/v...funding-record
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  #23  
Old 12-10-2013, 03:55 PM
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Default NASA Mars rover finds evidence of life-friendly ancient lake

http://in.news.yahoo.com/nasa-mars-r...7--sector.html

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By Irene Klotz
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Scientists have found evidence of an ancient freshwater lake on Mars well suited to support microbial life, the researchers said Monday.

The lake, located inside Gale Crater where the rover landed in August 2012, likely covered an area 31 miles (50 km) long and 3 miles (5 km) wide, though its size varied over time.

Analysis of sedimentary deposits gathered by NASA's Mars rover Curiosity shows the lake existed for at least tens of thousands of years, and possibly longer, geologist John Grotzinger, with the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, told reporters at the American Geophysical Union conference in San Francisco.

"We've come to appreciate that is a habitable system of environments that includes the lake, the associated streams and, at times when the lake was dry, the groundwater," he said.

Analysis of clays drilled out from two rock samples in the area known as Yellowknife Bay show the freshwater lake existed at a time when other parts of Mars were dried up or dotted with shallow, acidic, salty pools ill-suited for life.

In contrast, the lake in Gale Crater could have supported a simple class of rock-eating microbes, known as chemolithoautotrophs, which on Earth are commonly found in caves and hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor, Grotzinger said.

Scientists also reported that the clays, which form in the presence of water, were younger than expected, a finding that expands the window of time for when Mars may have been suited for life.

Previous studies from Mars orbiters, landers and rovers have provided increasing evidence for a warmer, wetter, more Earth-like Mars in the planet's past. Ancient rocks bear telltale chemical fingerprints of past interactions with water.

The planet's surface is riddled with geologic features carved by water, such as channels, dried up riverbeds, lake deltas and other sedimentary deposits.
New related studies on how much radiation blasts the planet set new boundaries for how long any organic carbon, which so far has not been found on Mars, could have been preserved inside rocks within about 2 inches (5 cm) of the surface, the depth of Curiosity's drill.

But finding rock samples with relatively short exposure times should not be a problem. An age-dating technique, used for the first time on Mars, reveals that winds are sand-blasting away the rock faces at Gale Crater.
One of the mudstones at Yellowknife Bay, for example, has been exposed to the destructive effects of cosmic rays for only about 70 million years, well within the period of time to detect organics, said Don Hassler with the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado.

The Yellowknife Bay samples also showed hints of possible organics that may have been destroyed in the rover's laboratory oven due to highly oxidizing chemicals known as perchlorates, which so far seem to be ubiquitous in the Martian soil.

Scientists will continue to look for rocks that may have higher concentrations of organics or better chemical conditions for their preservation, Grotzinger said.

"A key hurdle that we need to overcome is understanding how those organics may have been preserved over time, from the time they entered the rock to the time that we actually detect them," said Curiosity scientist Jennifer Eigenbrode with NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Curiosity currently is en route to a three-mile high (5 km) mound of layered rock rising form the floor of Gale Crater, a formation known as Mount Sharp.

Based on the new information gleaned from the Yellowknife Bay samples, scientists are developing a new strategy to look for organics there.

Even if life never started on Mars, organic material presumably would have been deposited on the surface by crashing comets and asteroids. (Editing by Kevin Gray and Doina Chiacu)
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  #24  
Old 12-15-2013, 11:33 AM
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Default China lands Jade Rabbit robot rover on Moon

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-25356603
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  #25  
Old 12-16-2013, 03:38 PM
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Default Yutu gets rolling on the moon

http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/202936/8485558.html

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Chinese flag appears on lunar surface for the first time.

China's first lunar rover and the lander took pictures of each other near mid-night on Sunday, marking the complete success of the country's Chang'e-3 lunar probe mission.

President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, who both came to the Beijing Aerospace Control Center late Sunday night to watch the photo-taking session, congratulated scientists for the success.

Ma Xingrui, chief commander of China's lunar program, announced lunar probe Chang'e-3 mission a "complete success", after the lander and moon rover took pictures of each other.

A national flag was shown pasted on the moon rover in a picture taken by the lander. Aerospace experts said the flag, plus another one on the lander, could sustain extreme weather conditions.

It was the first time China's national flag had appeared on a celestial body.

Yutu , which has a designed life span of three months, will also conduct geographic surveys, said Sun Huixian, deputy chief engineer of China's lunar exploration program.

In ancient Chinese mythology, Yutu is the white pet rabbit of the lunar goddess Chang'e.

The rover will analyze major elements on the lunar surface and study energy and mineral resources along its route. A radar system attached to the bottom of the rover can probe up to 100 meters beneath the lunar surface, he said.

Sun Zezhou, chief designer of the Chang'e-3 probe, said Yutu is able to climb slopes of up to 30 degrees and travel at 200 meters per hour, explaining that designers set a low speed for the vehicle because it has to detect and avoid obstacles.

Theoretically, Yutu can travel nearly 10 kilometers on the moon, Sun said, noting that engineers had set up a laboratory on Earth to simulate the rigorous environment on the moon and the rover has passed numerous tests.

Using its ability to detect obstacles, the rover will determine a path of least resistance by coupling onboard navigation systems with remote control.

The moon's wide temperature range — from more than 100 C during day to as low as -180 C at night — presents another challenge to the rover.

To work properly, the rover has to maintain an internal operating temperature range of -40 to 50 C, so both the lander and rover are equipped with radioisotope heater units.

The Chang'e-3's lander will deploy a telescope to observe stars, the galaxy and the universe from the moon, according to Sun.

"This is the first time humankind has placed a telescope on the moon. The special environment on the moon will enable us to conduct observation that could not be done on Earth due to the impact of the atmosphere," he said.

In addition, the lander also carried an extreme-ultraviolet imager to observe the plasmasphere over Earth.

The 140-kilogram, six-wheeled rover touched the lunar surface at 4:35 am on Sunday, leaving deep tracks on the loose lunar soil. A camera on the lander recorded the process and the images were sent to Earth, according to the Beijing Aerospace Control Center.

The Chang'e-3 probe landed on the moon on Saturday night, making China the first nation to do so in nearly four decades.

The last soft landing took place on Aug 18, 1976, with Luna-24, a spacecraft of the former Soviet Union.

Researchers from the United States and other nations viewed Chang'e-3's operations on the moon as "a new scientific opportunity that could potentially enhance studies and observations of the lunar atmosphere", NASA said on Friday.

"The Chang'e-3 details tell me that the US now absolutely must start communicating with the Chinese about lunar cooperation," said US astronaut Buzz Aldrin of Apollo 11 in an interview with Aerospace America magazine.

Russian astronaut Vladimir Kovalenok said the Chinese lunar program is on the right track and China can go down this path while taking into account the pros and cons of lunar programs in the United States and the former Soviet Union.

"China is now a pioneer in this field, and its lunar missions will be a catalyst for lunar explorations in other countries, as the moon can serve as a basis for a ‘jump' on journeys to more distant space in the universe," he said.

The Chang'e-3 mission is the second phase of China's lunar program, which includes orbiting, landing and returning to Earth. It follows the success of the Chang'e-1 and Chang'e-2 missions in 2007 and 2010.

China is likely to realize the third step of its lunar program in 2017, which is to land a lunar probe on moon, release a moon rover and return the probe to Earth.

Xinhua News Agency contributed to this story.
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  #26  
Old 12-28-2013, 12:42 PM
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Default India plans to put a man on the Moon

http://in.news.yahoo.com/india-plans...075738158.html

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India plans to put a man on the Moon
The Indian Air Force is drawing qualitative requirements for the country’s first manned moon mission.

Mail Today – 4 hours ago

By Gaurav C. Sawant

NEW DELHI: CLOSE to half a century after Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, India is getting set to follow in his footsteps.

The Indian Air Force is drawing qualitative requirements for the country’s first manned moon mission.

“ We have been given the responsibility to select a person who can be sent to the moon and carry out required tests,” Air Marshal D. P. Joshi, director general of Armed Forces Medical Services, told Headlines Today.

Following the MoU signed between ISRO and the defence ministry, the IAF is setting up a team to work out the parameters for the mission.

“ Rs. 10 crore has been earmarked for the study. We have just started. We have begun importing certain equipment that the Institute of Aerospace Medicine requires and have commissioned the study,” said Air Marshal A. K. Behl, DGMS ( Air).

The IAF feels fighter pilots are best suited for the moon mission.
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  #27  
Old 01-04-2014, 02:40 PM
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Talking Frozen Out: 98% of Stories Ignore That Ice-bound Ship Was On Global Warming Mission

http://newsbusters.org/blogs/mike-ci...-warming-missi
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  #28  
Old 01-07-2014, 10:35 AM
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Default Synthetic natural gas from excess electricity

http://phys.org/news/2014-01-synthet...ectricity.html

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"Power to gas" is a key concept when it comes to storing alternative energy. This process converts short-term excess electricity from photovoltaic systems and wind turbines into hydrogen. Combined with the greenhouse gas CO2, renewable hydrogen can be used to produce methane, which can be stored and distributed in the natural gas network. Empa researchers have now succeeded in further optimizing this process.

The methanation process uses CO2, for example from biogas production, and this combined with hydrogen (H2) from excess renewable electricity, produces methane, which can not only be distributed simply and cost-effectively in the natural gas network, but can also be stored for longer periods of time. This means renewable energy is being used to produce a "quasi-fossil" fuel – the basic principle of "power to gas".

The Sabatier reaction, which produces combustible methane from hydrogen and CO2, has been known for a long time. Now researchers in the Empa "Hydrogen and Energy" Department have succeeded in greatly optimising the process. A catalyst is required to bring about the reaction of CO2 with hydrogen using as little energy as possible; this catalyst can, for example, be made of nickel. The gas molecules react more easily with each other on the surface of such a catalyst, reducing the energy required for the reaction to take place. This is referred to as sorption catalysis. Empa researcher, Andreas Borgschulte, and his team have now combined a nanoscale nickel catalyst with a zeolite. Zeolites are crystalline aluminosilicates with the ability to absorb water molecules and release them again when heated.

The principle is simple: the chemical reaction of hydrogen with CO2 produces not only methane (CH4), but also water (H2O). The researchers use the hygroscopic (i.e. water-binding) property of the zeolite to remove the resulting water from the reaction mixture. The chemical equilibrium then moves towards methane. Result: a higher yield of pure methane and a more efficient catalytic process. As soon as the zeolite is saturated with water, it can be "unloaded" again by heating and evaporation of the water, and is then re-used.

Project partners sought
The process works – though currently only in the laboratory. According to Borgschulte, there is still a long way to go before it is ready for commercial exploitation in large plants. Empa researchers are currently looking for project partners in order to build a methanation plant on a larger scale and use it as a pilot project. At the same time, Borgschulte's team would like to optimise the process even further. The next stage is to use four or more sorption catalysts at the same time. When one is saturated with water, the system automatically jumps to the next "dry" catalyst while the previous one is being "unloaded" again.

One problem with this cyclical method up to now has been sulphur, which is produced in biogas plants together with methane and CO2. Sulphur compounds can cause irreparable damage to the zeolite. The researchers are now working on removing the sulphur from crude biogas so that the zeolite continues to work for as long as possible.

In future, Borgschulte also thinks it is conceivable that new catalyst materials that are more efficient than nickel may be used in combination with the zeolite. These could improve the Sabatier process even further. This would mean that excess renewable electricity was no longer wasted but used as the basis for producing sustainable natural gas.
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  #29  
Old 01-07-2014, 10:37 AM
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Default ALMA Spots Supernova Dust Factory

http://www.eso.org/public/news/eso1401/

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Striking new observations with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) telescope capture, for the first time, the remains of a recent supernova brimming with freshly formed dust. If enough of this dust makes the perilous transition into interstellar space, it could explain how many galaxies acquired their dusty, dusky appearance.

Galaxies can be remarkably dusty places [1] and supernovae are thought to be a primary source of that dust, especially in the early Universe. But direct evidence of a supernova's dust‐making capabilities has been slim up to now, and could not account for the copious amount of dust detected in young, distant galaxies. But now observations with ALMA are changing that.

"We have found a remarkably large dust mass concentrated in the central part of the ejecta from a relatively young and nearby supernova," said Remy Indebetouw, an astronomer at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) and the University of Virginia, both in Charlottesville, USA. "This is the first time we've been able to really image where the dust has formed, which is important in understanding the evolution of galaxies."

An international team of astronomers used ALMA to observe the glowing remains of Supernova 1987A [2], which is in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a dwarf galaxy orbiting the Milky Way about 160 000 light‐years from Earth. SN 1987A is the closest observed supernova explosion since Johannes Kepler's observation of a supernova inside the Milky Way in 1604.

Astronomers predicted that as the gas cooled after the explosion, large amounts of dust would form as atoms of oxygen, carbon, and silicon bonded together in the cold central regions of the remnant. However, earlier observations of SN 1987A with infrared telescopes, made during the first 500 days after the explosion, detected only a small amount of hot dust.

With ALMA's unprecedented resolution and sensitivity, the research team was able to image the far more abundant cold dust, which glows brightly in millimetre and submillimetre light. The astronomers estimate that the remnant now contains about 25 percent the mass of the Sun in newly formed dust. They also found that significant amounts of carbon monoxide and silicon monoxide have formed.

"SN 1987A is a special place since it hasn't mixed with the surrounding environment, so what we see there was made there," said Indebetouw. "The new ALMA results, which are the first of their kind, reveal a supernova remnant chock full of material that simply did not exist a few decades ago."

Supernovae, however, can both create and destroy dust grains.

As the shockwave from the initial explosion radiated out into space, it produced bright glowing rings of material, as seen in earlier observations with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. After hitting this envelope of gas, which was sloughed off by the progenitor red giant star as it neared the end of its life, a portion of this powerful explosion rebounded back towards the centre of the remnant. "At some point, this rebound shockwave will slam into these billowing clumps of freshly minted dust," said Indebetouw. "It's likely that some fraction of the dust will be blasted apart at that point. It's hard to predict exactly how much — maybe only a little, possibly a half or two thirds." If a good fraction survives and makes it into interstellar space, it could account for the copious dust astronomers detect in the early Universe.

"Really early galaxies are incredibly dusty and this dust plays a major role in the evolution of galaxies," said Mikako Matsuura of University College London, UK. "Today we know dust can be created in several ways, but in the early Universe most of it must have come from supernovae. We finally have direct evidence to support that theory."

Notes
[1] Cosmic dust consist of silicate and graphite grains — minerals also abundant on Earth. The soot from a candle is very similar to cosmic graphite dust, although the size of the grains in the soot are ten or more times bigger than typical grain sizes of cosmic graphite grains.

[2] Light from this supernova arrived at Earth in 1987, as is reflected in the name.

More information
The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), an international astronomy facility, is a partnership of Europe, North America and East Asia in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. ALMA is funded in Europe by the European Southern Observatory (ESO), in North America by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) in cooperation with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and the National Science Council of Taiwan (NSC) and in East Asia by the National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS) of Japan in cooperation with the Academia Sinica (AS) in Taiwan. ALMA construction and operations are led on behalf of Europe by ESO, on behalf of North America by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), which is managed by Associated Universities, Inc. (AUI) and on behalf of East Asia by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ). The Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) provides the unified leadership and management of the construction, commissioning and operation of ALMA.

This research was presented in a paper “Dust Production and Particle Acceleration in Supernova 1987A Revealed with ALMA”, by R. Indebetouw et al., to appear in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

The team is composed of R. Indebetouw (National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO); University of Virginia, Charlottesville, USA), M. Matsuura (University College London, United Kingdom [UCL]), E. Dwek (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, USA), G. Zanardo (International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research, University of Western Australia, Crawley, Australia [ICRAR]), M.J. Barlow (UCL), M. Baes (Sterrenkundig Obst Gent, Gent, Belgium), P. Bouchet (CEA-Saclay, Gif-sur-Yvette, France), D.N. Burrows (The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, USA), R. Chevalier (University of Virginia, Charlottesville, USA), G.C. Clayton (Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge,USA), C. Fransson (Stockholm University, Sweden), B. Gaensler (Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for All-sky Astrophysics [CAASTRO]; Sydney Institute for Astronomy, The University of Sydney, Australia), R. Kirshner (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, USA), M.Lakicevic (Lennard-Jones Laboratories, Keele University, UK), K.S. Long (Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, USA [STScI]), P. Lundqvist (Stockholm University, Sweden), I. Martí-Vidal (Chalmers University of Technology, Onsala Space Observatory, Onsala, Sweden), J. Marcaide (Universidad de Valencia, Burjassot, Spain), R. McCray (University of Colorado at Boulder, USA), M. Meixner (STScI; The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, USA), C.-Y. Ng (The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong), S. Park (University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, USA), G. Sonneborn (STScI), L. Staveley-Smith (ICRAR; CAASTRO), C. Vlahakis (Joint ALMA Observatory/European Southern Observatory, Santiago, Chile) and J. van Loon (Lennard-Jones Laboratories, Keele University, UK).

ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world’s most productive ground-based astronomical observatory by far. It is supported by 15 countries: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries. ESO also plays a leading role in promoting and organising cooperation in astronomical research. ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor. At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope, the world’s most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory and two survey telescopes. VISTA works in the infrared and is the world’s largest survey telescope and the VLT Survey Telescope is the largest telescope designed to exclusively survey the skies in visible light. ESO is the European partner of a revolutionary astronomical telescope ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. ESO is currently planning the 39-metre European Extremely Large optical/near-infrared Telescope, the E-ELT, which will become "the world’s biggest eye on the sky".
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Old 01-08-2014, 11:34 AM
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Default NASA's SDO Sees Giant January Sunspots

http://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/.../#.Us03nNJDvIc

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An enormous sunspot, labeled AR1944, slipped into view over the sun's left horizon late on Jan. 1, 2014. The sunspot steadily moved toward the right, along with the rotation of the sun, and now sits almost dead center, as seen in the image above from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory.

Sunspots are dark areas on the sun's surface that contain complex arrangements of strong magnetic fields that are constantly shifting. The largest dark spot in this configuration is approximately two Earths wide, and the entire sunspot group is some seven Earths across. For comparison, another giant sunspot, five to six Earths across, is shown below from 2005. The image was captured by the European Space Agency and NASA's Solar and Heliospheric Observatory.

Sunspots are part of what's known as active regions, which also include regions of the sun's atmosphere, the corona, hovering above the sunspots. Active regions can be the source of some of the sun's great explosions: solar flares that send out giant bursts of light and radiation due to the release of magnetic energy, or coronal mass ejections that send huge clouds of solar material out into space. As the sunspot group continues its journey across the face of the sun, scientists will watch how it changes and evolves to learn more about how these convoluted magnetic fields can cause space weather events that can affect space-borne systems and technological infrastructure on Earth.
Photos are in the link - Knaur.
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  #31  
Old 01-13-2014, 10:57 AM
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Default New NASA Science Arrives at Space Station Aboard Orbital Sciences Cygnus Spacecraft

http://www.nasa.gov/press/2014/janua...iences-cygnus/

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Astronauts aboard the International Space Station Sunday used a robotic arm to capture and attach the Cygnus supply spacecraft, which carried dozens of new science experiments from across the country and the world to the orbiting laboratory. The arrival capped the first successful contracted cargo delivery by Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va., for NASA.
Astronaut Mike Hopkins of NASA grappled the spacecraft at 6:08 a.m. EST and Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency attached Cygnus to the space station's Harmony Node at 8:05 a.m. The Expedition 38 crew members aboard the station will begin unloading the 2,780 pounds (1,261 kilograms) of supplies aboard Cygnus following hatch opening planned for Monday.

The cargo is comprised of vital science experiments, crew provisions, spare parts and other hardware. This includes 23 student-designed science experiments. One newly arrived investigation will study the decreased effectiveness of antibiotics during spaceflight. Another will examine how different fuel samples burn in microgravity, which could inform future design for spacecraft materials.

Orbital's Cygnus was launched on the company's Antares rocket Thursday from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport Pad 0A at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Cygnus will remain attached to Harmony until a planned unberthing in February sends the spacecraft toward a destructive re-entry in Earth's atmosphere.

Orbital Sciences is one of two companies that built and tested new cargo spacecraft under NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program. COTS was completed late last year with an Orbital Sciences demonstration mission to the space station. Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), the other company that partnered with NASA under COTS, also is providing commercial resupply services for the agency. U.S. commercial cargo delivery flights to the station help ensure a robust national capability to deliver critical science research to orbit, significantly increasing NASA's ability to conduct new science investigations aboard the only laboratory in microgravity.

In addition to cargo flights, NASA's commercial space partners are making progress toward a launch of astronauts from U.S. soil within the next three years.

The International Space Station is a convergence of science, technology and human innovation that demonstrates new technologies and makes research breakthroughs not possible on Earth. The space station has been continuously occupied since November 2000. In that time, it has been visited by more than 200 people and a variety of international and commercial spacecraft. The space station remains the springboard to NASA's next great leap in exploration, including future missions to an asteroid and Mars.

For more information about newly arrived science investigations aboard the Cygnus, visit:
http://go.nasa.gov/1dOKONp
For more information about Orbital's cargo mission and the International Space Station, visit:
http://www.nasa.gov/station
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Default NASA Announces Partnership Opportunities For US Commercial Lunar Lander Capabilities‏

http://spacefellowship.com/news/art3...abilities.html

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NASA Announces Partnership Opportunities for U.S. Commercial Lunar Lander Capabilities
Published by Klaus Schmidt on Thu Jan 16, 2014 10:02 pm via: NASA

Building on the progress of NASA’s partnerships with the U.S. commercial space industry to develop new spacecraft and rockets capable of delivering cargo, and soon, astronauts to low Earth orbit, the agency is now looking for opportunities to spur commercial cargo transportation capabilities to the surface of the moon.

NASA has released an announcement seeking proposals to partner in the development of reliable and cost-effective commercial robotic lunar lander capabilities that will enable the delivery of payloads to the lunar surface. Such capabilities could support commercial activities on the moon while enabling new science and exploration missions of interest to NASA and the larger scientific and academic communities.
NASA’s new Lunar Cargo Transportation and Landing by Soft Touchdown (Lunar CATALYST) initiative calls for proposals from the U.S. private sector that would lead to one or more no-funds exchanged Space Act Agreements (SAA). NASA’s contribution to a partnership would be on an unfunded basis and could include the technical expertise of NASA staff, access to NASA center test facilities, equipment loans, or software for lander development and testing.

“As NASA pursues an ambitious plan for humans to explore an asteroid and Mars, U.S. industry will create opportunities for NASA to advance new technologies on the moon,” said Greg Williams, NASA’s deputy associate administrator for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate. “Our strategic investments in the innovations of our commercial partners have brought about successful commercial resupply of the International Space Station, to be followed in the coming years by commercial crew. Lunar CATALYST will help us advance our goals to reach farther destinations.”

The moon has scientific value and the potential to yield resources, such as water and oxygen, in relatively close proximity to Earth to help sustain deep space exploration. Commercial lunar transportation capabilities could support science and exploration objectives, such as sample returns, geophysical network deployment, resource prospecting, and technology demonstrations. These services would require the ability to land small (66 to 220 pound, or 30 to 100 kilogram) and medium (551 to 1,102 pound, or 250 to 500 kg) class payloads at various lunar sites.

“In recent years, lunar orbiting missions, such as NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, have revealed evidence of water and other volatiles, but to understand the extent and accessibility of these resources, we need to reach the surface and explore up close,” said Jason Crusan, director of Advanced Exploration Systems at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Commercial lunar landing capabilities could help prospect for and utilize these resources.”

Lunar CATALYST supports the internationally shared space exploration goals of the Global Exploration Roadmap (GER) NASA and 11 other space agencies around the world released in August. The GER acknowledges the value of public-private partnerships and commercial services to enable sustainable exploration of asteroids, the moon and Mars.

Commercial lunar cargo transportation systems developed through Lunar CATALYST could build on lessons learned throughout NASA’s 50 years of spaceflight. New propulsion and autonomous landing technologies currently are being tested through NASA’s Morpheus and Mighty Eagle projects.

NASA will host a pre-proposal teleconference on Monday, Jan. 27 during which proposers will have an opportunity to ask questions about the announcement. Proposals from industry are due by March 17. The announcement of selections is targeted for April with SAAs targeted to be in place by May.

The Advanced Exploration Systems Division in NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate manages Lunar CATALYST. Advanced Exploration Systems pioneers new approaches for rapidly developing prototype systems, demonstrating key capabilities and validating operational concepts for future human missions beyond Earth orbit.

As NASA works with U.S. industry to develop the next generation of U.S. spaceflight services, the agency also is developing the Orion spacecraft and the Space Launch System (SLS), a crew capsule and heavy-lift rocket to provide an entirely new capability for human exploration. Designed to be flexible for launching spacecraft for crew and cargo missions, SLS and Orion will expand human presence beyond low-Earth orbit and enable new missions of exploration across the solar system, including to a near-Earth asteroid and Mars.
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Old 01-20-2014, 03:15 PM
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Default The Perverted Science of Global Warming Gets Dirty(er)

http://finance.townhall.com/columnis...1398/page/full
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Scientists have recently discovered that rough surfaces may actually reduce the amount of friction and drag after testing the hypothesis on the microscopic level.

“According to researchers at UCLA, rough surfaces lined with tiny ridges may actually reduce drag,” says the Science Recorder. “Modeling fluid flow between two surfaces lined with tiny ridges, researchers found tiny ridges actually reduce drag, allowing the for fluid to flow around in a more efficient manner….This is not the first time scientists have sought to create models based on rough ridges to reduce drag. However, advances in technology now allow scientists to create models on a microscopic level.”

Yes, but it’s the first time that the testing has been linked to global warming.

Of course by now we should know that EVERYTHING eventually relates to global warming.

Or income inequality.

So, anywho: Scientists says that by reducing drag on sea-going vessel less fuel will be need… and therefore…she’s a WITCH!

OK, not really.

But almost.

The scientists actually say since sea transport accounts for 4 percent of greenhouse gases, reducing drag will have “a substantial impact on global warming emissions,” because of the reduced fuel requirements with less drag.

Hey, when you are reaching for straws even a fraction of 4 percent reduction is a “substantial” amount-- especially when the Chinese are ratcheting up output of greenhouse gases way past the 4 percent mark.

And that is what confuses me about the science behind greenhouse gases and global warming, especially as it applies to policy.

Years ago I offered to shave my head bald and eat a can of dog food if someone—anyone-- could show me a credible scientific paper that demonstrates how the earth would cool even a fraction of a degree Fahrenheit by enacting a carbon tax here in the United States, such as the one proposed by the Democrats in 2009 and 2010.

I’m still waiting.

Because one would suppose that in policies promoted by properly-thinking, modern progressives-- who worship all things science— and have no time for mumbo jumbo about faith and religion, that at the very least they’d have data to support that their policies will cool the earth, solve world hunger, bring people out of poverty, improve education, create income equality, or pay female White House staffers commensurate with men.

OK, the last one was outrageous. Never gonna happen under Obama.

What was I thinking?

At the very least, I was thinking that people like Ericynot, BoatBoy, DoctorRoy or Hillinger would enjoy me being bald and eating dog food.

Heck, I’d even make a video of it.

But the problem remains: Sea levels aren’t rising, storms aren’t nastier and more brutish. The only science that’s being done is the type where estimates are used where data is called for and predictions are being used instead of conclusions.

Stumped by the fact that temperatures are not accurately reflecting current climate “models”- in fact temperatures have remained stable for 17 years- scientists on the government gravy train are trying to tie any weather event to so-called climate change.

Or income inequality. Which really?Aren’t they the same things?

Hurricanes? Global warming.

Tornadoes? Global warming?

Drought? Global warming?

Blizzards, dropping temperatures, meteorites, Big Gulps? Global warming.

Last year I documented how researchers made up a map showing how vegetation could change in the arctic because of global warming.

The map, no lie, was called the “most accurate map” ever produced of its type.

A long last, scientists have revealed the single most important document ever, I wrote.It’s a crayon-colored map showing how “trees” could grow in the arctic.

If finally, mercifully, any one of the so-called “climate models” that so far have failed to “model” climate accurately, suddenly and then accurately begin to “model” climate in real time, then, well, WOW!

“Experts say the wooded areas in the region could increase by 50% over the coming decades,” writes the UK’s Daily Mail, “and accelerate global warming in the process. Researchers have unveiled the most accurate map ever (!) of how vegetation could change in the region.”

In the meantime,ThinkProgresshas published a remarkable paper calledArctic Sea Ice Death Spiral And Cold Weatherthat proves, or at least,says- same thing if you are a liberal - that globalwarmingis to blame for …coldweather in Germany.

Stumped by the fact that temperatures are not accurately reflecting current climate “models”- in fact temperatures have remained stable for 17 years- scientists on the government gravy train are trying to tie any weather event to so-called climate change.

Even homosexuality has been tied to global warming via population control.

“With the natural world on the brink of demise largely because of overpopulation,” G. Roger Denson, a self-appointed social theoretician wrote on the Huffington Post,“unrestrained homosexuality, as one of a variety of ethical and democratic measures available to us today, offers perhaps the most natural option to be enjoined.”

Unrestrained gayness?

Seriously?

Going in through the out door with another man doesn’t seem “the most natural option to be enjoined” in trying to cool down the earth’s atmosphere.

But in the interest of fairness if G. Roger Denson wants to produce an actual scientific paper proving me wrong, I got a can of dog food and clipping shears here waiting.
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Old 01-25-2014, 10:45 AM
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Default Sierra Nevada Corporation Announces New Space Plans For NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

Sierra Nevada Corporation announces new space plans for NASA's Kennedy Space Center

http://phys.org/news/2014-01-sierra-...pace-nasa.html
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Old 01-27-2014, 03:29 PM
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Default Long-lived breast stem cells could retain cancer legacy

http://www.wehi.edu.au/site/latest_news/2014/01/27/

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Long-lived breast stem cells could retain cancer legacy

Breast cancer research team Professor Jane Visvader, Dr Nai Yang Fu, Dr Anne Rios and Professor Geoff Lindeman (left to right) have found that breast stem cells and their 'daughter' progenitor cells are long-lived in the breast.
Breast cancer research team Professor Jane Visvader, Dr Nai Yang Fu, Dr Anne Rios and Professor Geoff Lindeman (left to right) have found that breast stem cells and their 'daughter' progenitor cells are long-lived in the breast.
Researchers from Melbourne’s Walter and Eliza Hall Institute have discovered that breast stem cells and their ‘daughters’ have a much longer lifespan than previously thought, and are active in puberty and throughout life.
The longevity of breast stem cells and their daughters means that they could harbour genetic defects or damage that progress to cancer decades later, potentially shifting back the timeline of breast cancer development. The finding is also integral to identifying the ‘cells of origin’ of breast cancer and the ongoing quest to develop new treatments and diagnostics for breast cancer.
Breast stem cells were isolated in 2006 by Professor Jane Visvader and Professor Geoff Lindeman and their colleagues from the ACRF Stem Cells and Cancer division at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute.
Now, in a project led by Dr Anne Rios and Dr Nai Yang Fu that tracked normal breast stem cells and their development the team has discovered that breast stem cells actively maintain breast tissue for most of the life of the individual and contribute to all major stages of breast development. The research was published today in the journal Nature.
Professor Lindeman, who is also an oncologist at The Royal Melbourne Hospital, said discovering the long lifespan and programming of breast stem cells would have implications for identifying the cells of origin of breast cancers.
“Given that these stem cells – and their ‘daughter’ progenitor cells – can live for such a long time and are capable of self renewing, damage to their genetic code could lead to breast cancer 10 or 20 years later,” Professor Lindeman said. “This finding has important applications for our understanding of breast cancer. We hope that it will lead to the development of new treatment and diagnostic strategies in the clinic to help women with breast cancer in the future.”
Professor Visvader said understanding the hierarchy and development of breast cells was critical to identifying the cells that give rise to breast cancer, and how and why these cells become cancerous. “Without knowing the precise cell types in which breast cancer originates, we will continue to struggle in our efforts to develop new diagnostics and treatments for breast cancer, or developing preventive strategies,” Professor Visvader said.
Previous research from the institute team had already implicated some of these immature breast cells in cancer development. “In 2009, we showed that luminal progenitor cells, the daughters of breast stem cells, were the likely cell of origin for the aggressive BRCA1-associated basal breast cancers,” Professor Visvader said. “The meticulous work of Anne and Nai Yang, using state-of-the-art three-dimensional imaging, has significantly improved our understanding of normal breast development and will have future applications for breast cancer.”
The project should settle a debate that has been raging in the scientific field, confirming that breast stem cells were ‘true’ stem cells capable of renewing themselves and making all the cells of the mammary gland.
“Our team was amongst the first to isolate ‘renewable’ breast stem cells,” Professor Visvader said. “However the existence of a common stem cell that can create all the cells lining the breast ducts has been a contentious issue in the field. In this study we’ve proven that ancestral breast stem cells function in puberty and adulthood and that they give rise to all the different cell types that make up the adult breast.”
The research project was supported by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council, Victorian Government, Australian Cancer Research Foundation, Qualtrough Research Fund, National Breast Cancer Foundation and Cure Cancer Australia.

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Old 01-27-2014, 03:30 PM
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Default Engineers teach old chemical new tricks to make cleaner fuels, fertilizers

http://esciencenews.com/articles/201...ls.fertilizers

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University researchers from two continents have engineered an efficient and environmentally friendly catalyst for the production of molecular hydrogen (H2), a compound used extensively in modern industry to manufacture fertilizer and refine crude oil into gasoline. Although hydrogen is abundant element, it is generally not found as the pure gas H2 but is generally bound to oxygen in water (H2O) or to carbon in methane (CH4), the primary component in natural gas. At present, industrial hydrogen is produced from natural gas using a process that consumes a great deal of energy while also releasing carbon into the atmosphere, thus contributing to global carbon emissions.

In an article published Jan 26 in Nature Chemistry, nanotechnology experts from Stanford Engineering and from Denmark's Aarhus University explain how to liberate hydrogen from water on an industrial scale by using electrolysis .

In electrolysis, electrical current flows through a metallic electrode immersed in water. This electron flow induces a chemical reaction that breaks the bonds between hydrogen and oxygen atoms. The electrode serves as a catalyst, a material that can spur one reaction after another without ever being used up. Platinum is the best catalyst for electrolysis. If cost were no object, platinum might be used to produce hydrogen from water today.

But money matters. The world consumes about 55 billion kilograms of hydrogen per year. It now costs about $1 to $2 per kilogram to produce hydrogen from methane. So any competing process, even if it's greener, must hit that production cost, which rules out electrolysis based on platinum.

In their Nature Chemistry paper, the researchers describe how they re-engineered the atomic structure of a cheap and common industrial material to make it nearly as efficient at electrolysis as platinum -- a finding that has the potential to revolutionize industrial hydrogen production.

The project was conceived by Jakob Kibsgaard, a post-doctoral researcher with Thomas Jaramillo, an assistant professor of chemical engineering at Stanford. Kibsgaard started this project while working with Flemming Besenbacher, a professor at the Interdisciplinary Nanoscience Center (iNANO) at Aarhus.

Subhead: Meet Moly Sulfide

Since World War II petroleum engineers have used molybdenum sulfide -- moly sulfide for short -- to help refine oil.

Until now, however, this chemical was not considered a good catalyst for making moly sulfide to produce hydrogen from water through electrolysis. Eventually scientists and engineers came to understand why: the most commonly used moly sulfide materials had an unsuitable arrangement of atoms at their surface.

Typically, each sulfur atom on the surface of a moly sulfide crystal is bound to three molybdenum atoms underneath. For complex reasons involving the atomic bonding properties of hydrogen, that configuration isn't conducive to electrolysis.

In 2004, Stanford chemical engineering professor Jens Norskov, then at the Technical University of Denmark, made an important discovery. Around the edges of the crystal, some sulfur atoms are bound to just two molybdenum atoms. At these edge sites, which are characterized by double rather than triple bonds, moly sulfide was much more effective at forming H2.

Armed with that knowledge, Kibsgaard found a 30-year-old recipe for making a form of moly sulfide with lots of these double-bonded sulfurs at the edge.

Using simple chemistry, he synthesized nanoclusters of this special moly sulfide. He deposited these nanoclusters onto a sheet of graphite, a material that conducts electricity. Together the graphite and moly sulfide formed a cheap electrode. It was meant to be a substitute for platinum, the ideal but expensive catalyst for electrolysis.

The question then became: could this composite electrode efficiently spur the chemical reaction that rearranges hydrogen and oxygen atoms in water?

As Jaramillo put it: "Chemistry is all about where electrons want to go, and catalysis is about getting those electrons to move to make and break chemical bonds."

Subhead: The acid test

So the experimenters put their system to the acid test -- literally.

They immersed their composite electrode into water that was slightly acidified, meaning it contained positively charged hydrogen ions. These positive ions were attracted to the moly sulfide clusters. Their double-bonded shape gave them just the right atomic characteristic to pass electrons from the graphite conductor up to the positive ions. This electron transfer turned the positive ions into neutral molecular hydrogen, which bubbled up and away as a gas.

Most importantly, the experimenters found that their cheap, moly sulfide catalyst had the potential to liberate hydrogen from water on something approaching the efficiency of a system based on prohibitively expensive platinum.

Subhead: Yes, but does it scale?

But in chemical engineering, success in a beaker is only the beginning.

The larger questions were: could this technology scale to the 55 billion kilograms per year global demand for hydrogen, and at what finished cost per kilogram?

Last year, Jaramillo and a dozen co-authors studied four factory-scale production schemes in an article for The Royal Society of Chemistry's journal of Energy and Environmental Science.

They concluded that it could be feasible to produce hydrogen in factory-scale electrolysis facilities at costs ranging from $1.60 and $10.40 per kilogram -- competitive at the low end with current practices based on methane -- though some of their assumptions were based on new plant designs and materials.

"There are many pieces of the puzzle still needed to make this work, and much effort ahead to realize them," Jaramillo said. "However, we can get huge returns by moving from carbon-intensive resources to renewable, sustainable technologies to produce the chemicals we need for food and energy."

Source: Stanford School of Engineering
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Default Ancient Europeans: dark skinned, blue eyed?

http://www.foxnews.com/science/2014/...ght-skin-gene/

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An ancient European hunter-gatherer man had dark skin and blue eyes, a new genetic analysis has revealed.

The analysis of the man, who lived in modern-day Spain only about 7,000 years ago, shows light-skin genes in Europeans evolved much more recently than previously thought.

The findings, which were detailed Sunday in the journal Nature, also hint that light skin evolved not to adjust to the lower-light conditions in Europe compared with Africa, but instead to the new diet that emerged after the agricultural revolution, said study co-author Carles Lalueza-Fox, a paleogenomics researcher at Pompeu Fabra University in Spain.

Sunlight changes

Many scientists have believed that lighter skin gradually arose in Europeans starting around 40,000 years ago, soon after people left tropical Africa for Europe's higher latitudes. The hunter-gatherer's dark skin pushes this date forward to only 7,000 years ago, suggesting that at least some humans lived considerably longer than thought in Europe before losing the dark pigmentation that evolved under Africa's sun.

'For most of their evolutionary history, Europeans were not what many people today would call Caucasian.'
"It was assumed that the lighter skin was something needed in high latitudes, to synthesize vitamin D in places where UV light is lower than in the tropics," Lalueza-Fox told LiveScience.

Scientists had assumed this was true because people need vitamin D for healthy bones, and can synthesize it in the skin with energy from the sun's UV rays, but darker skin, like that of the hunter-gatherer man, prevents UV-ray absorption.

But the new discovery shows that latitude alone didn't drive the evolution of Europeans' light skin. If it had, light skin would have become widespread in Europeans millennia earlier, Lalueza-Fox said.

Mysterious find

In 2006, hikers discovered two male skeletons buried in a labyrinthine cave known as La Braa-Arintero, in the Cantabrian Mountains of Spain. [Images of the Ancient Skeletons]

At first, officials thought the skeletons may have been recent murder victims. But then, an analysis revealed the skeletons were about 7,000 years old, and had no signs of trauma. The bodies were covered with red soil, characteristic of Paleolithic burial sites, Lalueza-Fox said.

At the time of the discovery, genetic techniques weren't advanced enough to analyze the skeletons. Several years later, the team revisited the skeletons and extracted DNA from a molar tooth in one skeleton. (The other skeleton had been sitting in water for millennia, so his DNA was more degraded, Lalueza-Fox said.)

Blue eyes, dark skin

The new analysis of that DNA now shows the man had the gene mutation for blue eyes, but not the European mutations for lighter skin.

The DNA also shows that the man was more closely related to modern-day northern Europeans than to southern Europeans.

The discovery may explain why baby blues are more common in Scandinavia. It's been thought that poor conditions in northern Europe delayed the agricultural revolution there, so Scandinavians may have more genetic traces of their hunter-gatherer past including a random blue-eye mutation that emerged in the small population of ancient hunter-gatherers, Lalueza-Fox said.

Skin changes

The finding implies that for most of their evolutionary history, Europeans were not what many people today would call 'Caucasian', said Guido Barbujani, president of the Associazione Genetica Italiana in Ferrara, Italy, who was not involved in the study.

Instead, "what seems likely, then, is that the dietary changes accompanying the so-called Neolithic revolution, or the transition from food collection to food production, might have caused, or contributed to cause, this change," Barbujani said.

In the food-production theory, the cereal-rich diet of Neolithic farmers lacked vitamin D, so Europeans rapidly lost their dark-skin pigmentation only once they switched to agriculture, because it was only at that point that they had to synthesize vitamin D from the sun more readily.

Copyright 2014 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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Default Russia plans several Moon, Mars missions in near future

http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/84...l#.UujZrtLTlkg

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Russia plans to launch several Moon and Mars missions in the next few years, Victor Khartov, head of the Lavochkin aerospace company, said Tuesday.

"In 2015, we plan the Luna-Glob mission," Khartov told a scientific gathering here, adding that new engineering solutions will be sought for future lunar missions.

According to Khartov, in 2016 Russia will launch the Luna-Resurs-1 Moon orbiter, which will be followed by Luna-Resurs-2 vehicle. The latter will land near the Moon's South Pole to drill the soil and bring it back to Earth.

In 2018, Russia intends to launch a 2-ton probe carrying a 300-kg Martian rover built by the European Space Agency. Khartov also revealed Russia plans its own Boomerang mission to the Martian satellite Phobos by 2020.

After 2020, the Lavochkin company envisages construction of a Venera-D probe for explorations of Venus. The probe should survive on the extremely hot planet's surface for about 24 hours, Khartov said.

Last December, Lev Zelyony, director of the Russian Academy of Science's Space Research Institute, said Russia has set ambitious goals to regaining the title of leading space power by 2023.

In 2013, Russia conducted 32 space launches -- 31 of them successful.
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Old 02-07-2014, 11:52 AM
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Default CERN kicks off plans for LHC successor

http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/...-lhc-successor

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The CERN particle-physics lab near Geneva is putting plans in place to build a successor to its Large Hadron Collider (LHC). At a meeting to be held at the University of Geneva next week, some 300 physicists and engineers – including current CERN boss Rolf-Dieter Heuer – will discuss a range of options for a possible future collider. This includes plans for a massive next-generation circular collider – with a circumference of 80–100 km – that would accelerate protons to energies of about 100 TeV.
While the 27 km-circumference LHC has been colliding protons at energies of up to 7 TeV in the hunt for new particles since it first switched on in 2008, for more than 30 years physicists have been carrying out R&D on linear colliders that could one day be the LHC’s successor. One leading design effort is the International Linear Collider (ILC), which would accelerate electrons and positrons to about 250 GeV and smash them together at a rate of five times per second. Funding for the $8bn, 31 km-long collider has yet to be found, but Japanese particle physicists are already making moves to host this next-generation particle smasher.
Meanwhile, a design for a higher-energy machine – the Compact Linear Collider (CLIC) – that could operate at 3 TeV is being developed by a team at CERN. Construction of the ILC and CLIC could begin in the coming decade and they would, if built, study the Higgs boson in great detail through the "clean" collisions that can be made from colliding electron and positrons rather than smashing protons together.
Yet it remains unclear whether these machines will be built and physicists have recently been coming up with other proposals that involve circular colliders similar to the LHC. Such colliders do have some advantages, not least that physicists have a lot of experience in building them. In particular, from 1989 to 2000 CERN operated the Large Electron–Positron Collider (LEP), which was located in the same tunnel that now houses the LHC and was used to study the Z and W bosons in detail. "We need to keep our options open about what the next particle collider will be," says John Ellis of Kings College London, who has been involved in designs for particle colliders beyond the LHC and will be speaking at next week’s meeting. "A bigger, more ambitious machine could offer us more capabilities."
Towards TLEP
Delegates at next week’s Geneva meeting will discuss the technologies needed to create these future machines. One leading design for a next-generation circular collider is "TLEP", which would be housed in an enormous new 80–100 km-circumference tunnel that would most likely be built in Geneva. It could initially collide electrons and positrons (as would both the ILC and CLIC) at energies of about 350–500 GeV. Most of the cost of such a machine would be in excavating the tunnel, with the accelerator itself only accounting for about one-third of the total.



Yet that same 100 km tunnel could then be used well into the future, eventually housing a proton–proton machine that could operate at an energy of up to 100 TeV, much in the same way as the LHC has used the LEP tunnel. This could then look for new particles – such as supersymmetric particles – that the LHC may yet discover. Researchers are planning to complete a conceptual design study for TLEP by 2017 as an input to the next review of the European strategy for particle physics.
Cost concerns
Although Ellis admits that the 100 km tunnel would involve an "enormous investment", he thinks that the advantages would outweigh such concerns in the long run. "LEP was first approved in 1981 with the original tunnel designed to include the LHC in the future, so that it would be an infrastructure that could serve the community for at least 50 years," says Ellis. "That is the same for the new tunnel: use it as an electron–positron machine and then later as a hadron collider."
Indeed, the 100 km tunnel housing the collider could even be built so that it could allow two machines – one electron–positron and one proton–proton – to operate simultaneously, if needed. Ellis says that a preliminary engineering report has already been done on the 100 km tunnel. He claims it threw up no "major show-stoppers", even if parts of it would be built underneath Lake Geneva. "The geology in the region is quite good for digging," adds Ellis.
Yet Lyn Evans, who masterminded the construction of the LHC and is now responsible for overseeing the development of the ILC and CLIC, says that, for the moment, the top priority for CERN is the full exploitation of the LHC and its upgrade programme that will include boosting the luminosity and energy of the collider. "A machine of [TLEP's] size will have a very high cost, so there must be a very strong scientific justification and international support," he told physicsworld.com.
About the author
Michael Banks is news editor of Physics World
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Old 02-08-2014, 04:32 AM
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Default NASA to create coldest spot in the universe on the International Space Station

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With its awesome views of the Earth and space, and all the great science being conducted there, the International Space Station is just about the coolest place we know of, but NASA is aiming to make it even cooler. They're going to install a small atomic refrigerator on the station in 2016 that will produce the coldest spot in the known universe.

Nature may make things pretty cold here on Earth, with the coldest temperatures we've ever recorded getting down into the -90s Celsius. However, compared to how cold things can actually get in this universe, that's nothing. Temperatures in the space between galaxies can get down to -269°C, which is just four degrees above the coldest temperature anything can reach — zero degrees on the Kelvin scale of temperature, or 'absolute zero.' It's not easy to get things to be that cold, but the scientists working with NASA's Cold Atom Lab are going to get very, very close.

"We’re going to study matter at temperatures far colder than are found naturally," Rob Thompson, the project scientist for the Cold Atom Lab at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in a statement. "We aim to push effective temperatures down to 100 pico-Kelvin."

For anyone who hasn't been keeping up with extreme number prefixes, 'pico' stands for one-trillionth. So Thompson and his team are looking to chill these atoms down to one-ten-billionth of a degree Kelvin, or 0.0000000001 K. That's not a record low (MIT scientists got sodium gas down to less than 100th of that back in 2003), but they're not looking to set a record here. They just want to test the limits of matter at these extremes and discover what kind of practical applications we can get out of the results.

Science@NASA put together a short video to describe what they're up to, how they plan on doing it, and what use it might have for us in the future:

Whenever you get into these kinds of extremes, things get very weird. When you delve down to the scale of atoms, the 'normal' laws of physics that generally make sense to us fall away and the 'weird' laws of quantum mechanics take over. This is not something we can see with our own eyes, though. However, by pushing atoms this close to absolute zero temperature, the lab will be able to produce Bose-Einstein condensates, which are capable of showing off the laws of quantum mechanics at much larger scales — even visible to the naked eye!

What's great about this research is that it's showing off yet another benefit to having the International Space Station in orbit. The station's zero-g environment allows scientists to perform experiments that would be impossible or just incredibly difficult, here on Earth. The research benefits the future of human space exploration, but many experiments will benefit us here on Earth as well, with advances in knowledge, technology and even medicine. The station's mission recently received an extension to 2024, but with these kinds of studies, here's hoping that it continues to operate even longer.

(Image and video courtesy: Science@NASA)
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