Ingenuity successfully completed its fourth flight April 30th. The helicopter took off at 10:49 a.m. EDT (7:49 a.m. PDT, or 12:33 local Mars time), climbing to an altitude of 16 feet (5 meters) before flying south approximately 436 feet (133 meters) and then back, for an 872-foot (266-meter) round trip. In total, Ingenuity was in the air for 117 seconds. That’s another set of records for the helicopter.
Ingenuity also captured numerous images during the flight with the color camera and with Ingenuity’s black-and-white navigation camera. During this flight, Ingenuity saved about 60 photos during the last 164 feet (50 meters) before the helicopter returned to its landing site.
Images like that provide an aerial perspective of Mars that humanity has never seen before. The images will be used to study the surface features of the terrain.
"Ingenuity’s performance on Mars has been letter-perfect."
NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter has a new mission. Having proven that powered, controlled flight is possible on the Red Planet, the Ingenuity experiment will soon embark on a new operations demonstration phase, exploring how aerial scouting and other functions could benefit future exploration of Mars and other worlds.
The decision to add an operations demonstration is a result of the Perseverance rover being ahead of schedule with the thorough checkout of all vehicle systems. With the Mars Helicopter’s energy, telecommunications, and in-flight navigation systems performing beyond expectation, an opportunity arose to allow the helicopter to continue exploring its capabilities with an operations demonstration, without significantly impacting rover scheduling. “Since Ingenuity remains in excellent health, we plan to use it to benefit future aerial platforms."
Ingenuity’s transition from conducting a technology demonstration to an operations demonstration brings with it a new flight envelope. Along with those one-way flights, there will be more precision maneuvering, greater use of its aerial-observation capabilities, and more risk overall.
With short drives expected for Perseverance in the near term, Ingenuity may execute flights that land near the rover’s current location or its next anticipated parking spot. The helicopter can use these opportunities to perform aerial observations of rover science targets, potential rover routes, and inaccessible features while also capturing stereo images for digital elevation maps.
Flight operations will be completed no later than the end of August.
NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter continues to set records, flying faster and farther on Sunday, April 25, 2021 than in any tests it went through on Earth. The helicopter took off at 4:31 a.m. EDT (1:31 a.m. PDT), or 12:33 p.m. local Mars time, rising 16 feet (5 meters) – the same altitude as its second flight. Then it zipped downrange 164 feet (50 meters), just over half the length of a football field, reaching a top speed of 6.6 feet per second (2 meters per second, or 4.5 mph) and a total flight distance of 328 feet.
“Today’s flight was what we planned for, and yet it was nothing short of amazing. With this flight, we are demonstrating critical capabilities that will enable the addition of an aerial dimension to future Mars missions.”
The Ingenuity team has been pushing the helicopter’s limits by adding instructions to capture more photos of its own – including from the color camera, which captured its first images on Flight Two. As with everything else about these flights, the additional steps are meant to provide insights that could be used by future aerial missions.
The Third Color Image Taken by Ingenuity: This is the third color image taken by NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter. It was snapped on the helicopter’s second flight, April 22, 2021, from an altitude of about 17 feet (5.2 meters). Tracks made by NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover can be seen as well.
From Popular Science: “We want to push against the wind, we want to push against the speed. We expect it will meet its limit. We want to know what the limits are.” No helicopter has ever flown higher than about 7.5 miles. But you’d have to fly to an altitude of 28 miles to find as little atmosphere as what Ingenuity dealt with on Monday morning.
Lasting 51.9 seconds, the flight added several new challenges to the first, including a higher maximum altitude, longer duration, and sideways movement. Ingenuity climbed to 16 feet (5 meters) this time. After the helicopter hovered briefly, its flight control system performed a slight (5-degree) tilt, allowing some of the thrust from the counter-rotating rotors to accelerate the craft sideways for 7 feet (2 meters).
“The flight met expectations and our prior computer modeling has been accurate. The helicopter came to a stop, hovered in place, and made turns to point its camera in different directions. Then it headed back to the center of the airfield to land. It sounds simple, but there are many unknowns regarding how to fly a helicopter on Mars. That’s why we’re here – to make these unknowns known.”
The Ingenuity team is considering how best to expand the profiles of its next flights to acquire additional aeronautical data from the first successful flight tests on another world.
NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter became the first aircraft in history to make a powered, controlled flight on another planet. The Ingenuity team at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California confirmed the flight succeeded after receiving data from the helicopter via NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover at 6:46 a.m. EDT , 19 April 2021.
The solar-powered helicopter first became airborne at 3:34 a.m. EDT (12:34 a.m. PDT) – 12:33 Local Mean Solar Time (Mars time) – a time the Ingenuity team determined would have optimal energy and flight conditions. Altimeter data indicate Ingenuity climbed to its prescribed maximum altitude of 10 feet (3 meters) and maintained a stable hover for 30 seconds. It then descended, touching back down on the surface of Mars after logging a total of 39.1 seconds of flight.
"This first of many airfields on other worlds will now be known as Wright Brothers Field." The location of the flight has also been given the ceremonial location designation JZRO for Jezero Crater. Ingenuity’s chief pilot, Håvard Grip, announced that the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) – the United Nations’ civil aviation agency – presented NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration with official ICAO designator IGY, call-sign INGENUITY.
Additional details on the test are expected in upcoming downlinks. Parked about 211 feet (64.3 meters) away at Van Zyl Overlook during Ingenuity’s historic first flight, the Perseverance rover not only acted as a communications relay between the helicopter and Earth, but also chronicled the flight operations with its cameras. The pictures from the rover’s Mastcam-Z and Navcam imagers will provide additional data on the helicopter’s flight.
The Ingenuity team has identified a software solution for the command sequence issue identified on Sol 49 (April 9) during a planned high-speed spin-up test of the helicopter’s rotors. This software update will modify the process by which the two flight controllers boot up, allowing the hardware and software to safely transition to the flight state.
The process of updating Ingenuity’s flight control software will follow established processes for validation with careful and deliberate steps to move the new software through the rover to the base station and then to the helicopter.
"During a high-speed spin test of the rotors on Friday, the command sequence controlling the test ended early due to a 'watchdog' timer expiration. This occurred as it was trying to transition the flight computer from ‘Pre-Flight’ to ‘Flight’ mode. The helicopter team is reviewing telemetry to diagnose and understand the issue. Following that, they will reschedule the full-speed test."
If all proceeds as planned, the 4-pound (1.8-kg) rotorcraft is expected to take off from Mars’ Jezero Crater Sunday, April 11, at 10:54 p.m. EDT, hovering 10 feet (3 meters) above the surface for up to 30 seconds. Mission control specialists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California expect to receive the first data from the first flight attempt the following morning at around 4:15 a.m. EDT. NASA TV will air live coverage of the team as they receive the data, with commentary beginning at 3:30 a.m. EDT.
“While Ingenuity carries no science instruments, the little helicopter is already making its presence felt across the world, as future leaders follow its progress toward an unprecedented first flight,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for science at NASA Headquarters. “We do tech demos like this to push the envelope of our experience and provide something on which the next missions and the next generation can build. Just as Ingenuity was inspired by the Wright brothers, future explorers will take off using both the data and inspiration from this mission.”
Flying in a controlled manner on Mars is far more difficult than flying on Earth. Even though gravity on Mars is about one-third that of Earth’s, the helicopter must fly with the assistance of an atmosphere whose pressure at the surface is only 1% that of Earth. If successful, engineers will gain invaluable in-flight data at Mars for comparison to the modeling, simulations, and tests performed back here on Earth.
Sunday’s flight will be autonomous, with Ingenuity’s guidance, navigation, and control systems doing the piloting. That’s mostly because radio signals will take 15 minutes, 27 seconds to bridge the 173-million-mile (278-million-kilometer) gap between Mars and Earth.
Events leading up to the first flight test begin when the Perseverance rover, which serves as a communications base station for Ingenuity, receives that day’s instructions from Earth. Those commands will have travelled from mission controllers at JPL through NASA’s Deep Space Network to a receiving antenna aboard Perseverance. Parked at “Van Zyl Overlook,” some 215 feet (65 meters) away, the rover will transmit the commands to the helicopter about an hour later.
At 10:53 p.m. EDT, Ingenuity will begin its preflight checks. The helicopter will repeat the blade-wiggle test it performed three sols prior. If the algorithms running the guidance, navigation, and control systems deem the test results acceptable, they will turn on the inertial measurement unit (an electronic device that measures a vehicle’s orientation and rotation) and inclinometer (which measures slopes). If everything checks out, the helicopter will again adjust the pitch of its rotor blades, configuring them so they don’t produce lift during the early portion of the spin-up.
The spin-up of the rotor blades will take about 12 seconds to go from 0 to 2,537 rpm, the optimal speed for the first flight. After a final systems check, the pitch of the rotor blades will be commanded to change yet again, and the first experimental flight test on another planet will begin.
While hovering, the helicopter’s navigation camera and laser altimeter will feed information into the navigation computer to ensure Ingenuity remains not only level, but in the middle of its 33-by-33-foot (10-by-10-meter) airfield – a patch of Martian real estate chosen for its flatness and lack of obstructions. Then, the Mars Helicopter will descend and touch back down on the surface of Jezero Crater, sending data back to Earth via Perseverance to confirm the flight.
Perseverance is expected to obtain imagery of the flight using its Navcam and Mastcam-Z imagers, with the pictures expected to come down that evening. The helicopter will also document the flight from its perspective, with a color image and several lower-resolution black-and-white navigation pictures possibly being available by the next morning.
The Perseverance rover has been carrying Ingenuity in its belly as mission teams prepare for the craft's first flight, which is set to take place no sooner than April 11. On April 3 the rover dropped Ingenuity onto the surface of Mars, where it would have to survive temperatures as low as minus 130 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 90 degrees Celsius). Indications are that the 4-lbs. (1.8-kilograms) helicopter survived its first night on its own.
There are still a number of tasks that the mission team will have to accomplish before Ingenuity is ready to fly. First, the team will charge the craft using its solar array and ensure that it is collecting and using energy and power as they anticipate. This is critical, as energy from the craft's solar array will both keep it warm overnight and power it for flight.
Next, the helicopter's blades will be unlocked. The team will then actually spin the rotor blades for the first time, slowly at just about 50 revolutions per minute, and then at full speed, about 2,400 rpm.
After the successful completion of these steps, the team will have Ingenuity lift up and fly for the first time, hover autonomously for about 30 seconds and then land. The helicopter will reach about 15 feet (4.6 meters) in the sky with this flight.
With the success of its inaugural flight, the Ingenuity mission team will fly the craft four more times within the 30 sols, or Mars days, (about 31 Earth days) anticipated for the mission. The average flight length will be about 90 seconds.
Scientists have long agreed that the Moon formed when a protoplanet, called Theia, struck Earth in its infancy some 4.5 billion years ago. Now, a team of scientists has a provocative new proposal: Theia’s remains can be found in two continent-size layers of rock buried deep in Earth’s mantle.
Evidence from Iceland and Samoa suggests the large low-shear velocity provinces (LLSVPs) have existed since the time of the Moon-forming impact. Seismic imaging has traced plumes of magma that feed volcanoes on both islands all the way down to the LLSVPs. Over the past decade, lavas on the islands were discovered that contain an isotopic record of radioactive elements that formed only during the first 100 million years of Earth history.
The impact theory was developed in the 1970s to explain why the Moon is dry and doesn’t have much of an iron core: In a cataclysmic impact, volatiles like water would have vaporized and escaped, while a ring of less dense rocks thrown up in the collision would have eventually coalesced into the Moon. In studies of Apollo Moon rocks, Desch and his colleagues measured the ratios of hydrogen to deuterium, a heavier hydrogen isotope. Light hydrogen was far more abundant in some of the Moon samples than in Earth rocks. To capture and hold onto so much light hydrogen, Theia must have been massive.
The model suggests that after the collision, Theia’s core would have quickly merged with Earth’s. Simulations consistently showed that mantle rocks 1.5% to 3.5% denser than Earth’s would survive and end up as piles near the core. The result lined up perfectly with the deuterium evidence.
If Theia’s remnants do lie deep in Earth’s mantle, they may not be alone. Seismologists are increasingly seeing small, ultradense pockets of material in the deep mantle, only a few hundred kilometers across, often near the edges of the LLSVPs. They may be the sunken remnants of iron-rich cores from other miniature planets that hit early Earth. Theia, in might be just one grave in a planetary cemetery.
NASA's Ingenuity Mars helicopter is targeting no earlier than April 8 for the first-ever attempt at power and controlled flight of an aircraft on another planet.
"Once we start the deployment there is no turning back. All activities are closely coordinated, irreversible, and dependent on each other."
Before Ingenuity can even try to fly in the Martian atmosphere, the 4-pound rotorcraft must first be deployed. On Mar. 21, the Perseverance Mars rover – which carried Ingenuity to the red planet – dropped its debris shield that protected the helicopter and is currently en route to the 33-by-33-foot "airfield" where Ingenuity will attempt its first flight. Once the rover reaches its flight zone, it will take about a week to get the helicopter up and running. The Mars Helicopter Delivery System will rotate and release the helicopter about 5 inches above the surface. Perseverance then has 25 hours to move away to its "rover observation location."
Ingenuity – which will be autonomous and charged by its own solar panel – has a month-long window for up to five test flights. Once the rover is charged, has survived a frigid Martian night, and is ready to try to fly, Perseverance will receive and relay flight instructions to the helicopter.
"Several factors will determine the precise time for the flight, including modeling of local wind patterns plus measurements taken by the Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer (MEDA) aboard Perseverance. Ingenuity will run its rotors to 2,537 rpm and, if all final self-checks look good, lift off. After climbing at a rate of about 3 feet per second...the helicopter will hover at 10 feet...above the surface for up to 30 seconds. Then, the Mars Helicopter will descend and touch back down on the Martian surface."
Several hours later, Perseverance will pass data and possibly images and video from its cameras to the JPL team to determine whether or not their first flight was a success. Using what is provided to them, the engineers will then understand how best to proceed.
In recognition of Ingenuity's historic flight, a small amount of the material that covered one of the wings of the Wright brothers' Flyer is aboard Ingenuity – adhered beneath the helicopter's solar panel with an insulative tape. Similarl, the Apollo 11 NASA crew flew a different piece of the material and a splinter of wood from the Wright Flyer during the July 1969 Moon Landing.
Ingenuity is a small helicopter on the Martian surface that landed alongside NASA’s Perseverance rover. While initially stored within the rover, the solar-powered vehicle will be deployed onto the Martian surface. To launch, Ingenuity will use a small helipad, also stowed in Perseverance. While Ingenuity weighs 1.8kg on Earth, this drops to 0.68kg on Mars due to the planet’s lower gravity. The craft is equipped with two cameras, one colour with a horizon-facing view for terrain images, and one black-and-white for navigation.
Mass: 1.8kg = 4lbs;
Height: 50cm = 20";
Rotor span: 1.2m = 47";
Batteries: 6x Sony Li-ion,
delivering 220W power;
Max flight time: 90s;
Max flights per day: 1
By comparison, the Perseverance rover is 9'6" long, 7'3" high, weighs 2260lbs., and has 110 watts of power. Its wheels are 20.5" in diameter.
The Ingenuity Mars helicopter was originally scheduled for its first flight in April 2021. However, while possible flight zones are examined, an exact date is yet to be confirmed. The vehicle will remain attached to the Perseverance rover between 30 and 60 days after its 18 February landing. Once deployed, Ingenuity will have to successfully charge itself through solar power before attempting up to five test flights within a 31-day period.
Fitted with two cameras, the helicopter is expected to transmit images back to Earth (via the Perseverance rover and Deep Space Network) of its flight.
To make more than one flight, Ingenuity must survive the extremely low temperatures of the planet’s surface (which plummets to -90°C at night outside of Perseverance’s belly). Tests on Earth indicate the helicopter should survive this chill, but this doesn’t guarantee the craft won’t encounter problems.
The Martian helicopter’s first flight will be a basic one: a simple 20-30 second low-altitude hover. Ingenuity will be tasked with climbing at a speed of 1m/s to an altitude of about 3m, where it should hover for 20 seconds before descending back to ground. If successful, later flights will attempt further distances and higher altitudes. Ingenuity is capable of flying up to 90 seconds, managing 50 metres at a time (at a maximum height of 4.5m). Such a trip would use 8.75 watt-hours of power, less energy than is stored by an iPhone 12 battery.
A key objective of Perseverance's mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will characterize the planet’s geology and past climate, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust).
Traversing Mars' Jezero Crater — This image depicts a possible area through which the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover could traverse across Jezero Crater.
The UAE probe will near Mars late Monday, and the mission will make a final, 27-minute orbital insertion burn, or correction, starting at 10:30 a.m. EST Tuesday. The Hope probe's two-year mission is to gain the most complete data about Mars' atmosphere ever, including Mars summers and winters, day and night, at all locations around the planet. The Emirati government chose a Mars mission to ignite space research and industry there, according to the UAE space agency. If successful, the UAE would become the fifth nation to reach Mars, following the United States, Russia, China and India.
Studying the atmosphere also is part of the Chinese Tianwen-1 orbiter's mission, which also carries a rover. The exact time of arrival at the Red Planet on Wednesday hasn't been disclosed by the China National Space Administration. The Chinese spacecraft conducted its fourth flight-path correction Friday, the agency reported.
NASA's Perseverance rover will make a brief automated trip through the atmosphere to land in a crater filled with boulders and fields of sand. Perseverance is due to make fiery entry into the Mars atmosphere at roughly 12:30 p.m. EST on Feb 18.  Perseverance's quest will be to find signs of ancient life in Mars' Jezero Crater, thought to be an ancient lakebed and river delta.
The first helicopter to fly on another planet -- Ingenuity -- is riding underneath Perseverance. NASA expects to test the helicopter after the rover drops it on the surface, sometime in the next few months.
"This is going to help us understand how complex life began. It's only in the last billion years of the Earth's 4.5-billion-year history that life worked out how to form cells, combine them, and make complicated creatures. We have a million hypotheses of why this happened, but absolutely none of them are scientific at the moment. We have no models for what the world looked like.?
it's extremely difficult to figure out what the world looked like in the past, particularly because the seafloor doesn't last very long: it's always being recycled into the deep Earth at subduction zones. "That means we don't actually have any plates as old as a billion years – nothing more than about 200 million years – everything is gone five times over! So there is a lot of indirect evidence strung together to make this possible."
Under increasing pressure to relieve a backlog of hundreds of thousands of unused coronavirus vaccine doses, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Friday expanded the eligibility groups to include three million more people, including those 75 and older.
In the weeks since vaccinations began in mid-December, stories of doses sitting in freezers for weeks or being discarded have emerged, offering a glimpse of what public health experts have characterized as a troubled rollout in New York.
Mr. Cuomo had stuck to rigid guidelines that prioritized health care workers, and residents and staff of nursing homes and group homes. But on Friday, after repeated criticism from Mayor Bill de Blasio and local officials around the state, the governor announced that this new group – which also includes many essential workers – could begin scheduling vaccinations as soon as Monday, one month after New York City received its first doses.
Clinics have been unable to give out doses because of the strict rules – or even had to throw some out.
As well as being common and commonly lethal, prostate cancers are also pretty cunning, with an ability to resist hormone therapy that's made treatments more difficult. Now, insights gained from new research into how cancers evolve might help prevent prostate cancer from resisting therapy. The work has been published in Cell Reports.
A common hormone treatment for prostate cancer involves decreasing the activity of the androgen receptor, which is responsible for binding hormones like testosterone and transporting them deep into a cell. Prostate cancers depend on these hormones, and so are starved when the receptors are blocked.
However, cancers can change very quickly to resist hormone therapy and grow into a new, aggressive subtype called neuroendocrine prostate cancer. This occurs in up to 15% of patients. There's currently no effective treatment for these types of potentially lethal prostate cancers. Now, Australian researchers have found that this type of tumour adaptation is enhanced by a microRNA called miR-194, which can lead to the development of neuroendocrine prostate cancers in patients after therapy. Blocking miR-194 may slow down, and even prevent, the growth of these new cancer cells.
"While this reality is sobering, we hope that our study and lots of other research going on around the world will eventually lead to smarter, more targeted ways to treat neuroendocrine prostate cancer or even prevent its emergence."
Drug would offer immediate and long-term protection to patients when it would be too late to offer a vaccine. It could be given as an emergency treatment to hospital inpatients, care home residents and university students to help reduce the spread of the virus.
It is hoped that the treatment would provide protection from Covid-19 for between six months to a year.
The antibody, known as AZD7442, has been developed by the British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, which has also created a vaccine with Oxford University that is awaiting approval for use by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
'We know that this antibody combination can neutralise the virus, so we hope to find that giving this treatment via injection can lead to immediate protection against the development of Covid-19 in people who have been exposed – when it would be too late to offer a vaccine.'
'If we can prove that this treatment works and prevent people who are exposed to the virus going on to develop Covid-19, it would be an exciting addition to the arsenal of weapons being developed to fight this dreadful virus.'
The giant iceberg that's been drifting through the South Atlantic looks to have experienced a major break-up. Tuesday's latest satellite imagery reveals major fissures in the tabular berg known as A68a, with huge blocks of ice starting to separate and move away from each other. A68a, which calved from Antarctica in 2017, has been floating off the coast of South Georgia island.
Although scientists have yet to find the elusive Planet 9, a recently discovered exoplanet in deep space may provide further evidence the mysterious celestial object indeed exists. The exoplanet HD 106906b is 336 light years from Earth and has a bizarre orbit around its pair of host stars, going around once every 15,000 years, according to a study published in The Astronomical Journal.
It was only recently, thanks to measurements from the Hubble Space Telescope, that scientists were able to see its elongated -- 730 times the distance between the Earth and the sun -- and inclined orbit, unlike any of the known planets in the Solar System.
"Despite the lack of detection of Planet Nine to date, the orbit of the planet can be inferred based on its effect on the various objects in the outer Solar System. This suggests that if a planet was indeed responsible for what we observe in the orbits of trans-Neptunian objects it should have an eccentric orbit inclined relative to the plane of the Solar System. This prediction of the orbit of Planet Nine is similar to what we are seeing with HD 106906b."
In October 2017, NASA released a statement saying that Planet 9 might be 20 times further from the Sun than Neptune is, going so far as to say "it is now harder to imagine our solar system without a Planet 9 than with one."
A Virgin Galactic test flight Saturday ended prematurely as the spacecraft's rocket motor failed to ignite and it then glided down safely to its landing site in southern New Mexico.
"After being released from its mothership, the spaceship's onboard computer that monitors the rocket motor lost connection. As designed, this triggered a fail-safe scenario that intentionally halted ignition of the rocket motor. As we do with every test flight, we are evaluating all the data, including the root cause assessment of the computer communication loss. We look forward to sharing information on our next flight window in the near future."
It's unclear how soon another window will open for Virgin Galactic's next attempt at a powered flight to space.
The window opens Friday for Virgin Galactic's first rocket-powered test flight from Spaceport America in southern New Mexico as the company prepares for commercial flights next year. The exact timing of the launch depends on the weather. The company posted on social media late Thursday that the forecast wasn't optimal but it would continue monitoring the situation and fly when conditions are right.
Officials with Virgin Galactic and the state-financed spaceport said the test flight will mark another key milestone in the march toward commercial flights. The impending flight will be the third space flight for Virgin Galactic and the first from New Mexico.
More than 600 customers from around the world have purchased tickets to be launched into the lower fringes of space where they can experience weightlessness and get a view of the Earth below. The suborbital flights are designed to reach an altitude of at least 50 miles (80.5 kilometers) before gliding to a landing.
The test flight will give Virgin Galactic an opportunity to evaluate the interior space of the cabin where customers will be seated and to check fight controls during boost. The flight will carry payload belonging to NASA as part the space agency's Flight Opportunities Program.
SpaceX successfully launched – and nearly landed – a fully-assembled prototype of its next generation Starship rocket on a suborbital flight from its facility in south Texas. This is the rocket that Elon Musk hopes will soon carry humans to the moon and, eventually, to Mars, but Wednesday's launch was an uncrewed test flight that lasted just a few minutes. The rocket flew to an altitude of 40,000 feet
The rocket performed what Musk has called a "belly flop" maneuver on its way back to earth, executed a controlled descent to the surface and righted itself just a few hundred feet above the ground. But it wasn't able to slow its descent enough to safely touch down, and it exploded spectacularly near the landing pad.
Starship is huge – 15 stories from engine to nose cone - but it is only the upper stage of a still larger rocket called the Super Heavy. This booster is a scaled-up version of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket and will come equipped with three times as many engines. When SpaceX mates a Falcon Super Heavy booster and Starship, the entire ensemble will stand nearly 400 feet tall, just a few feet taller than NASA's Saturn V rocket that carried humans to the moon. The Saturn V remains the largest and most powerful rocket that has ever flown to space.
The reason SpaceX is developing Starship and the whole reason Musk got into the space business to begin with is to get boot prints on the Red Planet. If Musk wants to settle Mars in a reasonable amount of time, he's going to need a large interplanetary transport system that can carry hundreds of tons of cargo and dozens of passengers at a time. Earlier this month, Musk predicted that Starship might carry the first astronauts to Mars as early as 2026.
For the past two decades, the astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) have conducted science in a way that cannot be done anywhere else. Orbiting about 250 miles above Earth, the ISS is the only laboratory available for long-duration microgravity research. During the past 20 years, the space station has supported numerous discoveries, scientific innovations, unique opportunities, and historic breakthroughs. This research not only helps us explore farther into space but also benefits life on Earth.
Highlights: Discovery of Steadily Burning Cool Flames; New Water Purification Systems; Drug Development; Combatting Muscle Atrophy and Bone Loss; Understanding How the Body Changes in Microgravity; Growing Food in Microgravity; 3D Printing in Microgravity; Responding to Natural Disasters
The newest COVID-19 test coming to market will only require a simple blow. A coronavirus breathalyzer test, a noninvasive device that can instantly diagnose coronavirus, could make uncomfortable swab tests and long lines a thing of the past.
Another test includes a wearable armband device with embedded sensors that can detect abnormalities in a person's biometrics and other COVID-19 complications, in a process similar to facial pattern recognition that is used to unlock phones.
"We see this as a possible game changer for the economy. Right now, the goal is to get everyone back to their daily routines. This means people back at work, students back in schools, and travelers back on planes. We believe our device can play a major role in allowing this transition to happen quicker and, most importantly, safer."
The new technology will ultimately be able to also detect strep throat, the flu and other viruses in the future.
Astronomers have caught a rare look at a rapidly fading shroud of gas around an aging star. Hen 3-1357, nicknamed the Stingray nebula, has faded precipitously over just the past two decades. Witnessing such a swift rate of change in a planetary nebula is exceeding rare. Bright, blue, fluorescent tendrils and filaments of gas toward the center of the nebula have all but disappeared, and the wavy edges that earned this nebula its aquatic-themed name are virtually gone.
The fading light is emitted by glowing nitrogen, hydrogen, and oxygen being blasted off by the dying star at the center of the nebula.
These "are changes in the fundamental structure of the nebula." Observations from 1971 to 2002 showed the temperature of the star skyrocketing from less than 40,000 to 108,000 degrees Fahrenheit, more than ten times hotter than the surface of our Sun. Now, the research team has shown that SAO 245567 is cooling.
Those who eventually receive the long-awaited jab should be wary of the side effects – such as body aches and bad headaches – so they will return for the second dose. The side effects won't be a walk in the park. They are probably not going to feel wonderful. But they've got to come back for that second dose.
"I had some side effects," said one volunteer. "Basically, I had a headache and a lot of fatigue, injection site pain ... maybe three to four days. The second one, it was similar but it was much more muted. It wasn't as strong. I think I took some Advil and they basically cleared up."
Both the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccines require the second dose.
"Having a bit of immune reaction is a good signal that your immune system is working because the vaccine is being activated."
America might reach herd immunity from the coronavirus sometime around May.
An advisory panel is meeting Dec. 10 to determine whether or not to approve the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. Should the panel grant approval, the government will move fast to deliver the vaccines across the country. "Our plan is to be able to ship vaccines to the immunization sites within 24 hours from the approval, maybe on the 11th or 12th of December." If so, 20 million immunizations a month will be shipped starting in December.
"Most people need to be immunized before we can return to a normal life."
At right: An all-sky image of the stars in the Milky Way as seen from Earth. The coloured rings show the approximate extent of the stars that came from the fossil galaxy known as Heracles. Credit: Danny Horta-Darrington (LJMU), ESA/Gaia, SDSS
Astronomers say they have discovered a "fossil galaxy" they have named "Heracles", hidden in the depths of the Milky Way that may alter thinking on how our galaxy grew into what we see today.
It may have collided with the Milky Way 10 billion years ago, when our galaxy was still in its infancy. The remnants of Heracles account for about one-third of the Milky Way's spherical halo, so this newly discovered ancient collision must have been a major event, according to the research paper. Most similar massive spiral galaxies had much calmer early lives.
To differentiate Heracles from the original Milky Way, the team used chemical compositions and velocities of stars measured by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey's Apache Point Observatory Galactic Evolution Experiment (APOGEE). "Of the tens of thousands of stars we looked at, a few hundred had strikingly different chemical compositions and velocities. These stars are so different that they could only have come from another galaxy. By studying them in detail, we could trace out the precise location and history of this fossil galaxy."
The computer simulation below of a galaxy like the Milky Way moves from 13 billion years ago to today. The main galaxy grows as many small galaxies merge with it. Credit: Video Ted Mackereth based on EAGLE simulations
The International Space Station's two Russian astronauts ventured out on a spacewalk Wednesday to prepare for next year's arrival of a long-delayed lab. Russia's old spacewalking compartment will be removed and junked next year to make room for the research lab Nauka – Russian for "science." Several Russian-directed spacewalks will be required.
The new 22-ton lab – stretching 43 feet (13 meters) long – is so big that it will be launched from Kazakhstan by a powerful Proton rocket. Once at the orbiting outpost, it will double as an air lock and docking port.
An experimental COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE was 95% effective in final results from a pivotal study and is showing signs of being safe, key pieces of data as the companies prepare to ask health regulators to authorize use.
Pfizer plans to seek authorization for the vaccine within days, the companies said Wednesday, leaving the vaccine on track to go into distribution by the end of the year if approved by health regulators.
The resulting 95% effectiveness rate puts the shot's performance on par with shingles and measles vaccines.
Days earlier, Moderna Inc. reported similarly strong preliminary results for its shot, which the biotech said was 94.5% effective in an early look. Moderna, which is using the same kind of gene-based technology as Pfizer and BioNTech in its shot, is expected to report its safety data later this month.
Three NASA astronauts and their fellow crew member from the Japanese Space Agency boarded the International Space Station early Tuesday following a historic flight in a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft. The crew lifted off from Kennedy Space Center on Sunday in the first operational SpaceX Crew Dragon launch, marking an important milestone for the space program.
After the end of the Space Shuttle program, the U.S. relied on Russian Soyuz rockets launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to get astronauts into space. Russia charges the U.S. about $75 million to send an astronaut into space, and the Associated Press reports that the last Soyuz ticket cost America $90 million.
NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi were welcomed aboard by NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and Russian cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov.
It will be a monumental undertaking that must distribute hundreds of millions of doses, prioritize who is first in line and ensure that people who get the initial shot return for the necessary second one.
For the vaccination effort to get off the ground, state officials have been readying systems to track supplies and who has been vaccinated. That information will be fed into a national network and will be critical in giving federal health officials an up-to-date picture of vaccinations around the country.
The massive tabular iceberg named A68a calved from Antarctica's Larsen C Ice Shelf in July 2017. Pushed around by ocean currents, tides, and winds, the iceberg is now about 650 miles (1,050 km) north of its birthplace. Initially measuring more than 2,300 square miles (6,000 sq km) in area and composed of an estimated 1,000 billion tons of ice, it lost 300 square miles of ice in the last two years.
The iceberg is still larger than the island of South Georgia, which is in its path. The island hosts one of the largest colonies of penguins and seals in the southern ocean.
If you ever get drowsy at your school or office desk, that's probably not much of a problem. But what if you're a pilot, a commercial driver or an astronaut? Then fatigue can lead to small mistakes with significant consequences.
Since it's hard to tell when "tired" means "too tired," NASA has released a research app to help scientists study what's going on in the body when fatigue prevents you from working safely – and which telltale signs could alert you in time.
The app features a reaction-time test to gauge alertness and a streamlined process for gathering information scientists need. This lets the app be used by people working in complex, real-world situations to collect valuable research data, which will help researchers come up with reliable tests and solutions in the long term.
The FAA, several commercial airlines and researchers in occupational health and safety have already requested the app to use in their own studies, so Flynn-Evans expects it to be adopted by many researchers studying different groups from NASA.
SpaceX rocket and crew capsule on launchpad ready for Saturday launch
South Africa's Drimolen caves have acted as a window into early hominin evolution. In 2018 they revealed some of the world's oldest bone tools, and earlier in 2020, a research team uncovered the earliest-known skull of Homo erectus, a much closer relative of modern humans. The species existed from around two million to 100,000 years ago, arising at around the same time as Paranthropus robustus. The Drimolen caves also previously yielded several other P. robustus skulls, providing evidence for their co-existence with H. erectus. The two species were vastly different. While H. erectus had relatively large brains and small teeth, P. robustus were small-brained and large-toothed. The two represent "divergent evolutionary experiments".
The new P. robustus cranium dates back further, to approximately 2.04-1.95 million years ago.
Evolutionary changes to P. robustus are believed to have taken place during a period of environmental change, when climate records indicate that the region was drying out. The increasingly arid conditions led to the extinction of several mammal species and may have placed hominins under dietary stress.
NASA and SpaceX now are targeting Saturday, Nov. 14, for the launch of the agency's Crew-1 mission to the International Space Station. Managers of the Crew-1 mission held a media briefing on Oct. 28, to discuss the upcoming launch, including results from recent testing of the Falcon 9 Merlin engines following unexpected data SpaceX noted during a recent non-NASA launch.
The unexpected data resulted in an auto-abort during engine ignition caused by early start behavior on two engines. The SpaceX team inspected the engines on the launch pad, but did not find any signs of misconfigurations, so the two engines were removed and sent to the company's facility in McGregor, Texas, for additional testing.
Once in Texas, the team replicated the same early start behavior on the test stand. After additional inspections, the team found blockage in a passage leading to a relief valve on the gas generator caused by a masking lacquer residue that had hardened during the engine build process. Once the blockage was removed, the gas generator performance was restored to normal behavior during subsequent testing.
The team then analyzed data signatures across the Merlin fleet and found similar early start data results on two engines for the Crew-1 booster, which are being replaced. "It was a really great find; it allowed us to fix something that is very subtle but can have some negative impact on the engine operation. We continue to make progress on the Dragon spacecraft. The team is processing ahead of the Nov. 14 launch attempt and everything is going well there."
NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker, along with Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), will launch on SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft on the first crew rotation mission to the space station as part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program. Liftoff is scheduled for 7:49 p.m. EST on Nov. 14 from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Crew-1 astronauts will join the Expedition 64 crew of Commander Sergey Ryzhikov, and Flight Engineers Sergey Kud-Sverchkov and NASA astronaut Kate Rubins. The arrival of Crew-1 will increase the regular crew size of the space station's expedition missions from six to seven astronauts, adding to the amount of crew time available for research.
The Crew-1 mission will launch a few days after the Nov. 10 scheduled launch of NASA's Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich mission on a SpaceX Falcon 9 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, following a thorough review of launch vehicle performance.
American pharmaceutical giant 'Pfizer' has enrolled more than 42,000 people in its phase two trial of its potential COVID-19 vaccine. The company has also said over 35,000 participants have received a second dose of the vaccination.
Researchers hope the trial results will be in by November, and if so, they'll be sent to the FDA for a review process which could take up to four weeks.
A new study by the Hubble Space Telescope has revealed a clearer picture than ever before of one of the most intriguing and most valuable asteroids we know of. It's also one that NASA is planning to visit in 2026.
About 230 million miles/370 million kilometers from Earth, Psyche – as it's commonly known – is one of the most massive objects in the Solar System's main asteroid belt orbiting between Mars and Jupiter. It's about 140 miles/226 kilometers – wide and-unlike most asteroids, which are rocky or icy – Psyche appears to be metallic. Psyche is truly a one-of-a-kind object in the Solar System.
The global economy was worth about $142 trillion in 2019. The metals that comprise Psyche could be worth about $10,000 quadrillion. That is more than 70,000 times as much.
Due to launch in August 2022 from Florida's Kennedy Space Center atop a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket, NASA's Psyche mission is part of its Discovery Program of low-cost robotic space missions. The orbiter is due to arrive at Psyche in January 2026 to begin at least 21 months in orbit mapping and studying the asteroid's properties.
Three days after the spacecraft named Osiris-Rex briefly touched asteroid Bennu, the NASA spacecraft is stuffed with so much asteroid rubble from this week's grab that it's jammed open and precious particles are drifting away in space
Tuesday's operation 200 million miles away collected far more material than expected for return to Earth – in the hundreds of grams. The sample container on the end of the robot arm penetrated so deeply into the asteroid and with such force, however, that rocks got sucked in and became wedged around the rim of the lid.
Scientists estimate the sampler pressed as much as 19 inches (48 centimeters) into the rough, crumbly, black terrain. "We're almost a victim of our own success here."
The requirement for the $800 million-plus mission was to bring back a minimum 2 ounces (60 grams). There is nothing flight controllers can do to clear the obstructions and prevent more bits of Bennu from escaping, other than to get the samples into their return capsule as soon as possible. So the flight team was scrambling to put the sample container into the capsule as early as Tuesday – much sooner than originally planned – for the long trip home.
This is NASA's first asteroid sample-return mission. Bennu was chosen because its carbon-rich material is believed to hold the preserved building blocks of our solar system. Getting pieces from this cosmic time capsule could help scientists better understand how the planets formed billions of years ago and how life originated on Earth.
Regardless of what's on board, Osiris-Rex will still leave the vicinity of the asteroid in March – that's the earliest possible departure given the relative locations of Earth and Bennu. The samples won't make it back until 2023, seven years after the spacecraft rocketed away from Cape Canaveral.
NASA has reached a key milestone with the U.S. companies competing to provide landers for future crewed missions to the moon. The space agency's Artemis program aims to land American astronauts on the moon by 2024. Working with commercial and international partners, it also plans to establish a sustainable human presence on Earth's natural satellite by 2028. NASA's Human Landing System (HLS) program conducted Certification Baseline Reviews with a Blue Origin-led team, Dynetics, and SpaceX "to better understand their human landing system proposals and approach for the agency's Artemis program."
The primary purpose of the CBRs was to finalize the functional and performance requirements for the companies' landing system designs, confirm the standards to be applied to lander development, establish the baseline designs, schedules, and management plans for HLS contract execution and human spaceflight certification.
"We were able to select three very different design solutions to accomplish the bold and challenging objective of sending astronauts to the lunar South Pole."
NASA recently tested the booster rocket technology that will be used to power future Artemis missions to the moon. The space agency conducted a full-scale booster test for its Space Launch System (SLS) rocket in Promontory, Utah last month.
In 1927, Catholic priest Georges Lemaitre published a paper in the Annales de la Societe scientifique de Bruxelles in which he reviewed the General Theory of Relativity, published by Albert Einstein in 1916, and found that not only was the Universe expanding, but that it had originated at a finite point in time.
Einstein told him: "Your calculations are correct, but your grasp of physics is abominable." By 1929, however, it was Einstein's calculations that had come under fire, stemming from "systematic observations of other galaxies" made by American astronomer Edwin Hubble, and Lemaitre's findings began to find supporters.
In 1929 Britain's Royal Astronomical Society"s Arthur Eddington "accepted that the universe was expanding" but resisted the implication that the universe had a beginning. This clash between the two was perhaps surprising, given that years earlier Eddington the professor had said of Lemaitre the scholar, that he was "a very brilliant student, wonderfully quick and clear-sighted, and of great mathematical ability."
"Lemaitre was indeed the father of big-bang cosmology, his brilliant idea was only turned into a viable cosmological theory by later physicists." Indeed, the term "big bang theory" was coined by British astronomer Fred Hoyle, who never accepted it was a theory on the origin of the Universe and used it derisively.
In 2018, half a century after Lemaitre's death, what was known as the Hubble Law – describing how galaxies move away from each other – was renamed the Hubble – Lemaitre Law.
A NASA spacecraft touched down on the rugged surface of the Bennu asteroid on Tuesday, grabbing a sample of rocks dating back to the birth of our solar system to bring home.
"Sample collection is complete, and the back-away burn has executed," Lockheed mission operator Estelle Church added seconds later, confirming the spacecraft eased away from the space rock after making contact. The probe will send back images of the sample collection on Wednesday and throughout the week so scientists can examine how much material was retrieved and determine whether the probe will need to make another collection attempt. If a successful collection is confirmed, the spacecraft will journey back toward Earth, arriving in 2023.
Bennu, located over 100 million miles from Earth and whose acorn-shaped body formed in the early days of our solar system, could hold clues to the origins of life on Earth.
CEO Stephane Bancel of Moderna said Monday the company could see emergency approval for its coronavirus vaccine candidate in December. In order to file an emergency use authorization (EUA) to the Food and Drug Administration, the company needs enough safety and efficacy data. If all goes according to plan, that could happen in the later part of November.
The FDA has also said emergency approval for a COVID-19 vaccine will require two months of safety data on half of the study participants. Moderna expects this data in late November.
The U.S. government has already struck a $1.5 billion deal with Moderna for 100 million doses, with the option to buy another 400 million doses. Bancel said that if the government does decide to buy more, the supply chain should be able to handle the request with no problem.
Zooming In: Visualizing the Relative Size of Particles
Lately, the world's biggest threats have been microscopic in size. From the global COVID-19 pandemic to wildfires ripping through the U.S. West Coast, it seems as though our lungs can't catch a break, or more aptly, a breath.
While the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is relatively small in size, it isn't the smallest virus particle out there. Both the Zika virus and the T4 Bacteriophage responsible for E. coli are just a fraction of the size, although they have not nearly claimed as many lives as COVID-19 to date.
A particle needs to be smaller than 10 microns before it can be inhaled into your respiratory tract.
Deforestation is driving many of Southeast Asia's species towards extinction. But the opposite once occurred as rainforests replaced grasslands thousands of years ago, megafauna and ancient humans (Home erectus) vanished.
For nearly a million years, the region stretching from modern-day southern China to Borneo was covered in grasslands. Many species of megafauna thrived in this vastly different landscape, including giant hyenas, buffalo- and antelope-like bovines, and two species of ancient elephants. But over the past 100,000 years, these savannahs began to retreat. By the dawn of the Holocene 11,700 years ago, they had been replaced by the lush, dense rainforest we see today. The significant environmental change was too much for many species to cope with: as the savannah environments disappeared, so too did the megafauna.
The changes in the length and duration of ice ages led to a resurgence of rainforest, to which the megafauna was poorly adapted, including species of ancient humans such as Homo erectus, which were also unable to adapt to the more dynamic forest environment and soon disappeared. This contrasts with most megafauna extinction hypotheses, which suggest that modern humans are the primary cause of extinctions.
Only Homo sapiens appears to have had the required skills to successfully exploit and thrive in rainforest environments.
A research study found that patients who have elevated levels of two certain proteins are more likely to exhibit severe coronavirus symptoms.
Adults with existing comorbidities like chronic cardiac disease, diabetes, pulmonary disease, kidney disease, and asthma are far more likely to incur severe coronavirus symptoms than others.
When two proteins – IL-6 and TNF-a – are found in a patient's bloodstream at elevated levels, they are more likely to die from the coronavirus than others. Drugs designed to block the proteins are currently being tested for FDA approval.
What is both promising and interesting is that coronavirus drugs currently being tested for FDA approval are already designed to block the IL-6 and TNF-a proteins.
NASA and SpaceX are beginning a regular cadence of missions with astronauts launching on an American rocket from American soil to the International Space Station as part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program. NASA's SpaceX Crew-1 is the first crew rotation mission with four astronauts flying on a commercial spacecraft, and the first including an international partner.
NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker, and Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) are set to launch to the space station on SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket. The crew is scheduled for a long duration stay aboard the orbiting laboratory, conducting science and maintenance. The Crew Dragon being used for this flight will remain docked to the station for the full length of a long duration space station expedition, lasting approximately six months. The four astronauts are set to return in spring 2021.
After successfully docking, the astronauts of Crew-1 will be welcomed aboard station by NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos. For the first time, the space station's crew will expand to seven people with Expedition 64, increasing the amount of crew time available for research.
The Trump administration is touting the effectiveness of Operation Warp Speed. During an interview Monday, President Trump said a coronavirus vaccine could be ready by the end of October. The President then highlighted candidates from Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and Moderna, while noting they are in the later stages of development.
HHS Secretary Alex Azar and Assistant Secretary Brett Giror praised the administration's coronavirus response. They said COVID-19 numbers across the board are going down.
Three vaccines in phase three and a fourth one is starting imminently. Two of those vaccines in the U.S. have their phase three trials almost fully recruited to the original plan.
Huge volcanic eruptions 233 million years ago pumped carbon dioxide, methane and water vapour into the atmosphere. This series of violent explosions, on what we now know as the west coast of Canada, led to massive global warming. New research has revealed that this was a planet-changing mass extinction event that killed off many of the dominant tetrapods and heralded the dawn of the dinosaurs. But it was not only the dinosaurs that were given a foothold. Many modern tetrapod groups, such as turtles, lizards, crocodiles and mammals date back to this newly discovered time of revolution.
Geologists and palaeontologists agree on a roster of five such events, of which the end-Cretaceous mass extinction was the last. So our new discovery of a previously unknown mass extinction might seem unexpected. And yet this event, termed the Carnian Pluvial Episode (CPE), seems to have killed as many species as the giant asteroid did. Ecosystems on land and sea were profoundly changed, as the planet got warmer and drier.
The very first human beings originally emerged in Africa before spreading across Eurasia about 60,000 years ago.
Eastern regions of Eurasia are home to approximately 2.3 billion people today-roughly 30% of the world's population. Archeologists know from fossils and artifacts that modern humans have occupied Southeast Asia for 60,000 years and East Asia for 40,000 years.
One of the DNA sequences came from leg bones of the Tianyuan Man, a 40,000-year-old individual discovered in western Beijing. One of the earliest modern humans found in East Asia, his genetic sequence marks him as an early ancestor of today's Asians and Native Americans. His location indicates that the ancestors of today's Asians began placing roots in East Asia as early as 40,000 years ago.
Colliding neutron stars do not create as many of the chemical elements in the Universe as has been assumed, according to a trio of astronomers writes in a paper in The Astrophysical Journal. Another stellar process is responsible for making most of the heavy ones. "Neutron star mergers did not produce enough heavy elements in the early life of the Universe, and they still don't now, 14 billion years later. The Universe didn't make them fast enough to account for their presence in very ancient stars, and, overall, there are simply not enough collisions going on to account for the abundance of these elements around today."
All hydrogen and a lot of helium and lithium were created by the Big Bang, but other naturally occurring elements are made by different nuclear processes inside stars. Stars smaller than about eight times the mass of the Sun produce carbon, nitrogen and fluorine, as well as half of all the elements heavier than iron. Half of those that are heavier than iron are thought to be made when neutron stars, the superdense remains of burnt-out suns, crash into one another. However, the new study suggests that heavy elements are created by unusual supernovae that collapse while spinning very fast and generating strong magnetic fields.
The study is the first to attempt to calculate the stellar origins of all naturally occurring elements from first principles, and even produced a new-look Periodic Table, showing the origins of elements from carbon to uranium.
These electrode implants will allow people with a dysfunctional inner ear to hear again.
Cochlear implants and similar devices do not help people whose inner ear is damaged or whose auditory nerve does not function properly. For these patients to recover their sense of hearing, electrical signals must be sent directly to the auditory brainstem. Researchers have developed a soft electronic interface using a highly elastic implant that conforms neatly to the curved surface of the auditory brainstem and can send highly targeted electrical signals.
During a five-hour surgery last October at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Kathy Sanford became the first Alzheimer's patient in the United States to have a pacemaker implanted in her brain. She is the first of up to ten patients who will be enrolled in an FDA-approved study at Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center to determine if using a brain pacemaker can improve cognitive and behavioral functioning in patients with Alzheimer's disease. The study employs the use of deep brain stimulation (DBS), the same technology used to successfully treat about 100,000 patients worldwide with movement disorders such as Parkinson's disease. In the study, researchers hope to determine whether DBS surgery can improve function governed by the frontal lobe and neural networks involved in cognition and behavior by stimulating certain areas of the brain with a pacemaker.
Phosphine gas has been detected in its atmosphere, which on Earth can only be produced by life. Phosphine (PH3) is a highly reactive gas that, on Earth, is only formed in significant quantities by certain types of anaerobic microorganisms.
The idea of life in the Venusian clouds isn't new. These clouds lie in a "temperate zone" about 50-60 kilometres up, where the furnace-like heat and pressure of the lower atmosphere are sufficiently attenuated for liquid droplets to form. Life might have gotten there long ago, wafted up from the surface at a time when Venus was cooler and wetter than today. There is, however, one problem: the droplets in these clouds contain a lot of sulfuric acid: enough that anything living there would have to be adapted to survive in battery acid – or worse. "Sulfuric acid is terrible for all Earth life. So it probably has to be completely different life. Our proteins and DNA would completely dissolve in those droplets."
"We are not claiming we found life on Venus. We are claiming there is something really unknown, and it might be life."
We have a growing number of Solar System bodies of astrobiological interest: including Mars, Europa, Enceladus and Titan. Now, we have raised Venus higher up on the ladder of interesting targets.
The research is published in a paper in the journal Nature Astronomy.
At right: Hebrew ostraca from Tel Arad. Credit: Michael Cordonsky, TAU and the Israel Antiquities Authority
Four years ago, a multi-disciplinary team from Tel Aviv University used state-of-the-art image processing and machine learning algorithms to analyse 18 ancient texts dating to around 600BCE uncovered at the Tel Arad military post in southern Israel in the 1960s. They initially concluded that these were written by no fewer than four different authors, then upped that number to six. When Yana Gerber examined the ostraca (fragments of pottery vessels containing ink inscriptions) she concluded that the texts were in fact written by no fewer than 12 authors.
That caused more than a little interest given that Tel Arad was a small post housing between 20 and 30 soldiers at a time when it was thought literacy was as an exclusive domain in the hands of a few royal scribes.
"I delved into the microscopic details of these inscriptions written by people from the First Temple period," she says, "from routine issues such as orders concerning the movement of soldiers and the supply of wine, oil, and flour, through correspondence with neighbouring fortresses, to orders that reached the Tel Arad fortress from the high ranks of the Judahite military system."
Whatever the age, handwriting is made up of unconscious habit patterns, Gerber says, and handwriting identification is based on the principle that these writing patterns are unique to each person and no two people write exactly alike.
Researchers believe the findings shed new light on Judahite society on the eve of the destruction of the First Temple in 587BCE.
"If in a remote place like Tel Arad there was, over a short period of time, a minimum of 12 authors of 18 inscriptions, out of the population of Judah which is estimated to have been no more than 120,000 people, it means that literacy was not the exclusive domain of a handful of royal scribes in Jerusalem."
More than 3.1 million acres have burned in California this year, part of a record fire season that still has four months to go. A suffocating cloud of smoke has veiled the West Coast for days, extending more than a thousand miles above the Pacific. And the extreme fire behavior that's been witnessed this year hasn't just been wild – it's virtually unprecedented in scope and scale.
Fire tornadoes have spun up by the handful in at least three big wildfires in the past three weeks, based on radar data. Giant clouds of ash and smoke have generated lightning. Wildfire plumes have soared up to 10 miles high, above the cruising altitude of commercial jets.
Scientists have been scrambling to collect as much data on these wildfires as possible, hoping to unlock the secrets to their extreme behavior and fury. Neil Lareau, a professor of atmospheric sciences in the department of physics at the University of Nevada at Reno closely studies pyrocumulus clouds, towering explosion-like plumes of heat that develop above intense blazes. The smoke plume of the Creek Fire in the Sierra Nevadas soared to 55,000 feet. That's taller than many of the tornadic thunderstorms that roll across Oklahoma and Kansas each spring.
Before 2020, only a few fires had ever produced documented fire tornadoes in the United States; now they are being seen every week or two. The Creek Fire has produced a number of clockwise-spinning fire tornadoes. That's opposite to how most tornadoes spin in the Northern Hemisphere.
Mechanical engineers have discovered a way to produce more electricity from heat than thought possible by creating a silicon chip, also known as a 'device,' that converts more thermal radiation into electricity. This could lead to devices such as laptop computers and cellphones with much longer battery life and solar panels that are much more efficient at converting radiant heat to energy.
"You put the heat back into the system as electricity. Right now, we're just dumping it into the atmosphere. It's heating up your room, for example, and then you use your AC to cool your room, which wastes more energy."
Nitrogen oxides emitted in aircraft exhaust increase the production of ozone, a major greenhouse gas, but they also destroy methane, a big contributor to atmospheric warming. Also contrails heat and cool the planet at the same time by trapping atmospheric heat while reflecting sunlight. The net result is that contrails are only about half as bad as previously thought.
NASA's Orion, the spacecraft designed to carry American astronauts to the Moon as part of the agency's Artemis program, just completed its System Acceptance Review and Design Certification Review. In other words, Orion is officially fit to embark on its maiden voyage as soon as next year. An uncrewed test flight is slated for November 2021. The first crewed mission, Artemis II, is expected to launch in August 2023.
The thorough review included system tests, inspection reports, and detailed analyses of every part of the spacecraft. It also signifies "the final formal milestone to pass before integration with the Space Launch System rocket," according to a NASA statement.
Doctors and scientists convened by the World Health Organization performed the analysis.
In multiple studies involving a total of 1,700 patients, a number of corticosteroids-anti-inflammatory drugs that can damp the effects of an overactive immune system-helped reduce deaths from COVID-19 by about a third, compared with patients who didn't receive steroids, according to the analysis published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The study found relatively consistent benefits for using the drugs in severely ill patients: Of 678 severely ill patients who received steroids, 32.7% died, compared with 41.5% of patients receiving usual care or placebo.
Scientists and physicians involved in the meta-analysis said the results raise hope that cheap, widely available drugs may become standard treatments for severe cases of COVID-19. The results are especially encouraging because of the consistency of the benefit to patients.
In a letter to governors dated Aug. 27, Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said states "in the near future" will receive permit applications from McKesson Corporation, which has contracted with CDC to distribute vaccines to places including state and local health departments and hospitals.
Initially available vaccines will either be approved by the Food and Drug Administration or authorized by the agency under its emergency powers. Redfield said that officials were preparing "for what I anticipate will be reality, is that there'll be one or more vaccines available for us in November, December."
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Robert Redfield said he's had to spend time encouraging employees, and swatting away negative comments. He also warned that the upcoming holiday could lead to a new surge in COVID-19 diagnoses. Spikes in cases were seen both after Memorial Day and Independence Day, and Redfield is concerned about the same following Labor Day – which would reverse progress towards stability in case trends nationwide.
Mastodons migrated vast distances across North America in response to dramatic climate change during the ice ages of the Pleistocene.
American mastodons (Mammut americanum) went extinct about 11,000 years ago, along with the likes of mammoths, sabre-toothed cats and giant ground sloths. Until then, the mastodon was among the largest living land animals, roaming widely from Beringia, which historically joined Russia and America, east to Nova Scotia and south to Central Mexico. Mastodons were living in Alaska at a time when it was warm, as well as Mexico and parts of Central America. There was constant movement back and forth, in response to warming climate conditions and melting ice sheets.
The research suggests that traces of the sun's 'temporary binary companion' are seen in the Oort cloud.
The research, published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, suggests that traces of the sun's "temporary binary companion" are seen in the Oort cloud, "the most distant region of our Solar System."
"Previous models have had difficulty producing the expected ratio between scattered disk objects and outer Oort cloud objects," study lead author Amir Siraj said in a statement. "The binary capture model offers significant improvement and refinement, which is seemingly obvious in retrospect: most Sun-like stars are born with binary companions."
If the sun did have a partner that helped form the early solar system, we'll likely never find it, the researchers acknowledged. Passing stars in the birth cluster would have removed the companion from the sun through their gravitational influence. Before the loss of the binary, however, the solar system already would have captured its outer envelope of objects, namely the Oort cloud and the Planet Nine population. The sun's long-lost companion could now be anywhere in the Milky Way,
Ninety-four percent of Americans who died from COVID-19 had other "types of health conditions and contributing causes" in addition to the virus, according to a new CDC report.
Respiratory conditions such as influenza and pneumonia, respiratory failure and respiratory arrest, as well as circulatory conditions such as hypertensive diseases, cardiac arrest and heart failure are on the list. Other conditions included sepsis, diabetes, renal failure and Alzheimer's disease. As of Monday, the US has surpassed 6 million coronavirus cases and 183,000 deaths, Johns Hopkins University statistics show.
The worldwide race is on to find a COVID-19 vaccine. According to the World Health Organisation there are currently 31 vaccine candidates undergoing various phases of clinical trials around the world, and another 142 in pre-clinical evaluation.
Clinical trials must be passed to prove efficacy and safety. As COVID-19 vaccines enter clinical trials, they must pass escalating steps to prove their efficacy and safety. Clinical trials are conducted in phases, each with slightly different objectives and increasing numbers of volunteers. This is primarily to ensure subject safety but also to make sure the process is as cost-effective as possible. The data from each phase is thoroughly reviewed and must show both safety as well as the desired effect before progressing from one phase to the next.
There is a Pre-clinical phase, plus four Phases of testing and distribution.
The Food and Drug Administration announced Sunday it was issuing an emergency authorization for convalescent plasma treatment in hospitalized COVID-19 patients. President Donald Trump touted the promise of plasma at Sunday evening's White House briefing. "This is a powerful therapy that transfuses very, very strong antibodies from the blood of recovered patients to help treat patients battling a current infection," Trump said. "It's had an incredible rate of success." FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said that the expedited approval was the result of the administration's work to "cut back red tape."
The announcement comes amid the high-pressure push to pinpoint an effective treatment for COVID-19. Blood plasma treatment, which has some data to support it, has been eyed with high hopes, although officials say that clinical data from randomized controlled trials is still being collected.
Officials ask public to be on alert, report sightings
It's an ominous first for South Carolina: a sighting of a foreign, egg-loving lizard that can grow several feet long and pose a threat to animals across the state, according to officials from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. The tegu lizard is already established in both Georgia and Florida.
Black and white tegu lizards can reach up to 4 feet in length and weigh more than 10 pounds as adults. Tegus are voracious omnivorous lizards that eat a variety of prey including birds, small mammals, reptiles and amphibians, fruits, vegetables, insects and eggs.
As a non-native species, tegus in the wild in South Carolina are not protected by state wildlife laws or regulations. For more information about black and white tegus, including natural history and identifying characteristics, see https://georgiawildlife.com/tegus.
The "no-earlier-than" launch target assumes official NASA certification following a detailed review of data collected during a piloted Crew Dragon test flight earlier this summer. So far, officials say, no major issues have come to light that would prevent clearance to proceed with operational space station crew rotation missions. If that holds up, the Crew Dragon capsule, perched atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, would blast off from historic pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center around 5:47 a.m. EDT on October 23rd.
On board will be NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins and Shannon Walker, making their second space flight each, rookie astronaut Victor Glover, and veteran Japanese flier Soichi Noguchi, making his third flight to the space station. If all goes well, they will dock at the station's forward port the day after launch. Current plans call for Hopkins, Glover, Walker and Noguchi to spend six months aboard the station, returning to Earth at the end of April.
NASA managers initially targeted late September for the Crew 1 launch, but decided to move it after the Oct. 14 launch of two cosmonauts and a NASA astronaut aboard the Soyuz MS-17/63S spacecraft.
The six lithium-ion batteries that power Ingenuity were powered up and charged August 7th.
The 'copter, which weighs 4 pounds, will let researchers understand the viability and potential of heavier-than-air vehicles on the Red Planet. Assuming Perseverance successfully touches down on the Martian surface, scheduled to take place on Feb. 18, 2021, Ingenuity will take a few test flights. Following successful deployment, Ingenuity will be powered by its solar panel and not rely on the rover for power.
The president's new medical adviser Dr. Scott Atlas weighed the risks of schoolchildren spreading the virus against those of keeping schools shut.
"The risk of the disease is extremely low for children, even less than that of seasonal flu," said Atlas, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a member of the think tank's working group on health care policy. "We know that the harms of locking out the children from school are enormous. And we also know, as we all would agree, that educating America's children is right at the top of the list for our nation's priorities."
A Just the News poll with Scott Rasmussen found that by a margin of 45% to 29% registered voters think that in the event a school does not offer in-person education, parents should "be able to use public school funding to have their children attend a different school that offers in-person teaching."
You may have felt (we did, here in Mauldin!) the ground shake a little after 8 a.m. Sunday. The US Geological Survey (USGS) reports a moderate 5.1 magnitude earthquake occurred at 8:07 a.m. August 9, centered approximately 2 kilometers (1.25 miles) south southeast of Sparta, NC, near the North Carolina, Virginia border.
The rover touched down on Mars' Gale Crater on Aug. 5, 2012. Since touchdown, the rover journeyed more than 14 miles (23 kilometers), drilling 26 rock samples and scooping six soil samples along the way as it revealed that ancient Mars was indeed suitable for life. Studying the textures and compositions of ancient rock strata is helping scientists piece together how the Martian climate changed over time, losing its lakes and streams until it became the cold desert it is today.
Dr. James Todaro stood on the steps of the Supreme Court last week to join fellow doctors in touting hydroxychloroquine as a viable early-stage treatment for those who contract the coronavirus – and says he was stunned by the backlash.
"It seems like a coordinated effort to discredit hydroxychloroquine."
The Food and Drug Administration has issued strict cautions about its use – though the agency says decisions about it should be left to doctors and patients.
Dr. Todaro is not the most famous member of the hydroxychloroquine club. Dr. Vladimir "Zev? Zelenko in New York did the "clinical legwork? in support of the Zelenko protocol, the controversial early treatment regimen that uses a three-drug cocktail of hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin and zinc.
But Dr. Todaro has been one of the most effective combatants in the public debate, instrumental in getting retractions from the world's most prestigious medical journals and a growing social media audience.
Texas researchers from the University of Houston, Baylor University and Texas A&M University have discovered evidence for why the earth cooled dramatically 13,000 years ago, dropping temperatures by about 3 degrees Centigrade. The resolution to this case of mistaken identity recently was reported this article in the journal Science Advances.
"This work shows that the geochemical signature associated with the cooling event is not unique but occurred four times between 9,000 and 15,000 years ago. Thus, the trigger for this cooling event didn't come from space. Prior geochemical evidence for a large meteor exploding in the atmosphere instead reflects a period of major volcanic eruptions."
After a volcano erupts, the global spread of aerosols reflects incoming solar radiation away from Earth and may lead to global cooling post eruption for one to five years, depending on the size and timescales of the eruption.
"This period of rapid cooling is associated with the extinction of a number of species, including mammoths and mastodons, and coincides with the appearance of early human occupants of the Clovis tradition."
"These signatures were likely the result of major eruptions across the Northern Hemisphere, including volcanoes in the Aleutians, Cascades and even Europe." The Younger Dryas cooling lasted about 1,200 years, so a sole volcanic eruptive cause is an important initiating factor, but other Earth system changes, such as cooling of the oceans and more snow cover were needed to sustain this colder period. This research underscores that extreme climate variability since the last ice age is attributed to unique Earth-bound drivers rather than extraterrestrial mechanisms.
Harvey A. Risch, MD, PhD, Professor of Epidemiology, Yale School of Public Health
In the midst of a crisis, I am fighting for a treatment that the data fully support but which, for reasons having nothing to do with a correct understanding of the science, has been pushed to the sidelines. As a result, tens of thousands of patients with COVID-19 are dying unnecessarily.
I am referring, of course, to the medication hydroxychloroquine. The combination of hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin or doxycycline, and zinc are well-suited for early treatment.
Two doctors have saved the lives of hundreds of patients with these medications, but are now fighting state medical boards to save their licenses and reputations. The cases against them are completely without scientific merit. Since May 27th, seven more studies have demonstrated similar benefit.
A reverse natural experiment happened in Switzerland. On May 27, the Swiss national government banned outpatient use of hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19. Around June 10, COVID-19 deaths increased four-fold and remained elevated. On June 11, the Swiss government revoked the ban, and on June 23 the death rate reverted to what it had been beforehand.
If all does go according to plan, after being gently deployed from Perseverance, Ingenuity will make at least five short hops over the Martian surface, flying as high as about 15 feet.
Weighing less than four pounds with a main body the size of a softball, there's no room for any science experiments on Ingenuity. Martian science was never the goal of the helicopter in the first place. "This is just a demonstration of technology to show that flying on Mars is possible, but eventually we'd like to design and fly a helicopter on Mars that actually has a science mission."
The company's Unity vehicle has so far conducted only glide flights after moving into its operational base in New Mexico earlier this year. The powered ascents will see Unity ignite its hybrid rocket motor to climb to the edge of space. These tests will set the stage for Virgin Galactic to introduce its commercial service.
Six hundred individuals have so far paid deposits to take a ride on Unity, with many of these individuals having put down their money a good number of years ago. But the company's chief space officer said their wait would soon be over.
Moderna anticipates enrolling 30,000 US participants
The needed proof: Volunteers won't know if they're getting the real shot or a dummy version. After two doses, scientists will closely track which group experiences more infections as they go about their daily routines, especially in areas where the virus still is spreading unchecked.
An archaeological team excavated nearly 2000 stone tools from a cave in Mexico, along with plant remains and environmental DNA. The artefacts belong to a type of material culture never seen in the Americas, suggesting a previously unknown stone industry. "We can estimate humans arrived at Chiquihuite Cave as early as 33 to 31,000 years ago."
The findings do not neatly fit with a scenario in which humans first entered North America from Asia via Beringia, before heading south and developing the Clovis (stone tool) culture. "The archaeology is older than anything we have seen before and the stone tools are of a type that is unique in the Americas. Human-made flaked stone artefacts are there by the thousands, embedded in layered sedimentary deposits that are now well-dated."
"It seems likely to us that the people of Chiquihuite represent a 'failed colonisation', one which may well have left no genetically detectable heritage in today's First Americans populations."
Scientists at Oxford University say their experimental coronavirus vaccine has been shown in an early trial to prompt a protective immune response in hundreds of people who got the shot. British researchers first began testing the vaccine in April in about 1,000 people, half of whom got the experimental vaccine. Such early trials are designed to evaluate safety and see what kind of immune response was provoked, but can't tell if the vaccine truly protects.
The experimental COVID-19 vaccine produced a dual immune response in people aged 18 to 55 that lasted at least two months after they were immunized.
"We are seeing good immune response in almost everybody. What this vaccine does particularly well is trigger both arms of the immune system." Neutralizing antibodies are produced – molecules which are key to blocking infection. In addition, the vaccine also causes a reaction in the body's T-cells, which help by destroying cells that have been taken over by the virus.
Larger trials evaluating the vaccine's effectiveness, involving about 10,000 people in the U.K. as well as participants in South Africa and Brazil are still underway. Another big trial is slated to start in the U.S. soon, aiming to enroll about 30,000 people.
Last week, American researchers announced that the first COVID-19 vaccine tested there boosted people's immune systems just as scientists had hoped and the shots will now enter the final phase of testing.
Nearly two dozen potential vaccines are in various stages of human testing worldwide, with a handful entering necessary late-stage testing to prove effectiveness.
Florida COVID-19 numbers have been making waves in the news as of late but they may not be telling the real story, according to one hospital and a report of multiple testing laboratories.
Some hospitals and labs in Florida have been reporting up to 100% positivity rates, meaning that 100% of people who come in and get tested end up testing positive for COVID-19.
A report showed that Orlando Health had a 98 percent positivity rate. However, when contacted, the hospital confirmed errors in the report. Orlando Health's positivity rate is only 9.4 percent, not 98 percent as in the report.
Florida's record count of infections may be overestimated by 30%.
The vaccine it is developing has shown to induce a "rapid and strong" immune response against COVID-19, stating it will begin late-stage testing in less than two weeks.
The company said it will start the third study phase of the vaccine candidate on July 23 with 30,000 participants, stating its study protocol has been reviewed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and is aligned with its guidance on clinical trial design.
Archaeological sites could fill vast historical gaps.
One site, at Flying Foam Passage, was estimated to be at least 8500 years old and bore evidence of human activity associated with a freshwater spring 14 metres deep. The other was at Cape Bruguieres, with more than 260 lithic artefacts discovered up to 2.4 metres below sea level, dated to at least 7000 years old using radiocarbon and sea-level change analysis along with predictive modelling. The artefacts included various food processing, cutting, grinding and muller tools, such as a combined hammer stone and grindstone, which would have been used to grind seeds.