Category: top posts

Astronauts on a Spacewalk to Investigate Space Station Mystery Hole

By Chelsea Gohd | December 11, 2018 12:40 pm
Space walk for ISS hole investigation

Russian astronauts Oleg Kononenko and Sergey Prokopyev conduct a six-hour spacewalk to investigate the cause of a hole on the Soyuz spacecraft. (Credit: NASA)

On Tuesday, two Russian cosmonauts are spending some six hours in space, working to solve the mystery of who or what poked a hole in the Soyuz spacecraft.

Back in August, astronauts noticed a slight drop in pressure on the International Space Station. While not an immediate risk, the astronauts investigated and found a hole on the inside of the Soyuz habitation module, which is currently docked at the space station. Astronauts Sergey Prokopyev and Alexander Gerst repaired the two-millimeter-wide hole with material soaked in an epoxy sealant. Pressure quickly returned to normal aboard the space station, and the patch job has held since then.

But as they’ve investigated the hole in the Soyuz capsule, astronauts can’t figure out what created it. At first, it was thought that a micrometeorite may have collided with the craft and created the hole. But Russian officials stated a few days after the hole was discovered that, based on its shape, the hole looked to have been drilled. This led to speculation that perhaps someone purposefully created the hole, sparking rumors of sabotage.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts

SNAPSHOT: New Butterfly Named for Pioneering Naturalist Maria Sibylla Merian

By Alison Mackey | December 11, 2018 10:00 am
a new butterfly named for Maria Sibylla Merian

(Credit: Florida Museum photo by Kristen Grace)

This newly identified rare black butterfly has been named after the pioneering 17th century female entomologist, Maria Sibylla Merian. An extraordinary woman, this naturalist and scientific illustrator once sold 255 paintings to fund an expedition across the Atlantic to document the flora and fauna of Dutch Suriname, collected in a book in 1705.
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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts
MORE ABOUT: animals

A Woman’s Uterus May Play a Role in Memory and Cognition

By Claire Cleveland | December 10, 2018 5:30 pm
rat study of memory and downsides of uterus removal

One-third of women in the U.S. have their uterus removed by age 60. A study in rats (not pictured) showed the procedure can reduce memory and cognition. (Credit: IrinaK/Shutterstock)

(Inside Science) — In medical textbooks, the nonpregnant uterus is often described as quiescent, dormant and useless. But now, researchers have found that the uterus may play a role in memory and cognition — a role hitherto unappreciated because researchers haven’t looked closely at the uterus’s role outside of pregnancy.

A third of women in the U.S. have their uteruses removed, a procedure called hysterectomy, by age 60, according to Heather Bimonte-Nelson, who directs Arizona State University’s behavioral neuroscience of memory and aging lab and is senior author of a new paper detailing the research.

The uterus is connected to the autonomic nervous system, which coordinates unconscious functions like breathing and digestion. While researchers have long studied the way the ovaries interact in the body and with the brain, the uterus has often been overlooked, according to the researchers, who studied the effects of hysterectomy in female rats.
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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, top posts
MORE ABOUT: sex & reproduction

What Does Mars Sound Like? InSight Just Recorded Martian Wind

By Alison Klesman | December 10, 2018 5:07 pm
NASA Mars InSight mission carried a microphone to Mars

This image, taken December 7 by InSight’s Instrument Deployment Camera, shows one of the probe’s two large solar panels. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

On November 26, NASA’s Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) lander successfully touched down on Mars. Though the probe’s main goal is to explore the planet’s interior, its sophisticated instruments are also offering a unique way to explore the Martian surface — by recording the sound of Martian wind.
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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts
MORE ABOUT: mars, space exploration

Get Out and Watch the Geminid Meteor Shower This Week

By Rich Talcott | December 10, 2018 5:04 pm
Geminid Meteor Shower

A brilliant Geminid meteor streaks through the sky over Mount Whitney in the Alabama Hills in the Sierra Nevada Mountains on December 14, 2011. With an elevation of 14,505 feet (4,421 meters), Mount WhitneyWith an elevation of 14,505 feet (4,421 meters), ranks as the highest point in the contiguous United States. (Credit: Tony Rowell)

The spectacular Geminid meteor shower peaks the night of December 13/14. Although many people consider it to be a poor cousin to August’s Perseid shower, the Geminids often put on a better show. This year, observers can expect to see up to 120 “shooting stars” per hour — an average of nearly two per minute — under a dark sky. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts

After More Than 40 Years, Voyager 2 Has Gone Interstellar

By Chelsea Gohd | December 10, 2018 4:46 pm
This illustration shows the position of NASA’s Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 probes, outside of the heliosphere, a protective bubble created by the Sun that extends well past the orbit of Pluto. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

This illustration shows where NASA’s Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 probes are relative to one another. Both are outside of the heliosphere. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Escaping the Heliosphere

Humanity has another interstellar emissary.

After launching in 1977, NASA’s trailblazing spacecraft Voyager 2 has finally escaped the heliosphere, the Sun’s protective bubble of charged particles. It follows in the path of its sibling,  Voyager 1, which crossed into interstellar space in 2012.

The Sun’s solar wind makes up the heliosphere, which surrounds us and all of the planets in our solar system. The boundary where the hot solar winds of the heliosphere end and give way to the cold interstellar medium is known as the heliopause, and it’s also the border of interstellar space. On November 5, 2018, instruments aboard NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft sent back data indicating the craft had crossed the heliopause. The craft is now traveling and collecting data in interstellar space more than 11 billion miles from Earth.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts

NASA Releases First Data from OSIRIS-REx Asteroid Mission

By Chelsea Gohd | December 10, 2018 4:20 pm
This mosaic image of asteroid Bennu is composed of 12 PolyCam images collected on Dec. 2 by the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft from a range of 15 miles (24 km). (Image: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)

This image of asteroid Bennu is made up of 12 PolyCam images collected on Dec. 2 by the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft from 15 miles away. (Credit: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)

OSIRIS-REx Findings

OSIRIS-REx has been busy ever since it arrived at the asteroid Bennu on December 3. The latest updates from NASA reveal that the space rock is porous, blue, and covered in massive boulders. More excitingly, they discovered evidence that Bennu’s minerals interacted with water at some point in its distant past.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts

Living in Space Makes Our Bodies More Susceptible to Infections

By Jake Parks | December 7, 2018 4:52 pm

Mice have long been used for biomedical research here on Earth, but in the last few decades, they’ve been increasingly ferried to space to help scientists better understand how living in microgravity can affect biological organisms. (Credit: National Cancer Institute/Wikimedia Commons)

Even just 30 days in space can significantly reduce our immune system’s ability to fight infection, suggests a new analysis of mice that spent a month aboard an orbiting spacecraft.

The research, which was published December 6 in the journal Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, is a recent analysis of data from the Bion-M1 mission, which was a collaborative project carried out by NASA and the Russian Institute of Biomedical Problems in 2013.

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Scientists Find Planets Hidden in a Far-off Cloud of Gas and Dust

By Chelsea Gohd | December 7, 2018 4:10 pm
Until recently, protoplanetary disks were believed to be smooth, pancake-like objects. The results from this study show that some disks are more like doughnuts with holes, but even more often appear as a series of rings. The rings are likely carved by planets that are otherwise invisible to us. (Image: Feng Long)

A new study shows that many protoplanetary disks are made up of a series of rings separated by gaps. According to the study, the rings are likely carved by planets. (Image: Feng Long)

Planet Hunting

In a vast cloud of dust and gas 450 light-years from Earth in the Taurus constellation, scientists have found evidence of a treasure trove of super-Earths and Neptune-sized planets.

Using the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile, a team of researchers conducted a study of young stars in a gaseous, star-forming region of Taurus. The team observed and imaged 32 stars in the region that are surrounded by protoplanetary disks — rotating disks of dust and gas that surround young stars and often develop objects like planets.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts

A New Generation of Atomic Clocks Could Help Find Dark Matter

By Chelsea Gohd | December 7, 2018 2:01 pm
ytterbium atomic clock

A ytterbium lattice clock at NIST. (Credit: NIST)

Detecting Dark Matter

For years, researchers have been hunting for dark matter, which is thought to make up about 27 percent of the entire known universe. Now, an innovative team of scientists says they may have figured out a new way to detect the elusive substance using an international network of atomic clocks.

In the early 1930s, astronomers such as Fritz Zwicky and Jan Oort wondered at apparent discrepancies between the visible matter astronomers could map in the universe, and the amount that should be expected, based on physics. Then, in the late 1970s, Vera Rubin and Kent Ford noticed something off about the rotation of the Andromeda Galaxy: The material at the galaxy’s edges was rotating at the same speed as the material at the center, which violated Newton’s Laws of Motion, assuming the only matter in the galaxy was the visible matter they mapped.

The same effect cropped up in other galaxies as well, leading astronomers to suspect that some “extra matter,” which could not be seen in the same way as glowing stars and gas, was responsible for the unexpected rotation. Today, scientists call that extra matter dark matter, and it can thus far be detected only through its gravitational effects on the visible matter we can see.

With a new generation of super-precise atomic clocks, an international team of researchers says they may have a new way to catch dark matter as it interacts with regular matter — something that scientists assume must happen, but haven’t yet been able to see.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts
MORE ABOUT: dark matter, physics

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