Feb 212017

Spanish scientists have developed a 3D bioprinter capable of creating functional human skin. The invention, which is the outcome of three years of intensive research, opens a new way to producing skin for both therapeutic and industrial applications.

3d bioprinter

3D Bioprinter (public domain)

Juan Francisco del Cañizo, the director of the Experimental Surgery Division at Gregorio Maranon Hospital of Universidad Complutense de Madrid, claims “this is the first method proving that entirelly functional skin can be manufactuered via a 3-D printing technology”.

The method has its advantages, he said, because “it shortens the skin manufacturing process and makes the product cost-effective and more affordable.”

The prototype can print both allogeneic and autologous skin. “The autologous skin is made of patient’s cells for therapeutic purposes, such as treating severe burns”, said del Canizo.

“The allogeneic skin is obtained from a stock of cells and eventually scaled out for industrial processes such as testing of pharmaceutical, chemical and cosmetic products”.

The project has been developed as a joined research involving Hospital General Universitario Gregorio Marañón, University Carlos III of Madrid (UC3M), the Research Centre for Energy, Environment and Technology (CIEMAT) and bio-engineering company BioDan Group.

Source: ScienceDaily.

Nov 062016

European Space Agency (ESA) has revealed the first color image of the spot where its Schiaparelli EDM lander impacted Mars on 19 October during a landing attempt at an estimated speed of over 300 km per hour.

Schiaparelli colour photo crash site

Schiaparelli crash site in color (photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona)

Telemetry signals from Schiaparelli, monitored in real time by the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope in India, were lost about one minute from the surface during the final landing stages.
On 21 October 2016, NASA’s spacefraft MRO (Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter) made use of its HiRISE instrument (High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment) to picture the crash site and provide ESA with the first color photograph after the loss of the Schiapareli module.

The photo shows some bright points in the vicinity of the impact area which could indicate the presence of fragments scattered following the crash. Furthermore, the image shows that module’s parachute seems to have changed its position due to Martian winds.

European Space Agency estimates that investigation into what happened on Mars will be completed in late November. The other component of the ExoMars mission, “Trace Gas Orbiter” (TGO), will continue to operate until at least 2022. Despite this obstacle, ESA plans to launch another mission to Mars in 2020 in cooperation with the Russian space agency Roscosmos.

Oct 192016

Wednesday was supposed to be a historic day for the European Space Agency (ESA) whose Schiaparelli EDM lander was set to make an astounding Mars landing. Despite having the ExoMars Trace Gas orbiter correctly positioned, the mission has been a partial success so far as signal from Schiaparelli yet remains silent. The engineers will work overnight to figure out why probe’s signal failed prior to landing.

Schiaparelli landing on Mars

Schiaparelli landing on Mars (artistic impression: pic: wikimedia)

UPDATE: ESA’s landing module was scheduled to touch down in mid-afternoon, but still no words on its fate, “no good signs” coming in!!!

Schiaparelli is part of ExoMars, a mission originally thought as an independent project of ESA. NASA joined the project subsequently but retired due to financial issues back in 2012. ESA continued the mission in partnership with Russian Aerospace Corporation Roscosmos.

Scientists at the European Agency headquarters are now impatiently waiting for the stunning moment when the spacecraft will stop its engines on Mars. If successful, Schiaparelli will have a technical mission that aims to test various techniques that will be needed over 4 years, when a broader mission called ExoMars 2020 will be deployed.

Before touching down on Mars, Schiaparelli EDM module will face tough challenges as it has to travel 121 kilometers through planet’s atmosphere and slow down from a dazzling speed of 21,000 km/h to 0 km/h within only 6 minutes. During its descent, the probe will make use of a parachute that aims at reducing its speed to about 250 km/h, writes Foxcrawl.com.

UPDATE: ESA Mars landing: ESA’s orbiter revealed success, but there is no news coming from Schiaparelli spacecraft – live. The ExoMars mission was hoping to land the module at 3:48 pm GMT, but no signal from probe has come in so far.
Photo credits: By Rlevente [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Video: ExoMars Mission: Schiaparelli lander Martian descent in real time

Oct 102016

One of the most commonly asked questions is probably: why don’t birds experience mid-air collisions? The answer is: they always veer right.


Budgies successfully passed collision tests (public domain)

A research study tried to find out why birds do not crash into each other when flying and the main hypothesis was that they acquired these skills after evolution of millions of years.

Researchers at University of Queensland analyzed 10 birds, especially budgerigars. The pairs of budgies were released from the opposite ends of a tunnel and flying towards one another. After 102 flights, it was discovered that there was no collision during the tests.

But the main observations were that the birds tried to avoid collisions head-on, always veering to the right or in other cases changing altitude.

“As air traffic becomes increasing busy, there is a pressing need for robust automatic systems for manned and unmanned aircraft, so there are real lessons to be learned from nature.” said study’s author, Mandyam Srinivasan.

You can have a glimpse at the experiment in the quick video below.

Oct 052016

British researchers David James Thouless (University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA, Frederick Duncan Michael Haldane (Princeton University, NJ, USA) and John Michael Kosterlitz (Brown University, Providence, RI, USA) won the Nobel Prize in Physics 2016 for their “theoretical discoveries of topological phase transitions and topological phases of matter”. Such states of matter are usually met in superconductors.

“Thanks to their pioneering work, the hunting for new and exotic states of matter has begun,” said the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in a statement.

Thouless receives half of the prize money worth 937 000 dollars while the other half will be equaly divided between Haldane and Kosterlitz.

The Nobel Prize for Physics 2016 is the second award this year, coming one day after Japan’s cell biologist Yoshinori Ohsumi was granted the Nobel in Medicine.

Sep 302016

ESA’s spacecraft Rosetta ended historic 12-year space mission on Friday when made a controlled crash landing on comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko under the supervision of scientists from the European Space Operations Center (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany.

Rosetta last image 67p comet

Rosetta’s last image of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (pic: ESA)

“Rosetta’s collision with the space object occurred at a speed of 90 centimeters per second (3.2 km/h), “ie human walking speed””, according to Sylvain Lodiot, head of flight operations at ESOC.

The spectacular “death” of the probe ended a space odyssey that kicked off on 2 March 2004 and revealed a remarkable success around 67P.

Rosetta’s last image captured seconds before impact with the comet, was posted by the European Space Agency (ESA) on its Facebook page.

The exploration of 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko will reveal information seen as crucial for understanding how comets and the solar system formed.

Comets began to emerge 4.5 billion years ago and are among the most primitive celestial bodies in this system.

Rosetta mission, whose costs were put at 1.4 billion euros, has enabled the harvesting of tremendous amount of data that will give scientists enough workload for the upcoming several years.

Video: Rosetta spacecraft completes mission with comet collision

Rosetta has traveled more than 7 billion kilometers during its journey and escorted Ciuriumov-Gherasimenko since August 2014.

The spacecraft even dropped a small robot called Philae on to the mountainous surface in November 2014 to collect additional information. It was the first time in history that a man-made object had such an intimate contact with a comet.

Featuring large solar panels, the probe began to run out of power as it moved increasingly more from the sun. As a result, ESA decided to end the affair while still in control of the spacecraft. Rosetta’s last show was performed at more than 700 million kilometers away from Earth.

Video: Rosetta Mission ended on Friday, September 30, 2016

Sep 282016

The moon was part of the Earth but an interplanetary crush led to the formation of Terra’s natural satellite about 4.5 billion years ago.

earth and moon

The Earth and the far side of the moon, illuminated by the Sun (NASA/public domain)

New study published in the journal Nature Geoscience, claims to have finally discovered evidence that the Moon was created after a dramatic collision long time ago. It is widely believed that the Earth formed 4.5 billion years ago, with the Moon appearing some millions of years later after an object the size of Mars struck the then-young planet.

Currently, the scientists argue that a layer of iron and other elements embedded deep inside the Earth is a clear proof the Moon was born from our planet’s debris.

The hypothesis suggests that a giant protoplanet, named Theia, collided with Earth and the collision would have released a large amount of debris from the core, leading to the unification of Theia with Earth and the formation of Moon from fragments.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University combined seismic data from both planet’s core and mantle to find a layer of iron, silicon, oxygen and other elements.

Laboratory simulations unveiled that following a collision event, mixing between the foreign object and Earth’s core would have created stratified layer similar to that seen in the proximity of the core today.

Sep 032016

Images that have never been seen before by humans were taken by Juno spacecraft and revealed by NASA!

jupiter north pole

Close-up image of Jupiter’s north pole as captured by NASA’s Juno spacecraft. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS)

NASA’s spaceprobe continues to write history by snapping breathtaking images of Jupiter’s north pole and its southern lights.

Juno successfully performed the first of its 36th flybys on August 27, when it passed at a distance of 4,200 kilometers above the largest planet of our solar system and captured the first-ever photos of its North Pole.

“First glimpse of Jupiter’s north pole, and it looks like nothing we have seen or imagined before,” said Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. “It’s bluer in color up there than other parts of the planet, and there are a lot of storms. There is no sign of the latitudinal bands or zone and belts that we are used to — this image is hardly recognizable as Jupiter. We’re seeing signs that the clouds have shadows, possibly indicating that the clouds are at a higher altitude than other features.”

NASA scientists say that Juno delivered also a unique look of the southern region which has not been seen previously in such details, although Cassini was able to photograph both poles from different angles during its journey to Saturn back in 2000.

The photos of the southern aurora was taken when the probe was at about 94 500 kilometers below the planet. The spaceship’s Infrared Auroral Mapper (JIRAM) camera acquired the view at wavelengths ranging from 3.3 to 3.6 microns, which is the wavelengths of light emitted by excited hydrogen ions in the polar regions.

“JIRAM is getting under Jupiter’s skin, giving us our first infrared close-ups of the planet,” said Alberto Adriani, JIRAM co-investigator from Istituto di Astrofisica e Planetologia Spaziali, Rome.

“These first infrared views of Jupiter’s north and south poles are revealing warm and hot spots that have never been seen before.

“And while we knew that the first-ever infrared views of Jupiter’s south pole could reveal the planet’s southern aurora, we were amazed to see it for the first time. No other instruments, both from Earth or space, have been able to see the southern aurora,” Adriani added.

Unlike the specific lines of the equatorial zone, Jupiter’s poles are “stained” with both clockwise and anti-clockwise thunderstorms that are similar to much larger versions of our terrestrial hurricanes.

Juno spacecraft is powered by solar energy and equipped with nine scientific instruments, which we will be used to map Jupiter’s gravitational and magnetic fields and explore planet’s inner structure.

Data transmitted from Juno will help researchers better understand how Jupiter formed and evolved.

At the end of its mission, the spacecraft will be deliberately crashed into the planet’s atmosphere. Juno was programmed to do so to ensure that any microbe on Earth will not contaminate Jupiter’s moon, Europa, which astrobiologists believe is most likely to host extraterrestrial life.

Video: Juno capturing radiation emitted by Jupiter’s auroras

Aug 172016

The effects of microgravity on the human body: what would happen if you spend your whole life lying in bed?

People spend about a quarter of their lives sleeping, which means they use at least as much time lying in bed, but what would happen to their bodies if they spend the entire life in bed?

The video below tries to provide us with some answers to this question, offering detailed explanations for the appearance of sore back and limbs, atrophy, worse blood circulation, as these are just some of the consequences of staying in bed for too long time.

The video was posted on the Youtube channel Noggin Life two days ago and has already gathered more than 700 thousand views.

Video: Effects of gravity on human body when lying in bed the entire life?

Mar 252016

Mysterious space object dubbed 1991 VG was first observed on 6 November 1991 by James Scotti, an astronomer and research specialist at the Lunar and Planetary Lab of the University of Arizona.

Scotti was at the lab’s Kitts Peak (Arizona) telescope and while tweaking various settings beyond the usual range, he spotted an odd thing which he christened 1991 VG.

Asteroids collision near star - artist's concept (NASA/public domain)

Asteroids collision near star – artist’s concept (NASA/public domain)

In 1996, he recalled:
“It was a magnitude V=20.7 object moving with rates typical of a Near-Earth Asteroid.”

V factor measures of the brightness of the object. From there a complex formula links the brightness to the object’s size.

Scotti wrote:
“From photometry measurements we can say that if objects’ albedo is low, let’s say around 5%, then it’s about 19 meters in diameter. If the albedo is around 20%, then the object measures about 9 meters in diameter. If it were a perfect mirror it could be as small as about 4 meters in diameter.”

Nowadays, many conspiracy theorists believe this is a real “alien probe” which is set to come closed and fly near Earth in 2017.

Natural or artificial?
The object created confusion among astronomers because of its odd rotation and longevity in the outer space. Some argue that it’s a section of the Apollo 12 rocket, but Jim Scotti believes the weird space junk might be something else.

“We took into account also the possibility of a man-made object. There were several spacecraft and rocket bodies that could be 1991 VG, but after a detailed analysis, we ruled out this hypothesis,” said Scotti.

The opinions remain yet divided with some folks being convinced that the strange object is a secret Soviet rocket of the Space Race era (1957-1975).

It is widely known that the Soviet space rockets were as powerful as those developed by the US and there is a possibility that the former Communist empire launched such a rocket to the Moon and hid this fact because of a mishap or something which did not go according to plan.
When it was first spotted, the object was about 10 meters in diameter and located at a distance of approximately 451 000 km from Earth and about 80 467 km from the Moon.

This indicates an increased rate of rotation and brightness fluctuations. At that time, such a behavior had not been noticed at another asteroid of similar size. Furthermore 1991VG has an Earth-like orbit.