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 Future rovers, Meteron, Y'becca et Tiny Crystal Shapes Jura.

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Nombre de messages : 8174
Localisation : http://yanis.tignard.free.fr/
Date d'inscription : 09/11/2005

MessageSujet: Future rovers, Meteron, Y'becca et Tiny Crystal Shapes Jura.   Ven 9 Fév à 3:42

8 February 2018
The Red Planet’s low gravity and lack of magnetic field makes its outermost atmosphere an easy target to be swept away by the solar wind, but new evidence from ESA’s Mars Express spacecraft shows that the Sun’s radiation may play a surprising role in its escape.

Why the atmospheres of the rocky planets in the inner Solar System evolved so differently over 4.6 billion years is key to understanding what makes a planet habitable. While Earth is a life-rich water-world, our smaller neighbour Mars lost much of its atmosphere early in its history, transforming from a warm and wet environment to the cold and arid plains that we observe today. By contrast, Earth’s other neighbour Venus, which although inhospitable today is comparable in size to our own planet, and has a dense atmosphere.

One way that is often thought to help protect a planet’s atmosphere is through an internally generated magnetic field, such as at Earth. The magnetic field deflects charged particles of the solar wind as they stream away from the Sun, carving out a protective ‘bubble’ – the magnetosphere – around the planet.

At Mars and Venus, which don’t generate an internal magnetic field, the main obstacle to the solar wind is the upper atmosphere, or ionosphere. Just as on Earth, solar ultraviolet radiation separates electrons from the atoms and molecules in this region, creating a region of electrically charged – ionised – gas: the ionosphere. At Mars and Venus this ionised layer interacts directly with the solar wind and its magnetic field to create an induced magnetosphere, which acts to slow and divert the solar wind around the planet.

For 14 years, ESA’s Mars Express has been looking at charged ions, such as oxygen and carbon dioxide, flowing out to space in order to better understand the rate at which the atmosphere is escaping the planet.


Ion escape at Mars
The study has uncovered a surprising effect, with the Sun’s ultraviolet radiation playing a more important role than previously thought.

“We used to think that the ion escape occurs due to an effective transfer of the solar wind energy through the martian induced magnetic barrier to the ionosphere,” says Robin Ramstad of the Swedish Institute of Space Physics, and lead author of the Mars Express study.

“Perhaps counter-intuitively, what we actually see is that the increased ion production triggered by ultraviolet solar radiation shields the planet’s atmosphere from the energy carried by the solar wind, but very little energy is actually required for the ions to escape by themselves, due to the low gravity binding the atmosphere to Mars.”


The ionising nature of the Sun’s radiation is found to produce more ions than can be removed by the solar wind. Although the increased ion production helps to shield the lower atmosphere from the energy carried by the solar wind, the heating of the electrons appears to be sufficient to drag along ions under all conditions, creating a ‘polar wind’. Mars’ weak gravity – about one third that of Earth’s – means the planet cannot hold on to these ions and they readily escape into space, regardless of the extra energy supplied by a strong solar wind.

At Venus, where the gravity is similar to Earth’s, a lot more energy is required to strip the atmosphere in this way, and ions leaving the sunward side would likely fall back towards the planet on the lee-side unless they are accelerated further.

“We therefore conclude that in the present day, ion escape from Mars is primarily production-limited, and not energy-limited, whereas at Venus it is likely to be energy-limited given the larger planet’s higher gravity and high rate of ionisation, being nearer to the Sun,” adds Robin.

“In other words, the solar wind likely only had a very small direct effect on the amount of Mars atmosphere that has been lost over time, and rather only enhances the acceleration of already escaping particles.”

“Continuous monitoring of Mars since 2004, which covered the change in solar activity from solar minimum to maximum, gives us a large dataset that is vital in understanding the long-term behaviour of a planet’s atmosphere and its interaction with the Sun,” says Dmitri Titov, ESA’s Mars Express project scientist. “Collaboration with NASA’s MAVEN mission, which has been at Mars since 2014, is also allowing us to study the atmospheric escape processes in more detail.”

The study also has implications for the search for Earth-like atmospheres elsewhere in the Universe.

“Perhaps a magnetic field is not as important in shielding a planet’s atmosphere as the planet’s gravity itself, which defines how well it can hang on to its atmospheric particles after they have been ionised by the Sun’s radiation, regardless of the power of the solar wind,” adds Dmitri.

Notes for Editors

“Global Mars-solar wind coupling and ion escape,” by Ramstad et al. is published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics (2017) doi:10.1002/2017JA024306.

The study is based on data collected by the Mars Express ASPERA-3 instrument, the Analyser of Space Plasmas and Energetic Atoms.

A twin instrument also operated on ESA’s Venus Express, which concluded its mission in 2014.

Mars Express was launched on 2 June 2003 and reaches 15 years in space this year.



For further information, please contact:

Robin Ramstad
Swedish Institute of Space Physics, Kiruna, Sweden
Email: robin.ramstad@irf.se

Dmitri Titov
ESA Mars Express Project Scientist
Email: dmitri.titov@esa.int

Markus Bauer








ESA Science Communication Officer









Tel: +31 71 565 6799









Mob: +31 61 594 3 954









Email: markus.bauer@esa.int

http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Space_Science/Mars_Express/Leaky_atmosphere_linked_to_lightweight_planet

Title Future rovers
Released 08/02/2018 1:31 pm
Copyright ESA
Description
A trio of future explorers take part in a ‘rover sim’, practising driving a virtual rover across a rocky lunar landscape.

Hannah and Lukas, from Gymnasium Michelstadt, and Lilly, from the Schule auf der Aue, in Münster, were at ESA’s mission control centre in Darmstadt, Germany, recently, to gain practical workplace experience.

The three worked as a team, responsible for surface operations, navigation and driving.

More information

Meteron

Id 390081

https://www.esa.int/spaceinimages/Images/2018/02/Future_rovers

Space is such a harsh place for humans and machines that future exploration of our Solar System will most likely involve sending robotic explorers to “test the waters” on uncharted planets before sending humans. The “Multi-Purpose End To End Robotics Operations Network”, or Meteron, project is preparing for that future.


Mars surface
Landing humans on a distant object is one thing, but they will also need the fuel and equipment to work and return to Earth when done. Sending robots to scout landing sites and prepare habitats for humans is more efficient and safer, especially if the robots are remotely controlled by astronauts who can react and adapt to situations better than computer minds.

Radio signals take up to 12 minutes to reach our nearest neighbour Mars, so it could take 24 minutes before an operator would know how a robot reacted to a new command. To overcome this problem, ESA is preparing to have astronauts control robots on the surface as they orbit a planet in their spacecraft.

Meteron is developing the communication networks, robot interfaces and hardware to operate robots from a distance in space. The International Space Station is used as testbed, with astronauts controlling rovers on Earth.

Space Internet
Operations Manager Paul Steele on console in the Rover communications control room at ESOC, Darmstadt, Germany
Rover control centre
The first step to controlling robots from space requires a form of Internet to send commands and receive information back.

A new network protocol called the Disruption Tolerant Network assures correct operation even in less-than-ideal conditions. This protocol stores commands if a signal is lost and forwards them once communication is returned over extremely long distances.

Watch, feel and react

Eurobot
Being able to send commands is one thing, but deciding how is another challenge the Meteron team are working on. Before using the Space Station’s external robotic arm, astronauts need time to set up its workstation. Operation requires two people – far from ideal in a scenario where swarms of planetary rovers with multiple arms need to be controlled to perform science or build space bases.

Meteron is testing ways of interacting with robots from afar that allows an astronaut to send commands, observe reactions by controlling accompanying ‘video-rovers’ and interrupt when necessary.


Force feedback experiment
Improving interaction further will require feedback of what a robot experiences, extending from visual displays to sensory feedback – a remote sense of touch. This is extremely important in determining the amount of force needed for the most complex tasks, such as picking up rock samples or installing equipment: most people can tie their shoes without looking, but not on a cold winter night with numb fingers.

Harnessing reliable feedback, an astronaut controller could automatically adjust the force their robot needs to do very fine, precise work, offering truly remote hands to do the ‘dirty work’ safely.

On Earth
Research into controlling robots from afar with robust communications has great potential for use on Earth. Finding earthquake survivors, investigating nuclear fallout or scientific expeditions to the bottom of our oceans or volcanoes would all benefit from robotic explorers controlled over the Disruption Tolerant Network.

Read more about the Meteron project with behind-the-scenes updates from the team on the Tales of Meteron blog

Last update: 10 April 2015

https://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Human_Spaceflight/International_Space_Station/Meteron

NEWS | FEBRUARY 8, 2018
Tiny Crystal Shapes Get Close Look From Mars Rover

Star-shaped and swallowtail-shaped tiny, dark bumps in fine-layered bright bedrock of a Martian ridge are drawing close inspection by NASA's Curiosity Mars rover.

This set of shapes looks familiar to geologists who have studied gypsum crystals formed in drying lakes on Earth, but Curiosity's science team is considering multiple possibilities for the origin of these features on "Vera Rubin Ridge" on Mars.

One uncertainty the rover's inspection may resolve is the timing of when the crystal-shaped features formed, relative to when layers of sediment accumulated around them. Another is whether the original mineral that crystallized into these shapes remains in them or was subsequently dissolved away and replaced by something else. Answers may point to evidence of a drying lake or to groundwater that flowed through the sediment after it became cemented into rock.

The rover team also is investigating other clues on the same area to learn more about the Red Planet's history. These include stick-shaped features the size of rice grains, mineral veins with both bright and dark zones, color variations in the bedrock, smoothly horizontal laminations that vary more than tenfold in thickness of individual layers, and more than fourfold variation in the iron content of local rock targets examined by the rover.

"There's just a treasure trove of interesting targets concentrated in this one area," said Curiosity Project Scientist Ashwin Vasavada of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. "Each is a clue, and the more clues, the better. It's going to be fun figuring out what it all means."

Vera Rubin Ridge stands out as an erosion-resistant band on the north slope of lower Mount Sharp inside Gale Crater. It was a planned destination for Curiosity even before the rover's 2012 landing on the crater floor near the mountain. The rover began climbing the ridge about five months ago and has now reached the uphill, southern edge. Some features here might be related to a transition to the next destination area uphill, which is called the "Clay Unit" because of clay minerals detected from orbit.

The team drove the rover to a site called "Jura" in mid-January to examine an area where -- even in images from orbit -- the bedrock is noticeably pale and gray, compared to the red, hematite-bearing bedrock forming most of Vera Rubin Ridge.

"These tiny 'V' shapes really caught our attention, but they were not at all the reason we went to that rock," said Curiosity science-team member Abigail Fraeman of JPL. "We were looking at the color change from one area to another. We were lucky to see the crystals. They're so tiny, you don't see them until you're right on them."

The features are about the size of a sesame seed. Some are single elongated crystals. Commonly, two or more coalesce into V-shaped "swallowtails" or more complex "lark's foot" or star configurations. "These shapes are characteristic of gypsum crystals," said Sanjeev Gupta, a Curiosity science-team member at Imperial College, London, who has studied such crystals in rocks of Scotland. Gypsum is a form of calcium sulfate. "These can form when salts become concentrated in water, such as in an evaporating lake."

The finely laminated bedrock at Jura is thought to result from lakebed sedimentation, as has been true in several lower, older geological layers Curiosity has examined. However, an alternative to the crystals forming in an evaporating lake is that they formed much later from salty fluids moving through the rock. That is also a type of evidence Curiosity has documented in multiple geological layers, where subsurface fluids deposited features such as mineral veins.

Some rock targets examined in the Jura area have two-toned mineral veins that formed after the lake sediments had hardened into rock. Brighter portions contain calcium sulfate; darker portions contain more iron. Some of the features shaped like gypsum crystals appear darker than gypsum, are enriched in iron, or are empty. These are clues that the original crystallizing material may have been replaced or removed by later effects of underground water.

The small, stick-shaped features were first seen two days before Curiosity reached Jura. All raw images from Mars rovers are quickly posted online, and some showing the "sticks" drew news-media attention comparing them to fossils. Among the alternative possibilities is that they are bits of the dark vein material. Rover science team members have been more excited about the swallowtails than the sticks.

"So far on this mission, most of the evidence we've seen about ancient lakes in Gale Crater has been for relatively fresh, non-salty water," Vasavada said. "If we start seeing lakes becoming saltier with time, that would help us understand how the environment changed in Gale Crater, and it's consistent with an overall pattern that water on Mars became more scarce over time."

Such a change could be like the difference between freshwater mountain lakes, resupplied often with snowmelt that keeps salts diluted, and salty lakes in deserts, where water evaporates faster than it is replaced.

If the crystals formed inside hardened rock much later, rather than in an evaporating lake, they offer evidence about the chemistry of a wet underground environment.

"In either scenario, these crystals are a new type of evidence that builds the story of persistent water and a long-lived habitable environment on Mars," Vasavada said.

Variations in iron content in the veins, smaller features and surrounding bedrock might provide clues about conditions favorable for microbial life. Iron oxides vary in their solubility in water, with more-oxidized types generally less likely to be dissolved and transported. An environment with a range of oxidation states can provide a battery-like energy gradient exploitable by some types of microbes.

"In upper Vera Rubin Ridge, we see clues that there were fluids carrying iron and, through some mechanism, the iron precipitated out," Fraeman said. "There was a change in fluid chemistry that could be significant for habitability."

For more about NASA's Curiosity Mars rover mission, visit:


https://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl


News Media Contact

Guy Webster / Andrew Good
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
818-354-6278 / 818-393-2433
guy.webster@jpl.nasa.gov / andrew.c.good@jpl.nasa.gov

Laurie Cantillo / Dwayne Brown
NASA Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1077 / 202-358-1726
laura.l.cantillo@nasa.gov / dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov

2018-026

This exposure of finely laminated bedrock on Mars includes tiny crystal-shaped bumps, plus mineral veins with both bright and dark material. This rock target, called "Jura," was imaged by the MAHLI camera on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover on Jan. 4, 2018, during Sol 1925 of the mission. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=7057&utm_source=iContact&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=NASAJPL&utm_content=msl20180208-1

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MessageSujet: Re: Future rovers, Meteron, Y'becca et Tiny Crystal Shapes Jura.   Ven 9 Fév à 3:52

IMAGES | FEBRUARY 8, 2018
Crystal Shapes and Two-Toned Veins on Martian Ridge.

Image Details
Mission: Mars Science Laboratory (MSL)

Target: Mars

Spacecraft: Curiosity

Instrument: Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI)

Views: 396

Full-Res TIFF: PIA22211.tif

Full-Res JPG: PIA22211.jpg

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

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Figure 1
Click on the image for larger version
This exposure of finely laminated bedrock on Mars includes tiny crystal-shaped bumps, plus mineral veins with both bright and dark material. This rock target, called "Jura," was imaged by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover on Jan. 4, 2018, during the 1,925th Martian day, or sol, of the rover's work on Mars.

The view combines three MAHLI frames covering a postcard-size patch of the rock. Fig. 1 includes a scale bar of 2 centimeters (about 0.8 inch) and a blow-up of a "swallowtail" crystal shape. The combination of simpler "lenticular" crystal shapes with swallowtails and more complex "lark's foot" and star shapes is characteristic of crystals of gypsum, a type of calcium sulfate.

To the right of a prominent swallowtail near the top of the image is one bright mineral vein and another with both bright and dark portions.

This rock is near the southern, uphill edge of "Vera Rubin Ridge" on lower Mount Sharp.

MAHLI was built by Malin Space Science Systems, San Diego. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Science Laboratory Project for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington. JPL designed and built the project's Curiosity rover.

More information about Curiosity is online at http://www.nasa.gov/msl and http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/.

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PENSÉE POUR:

Kherson (en ukrainien et en russe : Херсон) est une ville du Sud de l'Ukraine
et la capitale administrative de l'oblast de Kherson.
Sa population s'élevait à 294 941 habitants en 2016.

Géographie
Kherson est située sur le Dniepr, à 78 km de la mer Noire et à 447 km au sud-est de Kiev.

Histoire
La Polonaise étant annexée par les Prussiens en 1772, le Premier partage de la Pologne isole le Bassin de la Vistule de la mer, les prussiens s'emparent de plus de 80% du commerce extérieur de la République des Deux Nations, exigeant d'énormes droits de douane, ce qui la ruine.

Faute de débouchés, les régions céréalières du Sud de la Pologne sont en situation de surproduction 1. Leurs propriétaires songent à utiliser le Dniestr et le Boug méridional, qui s’écoulent, parallèlement vers la mer Noire1 pour y faire du commerce céréalier.

La ville de Kherson, qui doit devenir l'entrepôt de ce commerce est ainsi fondée en 1778 près de l'embouchure du Boug, sous l'impulsion de Grigori Potemkine, qui exécutait ainsi les ordres de l'impératrice Catherine II. En 1919, pendant la guerre civile russe, la ville est occupée quelques mois par les Français et les Grecs venus soutenir les Armées blanches. Cette intervention donne lieu à de violents combats en mars 1919 entre les Franco-Grecs et les forces ralliées à l'Armée rouge venues les en chasser. Pendant la Seconde Guerre mondiale, la ville est occupée par l'Allemagne nazie du 18 août 1941 au 13 mars 1944.

Depuis le 17 mai 2014, la ville sert également de capitale en exil à la République autonome de Crimée.

Population
Recensements (*) ou estimations de la population2 :

Évolution démographique
1858 1897 1911 1923 1926 1939
40 400 59 076 85 300 41 086 57 376 96 987
Évolution démographique, suite (1)
1959 1970 1979 1989 2001 2010
157 995 260 687 318 908 355 379 328 360 304 613
Évolution démographique, suite (2)
2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
302 528 300 666 299 052 297 593 296 448 294 941
Économie[modifier | modifier le code]
Kherson est un important port de la mer Noire et du Dniepr et le siège de chantiers de construction navale.

Personnalités[modifier | modifier le code]
Voir les catégories : Naissance à Kherson et Décès à Kherson.
Personnalités nées à Kherson :

Dora Brilliant (1880-1907) révolutionnaire
Mircea Ionescu-Quintus (ro) (1917-), homme politique, écrivain et juriste roumain
Larisa Semyonovna Latynina (1934-), athlète soviétique
Moshé Sharett (1894-1965), homme politique israélien
Sergueï Garmach (1958-), acteur soviétique puis russe
Sergueï Stanichev (1966-), homme politique bulgare
Tatiana Lyssenko (1975-), gymnaste soviétique, puis ukrainienne
Inna Chevtchenko (1990-), militante FEMEN
Jumelages[modifier | modifier le code]
La ville de Kherson est jumelée avec :

Drapeau de la Hongrie Zalaegerszeg (Hongrie)
Notes et références
↑ a et b "Genèse d’un nouveau commerce : la France et l’ouverture du marché russe par la mer Noire dans la seconde moitié du XVIIIe siècle", par Eric Schnakenbourg, dans la revue Cahiers de la Méditerrannée de 2011 [1] [archive]
↑ (ru) Recensements de 1959, 1970 et 1979 sur www.webgeo.ru [archive] — (en) City Population [2] [archive] — (en) Population Statistics [3] [archive] — (uk) Office des statistiques d'Ukraine : Статистичний збірник «Чисельність наявного населення України на 1 січня 2010 року» [Manuel statistique « Nombre d'habitants de l'Ukraine au 1er janvier 2010 »]. [4] [archive] ; Статистичний збірник «Чисельність наявного населення України на 1 січня 2011 року» [Manuel statistique « Nombre d'habitants de l'Ukraine au 1er janvier 2011 »]. [5] [archive] ; Статистичний збірник «Чисельність наявного населення України на 1 січня 2012 року» [Manuel statistique « Nombre d'habitants de l'Ukraine au 1er janvier 2012 »] [6] [archive]
Voir aussi
Sur les autres projets Wikimedia :

Kherson, sur Wikimedia Commons
Phare d'Adziogol
Liste complète des villes d'Ukraine
Liens externes[modifier | modifier le code]
(uk) Informations officielles [archive]
(en) Informations générales sur Kherson [archive]
(uk)(en) Héraldique ukrainienne [archive]
[masquer]
v · m
Villes et communes urbaines de l'oblast de Kherson
Villes Beryslav · Henitchesk · Hola Prystan · Kakhovka · Kherson · Nova Kakhovka · Olechky · Skadovsk · Tavriisk Armoiries de l'oblast de Kherson
Communes urbaines Antonivka · Arkhanhelske · Askaniia-Nova · Bila Krynytsia · Bilozerka · Brylivka · Dnipriany · Hornostaïvka · Ivanivka · Kalantchak · Kalipinske · Kar'ierne · Komychany · Kozatske · Lazourne · Lioubymivka · Myrne · Naddniprianske · Nova Maïatchka · Novooleksiïvka · Novotroïtske · Novovorontsovka · Nyjni Sirohozy · Partyzany · Syvaske · Tchaplynka · Velyka Lepetykha · Velyka Oleksandrivka · Verkhniï Rohatchyk · Vyssokopillia · Zelenivka

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Nombre de messages : 8174
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Date d'inscription : 09/11/2005

MessageSujet: Re: Future rovers, Meteron, Y'becca et Tiny Crystal Shapes Jura.   Ven 9 Fév à 3:59

Find Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Clinical Trials
Search for clinical trials and studies related to Alzheimer's,
other dementias, mild cognitive impairment, and caregiving.

https://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/clinical-trials

Title Weightless club
Released: 07/02/2018
Length 00:03:09
Language English
Footage Type Music Clip
Copyright BigCityBeats/WorldClubDome
Description
On 7 February 2018, 10 years to the day that Europe’s Columbus space laboratory was launched to the International Space Station, 20 lucky clubbers got a taste of weightlessness – not to conduct gravity-free science but to party with superstar DJs Steve Aoki, W&W and Le Shuuk.

Taking off from Frankfurt airport and organised by BigCityBeats, the WORLD CLUB DOME ZeroG project served as a teaser party for a bigger event on Earth in June. The aircraft flew up and down angled at 45º – at the top of the curve the passengers and experiments experience around 20 seconds of microgravity. Before and after the weightless period, increased gravity of up to 2 g is part of the ride.

ESA astronauts Pedro Duque and Jean-Francois Clervoy joined the weightless flight and provided background and safety tips to the DJs and party-goers.

The aircraft was on loan from its usual airport in Bordeaux, France, where it is used for scientific research and testing equipment for spaceflight. These flights are the only way to test microgravity with humans without going through lengthy astronaut-training and flights to the International Space Station. For this reason, parabolic flights are often used to validate space instruments and train astronauts before spaceflight.

ESA’s parabolic flight campaigns for science and technology investigations are generally performed twice a year, in spring and autumn.

ESA, Fraport Frankfurt and the City of Frankfurt and BigCityBeats combined a fascination of science with the joy and fun of dancing in this world’s-first flight.

More about ESA’s parabolic flights: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Human_Spaceflight/Research/Parabolic_flights

http://www.esa.int/spaceinvideos/Videos/2018/02/Weightless_club

NEWS | FEBRUARY 8, 2018
3-D Printable Tools May Help Study Astronaut Health

If humans are destined for deep space, they need to understand the space environment changes health, including aging and antibiotic resistance.

A new NASA project could help. It aims to develop technology used to study "omics" -- fields of microbiology that are important to human health. Omics includes research into genomes, microbiomes and proteomes.

The Omics in Space project is being led by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The project was recently funded by NASA's Translational Research Institute for Space Health four years of study. Over that time, NASA hopes to develop 3-D printable designs for instruments on the International Space Station (ISS), that can handle liquids like blood samples without spilling in microgravity. These tools could enable astronauts to analyze biological samples without sending them back to Earth.

Learning how bacteria affect crew health, or how genes affect aging and disease, can ensure the safety of long-term missions to Mars and beyond.

No Overnight Mail in Space

NASA has already studied omics with efforts like the Microbial Tracking 1 experiment, which examined microbial diversity on the space station. But there's no way to process samples on the station right now, so they have to be sent down to Earth.

It can be months between the time a sample is taken and an analysis is done, said Kasthuri Venkateswaran of JPL, principal investigator for the Omics in Space project.

"You don't have overnight mail when you go to space," Venkateswaran said. "You have to do all the analysis by yourself. This project will develop an automated system for studying molecular biology with minimal crew intervention."

One of the biggest challenges with preparing samples is handling fluids in microgravity. Astronauts collect a variety of samples, including their own saliva and blood, as well as microbes swabbed from the walls of the ISS. These samples have to then be mixed with water so they can be injected into instruments for analysis. Without the proper tools, samples can spill, float or form air bubbles that could compromise results.

A Big Step in 2016

Last year, NASA took a big step by sequencing DNA in space for the first time. Astronauts used a tiny, handheld sequencing tool called the MinION, developed by Oxford Nanopore Technologies.

Omics in Space will build on this success by developing an automated DNA/RNA extractor which will prepare samples for aMinION device. A critical part of this extractor is a 3-D printable plastic cartridge needed to extract nucleic acids from the samples for the MinION sequencing.

All of this technology has been tested here on Earth, said Camilla Urbaniak, a post-doctoral researcher at JPL and co-investigator on Omics in Space.

"We're taking what's on Earth to analyze DNA and consolidating all the steps into an automated system," Urbaniak said. "What's new is we're developing a one-stop-shop that can extract and process all of these samples."

The Future of Space Health

Previous omics research has revealed that astronaut immune systems tend to be weaker after living on the ISS. Scientists aren't sure why.

The field of epigenetics, which studies how genes are expressed -- including how humans age -- could help explain how microgravity and cosmic rays affect our DNA.

But Omics in Space isn't just about the human passengers who travel to the ISS. There are also microbes, carried by humans and cargo alike, which accumulate on board spacecraft.

"We need to put together a 'passenger list' of the microbes that ride along to space," said Nitin Singh of JPL, another co-investigator on the project. "Then, astronauts can detect genetic markers revealing whether these microbes are helpful or harmful -- the 'luggage' these passengers are bringing with them."

Being able to respond to changes in a crew's environment is crucial during long space voyages, said Ganesh Mohan of JPL, a co-investigator on the project who will be working to detect pathogenic microbes.

"You can see whether a possibly harmful microbe is increasing in number in real time. If needed, we could then take actions to counteract those microbes," said Mohan.

The Omics in Space project is funded by NASA's Translational Research Institute for Space Health, which is jointly operated with the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. The institute is overseen by NASA's Human Research Program.

Caltech in Pasadena, California manages JPL for NASA.


News Media Contact

Andrew Good
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
818-393-2433
andrew.c.good@jpl.nasa.gov

2018-027

https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=7056&utm_source=iContact&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=NASAJPL&utm_content=tech20180208-1

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