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AI-powered 'electronic nose' to sniff out meat freshness –



The e-nose comprises a ‘barcode’ that changes colour due to reactions with gases emitted by the decaying meat, and a barcode ‘reader’ in the form of a smartphone app powered by AI, and has been trained to recognise and predict meat freshness from a large library of barcode colours. Credit: Nanyang Technological University

A team of scientists led by Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) has invented an artificial olfactory system that mimics the mammalian nose to assess the freshness of meat accurately.

The (e-nose) comprises a that changes color over time in reaction to the gasses produced by meat as it decays, and a barcode reader in the form of a smartphone app powered by artificial intelligence (AI). The e-nose has been trained to recognize and predict meat freshness from a large library of barcode colors.

When tested on commercially packaged chicken, fish and beef meat samples that were left to age, the team found that their deep convolutional neural network AI algorithm that powers the e-nose predicted the freshness of the meats with a 98.5 percent accuracy. As a comparison, the research team assessed the prediction accuracy of a commonly used algorithm to measure the response of sensors like the barcode used in this e-nose. This type of analysis showed an overall accuracy of 61.7 percent.

The e-nose, described in a paper published in the scientific journal Advanced Materials in October, could help to reduce food wastage by confirming to consumers whether meat is fit for consumption, more accurately than a ‘best before’ label could, said the research team from NTU Singapore, who collaborated with scientists from Jiangnan University, China, and Monash University, Australia.

Co-lead author Professor Chen Xiaodong, the director of the Innovative Center for Flexible Devices at NTU, said: “Our proof-of-concept artificial olfactory system, which we tested in real-life scenarios, can be easily integrated into packaging materials and yields results in a short time without the bulky wiring used for electrical signal collection in some e-noses that were developed recently. These barcodes help consumers to save money by ensuring that they do not discard products that are still fit for consumption, which also helps the environment. The biodegradable and non-toxic nature of the barcodes also means they could be safely applied in all parts of the food supply chain to ensure food freshness.”

The team is now working with a Singapore agribusiness company to extend this concept to other types of perishables.

AI-powered ‘electronic nose’ to sniff out meat freshness
The barcode is attached to the underside of the PVC film that the meat is packaged in. Credit: Nanyang Technological University

A nose for freshness

The e-nose developed by NTU scientists and their collaborators comprises two elements: a colored barcode that reacts with gasses produced by decaying meat; and a barcode reader that uses AI to interpret the combination of colors on the barcode. To make the e-nose portable, the scientists integrated it into a smartphone app that can yield results in 30 seconds.

The e-nose mimics how a mammalian nose works. When gasses produced by decaying meat bind to receptors in the mammalian nose, signals are generated and transmitted to the brain. The brain then collects these responses and organizes them into patterns, allowing the mammal to identify the odor present as meat ages and rots.

In the e-nose, the 20 bars in the barcode act as the receptors. Each bar is made of chitosan (a natural sugar) embedded on a cellulose derivative and loaded with a different type of dye. These dyes react with the gasses emitted by decaying meat and change color in response to the different types and concentrations of gasses, resulting in a unique combination of colors that serves as a scent fingerprint for the state of any meat.

For instance, the first bar in the barcode contains a yellow dye that is weakly acidic. When exposed to nitrogen-containing compounds produced by decaying meat (called bioamines), this yellow dye changes into blue as the dye reacts with these compounds. The color intensity changes with an increasing concentration of bioamines as meat decays further.

For this study, the scientists first developed a classification system (fresh, less fresh, or spoiled) using an international standard that determines meat freshness. This is done by extracting and measuring the amount of ammonia and two other bioamines found in fish packages wrapped in widely-used transparent PVC (polyvinyl chloride) packaging film and stored at 4°C (39°Fahrenheit) over five days at different intervals.

They concurrently monitored the freshness of these fish packages with barcodes glued on the inner side of the PVC film without touching the fish. Images of these barcodes were taken at different intervals over five days.

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Credit: Nanyang Technological University

E-nose achieves 98.5 percent overall accuracy

A type of AI algorithm known as deep convolutional neural networks was then trained with images of different barcodes to identify patterns in the scent fingerprint that correspond to each category of freshness.

To gage the prediction accuracy of their e-nose, the NTU scientists then monitored the freshness of commercially packed chicken, fish, and beef with barcodes glued on the packaging film, and stored at 25°C (77°Fahrenheit). Over 4,000 images of the barcodes from six meat packages were taken at different time intervals over 48 hours without opening the different packages.

The research team first trained their system to pick out patterns among the scent fingerprints captured in 3,475 barcode images, before testing the system’s accuracy on the remaining images.

The results revealed an overall 98.5 percent accuracy—100 percent accuracy in identifying spoiled meats, and a 96 to 99 percent accuracy for fresh and less fresh meats.

As a comparison, the research team randomly selected 20 barcode images from each freshness category to assess the prediction accuracy of Euclidean distance analysis, a commonly used method to measure the response of sensors like the barcode used in this e-nose. This analysis showed an overall accuracy of 61.7 percent.

Prof Chen, President’s Chair Professor in Materials Science and Engineering at NTU, said: “While e-noses have been extensively researched, there are still bottlenecks to their commercialisation due to current prototypes’ issues with accurately detecting and identifying the odor. We need a system that has both a robust sensor setup and a data analysis method that can accurately predict scent fingerprints, which is what our e-nose offers. Its non-destructive, automated and real-time monitoring capability could also be used to recognize the types of gasses that other types of perishable food emit as they become less fresh, providing a broadly applicable new platform for food quality control, which is what we are working towards now.”

Explore further

An electronic nose for wine

More information:
Lingling Guo et al. Portable Food‐Freshness Prediction Platform Based on Colorimetric Barcode Combinatorics and Deep Convolutional Neural Networks, Advanced Materials (2020). DOI: 10.1002/adma.202004805

AI-powered ‘electronic nose’ to sniff out meat freshness (2020, November 10)
retrieved 10 November 2020

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A Capsule Containing Bits Of An Asteroid Is Plummeting To Earth – KACU



As you read this, indispensable clues to the origins of the known universe are plummeting from unimaginable heights straight for the Australian Outback. There, somewhere in the desert wilderness of Woomera, a capsule ferrying sample material from an asteroid — the primary goal of a six-year-long mission spanning billions of miles — is set to make its triumphant arrival on Earth.

The capsule is expected to herald its re-entry to Earth’s atmosphere with a brilliant fireball around 2 to 3 a.m. local time (12-1 p.m. ET). The event will be streamed here by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, which is spearheading the mission.

Inside the capsule is just a little bit of dust and dirt with potentially grand ramifications. It comes from Ryugu, a jet black asteroid roughly one mile wide, which orbits the sun between Earth and Mars, roughly 180 million miles from our planet.

Researchers expect the sample to contain organic matter similar to the early space rocks that combined to make planets, which, with careful study, may offer a glimpse of the mysterious processes that turned the universe into what it is today. In other words, JAXA explains, scientists hope that by examining the sample, they may “approach the secrets of the birth of the solar system and the birth of life.”

Scientists have studied the composition of asteroids before. But usually the material they’re looking at has been radically changed by its arrival on Earth, after the rocks are burnt up by atmospheric entry and tainted by other matter it touches after landing. This sample, taken directly from the asteroid and protected by the capsule, should offer scientists a more accurate view of the organic matter in its natural state.

Still, it has been no easy feat to return the sample to Earth, and certainly not to obtain it in the first place.

After its launch in late 2014, JAXA’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft spent 3 1/2 years getting into position by orbiting the sun. After its arrival at Ryugu in 2018, the craft first sent a lander to the surface before making two trips of its own to collect material. Before its second visit to Ryugu’s surface in 2019, Hayabusa2 prepared a crater for itself with plastic explosives.

On its return trip, the capsule containing the sample separated from Hayabusa2 more than 130,000 miles from Earth — a distance that would get you more than halfway from your home to the moon. And JAXA researchers are aiming to land the little pod inside an area spanning about 40 square miles in the Australian Outback.

As if that weren’t enough, they will also have to find the darn thing, which is expected to contain material weighing just one gram. It’s a search that is expected to require at least five antennas, a helicopter and the support of the Australian space agency and the country’s military.

The specimens, which are estimated to weigh 1 gram in total, include the world’s first subsurface asteroid sample. Scientists hope the primordial materials will help further research into the origin of life on Earth and the evolution of the solar system.

Masaki Fujimoto, deputy director-general of JAXA’s Institute of Space and Astronautical Science, told reporters on Friday local time that researchers will move quickly to get the capsule, once located, over to an Australian Department of Defense facility for inspection.

“We don’t want to miss anything,” he said at a briefing, according to a translation by Japanese media, “so as soon as the capsule is back to the headquarter building we can extract the gas sample so the best science can be obtained from the precious sample we are returning from asteroid Ryugu.”

This will not be the end of the line for Hayabusa2, however. The spacecraft will not follow the capsule back to Earth but rather continue on to another asteroid traveling between Earth and Mars, which it is expected to reach by 2031.

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Watch Japan's Hayabusa2 mission deliver first subsurface asteroid samples to Earth – CBS News



A Japanese capsule is returning to Earth on Saturday carrying the first-ever rock samples from beneath the surface of an asteroid. When it plummets to Earth, the capsule will provide a stunning show above the Australian outback, streaking across the sky as a dazzling fireball. 

Project manager Yuichi Tsuda called the mission a “rare event in human history.” It marks just the second time pristine, untouched material directly from an asteroid has been brought back to Earth. 

JAXA, Japan’s national aerospace and space agency, was expected to stream the event live at 12:00 p.m. ET on Twitter and YouTubeWatch it here: 

Mission Control Live:Hayabusa2 Capsule Reentry Operation by
jaxasgm on

Japan’s Hayabusa2 probe, which is roughly the size of a refrigerator, launched in December 2014, thrilling scientists when it landed on the diamond-shaped asteroid Ryugu, which means “dragon palace” in Japanese, located 185 million miles away. 

On Saturday, it successfully released a capsule for Earth, according to the country’s space agency.

The 15-inch capsule separated from the probe about 136,701 miles above Earth ahead of its planned descent into the Australian outback, near Woomera, South Australia. A parachute will open about six miles above the ground and signals will alert space agency officials to its location.  

This computer graphics image released by JAXA shows the Hayabusa2 spacecraft above the asteroid Ryugu. 

ISAS/JAXA via AP, File

Scientists expect the capsule to bring home a small amount of asteroid material, collected last year, with the goal of learning more about the origins of the solar system and life on Earth. Scientists believe that the rocks that compose the asteroid are around four billion years old.  

The samples could shed light on “how matter is scattered around the solar system, why it exists on the asteroid and how it is related to Earth,” Tsuda told reporters, according to a Friday news release.  

The samples were collected during two separate landings on Ryugu last year. During the first, the probe collected dust and blasted a hole in the asteroid’s surface to find additional material beneath it. Several months later, the probe returned to the crater it created to collect more samples. 

This Nov. 13, 2019, file image released by JAXA, shows asteroid Ryugu taken by Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft.


“We may be able to get substances that will give us clues to the birth of a planet and the origin of life… I’m very interested to see the substances,” mission manager Makoto Yoshikawa told reporters.

But the rescue mission could prove to be a challenge. 

According to The Associated Press, JAXA officials set up satellite dishes, marine radar, drones and helicopters to assist in the scavenger hunt. 

In this photo provided by JAXA, its crew members set up an antenna in preparation for the capsule collection in Woomera, South Australia in November 2020. 


After officials find and collect the capsule, the samples will be processed and flown to Japan, then divided between researchers at JAXA, NASA and other international organizations. 

Some samples will be set aside for future studies when technology has further advanced. 

JAXA plans to extend Hayabusa2’s mission for more than a decade, with its sights set on two new asteroids, 2001 CC21 and 1998 KY26. 

The NASA OSIRIS-REx mission recently collected a sample from another near-Earth asteroid — Bennu, which is similar to Ryugu. The sample will return to Earth in 2023. 

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Japan awaits capsule's return with asteroid soil samples – World News –



Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft successfully released a small capsule on Saturday and sent it toward Earth to deliver samples from a distant asteroid that could provide clues to the origin of the solar system and life on our planet, the country’s space agency said.

The capsule successfully detached from 220,000 kilometres (136,700 miles) away in a challenging operation that required precision control, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said. The capsule — just 40 centimetres (15 inches) in diameter — is now descending and is expected to land Sunday in a remote, sparsely populated area of Woomera, Australia.

“The capsule has been separated. Congratulations,” JAXA project manager Yuichi Tsuda said.

Hayabusa2 left the asteroid Ryugu, about 300 million kilometres (180 million miles) away, a year ago. After it released the capsule, it moved away from Earth to capture images of the capsule descending toward the planet as it set off on a new expedition to another distant asteroid.

About two hours later, JAXA said it had successfully rerouted Hayabusa2 for its new mission, as beaming staff exchanged fist and elbow touches at the agency’s command centre in Sagamihara, near Tokyo.

“We’ve successfully come this far, and when we fulfil our final mission to recover the capsule, it will be perfect,” mission manager Makoto Yoshikawa said from the command centre during a livestreaming event.

People who gathered to watch the capsule’s separation at public viewing events across Japan cheered the success. ”I’m really glad that the capsule has been successfully released. My heart was beating fast when I was watching,” said Ichiro Ryoko, a 60-year-old computer engineer who watched at Tokyo Dome.

Hayabusa2’s return with the world’s first asteroid subsurface samples comes weeks after NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft made a successful touch-and-go grab of surface samples from asteroid Bennu. China, meanwhile, announced this week that its lunar lander collected underground samples and sealed them within the spacecraft for their return to Earth, as space developing nations compete in their missions.

In the early hours of Sunday, the capsule, protected by a heat shield, will briefly turn into a fireball as it reenters the atmosphere 120 kilometres (75 miles) above Earth. At about 10 kilometres (6 miles) aboveground, a parachute will open to slow its fall and beacon signals will be transmitted to indicate its location.

JAXA staff have set up satellite dishes at several locations in the target area to receive the signals. They also will use a marine radar, drones and helicopters to assist in the search and retrieval of the pan-shaped capsule.

Australian National University space rock expert Trevor Ireland, who is in Woomera for the arrival of the capsule, said he expected the Ryugu samples to be similar to the meteorite that fell in Australia near Murchison in Victoria state more than 50 years ago.

“The Murchison meteorite opened a window on the origin of organics on Earth because these rocks were found to contain simple amino acids as well as abundant water,” Ireland said. “We will examine whether Ryugu is a potential source of organic matter and water on Earth when the solar system was forming, and whether these still remain intact on the asteroid.”

Scientists say they believe the samples, especially ones taken from under the asteroid’s surface, contain valuable data unaffected by space radiation and other environmental factors. They are particularly interested in analyzing organic materials in the samples.

JAXA hopes to find clues to how the materials are distributed in the solar system and are related to life on Earth. Yoshikawa, the mission manager, said 0.1 gram of the dust would be enough to carry out all planned researches.

For Hayabusa2, it’s not the end of the mission it started in 2014. It is now heading to a small asteroid called 1998KY26 on a journey slated to take 10 years one way, for possible research including finding ways to prevent meteorites from hitting Earth.

So far, its mission has been fully successful. It touched down twice on Ryugu despite the asteroid’s extremely rocky surface, and successfully collected data and samples during the 1 1/2 years it spent near Ryugu after arriving there in June 2018.

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