There may be habitable planets in space, and it’s space missions like this that will help verify their existence.
A researcher at Bishop’s University in Sherbrooke is joining the science team of NASA’s Pandora mission trying to find habitable planets in other solar systems.
Dr. Jason Rowe, Canada Research Chair in Exoplanet Astrophysics at in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, will be acting as a co-investigator and a member of the science team, it was announced last week.
The mission they’ve chosen to accept: To study approximately 20 known stars and exoplanets outside our solar system to understand their atmospheres — and it’s on a budget.
It’s a challenge to do highly impactful work for a low cost and on an accelerated timescale; what normally could take decades to launch and cost billions will now cost $20 million and could be gazing into the heavens as early as 2025.
“Anything that goes into space is going to be expensive, but this is a whole different scope… on the budget-end of doing astronomy from orbit,” Rowe told the Montreal Gazette in an interview. His work in launching small satellites into low orbit will be part of NASA’s Pioneers Program that was launched in 2020.
“The key is that we’ve been selected as part of this program, we’re being funded to sit down and make this a reality,” he explains. “The agencies want this to happen because it’s a new avenue for getting access to space for astronomy that otherwise would not be available.”
It’s far from Rowe’s first rodeo. He’s worked on missions like the MOST microsatellite, Canada’s first space telescope and the Near-Earth Object Surveillance Satellite (NEOSSat), the world’s first space telescope for the detection and tracking of asteroids and satellites — and many others.
For the Pandora mission, the SmallSats will use infrared spectroscopy to determine the chemical properties of a planetary atmosphere, including the presence of water.
So, will this mission help us to discoverable habitable exoplanets planets beyond our own solar system?
Yes and no.
“Saying something’s habitable is a vague concept; how many truly habitable worlds do we know about? The answer’s always one, because it’s the Earth,” says Rowe. “There’s no other inhabited world that we know.”
That said, joining NASA’s Pandora mission is no less exciting.
“It informs us of how planets form, how their atmospheres in turn form, and potentially how they’re sculpted by their star,” Rowe explains. “If we understand that, we can go back to the big question of how the Earth formed.”
Researchers create a novel method of bioprinting neuron cells – Medical Xpress
A group of researchers including a Concordia Ph.D. student have developed a new method of bioprinting adult neuron cells. They’re using a new laser-assisted technology that maintains high levels of cell viability and functionality.
Ph.D. candidate and 2020-21 Public Scholar Hamid Orimi and his co-authors present the feasibility of a new bioprinting technology they developed in a recent paper published in the journal Micromachines. They demonstrate how the methodology they created, called Laser-Induced Side Transfer (LIST), improves on existing bioprinting techniques by using bioinks of differing viscosities, allowing for better 3D printing. Orimi, his Concordia co-supervisor Sivakumar Narayanswamy in the Gina Cody School of Engineering and Computer Science, CRHMR co-supervisor Christos Boutopoulos and co-authors at the Université de Montréal first presented the method in the Nature journal Scientific Reports in 2020.
Orimi co-wrote the newer paper with lead author Katiane Roversi, Sebastien Talbot and Boutopoulos at UdeM and Marcelo Falchetti and Edroaldo da Rocha at Federal University of Santa Catarina in Brazil. In it, the researchers demonstrate that the technology can be used to successfully print sensory neurons, a vital component of the peripheral nervous system. This, they say, is promising for the long-term development of bioprinting’s potential, including disease modeling, drug testing and implant fabrication.
Viable and functional
The researchers used dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons from the peripheral nervous system of mice to test their technology. The neurons were suspended in a bioink solution and loaded into a square capillary above a biocompatible substrate. Low-energy nanosecond laser pulses were focused on the middle of the capillary, generating microbubbles that expanded and ejected a cell-laden microjet onto the substrate below it. The samples were briefly incubated, then washed and re-incubated for 48 hours.
The team then ran several tests to measure the printed cells’ capacities. A viability assay found that 86 percent of the cells remained alive two days after printing. The researchers note that viability rates improved when the laser used lower energy. The thermomechanics associated with higher laser energy use was more likely to damage the cells.
Other tests measured neurite outgrowth (in which developing neurons produce new projections as they grow in response to guidance cues), neuropeptide release, calcium imaging and RNA sequencing. Overall, the results were generally encouraging, suggesting that the technique could be an important contribution to the field of bioprinting.
Good for people and animals
“In general, people often leap to conclusions when we talk about bioprinting,” Orimi says. “They think that we can now print things like human organs for transplants. While this is a long-term objective, we are very far from that point. But there are still many ways to use this technology.”
Nearest at hand is drug discovery. The team hopes to get approval to continue their research into cell grafting, which can assist greatly in drug discovery, such as for nerve recovery medicines.
Another advantage to using this technology, Orimi says, is a decrease in animal testing. This not only has a humanitarian aspect—fewer animals will be euthanized to carry out experiments meant to benefit humans—but it will also produce more accurate results, since testing will be carried out on human, not animal, tissue.
Hamid Ebrahimi Orimi et al, Drop-on-demand cell bioprinting via Laser Induced Side Transfer (LIST), Scientific Reports (2020). DOI: 10.1038/s41598-020-66565-x
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Josh Richards Is Bringing Back The Woolly Mammoth – Forbes
Influencers are everywhere.
They are at the MET Gala. They are walking the red carpet at the VMAs and now they are part of a team creating de-extinction technology which will bring the woolly mammoth back to the Arctic tundra within the next six years.
Yes, you read that right. Extinction could be a thing of the past thanks to a TikToker and his friends.
Josh Richards may be known to the masses as a TikTok star with over 40 million followers across social media but he has consistently proven to be a lot more than that.
He has developed himself into a serial entrepreneur with companies ranging from Ani Energy, his energy drink which is now in Walmart, to Cross Check Studios, his production company with Mark Wahlberg, to Animal Capital, an $18 million venture capital fund that he started with his business partner Michael Gruen and former Goldman Sachs investment banker Marshall Sandman.
This week, Richards and his fund Animal Capital announced their investment and advisory position into Colossal. They are a company that is using recent breakthrough advances in CRISPR genetic engineering, a new wave of disruptive conservation and restorative biology, which will eventually make extinction a thing of the past.
The company was founded by tech entrepreneur Ben Lamm and world-renowned geneticist and serial biotech entrepreneur George Church, Ph.D. In addition to being a founder of Colossal, Church also serves as a Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School and is a Professor of Health Sciences and Technology at Harvard and MIT.
Lamm said, “Genetic engineering holds an endless amount of opportunity for the future of humanity: From eradicating diseases to improving our ability to survive in changing climates. It is a breakthrough technology. As an entrepreneur, I’ve routinely found myself on the cusp of breakthrough technologies because I believe they mark powerful nexus events in the future of our species. I am incredibly excited and grateful for great partners and investors like Josh Richards and Animal Capital who see our long-term vision and can help contribute to the advancement of science and genomics.”
Richards has been involved in the Animal Capital since its inception a year ago and his stamp is felt throughout the company. He, Gruen and Sandman brought on billionaire movie and technology mogul, Thomas Tull, to lead the round of funding. They brought Paramount Pictures President, Michael Ireland, and Billboard president, Julian Holguin, on as advisors. They got the billionaire Winklevoss twins to invest, as well as others. They’ve also been heavily involved in the company’s rollout and media strategy.
Josh Richards said, “It is mind boggling that a 19-year-old kid from a small town in Ontario could be a part of a team that will change the world. To be involved in a company like this, that will change the world for the better, and allow my kids’ kids to have a better life, is truly an honor. My generation is the generation tasked with combatting climate change and creating a better world as we are the generation set to inherit the Earth.”
Sandman, the managing partner of Animal Capital, said, “The opportunity to invest in Colossal really speaks to the reason we originally started Animal Capital. Ben, George and the entire team are on a path to change the world and we are proud to be along for the journey”
Animal Capital’s other investments, include: Mental health technology, Whoop, crypto startup, WonderFi, which went public on the NEO two weeks ago and calendar-based social media platform, Saturn.
So, who knows, maybe we’ll see Josh Richards making a TikTok on a wooly mammoth. soon. Stay tuned.
SpaceX set to launch first all-civilian crew into orbit. Here’s what you should know – Globalnews.ca
The latest in a recent line of billionaire space enthusiasts prepared for liftoff on Wednesday along with three other private citizens aboard a SpaceX rocket ship, aiming to become the first all-civilian crew launched into Earth orbit.
The quartet of amateur space travelers, led by the American founder and chief executive of e-commerce firm Shift4 Payments Inc Jared Isaacman, were due for blastoff as early as 8 p.m. EDT (0000 GMT) from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
The flight, with no professional astronauts accompanying SpaceX’s paying customers, is expected to last about three days from liftoff to splashdown in the Atlantic.
“Everything is go for launch,” SpaceX principal integration engineer John Insprucker declared about 3 1/2 hours before launch time in a SpaceX webcast of pre-liftoff activities.
A short time earlier, Isaacman, 38, and his crewmates – Sian Proctor, 51, Hayley Arceneaux, 29, and Chris Sembroski, 42 – strolled out of a SpaceX hangar waiving to cheering crowds of family, friends and well-wishers.
From there they were driven in two automobiles across the space center complex to a support building, where they donned the black-and-white spacesuits they will wear for liftoff.
They then headed to the launch pad to board a gleaming white SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, dubbed Resilience, perched atop one of the company’s reusable Falcon 9 rockets and fitted with a special observation dome in place of the usual docking hatch.
Video shows SpaceX debris lighting up B.C. skies
This marks the debut flight of SpaceX owner Elon Musk’s new orbital tourism business, and a leap ahead of competitors likewise offering rides on rocket ships to customers willing to pay a small fortune for the exhilaration – and bragging rights – of spaceflight.
Isaacman has paid an undisclosed sum to fellow billionaire Musk to send himself and his three crewmates aloft. Time magazine has put the ticket price for all four seats at $200 million.
The mission, called Inspiration4, was conceived by Isaacman mainly to raise awareness and support for one of his favorite causes, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, a leading pediatric cancer center in Memphis, Tennessee.
Inspiration4 is aiming for an orbital altitude of 360 miles (575 km) above Earth, higher than the International Space Station or Hubble Space Telescope. At that height, the Crew Dragon will circle the globe once every 90 minutes at a speed of some 17,000 miles per hour (27,360 kph), or roughly 22 times the speed of sound.
Leap ahead of rivals
Rival companies Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin inaugurated their own private-astronaut services this summer, with their respective founding executives, billionaires Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos, each going along for the ride.
Those suborbital flights, lasting a matter of minutes, were short hops compared with Inspiration4’s spaceflight profile.
SpaceX already ranks as the most well-established player in the burgeoning constellation of commercial rocket ventures, having launched numerous cargo payloads and astronauts to the International Space Station for NASA. Two of its Dragon capsules are docked there already.
The Inspiration4 crew will have no part to play in flying the spacecraft, which will be operated by ground-based flight teams and onboard guidance systems, even though two crew members are licensed pilots.
Isaacman, who is rated to fly commercial and military jets, has assumed the role of mission “commander,” while Proctor, a geoscientist and former NASA astronaut candidate, has been designated as the mission “pilot.”
Rounding out the crew are “chief medical officer” Arceneaux, a bone cancer survivor turned St. Jude physician assistant, and mission “specialist” Sembroski, a U.S. Air Force veteran and aerospace data engineer.
The four crewmates have spent five months in rigorous preparations, including altitude fitness, centrifuge (G-force), microgravity and simulator training, emergency drills, classroom work and medical exams.
Inspiration4 officials have said the mission is more than a joyride.
Once in orbit, the crew will perform a series of medical experiments with “potential applications for human health on Earth and during future spaceflights,” the group said in media materials.
Biomedical data and biological samples, including ultrasound scans, will also be collected from crew members before, during and after the flight.
“The crew of Inspiration4 is eager to use our mission to help make a better future for those who will launch in the years and decades to come,” Isaacman said in a statement.
— Reporting by Julio-Cesar Chavez in Cape Canaveral, Florida; Writing and additional reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles
© 2021 Reuters
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