New York – Scientists have discovered what could be the world’s oldest forest, potentially rich in information on the link between forests and climate change, according to a study published Thursday in the journal Current Biology.
The title of world’s oldest fossil forest had previously been given to a site in Gilboa, in the Catskills region of upstate New York, dating back about 385 million years.
The new site is an old quarry in the same region, just 25 miles (40 kilometers) farther east, near the town of Cairo.
After 10 years of samples and studies, an international team of 11 scientists concluded the quarry had once housed a forest 2 million to 3 million years older and more varied in types of trees.
As at Gilboa, scientists found traces of the primitive tree type Eospermatopteris. Somewhat similar to a palm tree, it has a thick bottom and crown of branches at the top, though no leaves.
But at the new site, they also found trees from the Archaeopteris type.
The Archaeopteris has “much more modern” characteristics, with leaves and root systems comparable to a spruce or pine, explained William Stein, one of the study authors and a biology professor at Binghamton University in New York.
Those trees could help understand how forests modernized, at a time when carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere were getting lower and temperatures were dropping, Stein said.
By studying the cooling process, it could be possible to better understand the relationship today between climate warming and deforestation, since it may be a similar process in reverse, he said.
First Private Crew Will Visit Space Station. The Price Tag: $55 Million Each – Prairie Public Broadcasting
A crew of private astronauts will pay around $55 million each to spend about eight days at the International Space Station next January in what would be a new step for joint private-public space missions. Axiom Space, a Houston company, says the trip will be led by former NASA astronaut and space station commander Michael López-Alegría.
The proposed Ax-1 mission will use a SpaceX rocket to put three paying customers — American Larry Connor, Canadian Mark Pathy and Israeli Eytan Stibbe – into low-Earth orbit on the space station. All of the trio are wealthy entrepreneurs and investors. The group will be under the command of López-Alegría, who is now an executive at Axiom.
It would be the first time an entirely private mission sends astronauts to the International Space Station. Russia sold the first ride to the station to a private citizen, American businessman Dennis Tito, in 2001.
All of the private astronauts for the upcoming mission are far older than the average NASA astronaut’s age of 34. The space agency does not have age restrictions for astronaut candidates, who generally range from 26 to 46 years old. At 70, Connor is surpassed in age only by John Glenn, who flew on the space shuttle when he was 77.
Under NASA’s rules for private astronaut missions, Axiom must ensure its astronauts meet the space agency’s medical standards. They must also undergo training and certification procedures required for crew members of the International Space Station.
While the paying customers represent a new era of space tourism, they will also perform research as the space station whizzes over the Earth.
Connor will work with the Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic on research projects, Axiom says, while Pathy will collaborate with the Canadian Space Agency and the Montreal Children’s Hospital. Stibbe plans to do experiments for Israeli researchers, working with the Ramon Foundation and Israel’s space agency.
“We sought to put together a crew for this historic mission that had demonstrated a lifelong commitment to improving the lives of the people on Earth, and I’m glad to say we’ve done that with this group,” Axiom Space President and CEO Michael Suffredini said as the company announced the crew.
Similar missions are planned for the future, Suffredini said. Axiom hopes to arrange up to two trips per year — and the company also wants to build its own privately funded space station. Under that plan, its modules would be attached to the space station as soon as 2024. And when the space station is retired, the Axiom modules would break off to continue in orbit on their own.
NASA announced its plans to open the International Space Station to commercial activities in June 2019, saying it wants businesses to use innovation and ingenuity to speed up development of “a thriving commercial economy in low-Earth orbit.”
The space agency has a plan to recoup the steep costs of a private citizen visiting the space station. Its pricing policy lists expenses such as a daily fee of $11,250 per person for “regenerative life support and toilet” and $22,500 per person for crew supplies such as food and air. The price sheet also includes a data plan, priced at $50 per gigabyte.
Canadian Space Agency using satellite data to track endangered right whales – CBC.ca
The Canadian Space Agency is harnessing satellite technology to monitor and protect endangered North Atlantic right whales in the country’s waters.
The agency said Tuesday it will lead a $5.3-million project funded by the federal government called smartWhales, which will use satellites to detect the presence of right whales and to predict the animals’ movements.
Canada is giving a total of $5.3 million over three years to five companies for a series of projects to help protect the endangered species.
One of the projects will involve a system that can rapidly provide location data and detect if the whales are approaching a fishing vessel.
Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan says collecting satellite data about the movement of the whales is key to preventing collisions between whales and vessels and to spot cases where the animals are caught in fishing gear — two of the leading causes of right whale deaths.
In late October last year, the North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium released its annual report card, estimating that only 356 right whales were alive at the end of 2019.
Spacewalking astronauts improve station's European lab | TheSpec.com – TheSpec.com
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Spacewalking astronauts installed a high-speed data link outside the International Space Station’s European lab on Wednesday and tackled other improvements.
NASA’s Mike Hopkins and Victor Glover floated out early and headed straight to Columbus, one of the three high-tech labs at the orbiting outpost.
“That’s a beautiful view,” Hopkins observed as the station soared 260 miles (420 kilometres) above Kazakhstan.
The astronauts hauled with them a fancy new antenna for Columbus that will provide faster communication with European researchers via satellites and ground stations. Although they had trouble driving in some of the bolts to attach the boxy antenna, the size of a small refrigerator, it appeared to be secure and Mission Control declared success.
Danish astronaut Andreas Morgensen guided the spacewalkers from Mission Control in Houston, where controllers wore masks and were seated apart because of the pandemic.
The spacewalkers also needed to hook up power and data cables for an experiment platform for science research outside the European lab that’s been awaiting activation for almost a year.
SpaceX delivered the platform named Bartolomeo to the space station last spring. The shelf was installed with the station’s robot arm, but had to wait until Wednesday’s spacewalk to get hooked up and activated.
Airbus, which built and runs Bartolomeo, is selling space on the platform for private research projects. It’s Europe’s first commercial venture outside the station.
Hopkins and Glover will perform a second spacewalk on Monday to complete battery upgrades to the station’s solar power grid. The latest spacewalk was the third for Hopkins and first for Glover.
They are part of SpaceX’s second astronaut flight that launched in November. Their docked Dragon capsule was visible on NASA TV during the spacewalk.
The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
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