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In space, bacteria is even more deadly and resilient to antibiotics – The Next Web

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China recently launched its Tianwen-1 mission to Mars. A rocket holding an orbiter, lander and rover took flight from the country’s Hainan province, with hopes to deploy the rover on Mars’s surface by early next year.

Similarly, the launch of the Emirates Mars Mission marked the Arab world’s foray into interplanetary space travel. And on July 30, we saw NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover finally take off from Florida.

For many nations and their people, space is becoming the ultimate frontier. But although we’re gaining the ability to travel smarter and faster into space, much remains unknown about its effects on biological substances, including us.

While the possibilities of space exploration seem endless, so are its dangers. And one particular danger comes from the smallest life forms on Earth: bacteria.

Bacteria live within us and all around us. So whether we like it or not, these microscopic organisms tag along wherever we go – including into space. Just as space’s unique environment has an impact on us, so too does it impact bacteria.

[Read: Why are scientists trying to manufacture organs in space?]

We don’t yet know the gravity of the problem

All life on Earth evolved with gravity as an ever-present force. Thus, Earth’s life has not adapted to spend time in space. When gravity is removed or greatly reduced, processes influenced by gravity behave differently as well.

In space, where there is minimal gravity, sedimentation (when solids in a liquid settle to the bottom), convection (the transfer of heat energy), and buoyancy (the force that makes certain objects float) are minimized.

Similarly, forces such as liquid surface tension and capillary forces (when a liquid flows to fill a narrow space) become more intense.

It’s not yet fully understood how such changes impact lifeforms.

NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover will be launched later this month. Among other tasks, it will seek out past microscopic life and collect samples of Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust) to later be returned to Earth. NASA/Cover Images

How bacteria become more deadly in space

Worryingly, research from space flight missions has shown bacteria become more deadly and resilient when exposed to microgravity (when only tiny gravitational forces are present).

In space, bacteria seem to become more resistant to antibiotics and more lethal. They also stay this way for a short time after returning to Earth, compared with bacteria that never left Earth.

Adding to that, bacteria also seem to mutate quicker in space. However, these mutations are predominately for the bacteria to adapt to the new environment – not to become super deadly.

More research is needed to examine whether such adaptations do, in fact, allow the bacteria to cause more disease.

Bacterial teamwork is bad news for space stations

Research has shown space’s microgravity promotes biofilm formation of bacteria.

Biofilms are densely-packed cell colonies that produce a matrix of polymeric substances allowing bacteria to stick to each other, and to stationary surfaces.

Biofilms increase bacteria’s resistance to antibiotics, promote their survival, and improve their ability to cause infection. We have seen biofilms grow and attach to equipment on space stations, causing it to biodegrade.

For example, biofilms have affected the Mir space station’s navigation window, air conditioning, oxygen electrolysis block, water recycling unit, and thermal control system. The prolonged exposure of such equipment to biofilms can lead to malfunction, which can have devastating effects.

Another effect of microgravity on bacteria involves their structural distortion. Certain bacteria have shown reductions in cell size and increases in cell numbers when grown in microgravity.

In the case of the former, bacterial cells with the smaller surface areas have fewer molecule-cell interactions, and this reduces the effectiveness of antibiotics against them.

Moreover, the absence of effects produced by gravity, such as sedimentation and buoyancy, could alter the way bacteria take in nutrients or drugs intended to attack them. This could result in the increased drug resistance and infectiousness of bacteria in space.

All of this has serious implications, especially when it comes to long-haul space flights where gravity would not be present. Experiencing a bacterial infection that cannot be treated in these circumstances would be catastrophic.

The benefits of performing research in space

On the other hand, the effects of space also result in a unique environment that can be positive for life on Earth.

For example, molecular crystals in space’s microgravity grow much larger and more symmetrically than on Earth. Having more uniform crystals allows the formulation of more effective drugs and treatments to combat various diseases including cancers and Parkinson’s disease.

Also, the crystallization of molecules helps determine their precise structures. Many molecules that cannot be crystallized on Earth can be in space.

So, the structure of such molecules could be determined with the help of space research. This, too, would aid the development of higher-quality drugs.

Optical fiber cables can also be made to a much better standard in space, due to the optimal formation of crystals. This greatly increases data transmission capacity, making networking and telecommunications faster.

As humans spend more time in space, an environment riddled with known and unknown dangers, further research will help us thoroughly examine the risks – and the potential benefits – of space’s unique environment.

This article is republished from The Conversation by Vikrant Minhas, PhD candidate, University of Adelaide under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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Jupiter's newest Flyby offered the most amazing views. – haveeruonline

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Jupiter's newest Flyby offered the most amazing views.

Jupiter.

The largest planet in the solar system-twice as much as all other planets combined. This enormous world was formed from the same clouds of dust and gas that became our sun and the rest of the planet.

But Jupiter Was the eldest son Of our planetary family. The massive gravitational field of the first planet, Jupiter, most likely formed the rest of the entire solar system.

Jupiter may or may not have played a role in the position where all planets orbit around the sun. This is because the asteroid belt is a vast area that can be occupied by other planets. Jupiter’s gravity.

Gas giants such as Jupiter also throw entire planets out of the solar system or head towards stars.

Millions of years later, the formation of Saturn probably helped Jupiter escape this fate.

Jupiter can also act as a “comet catcher”. Otherwise, comets and asteroids that could fall into the inner solar system and attack a rocky world like Earth would instead be captured by Jupiter’s gravitational field and ultimately Jump into the clouds of Jupiter.

But at different times in Earth’s history, Jupiter May have had the opposite effect, Throwing an asteroid in our direction-it’s generally a bad thing, but water-rich rocks that lead to the blue planet we know today may have entered Earth.

Jupiter is a window into our solar system’s past. The past, literally shrouded under Jupiter’s clouds, is the reason why Juno, the spacecraft currently orbiting Jupiter, was so named. Mythical Jupiter’s wife Juno was able to peek into the cloud cloak that Jupiter uses to conceal himself and his injustice.

But in this case we are looking at our own history through the clouds of Jupiter. Juno entered Jupiter’s orbit on July 5, 2016 after traveling for almost five years to reach the gas giant.

Falling into Jupiter’s gravitational well, Juno reached a speed of 210,000 km/h. This is one of the fastest speed records ever set by any human-made object.

Juno is on a very eccentric 53-day orbit. During the Perijove or nearest orbital approach, Juno scans Jupiter at an altitude of 4,200 km, then sweeps 8.1 million km outward. Juno’s orbit is designed to navigate the weak areas of Jupiter’s incredibly powerful magnetic field.

Second power over the sun itself, Jupiter’s magnetic field accelerates high-energy particles emanating from the Sun, creating a powerful band of radiation surrounding the planet.

In addition to agile navigation, Juno’s electronics are enhanced against radiation through a “radiation vault”, a 1 cm thick titanium shell that houses sensitive scientific equipment.

One of the devices that dazzle us all on Earth is JunoCam. RGB color cameras visually image Jupiter’s clouds as the probe buzzes each orbit in 2 hours, consuming as little Jupiter’s radiation time as possible.

Most recently, Juno completed Perijove 29, some photos published by “Software Engineer, Planetary and Climate Data Wrangler, Scientific Data Visualization Artist”. Kevin Gil.

Kevin is absolutely amazing Flickr page He publishes images processed by Juno as well as other missions like Saturn’s. Cassini And HiRISE Camera orbit Mars Mars reconnaissance orbit.

OK. Last reason I came here: See Juno’s Perijove 29, handled by Kevin Gill (click on each image to see its full size).

Jupiter in Juno PJ29-c. (NASA/JPL/Kevin Gil)

50353627451 a9fa985b6e

50353627451 a9fa985b6eJupiter in Juno PJ29-c. (NASA/JPL/Kevin Gil)

50353886952 bf2d3931bc

50353886952 bf2d3931bcJupiter in Juno PJ29-c. (NASA/JPL/Kevin Gil)

50354101847 08071ae129

50354101847 08071ae129Jupiter in Juno PJ29-c. (NASA/JPL/Kevin Gil)

50354243256 a7e10b77c1

50354243256 a7e10b77c1Jupiter in Juno PJ29-c. (NASA/JPL/Kevin Gil)

50357320841 d7b91c2e95

50357320841 d7b91c2e95Jupiter in Juno PJ29-c. (NASA/JPL/Kevin Gil)

50360879938 78cd2d56de

50360879938 78cd2d56deJupiter in Juno PJ29-c. (NASA/JPL/Kevin Gil)

You can also follow Kevin’s work on Twitter (Huh) And Instagram (Bong Bong).

JunoCam isn’t really part of Juno’s main science mission. However, the camera serves the main function. Let Juno travel with us.

I think it’s really great. Sometimes astrophotography is more thought of as art than science.

But as an astrophotographer, I believe that this image inspires future scientists, raises a general awareness of ongoing scientific missions and public support for science funding. Speaking of which, what has our science discovered about the largest and greatest worlds?

One of Jupiter’s greatest mysteries is in its heart. Juno helped solve the ongoing debate about how Jupiter formed in the planetary science community.

There were two possibilitiesThe first is that Jupiter began as a rocky world, a nucleus that is about 10 times the mass of the Earth. The gravitational force of this nucleus attracted the surrounding hydrogen and helium until the formation of Jupiter as we know it. Its original rocky world was buried under a swirling vortex.

The second possibility is that the vortex of the rotating circular planetary disk of our early solar system collapsed on its own and Jupiter formed directly without a rocky core. Both theories account for different conditions when the solar system begins. Juno is not a solid core, but “ambiguous” or “Dilution“main point.

Jupiter appears to have been formed from a rock body, but its core is spread throughout Jupiter’s interior rather than being located at the center of the planet.

The dilution of the nucleus appears to be the result of a massive planet-sized impact on Jupiter that broke the initial nucleus and spread it over half the diameter of Jupiter.

Imagine being there for an event like that. Jupiter is swallowing up planets in our solar system that we never knew. The history of our place in space has been revealed.

We also learned that Jupiter’s winds dive deep beneath the outer clouds, the Great Red Spot is hundreds of kilometers deep, and from Jupiter’s North Pole and Antarctica we have seen huge cyclones capable of swallowing the country.

Cyclone size comparison JPL Caltech NASA

Cyclone size comparison JPL Caltech NASAJupiter Antarctic Cyclone in infrared with size comparison with US and Texas. (JPL / NASA / Caltech)

Jupiter is currently the brightest object in the night sky after sunset. If the sky is clear and you can see, look south!

Remember that the bright spot is a huge world hundreds of times the size of the Earth and millions of kilometers away, but potentially one of the key elements of your existence. Jove is amazing.

This article was originally published by the publisher Universe today. read Original article.

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The Latest Flyby of Jupiter Has Offered Some of The Most Marvellous Views Yet – ScienceAlert

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Jupiter.

Most massive planet in the solar system – twice that of all the other planets combined. This giant world formed from the same cloud of dust and gas that became our Sun and the rest of the planets.

But Jupiter was the first-born of our planetary family. As the first planet, Jupiter’s massive gravitational field likely shaped the rest of the entire solar system.

Jupiter could’ve played a role in where all the planets aligned in their orbits around the Sun…or didn’t, as the asteroid belt is a vast region which could’ve been occupied by another planet were it not for Jupiter’s gravity.

Gas giants like Jupiter can also hurl entire planets out of their solar systems, or themselves spiral into their stars.

Saturn’s formation several million years later probably spared Jupiter this fate.

Jupiter may also act as a “comet catcher.” Comets and asteroids which could otherwise fall toward the inner solar system and strike the rocky worlds like Earth are captured by Jupiter’s gravitational field instead and ultimately plunge into Jupiter’s clouds.

But at other times in Earth’s history, Jupiter may have had the opposite effect, hurling asteroids in our direction – typically a bad thing but may have also resulted in water-rich rocks coming to Earth that led to the blue planet we know of today.

Jupiter is a window into our own solar system’s past – a past literally enshrouded beneath Jupiter’s clouds which is why Juno, the probe currently orbiting Jupiter, is so named. Juno, Jupiter’s wife in mythology, was able to peer through a cloak of clouds Jupiter used to hide himself and his wrongful deeds.

In this case, however, we are looking through Jupiter’s clouds into our own history. Juno entered orbit of Jupiter 5 July 2016 after travelling for nearly five years to reach the gas giant.

Falling into Jupiter’s gravity well, Juno arrived at a speed of 210,000 km/h, one of the fastest speed records set by any human-made object.

Juno is in a highly eccentric 53 day orbit. During Perijove, or the closest orbital approach, Juno skims Jupiter at an altitude of 4,200 km and then sweeps outward to 8.1 million km. Juno’s orbit is designed to navigate through weaker areas of Jupiter’s incredibly powerful magnetic field.

Second in power only to the Sun itself, Jupiter’s magnetic field accelerates high energy particles from the Sun creating powerful bands of radiation that encircle the planet – electronics-frying radiation.

In addition to its nimble navigation, Juno’s electronics are hardened against radiation with its “radiation vault” – a 1 cm thick titanium shell that houses its sensitive scientific equipment.

One piece of equipment which dazzles all of us back on Earth is JunoCam – an RGB colour camera taking visual images of Jupiter’s clouds as the probe buzzes the planet in just two hours each orbit spending as little time as possible in Jupiter’s radiation.

Most recently, Juno completed Perijove 29 and some of the photos were posted by “Software Engineer, planetary and climate data wrangler, and science data visualization artist” Kevin Gill.

Kevin has an absolutely astonishing Flickr page where he posts images he’s processed from Juno as well as other missions like Saturn’s Cassini and the HiRISE camera orbiting Mars on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Okay. And finally, why you came here: Behold Juno’s Perijove 29 processed by Kevin Gill (You can click each image to see their full size).

50354102817 4f6d166d42Jupiter from Juno PJ29 – c. (NASA/JPL/Kevin Gill)

50353627451 a9fa985b6eJupiter from Juno PJ29 – c. (NASA/JPL/Kevin Gill)

50353886952 bf2d3931bcJupiter from Juno PJ29 – c. (NASA/JPL/Kevin Gill)

50354101847 08071ae129Jupiter from Juno PJ29 – c. (NASA/JPL/Kevin Gill)

50354243256 a7e10b77c1Jupiter from Juno PJ29 – c. (NASA/JPL/Kevin Gill)

50357320841 d7b91c2e95Jupiter from Juno PJ29 – c. (NASA/JPL/Kevin Gill)

50360879938 78cd2d56deJupiter from Juno PJ29 – c. (NASA/JPL/Kevin Gill)

You can also follow Kevin’s work on Twitter (@kevinmgill) and Instagram (@apoapsys).

JunoCam isn’t really part of Juno’s primary scientific mission. But the camera does provide a key function – allowing Juno to bring us along for the journey.

Which I think is truly spectacular. Sometimes astrophotography is thought more of as art than science.

But as an astrophotographer myself, I believe these images inspire future scientists, general awareness of ongoing scientific missions, and hopefully public support for the funding of science. Speaking of which, what has our science discovered about our giantest of giant worlds?

One of the greatest mysteries of Jupiter is what lies at its heart. Juno helped settle an ongoing debate in the planetary science community about how Jupiter formed.

There were two possibilities: The first is that Jupiter began as a rocky world – a core about 10 times the mass of Earth. The gravity of this core drew in surrounding hydrogen and helium until the Jupiter we know of was formed – that original rocky world buried beneath the churning maelstrom.

The second possibility is that eddies in the rotating protoplanetary disk of our early solar system collapsed on themselves and Jupiter formed from them directly with no rocky core. Both theories describe different conditions at the start of our solar system. Juno revealed something stranger, not a solid core, but a “fuzzy” or “diluted” core.

It appears that Jupiter did form from a rocky body, but rather than that core being situated at the centre of the planet, its is spread throughout the interior of Jupiter. 

The core’s dilution is likely the result of a massive planet-sized impact with Jupiter that shattered the initial core and spread it through half of Jupiter’s diameter.

Imagine being present for an event like that – Jupiter swallowing a would-be planet in our solar system we’ve never known. History of our place in space revealed.

We’ve also learned that Jupiter’s winds dive deep below the outer clouds, that the Great Red Spot is hundreds of kilometers deep, and we’ve seen giant cyclones at Jupiter’s North and South Poles that could swallow a country.  

Cyclones Size comparison JPL Caltech NASAJupiter South Polar Cyclones in Infrared with Size Comparison to US and Texas. (JPL/NASA/Caltech)

Jupiter is presently the brightest object in the night sky after sunset. If you have clear skies and can see it, look South!

Remember, that bright point is a giant world hundreds the times the size of Earth, millions of kilometers away, and yet potentially one of the key factors in your existence. By Jove, that’s amazing.

This article was originally published by Universe Today. Read the original article.

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NASA Astronaut Will Vote From Space – KCCU

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On Election Day, NASA astronaut Kate Rubins will be more than 200 miles above her nearest polling place. But she’s still planning to vote — from space.

“It’s critical to participate in our democracy,” Rubins told the Associated Press. “We consider it an honor to be able to vote from space.”

Rubins, who has a Ph.D. in cancer biology from Stanford and was the first person to sequence DNA in space, is currently training for her upcoming six-month mission on the International Space Station.

Voting from the space station is similar to voting absentee from anyplace on the planet — except instead of relying on the U.S. Postal Service to deliver the ballot, Rubins will get hers forwarded electronically from Mission Control in Houston.

“Using a set of unique credentials sent to each of them by e-mail, astronauts can access their ballots, cast their votes, and downlink them back down to Earth,” the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum explained in 2018.

The ballot is then sent to the county clerk for tabulation.

American astronauts have been able to cast ballots from above for over two decades now, ever since a Texas lawmaker learned that astronaut John Blaha couldn’t vote in the 1996 presidential race between Bill Clinton and Bob Dole. At the time, Blaha was serving on Russia’s Mir Space Station, a predecessor to the ISS.

“He expressed a little bit disappointment in not being able to do that,” Republican State Senator Mike Jackson told NPR’s Nell Greenfieldboyce in 2008.

Voting from space had never really been an issue before then, because NASA astronauts typically spent no more than about two weeks on shuttle missions. But with the advent of the space station, Americans were sometimes on missions for months at a time.

So a new law was born. “I can attest to how important one person’s vote is because my first election I won by seven votes out of over 26,000,” Jackson said.

Texas lawmakers approved the measure in 1997, and then-Gov. George W. Bush signed it into law. That same year, astronaut David Wolf became the first American to “vote while you float,” as NASA cheekily put it.

“I voted alone up in space, very alone, the only English speaker up there, and it was nice to have an English ballot, something from America,” Wolf told The Atlantic in 2016. “It made me feel closer to the Earth and like the people of Earth actually cared about me up there.”

Most NASA astronauts live in Houston, so since that Texas law was passed, several astronauts have been able to cast ballots from above. This isn’t even the first time Rubins has exercised her orbital privilege; she also voted in the 2016 presidential election from the space station — listing her address as “low-Earth orbit.”

“I think it’s really important for everybody to vote,” Rubins said. “If we can do it from space, then I believe folks can do it from the ground, too.”

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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