NASA’s InSight lander felt the distant rumble of two major ‘marsquakes’ in March, originating from a region near the Martian equator known as the Cerberus Fossae. Registering magnitudes of 3.1 and 3.3 on March 7th and March 18th respectively, the quakes cement the Cerberus Fossae’s reputation as one of the most geologically active places on the Red Planet today. A pair of similarly strong marsquakes rocked the same region back in 2019.
The Cerberus Fossae region is scarred by a series of massive, nearly-parallel fissures, created when the planet’s crust was pulled open by a dramatic volcanic event. Volcanism is the primary driver of quakes on Mars: the Red Planet lacks the tectonic plates that cause most of the quakes we feel here on Earth.
On Mars, the Cerberus Fossae region is one of the major epicenters of such activity, and is a fascinating area to study because of its geological instability, both in the past and in the present day.
Our ability to detect marsquakes is very new. Geologists have suspected their existence for decades, but it wasn’t until InSight fired up its Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS) in early 2019 that scientists were able to incontrovertibly catch a recording of one. The Viking 2 lander observed an event back in 1976 that may have been a small quake, but at that time it was impossible to rule out wind or weather as the cause. InSight, on the other hand, has now found hard evidence of over five hundred seismic events in just the last two years. Most marsquakes detected by SEIS have been small, but those originating from the Cerberus Fossae are among the clearest and strongest yet.
Incredibly, geologists were able to predict that InSight might hear quakes from the Cerberus Fossae region six years before the spacecraft even landed on Mars. Back in 2012, a research team used imagery taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s HiRISE camera to examine the area, and discovered evidence of recent landslides, as well as boulders that had rolled down the steep slopes of some of the chasms. These rockslides seemed consistent with the after-effects of earthquakes here at home, suggesting that a marsquake might recently have occurred. InSight’s new detections validate that theory.
The InSight mission received a two-year extension in January, and in that time the team hopes to create a detailed record of Martian seismic activity. To ensure the highest possible quality data, they have begun using the lander’s robotic arm to bury the SEIS instrument’s cable. Doing so will reduce wind noise, vibrations, and temperature fluctuations, all of which can interfere with the seismometer and disguise possible marsquake detections.
InSight is also still struggling with dust-covered solar panels, meaning some of the lander’s instruments, like its weather station, will have to be powered down temporarily. Insight still has enough energy to keep SEIS running for another month or two, after which it too will have to go into hibernation. This low-power state will remain until a dust devil cleans the panels, or until Mars moves closer to the Sun in its orbit, which should happen shortly after July.
In the meantime, researchers are excited about the detections coming from the Cerberus Fossae, and are hoping that stronger quakes are yet to come. If InSight hears a ‘Big One,’ the vibrations may go deep enough to interact with the planet’s mantle and its core. Listening to such an event would teach us more about the planet’s internal structure – something we currently know very little about.
SpaceX launches amateur crew on private Earth-circling trip – Al Jazeera English
SpaceX’s first private flight has been launched into orbit with two contest winners, a healthcare worker and their rich sponsor on board, the most ambitious leap yet in space tourism.
The launch on Wednesday night was the first time a spacecraft circled Earth with an all-amateur crew and no professional astronauts.
“Punch it, SpaceX!” the flight’s billionaire leader, Jared Isaacman, urged moments before liftoff.
The Dragon capsule’s two men and two women are looking to spend three days circling the planet from an unusually high orbit – 160km (100 miles) higher than the International Space Station – before splashing down off the Florida coast this weekend.
It is SpaceX founder Elon Musk’s first entry in the competition for space tourism dollars.
Isaacman is the third billionaire to launch this summer, following the brief space-skimming flights by Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson and Blue Origin’s Jeff Bezos in July. Only 38, Isaacman made his fortune from a payment-processing company he started in his teens.
Joining Isaacman on the trip dubbed Inspiration4 is Hayley Arceneaux, 29, a childhood bone cancer survivor who works as a physician assistant where she was treated – St Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Isaacman has pledged $100m out of his own pocket to the hospital and is seeking another $100m in donations.
Arceneaux became the youngest American in space and the first person in space with a prosthesis, a titanium rod in her left leg.
Also along for the ride are sweepstakes winners Chris Sembroski, 42, a data engineer in Everett, Washington, and Sian Proctor, 51, a community college educator in Tempe, Arizona.
Once opposed to space tourism, NASA is now a supporter.
“Low-Earth orbit is now more accessible for more people to experience the wonders of space,” tweeted NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, who was a congressman when he hitched a ride on a space shuttle decades ago.
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.
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