CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Bulked-up, mutant “mighty mice” held onto their muscle during a monthlong stay at the International Space Station, returning to Earth with ripped bodybuilder physiques, scientists reported Monday.
The findings hold promise for preventing muscle and bone loss in astronauts on prolonged space trips like Mars missions, as well as people on Earth who are confined to bed or need wheelchairs.
A research team led by Dr. Se-Jin Lee of the Jackson Laboratory in Connecticut sent 40 young female black mice to the space station in December, launching aboard a SpaceX rocket.
In a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Lee said the 24 regular untreated mice lost considerable muscle and bone mass in weightlessness as expected — up to 18%.
But the eight genetically engineered “mighty mice” launched with double the muscle maintained their bulk. Their muscles appeared to be comparable to similar “mighty mice” that stayed behind at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
In addition, eight normal mice that received “mighty mouse” treatment in space returned to Earth with dramatically bigger muscles. The treatment involves blocking a pair of proteins that typically limit muscle mass.
A SpaceX capsule brought all 40 mice back in good condition, parachuting into the Pacific off the California coast in January. Some of the ordinary mice were injected with the “mighty mice” drug after returning and quickly built up more muscle than their untreated companions, Lee said.
The scientists completed the experiment just as the coronavirus was hitting the U.S.
“The only silver lining of COVID is that we had time to write it up very intensively” and submit the results for publication, said Dr. Emily Germain-Lee of Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, Lee’s wife who also took part in the study. Both are affiliated with the University of Connecticut.
While encouraged by their findings, the couple said much more work needs to be done before testing the drug on people to build up muscle and bone, without serious side effects.
“We’re years away. But that’s how everything is when you go from mouse to human studies,” Germain-Lee said.
Lee said the experiment pointed out other molecules and signalling pathways worth investigating — “an embarrassment of riches … so many things we’d like to pursue.” His next step: possibly sending more “mighty mice” to the space station for an even longer stay.
Three NASA astronauts looked after the space mice, performing body scans and injections: Christina Koch and Jessica Meir, who performed the first all-female spacewalk last fall, and Andrew Morgan. They are listed as co-authors.
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.
News from © The Associated Press, 2020
An Asteroid Will Get Closer to Earth Than The Moon This Thursday, But Don't Panic – ScienceAlert
The asteroid – known as 2020 SW – isn’t expected to collide with Earth, according to the Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. But it will get close, passing about 16,700 miles (27,000 kilometers) away from Earth, according to the Virtual Telescope Project.
To put this in perspective, the moon hangs out at an average of 238,900 miles (384,000 km) from us, or about 30 Earths away. This asteroid will pass at a distance of about 2.1 Earths.
This means that asteroid 2020 SW will pass even closer than TV and weather satellites, which orbit at about 22,300 miles (35,888 km) away from Earth, according to EarthSky.
Scientists have yet to pin down the asteroid’s exact size, but it’s not that large, likely between 14 feet and 32 feet (4.4 and 9.9 meters) long, according to CNEOS.
This potentially RV-size asteroid was discovered only last week, on September 18, by the Mount Lemmon Survey in Arizona, and announced the next day by the Minor Planet Center, a NASA-funded group that monitors minor planets, comets and natural satellites. (It’s not unusual to find unknown asteroids; in September alone, the Minor Planet Center has announced the discovery of 244 near-Earth objects.)
Passing by Earth will actually be a life-changing event for asteroid 2020 SW. It’s such a small asteroid that Earth’s gravity is expected to change the space rock’s course when it zooms by our planet at 7:18 am EDT (11:18 UTC), according to EarthSky.
After asteroid 2020 SW’s close shave with Earth, it won’t pay our planet another visit until 3 June 2029, according to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
That said, the asteroid is certainly rushing to see us this Thursday (we hope it has a face mask), traveling at a velocity of about 17,200 mph (27,720 km/h, or 7.7 km/second) relative to Earth, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory reported.
The asteroid will appear brighter as it nears Earth, but it won’t be visible to the naked eye.
If you want a clear view of the space rock, visit The Virtual Telescope website, which is showing a live feed starting at 6 pm EDT (22:00 UTC) on Wednesday, September 23.
ISS moves to avoid space debris – Space Daily
Astronauts on the International Space Station carried out an “avoidance maneuver” Tuesday to ensure they would not be hit by a piece of debris, said US space agency NASA, urging better management of objects in Earth’s orbit.
Russian and US flight controllers worked together during a two-and-a-half-minute operation to adjust the station’s orbit and move further away, avoiding collision.
The debris passed within about 1.4 kilometers (nearly one mile) of the ISS, NASA said.
The three crew members — two Russians and an American — relocated to be near their Soyuz spacecraft as the maneuver began so they could evacuate if necessary, NASA said, adding that the precaution was taken “out of an abundance of caution.”
The astronauts were able to return to their normal activities after the procedure, according to NASA.
“Maneuver Burn complete. The astronauts are coming out of safe haven,” NASA chief Jim Bridenstine said on Twitter.
The threatening scrap was actually a piece of a 2018 Japanese rocket, astronomer Jonathan McDowell said on Twitter. The rocket broke up into 77 different pieces last year.
The ISS usually orbits roughly 260 miles (420 kilometers) above the Earth, at a speed of about 17,000 miles per hour.
At such a velocity, even a small object could seriously damage a solar panel or other facet of the station.
This type of maneuver is necessary on a regular basis. NASA said 25 such maneuvers had occurred between 1999 and 2018.
Bridenstine wrote on Twitter that this was the third such maneuver on the ISS just this year.
The operations could become even more frequent as Earth’s orbit becomes littered with pieces of satellites, rockets and other objects launched into space over the last sixty years.
Accidental or deliberate collisions, including anti-satellite missile launches by India in 2019 and China in 2007, can break objects apart even further and create added risk.
“Debris is getting worse! Time for Congress to provide @CommerceGov with the $15 mil requested by @POTUS for the Office of Space Commerce,” Bridenstine tweeted.
The Office of Space Commerce is a civilian organization that supporters want to take over the surveillance of space junk, a job currently occupied by the military.
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Small leak of ammonia detected at US Segment of ISS
Moscow (Sputnik) Sep 18, 2020
A small leak of ammonia has been detected at the US segment of the International Space Station (ISS), Roscosmos confirmed to Sputnik, adding that the incident poses no threat to crew members.
Ammonia is used in transferring heat from the US segment on the ISS to space. Moderate levels of ammonia are not so dangerous, but exposure to high concentrations of it can be a health hazard.
“Experts have registered an ammonia leak outside the US segment of the ISS. We are speaking about the leak with … read more
'Unknown' Space Debris Prompts ISS Crew to Prepare for Avoidance Maneuver – Sputnik International
Flight controllers in Mission Control Houston, along with the US Space Command, successfully avoided a collision with a piece of space debris that passed within several kilometers of the International Space Station (ISS).
According to NASA, an avoidance maneuver took place using the Russian Progress resupply spacecraft while astronauts aboard the ISS take shelter inside their Soyuz spacecraft.
“Using the ISS Progress 75 thrusters and with NASA and Russian flight controllers working in tandem, the International Space Station conducted a 150-second reboost Tuesday afternoon at 5:19 p.m. EDT to avoid a possible conjunction with an unknown piece of space debris,” NASA said in a post.
Due to safety concerns, three Expedition 63 crew members moved to the Russian segment of the station to be closer to their Soyuz MS-16 spacecraft. However, no crew members were in danger at any point in time.
“Once the avoidance maneuver was completed, the crew reopened hatches between the U.S. and Russian segments and resumed their regular activities,” NASA confirmed.
Last week, a small ammonia leak was detected in the US segment of ISS. However, the incident posed no threat to crew members.
“Experts have registered an ammonia leak outside the US segment of the ISS. We are speaking about the leak with the speed of some 700 grams [1.5 pounds] per year. But there is no threat to the ISS crew,” a Roscosmos source told Sputnik.
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