Connect with us

Science

MRI scans show brain reorganization during long space flights, but no neurodegeneration – Phys.org

Published

on


Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

An international team of researchers has found that long space flights can lead to some minor brain reorganization but no neurodegeneration. In their paper published in the journal Science Advances, the group describes their study of the brains of cosmonauts returning from long-term missions aboard the International Space Station, and what they found.

Prior research has shown that long-term space missions can lead to bone and muscle degeneration due to the impact of extended freefall on the body. Some studies have also shown that it can lead to minor loss of visual acuity due to fluid buildup in the eyes. In this new effort, the researchers wanted to know what effects such missions might have on the brains of those who remain in space for long periods of time.

To find out, the researchers conducted a special type of MRI scan on 11 male Russian cosmonauts who had together averaged six months in space aboard the ISS—before and after they returned from their missions—and then again seven months later.

The researchers scanned the cosmonauts’ brains with diffusion MRI, a process that involves taking multiple scans at once. In this case, they took 153 scans during a single session. Each of the scans has slightly different parameters, which allows for creating images in multiple ways. As an example, one of the scans had a parameter called the b value, where a certain signal is lowered during scanning to record decay of the material being scanned—in this case, matter.

The researchers found that the brain reorients itself during long space missions, essentially floating into different parts of the skull. This resulted in slight reorganization of the brain itself in response to the reorientation. The cosmonauts brains also responded in other ways to the unusual living environment—they acquired new motor skills and had better balance and coordination. The researchers also found that the reorientation did not result in neurodegeneration and that normal orientation was nearly restored seven months after the cosmonauts returned to Earth. They also confirmed fluid build-up behind the eyes as the reason for the loss of visual acuity during long flights.


Explore further

Study shows long spaceflights lead to increase in brain ventricle size


More information:
Steven Jillings et al. Macro- and microstructural changes in cosmonauts’ brains after long-duration spaceflight, Science Advances (2020). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaz9488

© 2020 Science X Network

Citation:
MRI scans show brain reorganization during long space flights, but no neurodegeneration (2020, September 7)
retrieved 7 September 2020
from https://phys.org/news/2020-09-mri-scans-brain-space-flights.html

This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no
part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Science

Municipalities look to Elon Musk for improved internet – Hanna Herald

Published

on


The Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities’ board  of directors passed a resolution Sept. 15 in support of Starlink, Elon Musk’s satellite internet project.
Bill Pugliano/Getty Images


Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative

Internet access and remote/rural communities usually don’t go together well in a sentence, but Elon Musk’s satellite internet project  aims to fix that.
The Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities’ board  of directors passed a resolution Sept. 15 in support of Starlink —  which is a low Earth orbit satellite system which can provide improved  upload/download speeds and response times for rural residents.
“We know today our citizens require greater connectivity than 50/10  megabits per second,” says Danny Whalen, president of FONOM. “FONOM  believes that the Starlink program is our best option.”
The resolution also calls on the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to permit the company a basic international telecommunications service licence (BITS).
Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) is the parent company of Starlink and it applied for a BITS licence May 1.
On July 6, the CRTC published the procedural letter on  its website which states that it “received a number of  interventions, both in support of and in opposition” to SpaceX’s request  for a licence.
The letter further states that the CRTC provided SpaceX the opportunity to reply to these interventions.
The interventions and replies are available on the commission’s website under “closed BITS licenses.”
Discussions surrounding broadband and connectivity dominated much of  FONOM’s recent board meeting, according to a release issued Sept. 16.,  as the federation is looking to work with municipal organizations and  governments to bring improved internet services to its 110 communities.
SpaceX launched 180 satellites last month to grow the  “mega-constellation” and Starlink has allegedly begun private beta  testing.
A tweet from Musk on June 24 stated that, “Canada is a major priority for Starlink!”
Those interested in signing up for the potential to beta test Starlink can do so on the company’s website.
FONOM said it will not be communicating with its partners to seek additional support for the Starlink program.


Sarah Cooke is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter with muskokaregion.com. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Science

Municipalities look to Elon Musk for improved internet – The North Bay Nugget

Published

on


The Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities’ board  of directors passed a resolution Sept. 15 in support of Starlink, Elon Musk’s satellite internet project.
Bill Pugliano/Getty Images


Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative

Internet access and remote/rural communities usually don’t go together well in a sentence, but Elon Musk’s satellite internet project  aims to fix that.
The Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities’ board  of directors passed a resolution Sept. 15 in support of Starlink —  which is a low Earth orbit satellite system which can provide improved  upload/download speeds and response times for rural residents.
“We know today our citizens require greater connectivity than 50/10  megabits per second,” says Danny Whalen, president of FONOM. “FONOM  believes that the Starlink program is our best option.”
The resolution also calls on the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to permit the company a basic international telecommunications service licence (BITS).
Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) is the parent company of Starlink and it applied for a BITS licence May 1.
On July 6, the CRTC published the procedural letter on  its website which states that it “received a number of  interventions, both in support of and in opposition” to SpaceX’s request  for a licence.
The letter further states that the CRTC provided SpaceX the opportunity to reply to these interventions.
The interventions and replies are available on the commission’s website under “closed BITS licenses.”
Discussions surrounding broadband and connectivity dominated much of  FONOM’s recent board meeting, according to a release issued Sept. 16.,  as the federation is looking to work with municipal organizations and  governments to bring improved internet services to its 110 communities.
SpaceX launched 180 satellites last month to grow the  “mega-constellation” and Starlink has allegedly begun private beta  testing.
A tweet from Musk on June 24 stated that, “Canada is a major priority for Starlink!”
Those interested in signing up for the potential to beta test Starlink can do so on the company’s website.
FONOM said it will not be communicating with its partners to seek additional support for the Starlink program.


Sarah Cooke is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter with muskokaregion.com. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Science

The detection of phosphine in Venus' clouds is a big deal – here's how we can find out if it really is life – The Conversation US

Published

on


On Sept. 14, 2020, a new planet was added to the list of potentially habitable worlds in the Solar System: Venus.

Phosphine, a toxic gas made up of one phosphorus and three hydrogen atoms (PH₃), commonly produced by organic life forms but otherwise difficult to make on rocky planets, was discovered in the middle layer of the Venus atmosphere. This raises the tantalizing possibility that something is alive on our planetary neighbor. With this discovery, Venus joins the exalted ranks of Mars and the icy moons Enceladus and Europa among planetary bodies where life may once have existed, or perhaps might even still do so today.

I’m a planetary scientist and something of a Venus evangelical. This discovery is one of the most exciting made about Venus in a very long time — and opens up a new set of possibilities for further exploration in search of life in the Solar System.

Venus as seen in the infrared by the Japanese Akatsuki spacecraft. The warm colors are from the hot lower atmosphere glowing through the cooler cloud layers above. Image credit: JAXA/ISAS/DARTS/Damia Bouic.
JAXA/ISAS/DARTS/Damia Bouic

Atmospheric mysteries

First, it’s critical to point out that this detection does not mean that astronomers have found alien life in the clouds of Venus. Far from it, in fact.

Although the discovery team identified phosphine at Venus with two different telescopes, helping to confirm the initial detection, phosphine gas can result from several processes that are unrelated to life, such as lightning, meteor impacts or even volcanic activity.

However, the quantity of phosphine detected in the Venusian clouds seems to be far greater than those processes are capable of generating, allowing the team to rule out numerous inorganic possibilities. But our understanding of the chemistry of Venus’ atmosphere is sorely lacking: Only a handful of missions have plunged through the inhospitable, carbon dioxide-dominated atmosphere to take samples among the global layer of sulfuric acid clouds.

So we planetary scientists are faced with two possibilities: Either there is some sort of life in the Venus clouds, generating phosphine, or there is unexplained and unexpected chemistry taking place there. How do we find out which it is?

A model of the Soviet Vega 1 spacecraft at the Udvar-Hazy Center, Dulles International Airport. Vega 1 carried a balloon to Venus on its way to visit Halley’s Comet in 1985.
Daderot

First and foremost, we need more information about the abundance of PH₃ in the Venus atmosphere, and we can learn something about this from Earth. Just as the discovery team did, existing telescopes capable of detecting phosphine around Venus can be used for follow-up observations, to both definitively confirm the initial finding and figure out if the amount of PH₃ in the atmosphere changes with time. In parallel, there is now a huge opportunity to carry out lab work to better understand the types of chemical reactions that might be possible on Venus — for which we have very limited information at present.

Antennas of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array telescope, on the Chajnantor Plateau in the Chilean Andes. The telescope was used to confirm the initial detection of phosphine in Venus’ atmosphere.
ESO/C. Malin.

Once more unto the breach

But measurements on and from Earth can take us only so far. To really get to the heart of this mystery, we need to go back to Venus. Spacecraft equipped with spectrometers that can detect phosphine from orbit could be dispatched to the second planet with the express purpose of characterizing where, and how much, of this gas is there. Because spacecraft can survive for many years in Venus’ orbit, we could obtain continuous observations with a dedicated orbiter over a much longer period than with telescopes on Earth.

But even orbital data can’t tell us the whole story. To fully get a handle on what’s happening at Venus, we have to actually get into the atmosphere. And that’s where aerial platforms come in. Capable of operating above much of the acidic cloud layer – where the temperature and pressure are almost Earthlike – for potentially months at a time, balloons or flying wings could take detailed atmospheric composition measurements there. These craft could even carry the kinds of instruments being developed to look for life on Europa. At that point, humanity might finally be able to definitively tell if we share our Solar System with Venusian life.

A concept for an aerial platform at Venus. Two connected balloons could take turns to inflate, allowing the balloon to control the altitude at which it floats. An instrument package would then hang from below the balloons.
NASA/JPL-Caltech

A new dawn for Venus exploration?

Thirty-one years have elapsed since the United States last sent a dedicated mission to Venus. That could soon change as NASA considers two of four missions in the late 2020s targeting Venus. One, called VERITAS, would carry a powerful radar to peer through the thick clouds and return unprecedented high-resolution images of the surface. The other, DAVINCI+, would plunge through the atmosphere, sampling the air as it descended, perhaps even able to sniff any phosphine present. NASA plans to pick at least one mission in April 2021.

[Deep knowledge, daily. Sign up for The Conversation’s newsletter.]

I have argued before for a return to Venus, and will continue to do so. Even without this latest scientific discovery, Venus is a compelling exploration target, with tantalizing evidence that the planet once had oceans and perhaps even suffered a hellish fate at the hands of its own volcanic eruptions.

But with the detection of a potential biomarker in Venus’ atmosphere, we now have yet another major reason to return to the world ancient Greek astronomers called Phosphorus — a name for Venus that, it turns out, is wonderfully prescient.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending