What just happened? NASA recently completed its first assessment of missions, projects and programs since the coronavirus outbreak to identify mission-critical work that must be done on-site, tasks that can be worked on by employees remotely and projects that have to be paused.
Unfortunately for the James Webb Space Telescope, it falls into the latter category.
NASA is suspending integration and testing operations on the Hubble Space Telescope’s successor to ensure the safety of the agency’s workforce. NASA didn’t say when work on the project would resume but noted that decisions could be adjusted as the situation unfolds over the weekend and into next week.
On a brighter note, all work associated with supporting the International Space Station will continue including commercial resupply activities to keep the space station crew fully supplied and safe. Earlier this month, the agency took steps to reduce the risk of exposure for flight controllers working in the mission control center at Johnson Space Center in Houston.
Work on the Commercial Crew Program is also pressing ahead. NASA further added that its Mars 2020 mission, which includes the Mars Helicopter and the Perseverance Rover, remains a high priority. The agency is additionally keeping its supercomputing resources online, we’re told.
Masthead credit: NASA by Edwin Verin
NASA news: Juno spacecraft's picture of Jupiter looks like a beautiful watercolour – Express.co.uk
NASA encourages people to process the images to bring out their hidden colours and details.
Occasionally, the space agency will pick out an image and share it on its website or use it in a scientific paper.
NASA said: “We invite you to download them, do your own image processing, and we encourage you to upload your creations for us to enjoy and share.
“The types of image processing we’d love to see range from simply cropping an image to highlighting a particular atmospheric feature, as well as adding your own colour enhancements, creating collages and adding advanced colour reconstruction.
“For those of you who have contributed – thank you! Your labours of love have illustrated articles about Juno, Jupiter and JunoCam.
article image Antarctica was home to a rainforest 90 million years ago – Digital Journal
A team of researchers led by geoscientists from the Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research in Germany and scientists from Imperial College London, UK. have discovered fossil soil dating to the mid-Cretaceous Period, about 90 million years ago, suggesting that the climate was exceptionally warm at the time.
Their analysis of the preserved roots, pollen, and spores show that dense concentrations of atmospheric CO2 would have created much hotter global temperatures, melting polar ice sheets, and sending sea levels soaring to up to 170 meters (558 feet) higher than they are today. Their work was published in the journal Nature on April 1, 2020.
Co-author Professor Tina van de Flierdt, from the Department of Earth Science & Engineering at Imperial, said, per Science Daily: “The preservation of this 90-million-year-old forest is exceptional, but even more surprising is the world it reveals. Even during months of darkness, swampy temperate rainforests were able to grow close to the South Pole, revealing an even warmer climate than we expected.”
Attention-grabbing sediment layer
During an expedition in 2017, aboard the RV Polarstern in the Amundsen Sea, researchers drilled deep underneath the seabed of West Antarctica, close to the location of the Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers, and only about 900 kilometers (560 miles) away from the South Pole.
What they pulled up from a depth of about 30 meters “quickly caught our attention. It clearly differed from the layers above it,” lead author Dr. Johann Klages, a geologist at the Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research in Germany, said in a press release.
“The first analyses indicated that, at a depth of 27 to 30 meters (88 to 98 ft) below the ocean floor, we had found a layer originally formed on land, not in the ocean.”
No one has ever pulled a Cretaceous Period sample out of the ground from such a southern point on the planet before – but the research team was not prepared for what they would find out after a further examination of the sediment was done with X-ray computed tomography (CT) scans.
Back on land, the CT Scans revealed soil that was so well-preserved that it still contained traces of pollen, spores, and remnants of flowering plants. Even intact individual cell structures could be observed. This all pointed to the preserved remains of an ancient rainforest that existed in Antarctica approximately 90 million years ago.
“The numerous plant remains indicate that the coast of West Antarctica was, back then, a dense temperate, swampy forest, with many conifers and tree ferns similar to the forests found in New Zealand today,” says palaeoecologist Ulrich Salzmann from Northumbria University in the UK.
An interesting reason for the unprecedented find
So how could it have been possible for a rainforest to grow and thrive at the South Pole? We do know that the mid-Cretaceous was the heyday of the dinosaurs – but was also the Earth’s warmest period in the past 140 million years, with ocean temperatures thought to be as high as 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
Then, as now, the South Pole would have been subjected to four months of unyielding darkness during the Antarctic winter. How could this ancient rainforest thrive, deprived of the Sun for so long? Based on biological and geochemical data contained in the soil sample, researchers used modeling to reconstruct what the ancient climate of this long-gone forest region might have been like.
They found out that atmospheric CO2 levels would have needed to be significantly higher than scientists realized. It was a super-heated environment, with an average air temperature of around 12 degrees Celsius or 54 degrees Fahrenheit in the Antarctic.
“Before our study, the general assumption was that the global carbon dioxide concentration in the Cretaceous was roughly 1,000 parts per million (ppm),” explains geoscientist Torsten Bickert from the University of Bremen in Germany. “But in our model-based experiments, it took concentration levels of 1,120 to 1,680 ppm to reach the average temperatures back then in the Antarctic.”
There is still one big question to be answered: If Antarctica used to be so warm, what caused it to dramatically cool, asks CBS News, allowing the formation of ice sheets? According to co-author and AWI climate modeler Dr. Gerrit Lohmann, in all of their climate simulations, researchers were “unable to find a satisfactory answer.”
Rangers' Panarin, others donate N95 masks to hospitals – National Post
New York Rangers forward Artemi Panarin provided quite the assist by aiding frontline health care workers in the battle against the coronavirus.
Panarin purchased and arranged the delivery of 1,500 N95 masks to Hospital for Special Surgery in New York.
“We are so grateful for Artemi Panarin’s incredibly generous gift of N95 masks to HSS,” said Dr. Bryan Kelly, the surgeon-in-chief at Hospital for Special Surgery, per NHL.com.
“Along with his teammates, Panarin also created a video thanking HSS for our commitment to helping NYC during this pandemic. On behalf of every clinical staff member at HSS, we would like to offer our heartfelt thanks to Panarin for his generosity during this time. Additionally, we’d like to thank Jim Ramsay, head athletic trainer for the Rangers, for his help coordinating their efforts.”
The masks were delivered on Friday.
Panarin is not alone, as Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and New York Islanders netminder Semyon Varlamov also purchased and arranged delivery of the N95 masks to hospitals in their respective markets.
Per NHL.com, Bobrovsky reportedly donated thousands of masks to multiple hospitals in the area of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Varlamov joined his teammates in donating 3,000 masks to Northwell Health system on Long Island.
“A heartfelt thanks to the @NYIslanders for supporting our Northwell Health #healthcareheroes with your delivery of N95 masks this week!” Northwell Health Foundation tweeted from the @GiveToNorthwell account.
N95 masks are in demand among medical providers because they help prevent a person from inhaling small, airborne infectious particles — a primary means of transmitting the coronavirus.
As of Sunday morning, more than 1.2 million people around the world had been diagnosed with the disease, with more than 67,000 fatalities, according to Johns Hopkins University.
–Field Level Media
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