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Scientists have found the first animal in the world that doesn’t need oxygen to live – National Post

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International researchers have discovered the first animal that doesn’t need oxygen to live.

The organism, a parasite called Henneguya salminicola that is distantly related to coral and jellyfish, lives in salmon tissue and has evolved to survive without needing oxygen for energy.

“Our discovery shows that evolution can go in strange directions. Aerobic respiration is a major source of energy and yet we found an animal that gave up this critical pathway,” Dorothee Huchon, the lead researcher and a Tel Aviv professor, told American Friends of Tel Aviv University.

The research, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal this week, found that the animal has adapted by dropping its mitochondria genome entirely.

Mitochondria is necessary for creating energy and the absence of it in the 10-celled parasite indicated the animal wasn’t breathing oxygen.

Researchers found the organism lost not just its mitochondria genome, but also many of its nuclear genes involved in the transcription and replication of the genome.


The organism evolved to survive without mitochondria, usually where oxygen is captured to make energy.

Image courtesy of Stephen Douglas Atkinson.

Stephen Atkinson, one of the co-authors and a research associate at Oregon State University, said the animal instead “steals ready-made nutrients” from the salmon.

“By losing the genome, the parasite is saving energy by not having to copy genes for things it no longer needs,” Atkinson told CNN.

The parasite forms small white cysts in the muscle of the salmon, which the researchers said probably doesn’t harm the fish — or infect humans.

The researchers aren’t sure just yet how the organism is generating energy. Huchon suggested that it may be drawing energy from its host or engaging in a breathing technique that doesn’t involve oxygen, similar to anaerobic non-animal organisms.

This groundbreaking discovery is felt to significant for evolutionary research.

The researchers aren’t sure just yet how the organism is generating energy

“It is generally thought that during evolution, organisms become more and more complex, and that simple single-celled or few-celled organisms are the ancestors of complex organisms,” Huchon told American Friends of Tel Aviv University.

Instead, this parasite has evolved in the reverse, shedding unnecessary genes and becoming a simpler organism.

Atkinson said he and the team of researchers expect to discover even more species of animals that survive oxygen-free, reported CNN.

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NASA's Rover Is Taking a Tree-Like Device That Converts CO2 Into Oxygen to Mars – ScienceAlert

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NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on 30 July, carrying a host of cutting-edge technology including high-definition video equipment and the first interplanetary helicopter.

Many of the tools are designed as experimental steps toward human exploration of the red planet. Crucially, Perseverance is equipped with a device called the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment, or MOXIE: an attempt to produce oxygen on a planet where it makes up less than 0.2 percent of the atmosphere.

Oxygen is a cumbersome payload on space missions. It takes up a lot of room, and it’s very unlikely that astronauts could bring enough of it to Mars for humans to breathe there, let alone to fuel spaceships for the long journey home.

That’s the problem MOXIE is looking to solve. The car-battery-sized robot is a roughly 1 percent scale model of the device scientists hope to one day send to Mars, perhaps in the 2030s.

Like a tree, MOXIE works by taking in carbon dioxide, though it’s designed specifically for the thin Martian atmosphere. It then electrochemically splits the molecules into oxygen and carbon monoxide, and combines the oxygen molecules into O2.

It analyses the O2 for purity, shooting for about 99.6 percent O2. Then it releases both the breathable oxygen and the carbon monoxide back into the planet’s atmosphere. Future scaled-up devices, however, would store the oxygen produced in tanks for eventual use by humans and rockets.

A breakdown of the components inside the MOXIE oxygen generator. (NASA/Wikimedia Commons)

The toxicity of the carbon monoxide produced isn’t a worry, according to Michael Hecht, a principal investigator for MOXIE. The gas reenters the Martian atmosphere but won’t alter it very much.

“If you release the carbon monoxide into the Mars atmosphere, eventually it will combine with a very small amount of residual oxygen that’s there and turn back into carbon dioxide,” Hecht previously told Business Insider.

For that reason, the carbon monoxide also wouldn’t hinder a potential biosphere on Mars – a closed, engineered environment where Earthly life could thrive.

Because MOXIE is a small proof-of-concept experiment, it won’t produce much oxygen – if all goes well, it should be producing about 10 grams per hour, which is roughly the amount of oxygen in 1.2 cubic feet of Earth air. For context, humans need about 19 cubic feet of air per day.

MOXIE will test its capabilities by producing oxygen in one-hour increments intermittently throughout the duration of Perseverance’s mission, according to NASA. The device should start working soon after the rover lands on 18 February 2021.

This article was originally published by Business Insider.

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NASA drops racially charged nicknames of celestial bodies – CTV News

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Grocery store items, pro sports teams, and country music bands have all removed racially insensitive names.

Now, NASA is adding celestial bodies to the list that includes Aunt Jemima, the Washington Football Team and hitmakers The Chicks and Lady A.

“Eskimo Nebula” and “Siamese Twins Galaxy” are out, for example.

“Nicknames are often more approachable and public-friendly than official names for cosmic objects, such as Barnard 33, whose nickname ‘the Horsehead Nebula’ invokes its appearance,” NASA said in a release this week. “But often seemingly innocuous nicknames can be harmful and detract from the science.”

NASA is examining its use of phrases for planets, galaxies and other cosmic objects “as part of its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

The space agency says it “will use only the official, International Astronomical Union designations in cases where nicknames are inappropriate.”

Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, DC, said, “Science is for everyone, and every facet of our work needs to reflect that value.”

In June, Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream said it was dropping the brand “Eskimo Pie” after a century. The word is commonly used in Alaska to refer to Inuit and Yupik people, according to the Alaska Native Language Center at the University of Alaska. “This name is considered derogatory in many other places because it was given by non-Inuit people and was said to mean ‘eater of raw meat.'” People of Canada and Greenland prefer other names.

“Siamese twins” is an antiquated expression for conjoined twins, based on brothers from Siam (now Thailand) who were used as sideshow freaks in the 19th century.

The renaming trend followed worldwide protests against racism and police brutality after George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police.

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NASA Astronaut to Take Questions from Girl Scouts – Net Newsledger

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Expedition 63 Commander Chris Cassidy during the preparation of the Vection experiment.
Credits: NASA

Girl Scouts from across the nation will pose questions next week to NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy aboard the International Space Station. The educational downlink event will air live at 10:55 a.m. EDT Tuesday, Aug. 11, on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

Cassidy will answer prerecorded questions selected from the 1.7 million girls who are members of the Girl Scouts of the United States of America. Girl Scouts works to provide girls in grades K-12 with engaging opportunities that increase their interest in STEM, including space science badges, training, and events that inspire them to explore space science.

Linking students directly to astronauts aboard the space station provides unique, authentic experiences designed to enhance student learning, performance and interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Astronauts living in space on the orbiting laboratory communicate with NASA’s Mission Control Center in Houston 24 hours a day through the Space Network’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellites (TDRS).

For nearly 20 years, astronauts have continuously lived and work on the space station, testing technologies, performing science and developing the skills needed to explore farther from Earth. Through NASA’s Artemis program, the agency will send astronauts to the Moon by 2024, with eventual human exploration of Mars. Inspiring the next generation of explorers – the Artemis Generation – ensures America will continue to lead in space exploration and discovery.

Follow America’s Moon to Mars exploration at:

https://www.nasa.gov/topics/moon-to-mars

Follow NASA astronauts on social media at:

https://www.twitter.com/NASA_astronauts

See videos and lesson plans highlighting research on the International Space Station at:

https://www.nasa.gov/stemonstation

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