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SpaceX launches advanced ocean-mapping satellite into orbit – Digital Journal

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Under a clear blue Southern California sky on Saturday, the 229-foot (70 meters) SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket leaped off the pad from Space Launch Complex 4E at California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base at 9:17 a.m. PST (12:17 p.m. EST/1717 GMT), reports Space.com.

The rocket carried the world’s latest ocean-monitoring satellite, the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich spacecraft. Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich is one of two identical spacecraft that compose the Sentinel-6/Jason-CS (Continuity of Service) mission developed in partnership between NASA and the ESA (European Space Agency)

On Saturday, Jason-6A, the first of the two identical satellites was sent into orbit on a trajectory that took it .southward over the Pacific Ocean. Nine minutes after the launch, the Falcon’s first stage made a successful landing back at the launch site.

About one hour after launch, Jason-6A was released from the second stage of the Falcon 9, and soon after, it deployed its solar panels and made first-contact with controllers, per CTV News Canada.

The $97 million Jason-6A will be joined by its twin, Jason-6B in 2025. The twin satellites will be contributing to a nearly 30-year continuous data record – following in the footsteps of three previous missions – TOPEX/Poseidon and Jason-1, Ocean Surface Topography/Jason-2, and Jason-3.

The international ocean science satellite was renamed after Earth scientist Dr. Michael H. Freilich. Dr. Freilich was director of NASA’s Earth Sciences Division for more than 12 years, before retiring in February 2019. During his tenure at NASA, Dr. Freilich led the revitalization of NASA’s fleet of Earth-observing research missions.

Dr. Freilich died of cancer in August. Freilich’s family watched the launch in person, with son Daniel and daughter Sarah (with Freilich’s baby granddaughter Rosie) remembering their father after liftoff.

“It means so much to see it and feel it,” Daniel Freilich said of witnessing the launch in NASA’s live broadcast. “I’d heard him talking about feeling it.” Sarah added, “It was gorgeous. I haven’t seen anything that gorgeous before.”

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Landmark wheat genome discovery could shore up global food security – New Food

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Project leader, Curtis Pozniak, compares the findings to locating a missing piece of your favourite puzzle, and hopes this will transform the way wheat is grown globally.

Scientists believe the genome sequencing will lead to higher wheat yields around the world.

An international team led by the University of Saskatchewan (USask) has sequenced the genomes for 15 wheat varieties representing breeding programmes around the world.

This landmark discovery will enable scientists and breeders to identify influential genes for improved yield, pest resistance and other important crop traits much more quickly.

The research results, published in Nature, provide what the research team has called the most comprehensive atlas of wheat genome sequences ever reported. The 10+ Genome Project collaboration involved more than 95 scientists from universities and institutes across Canada, Switzerland, Germany, Japan, the UK, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Israel, Australia and the US.

“It’s like finding the missing pieces for your favourite puzzle that you have been working on for decades,” said project leader Curtis Pozniak, wheat breeder and director of the USask Crop Development Centre (CDC). “By having many complete gene assemblies available, we can now help solve the huge puzzle that is the massive wheat pan-genome and usher in a new era for wheat discovery and breeding.”

Scientific groups across the global wheat community are expected to use the new resource to identify genes linked to in-demand traits, such as pest and diseases resistance, which will accelerate breeding efficiency.

“This resource enables us to more precisely control breeding to increase the rate of wheat improvement for the benefit of farmers and consumers, and meet future food demands,” Pozniak added.

As one of the world’s most cultivated cereal crops, wheat plays an important role in global food security, providing about 20 percent of human caloric intake globally. The university says it’s estimated that wheat production must increase by more than 50 percent by 2050 to meet an increasing global demand – knowing which wheat genomes ‘best perform’ could be crucial in delivering this target.

The researchers explain that they were able to track the unique DNA signatures of genetic material incorporated into modern cultivars from several of wheat’s undomesticated relatives by breeders over the last century.1

“These wheat relatives have been used by breeders to improve disease resistance and stress resistance of wheat,” said Pozniak. “One of these relatives contributed a DNA segment to modern wheat that contains disease-resistant genes and provides protection against a number of fungal diseases. Our collaborators from Kansas State University and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Mexico, showed that this segment can improve yields by as much as 10 percent. Since breeding is a continual improvement process, we can continue to cross plants to select for this valuable trait.”

Pozniak’s team, in collaboration with scientists from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and National Research Council of Canada, also used the genome sequences to isolate an insect-resistant gene (Sm1). This gene enables wheat plants to withstand the orange wheat blossom midge, a pest which can cause more than $60 million in annual losses to Western Canadian producers.1

“Understanding a causal gene like this is a game-changer for breeding because you can select for pest resistance more efficiently by using a simple DNA test than by manual field testing,” Pozniak concluded.

References 

  1. www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-2961-x 

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T. rex got huge via major teenage growth spurt – CBC.ca

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Large meat-eating dinosaurs attained their great size through very different growth strategies, with some taking a slow and steady path and others experiencing an adolescent growth spurt, according to scientists who analyzed slices of fossilized bones.

The researchers examined the annual growth rings — akin to those in tree trunks — in bones from 11 species of theropods, a broad group spanning all the big carnivorous dinosaurs including Tyrannosaurus rex and even birds. The study provides insight into the lives of some of the most fearsome predators ever to walk the Earth.

The team looked at samples from museums in the United States, Canada, China and Argentina and even received clearance to cut into bones from one of the world’s most famous T. rex fossils, known as Sue and housed at the Field Museum in Chicago, using a diamond-tipped saw and drill.

Sue’s leg bones — a huge femur and fibula — helped illustrate that T. rex and its relatives — known as tyrannosaurs — experienced a period of extreme growth during adolescence and reached full adult size by around age 20. Sue, measuring about 13 metres, lived around 33 years.

Sue inhabited South Dakota about a million years before dinosaurs and many other species were wiped out by an asteroid impact 66 million years ago.

Other groups of large theropods tended to have more steady rates of growth over a longer period of time. That growth strategy was detected in lineages that arose worldwide earlier in the dinosaur era and later were concentrated in the southern continents.

Examples included Allosaurus and Acrocanthosaurus from North America, Cryolophosaurus from Antarctica and a recently discovered as-yet-unnamed species from Argentina that rivaled T. rex in size. The Argentine dinosaur, from a group called carcharodontosaurs, did not reach its full adult size until its 40s and lived to about age 50.

Big theropods share the same general body design, walking on two legs and boasting large skulls, strong jaws and menacing teeth.

“Prior to our study, it was known that T. rex grew very quickly, but it was not clear if all theropod dinosaurs reached gigantic size in the same way, or if there were multiple ways it was done,” said paleontologist and study lead author Tom Cullen of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and North Carolina State University, also affiliated with the Field Museum.

The research was published this week in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

“Theropod dinosaurs represent the largest bipedal animals to have ever lived and were also the dominant predators in terrestrial ecosystems for over 150 million years — more than twice as long as mammals have been dominant,” added University of Minnesota paleontologist and study co-author Peter Makovicky

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Slow and steady or a big spurt? How to grow a ferocious dinosaur – Cape Breton Post

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By Will Dunham

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Large meat-eating dinosaurs attained their great size through very different growth strategies, with some taking a slow and steady path and others experiencing an adolescent growth spurt, according to scientists who analyzed slices of fossilized bones.

The researchers examined the annual growth rings – akin to those in tree trunks – in bones from 11 species of theropods, a broad group spanning all the big carnivorous dinosaurs including Tyrannosaurus rex and even birds. The study provides insight into the lives of some of the most fearsome predators ever to walk the Earth.

The team looked at samples from museums in the United States, Canada, China and Argentina and even received clearance to cut into bones from one of the world’s most famous T. rex fossils, known as Sue and housed at the Field Museum in Chicago, using a diamond-tipped saw and drill.

Sue’s leg bones – a huge femur and fibula – helped illustrate that T. rex and its relatives – known as tyrannosaurs – experienced a period of extreme growth during adolescence and reached full adult size by around age 20. Sue, measuring about 42 feet (13 metres), lived around 33 years.

Sue inhabited South Dakota about a million years before dinosaurs and many other species were wiped out by an asteroid impact 66 million years ago.

Other groups of large theropods tended to have more steady rates of growth over a longer period of time. That growth strategy was detected in lineages that arose worldwide earlier in the dinosaur era and later were concentrated in the southern continents.

Examples included Allosaurus and Acrocanthosaurus from North America, Cryolophosaurus from Antarctica and a recently discovered as-yet-unnamed species from Argentina that rivaled T. rex in size. The Argentine dinosaur, from a group called carcharodontosaurs, did not reach its full adult size until its 40s and lived to about age 50.

Big theropods share the same general body design, walking on two legs and boasting large skulls, strong jaws and menacing

teeth.

“Prior to our study, it was known that T. rex grew very quickly, but it was not clear if all theropod dinosaurs reached gigantic size in the same way, or if there were multiple ways it was done,” said paleontologist and study lead author Tom Cullen of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and North Carolina State University, also affiliated with the Field Museum.

The research was published this week in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

“Theropod dinosaurs represent the largest bipedal animals to have ever lived and were also the dominant predators in terrestrial ecosystems for over 150 million years – more than twice as long as mammals have been dominant,” added University of Minnesota paleontologist and study co-author Peter Makovicky.

(Reporting by Will Dunham; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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