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SpaceX's Starship SN4 clears key cryogenic proof test, tweets Elon Musk – Firstpost

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A preliminary version of the SpaceX ship, meant to ferry humans to the moon and Mars in the future, has passed the important cryogenic proof test.

SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk on Sunday night tweeted that the SpaceX Starship SN4 had completed the test, where it is filled with liquid nitrogen to see if it can withstand flight pressures.

SpaceX’s Starship spacecraft ready to shine. Image credit: Pauline Acalin

According to the website NASASpaceFlight, Starship SN4 became SpaceX’s first full-scale Starship prototype to pass a cryogenic proof test. The test site was near Boca Chica, several kilometres east of Brownsville, US.

The report said that the cryogenic proof is one of the first tests necessary to prove a vehicle is flight-worthy. With the success of the test, SpaceX teams will work towards a static fire and then potentially a hop to 150 metres.

The report adds that SN4 follows the Mk1, SN1 and SN3 full-scale Starship prototypes, with the only difference being the previous models all failed the cryogenic proof testing.

According to a CNN report, Musk’s ultimate aim is to establish a human settlement on Mars. The CEO of SpaceX has said to accomplish that, the Starship would need to fly into Earth’s orbit atop rocket booster Super Heavy. The Starship is supposed to break off from Super Heavy on reaching space, allowing it to make the six-month journey to the Red Planet.

Musk on his part has already started thinking about Starships SN5 and SN6. This became evident through a tweet he posted on 21 April, where he spoke about header tanks on the SN5, as well as flaps on both models.

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Western Canadian scientists discover what an armoured dinosaur ate for its last meal – EurekAlert

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IMAGE: Illustration of Borealopelta markmitchelli dinosaur by Julius Csotonyi
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Credit: © Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology

More than 110 million years ago, a lumbering 1,300-kilogram, armour-plated dinosaur ate its last meal, died, and was washed out to sea in what is now northern Alberta. This ancient beast then sank onto its thorny back, churning up mud in the seabed that entombed it–until its fossilized body was discovered in a mine near Fort McMurray in 2011.

Since then, researchers at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Drumheller, Alta., Brandon University, and the University of Saskatchewan (USask) have been working to unlock the extremely well-preserved nodosaur’s many secrets–including what this large armoured dinosaur (a type of ankylosaur) actually ate for its last meal.

“The finding of the actual preserved stomach contents from a dinosaur is extraordinarily rare, and this stomach recovered from the mummified nodosaur by the museum team is by far the best-preserved dinosaur stomach ever found to date,” said USask geologist Jim Basinger, a member of the team that analyzed the dinosaur’s stomach contents, a distinct mass about the size of a soccer ball.

“When people see this stunning fossil and are told that we know what its last meal was because its stomach was so well preserved inside the skeleton, it will almost bring the beast back to life for them, providing a glimpse of how the animal actually carried out its daily activities, where it lived, and what its preferred food was.”

There has been lots of speculation about what dinosaurs ate, but very little known. In a just-published article in Royal Society Open Science, the team led by Royal Tyrrell Museum palaeontologist Caleb Brown and Brandon University biologist David Greenwood provides detailed and definitive evidence of the diet of large, plant-eating dinosaurs–something that has not been known conclusively for any herbivorous dinosaur until now.

“This new study changes what we know about the diet of large herbivorous dinosaurs,” said Brown. “Our findings are also remarkable for what they can tell us about the animal’s interaction with its environment, details we don’t usually get just from the dinosaur skeleton.”

Previous studies had shown evidence of seeds and twigs in the gut but these studies offered no information as to the kinds of plants that had been eaten. While tooth and jaw shape, plant availability and digestibility have fuelled considerable speculation, the specific plants herbivorous dinosaurs consumed has been largely a mystery.

So what was the last meal of Borealopelta markmitchelli (which means “northern shield” and recognizes Mark Mitchell, the museum technician who spent more than five years carefully exposing the skin and bones of the dinosaur from the fossilized marine rock)?

“The last meal of our dinosaur was mostly fern leaves–88 per cent chewed leaf material and seven per cent stems and twigs,” said Greenwood, who is also a USask adjunct professor.

“When we examined thin sections of the stomach contents under a microscope, we were shocked to see beautifully preserved and concentrated plant material. In marine rocks we almost never see such superb preservation of leaves, including the microscopic, spore-producing sporangia of ferns.”

Team members Basinger, Greenwood and Brandon University graduate student Jessica Kalyniuk compared the stomach contents with food plants known to be available from the study of fossil leaves from the same period in the region. They found that the dinosaur was a picky eater, choosing to eat particular ferns (leptosporangiate, the largest group of ferns today) over others, and not eating many cycad and conifer leaves common to the Early Cretaceous landscape.

Specifically, the team identified 48 palynomorphs (microfossils like pollen and spores) including moss or liverwort, 26 clubmosses and ferns, 13 gymnosperms (mostly conifers), and two angiosperms (flowering plants).

“Also, there is considerable charcoal in the stomach from burnt plant fragments, indicating that the animal was browsing in a recently burned area and was taking advantage of a recent fire and the flush of ferns that frequently emerges on a burned landscape,” said Greenwood.

“This adaptation to a fire ecology is new information. Like large herbivores alive today such as moose and deer, and elephants in Africa, these nodosaurs by their feeding would have shaped the vegetation on the landscape, possibly maintaining more open areas by their grazing.”

The team also found gastroliths, or gizzard stones, generally swallowed by animals such as herbivorous dinosaurs and today’s birds such as geese to aid digestion.

“We also know that based on how well-preserved both the plant fragments and animal itself are, the animal’s death and burial must have followed shortly after the last meal,” said Brown. “Plants give us a much better idea of season than animals, and they indicate that the last meal and the animal’s death and burial all happened in the late spring to mid-summer.”

“Taken together, these findings enable us to make inferences about the ecology of the animal, including how selective it was in choosing which plants to eat and how it may have exploited forest fire regrowth. It will also assist in understanding of dinosaur digestion and physiology.”

Borealopelta markmitchelli, discovered during mining operations at the Suncor Millennium open pit mine north of Fort McMurray, has been on display at the Royal Tyrrell Museum since 2017. The main chunk of the stomach mass is on display with the skeleton.

Other members of the team include museum scientists Donald Henderson and Dennis Braman, and Brandon University research associate and USask alumna Cathy Greenwood.

Research continues on Borealopelta markmitchelli–the best fossil of a nodosaur ever found–to learn more about its environment and behaviour while it was alive. Student Kalyniuk is currently expanding her work on fossil plants of this age to better understand the composition of the forests in which it lived. Many of the fossils she will examine are in Basinger’ collections at USask.

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The research was funded by Canada Foundation for Innovation, Research Manitoba, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, National Geographic Society, Royal Tyrrell Museum Cooperating Society, and Suncor Canada, as well as in-kind support from Olympus Canada.

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Rare dinosaur stomach fossil unearthed at Alberta oilsands site opens door to ancient world – Globalnews.ca

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Fresh ferns, loaded with spores, lightly dusted with leaves and twigs and perfectly seasoned with locally sourced charcoal.

Sound good? It did to an ankylosaur about 110 million years ago, as evidenced by amazingly complete fossils of what was certainly the tank-like dinosaur’s last meal.

“It’s pretty exciting,” said Caleb Brown, a curator at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology and co-author of a paper published Tuesday on what is one of probably only three fossilized dinosaur stomachs discovered.

“We can start recontructing the life histories and ecologies of these animals.”

The dining dinosaur was first unearthed in 2011 in a northern Alberta Suncor oilsands mine, where many excavators have learned to look for fossils as they dig. When this one turned up, a crew from the Tyrrell followed shortly afterward.

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READ MORE:
Well-preserved dinosaur found in northern Alberta named after Royal Tyrrell researcher

It was an amazingly well-preserved ankylosaur from the early Cretaceous period. Low but large — the species could reach eight metres long and weigh eight tonnes — the fossil took two weeks to remove.

It then took five and a half years for technician Mark Mitchell to clean and prepare it, which is why the species now bears the Latin name markmitchelli. The restored specimen, complete with body armour and outer skin, was remarkable enough for a 2017 National Geographic magazine feature.






1:54
Canadian tyrannosaur “reaper of death” discovered in Alberta


Canadian tyrannosaur “reaper of death” discovered in Alberta

But for paleontologists, the fun was just starting. They began looking at a fossilized structure that co-author Jim Basinger of the University of Saskatchewan described as looking like a “squashed basketball.”

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It was in the right place for a stomach and it held gastroliths, small stones dinosaurs used to help digest their food, much as some birds do today.

“There’s a great mess of them and they’re quite distinctive,” said Basinger.

The scientists eventually compiled 16 pieces of evidence that the squashed basketball was, in fact, a stomach.

“It’s unquestionable,” Basinger said.

There are only two other fossilized stomachs in the world that scientists are this sure about. Neither opens doors to the past the way this one does.

READ MORE: Royal Tyrrell Museum to get $3 million in federal funding

About 80 per cent of this last meal was a particular species of ferns. The fossils are so well preserved their spores identify them.

There are bits of other plants and twigs so immaculate that their growth rings are being used to estimate weather at the time. And there is charcoal from burned woody material.

Brown points out ferns aren’t that nutritious. A beast this size would need digestion capable of getting the most from them.

That means this dinosaur may have fermented its food, much like many animals today.

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“All big herbivores today use some form of fermentation,” Brown said. “For this animal, it was almost certainly fermenting those ferns.”


READ MORE:
Raptor dinosaur skeleton found in southern Alberta hailed a ‘scientific goldmine’

Which raises other interesting questions: How much fermented fern does it take to move an eight-tonne lizard? How much energy might it need? Where might that much fodder be found?






0:48
New kind of pterodactyl uncovered with help from U of A paleontologist


New kind of pterodactyl uncovered with help from U of A paleontologist

The charcoal provides a clue. It probably came from an ancient forest fire where ferns would have been abundant in the first flush of new growth, much as they are today.

“(The dinosaur) was taking advantage of a charred landscape,” Basinger said. Many modern animals do the same, chowing down on tender, nutritious and low-hanging new growth that follows the flames.

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READ MORE:
World’s last ‘dinosaur trees’ rescued from wrath of Australian fires

More than just reassembling skeletons, modern paleontology is starting to rebuild ecosystems that haven’t existed for millions and millions of years.

“That’s something we can start playing with,” Brown said.

The fossils tell individual stories, too.

Basinger said, given the undigested contents of its stomach, this ankylosaur died quickly. It was surrounded by marine fossils, and researchers believe it slipped or fell into a large river, where it drowned and was swept out to sea.

“Whatever happened to the poor dinosaur, it would have happened pretty fast after it had eaten.”

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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SpaceX success: No shortage of Kremlin sour grapes – Asia Times

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There’s nothing like a sore loser — and the Russians seem to take the cake when it comes to crying in their own vodka.

Elon Musk has taken them to school, and they just can’t handle it.

Short narrative? It’s a wake-up call for President Putin and Russia’s dated space program. Game, set and match.

When two NASA astronauts blasted off on May 30 under American — albeit commercially produced — power for the first time in nearly a decade, much of the world celebrated the achievement, Radio Free Liberty reported.

But in Russia, the US’s traditional space rival, congratulations on the successful launch and delivery of crew members to the International Space Station (ISS) came, at least from several officials and pro-Kremlin pundits, with a dose of derision.

“The hysteria raised after the successful launch of the Crew Dragon spacecraft is hard to understand,” Vladimir Ustimenko, a spokesman for the Russian space agency Roskosmos, spat on Twitter on May 31, the report said.

“What has happened should have happened long ago. Now it’s not only the Russians flying to the ISS, but also the Americans. Well that’s wonderful!”

Aleksei Pushkov, a Kremlin ally in the upper parliament house who is a frequent critic of the USand the West, also suggested the voyage of veteran astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken was ho-hum, emphasizing on Telegram that “this is a flight to the International Space Station, not to Mars,” the report said.

He added that, in future, Russia should save seats on its spacecraft headed for the ISS for its own astronauts — an I’m going home and taking my ball with me, type comment, no less.

Ustimenko and Pushkov were not the only ones who sounded unimpressed by the accomplishment of SpaceX, the rocket company owned by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk that took a giant leap into the space race after NASA mothballed its space shuttle fleet in 2011, the report said.

But others suggested Russia should come to grips with the loss of its lucrative, nearly decade-long monopoly on manned flights.

Some pundits described the development as a wake-up call for Russia’s space program, and Roskosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin was reminded of the days when, as a deputy prime minister targeted by US sanctions over the Kremlin’s hostile takeover of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014, he suggested that the punitive measures would hit them like a “boomerang,” the report said.

“After analyzing the sanctions against our space industry, I suggest … the USA bring their astronauts to the International Space Station using a trampoline,” Rogozin wrote on Twitter in April 2014.

Musk, who only days before Rogozin’s tweet had suggested that the Russian might benefit financially from the purchase of rocket components by SpaceX’s main competitor, got some payback after this week’s successful launch, the report said.

“The trampoline is working,” Musk said at a postlaunch press conference alongside NASA director James Bridenstine, who mentioned Rogozin’s statement of congratulations and said that NASA’s Russian partners “believe in cooperation, and I think it will remain strong.”

It was laughed off as an “inside joke,” but pro-Kremlin state TV talk show host Vladimir Solovyov took it as a challenge, the report said.

“‘The trampoline works,’ Musk poked Rogozin,” Solovyov wrote on his Telegram channel on March 31. “How will Roskosmos answer? The ball is in our court. No need to rush. Musk prepared his answer for several years.”

On his feed, Solovyov also shared a blistering post from the Telegram channel Nevrotik, an influencer who describes himself as a “simple peasant with understanding and common sense.”

Nevrotik said that media coverage of the SpaceX launch was full of words like “historic,” “new era,” and other laudations.

But what “we really have,” according to Nevrotik, is that after a long and heavy drinking bout, space power No. 2 has returned. And this really should be welcomed: Otherwise we would miss you and be without our reliable competitor and ally.”

Asia Times Financial is now live. Linking accurate news, insightful analysis and local knowledge with the ATF China Bond 50 Index, the world’s first benchmark cross sector Chinese Bond Indices. Read ATF now. 

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