The eastern North American population of monarch butterflies are famous for their annual, multi-generational, round-trip migration from the oyamel fir forests of Central Mexico through the United States to Canada and back. Sadly, the population of monarch butterflies is declining, and the future of the monarch migratory phenomenon is uncertain.
Scientists can study migrations by looking at the chemicals stored within the teeth, bones, tusks and wings of animals. In the case of monarch butterflies, the signature contained in its wings reveals where it was a caterpillar, allowing researchers to trace its natal origin, or birthplace.
Isotopes are atoms of the same element that have different masses because they have a different number of neutrons. For some elements, such as hydrogen and strontium, the proportion of heavy versus light isotopes in the environment changes predictably between locations, giving locations unique isotopic signatures. A map of these local isotopic signatures is called an isoscape.
Read more: Explainer: what is an isotope?
Isotopes have informed conservation efforts for decades because they are helpful for identifying where an animal has migrated from.
Strontium (Sr) is an alkaline earth metal with four stable isotopes: 84Sr, 86Sr, 87Sr and 88Sr. Strontium isotopes ratios (the ratio of 87Sr to 86Sr) are a new addition to the ecologist’s isotopic toolbox. Strontium isotopes will help ecologists pinpoint the origins of migrating animals more precisely and solve longstanding questions related to the migratory connectivity and migratory patterns of monarch butterflies.
What bodies can reveal
As animals (including humans) feed and drink, they incorporate the local isotopic signature into their bodies. The isotopic signature of animal tissue can then be compared to an isoscape map to find out where the tissue was formed.
For example, the strontium isotope ratio of human teeth can tell you where a person spent their childhood because teeth are formed early in life. Human bones, however, will tell you where they spent the last decade of their life because bone tissue replaces itself every 10 years or so.
Why do we need isotope geolocation?
Ideally, we would study animal migration by putting tiny radio transmitters on many individuals and tracking them for a long period of time. However, this approach isn’t practical in many situations.
For example, we cannot use a radio transmitter to find the origin of poached elephant ivory or the home range size of extinct lemur specimens from a museum. But we can use isotopes to learn something about the lives of these deceased animals.
Some animals, like insects, are too small and numerous to be effectively tracked using tagging methods. Although significant advances have been made in recent years, insects are still too small to be tracked with radio transmitters on a large scale. Therefore, isotopes are one of our best tools for answering questions about insect migratory patterns and connectivity. Given the current context of global climate change and population declines, we urgently need to know more about animal migration so that we can conserve migrations for future generations.
The case of monarch butterflies
Hydrogen and carbon isotopes have been used for decades to trace the natal origins of monarch butterflies. These studies have helped guide conservation efforts and inform listing decisions.
For example, isotopes have helped researchers figure out which regions of the United States contribute the most monarchs to the overwintering population. Other studies have shown that some monarchs are opting for a non-migratory lifestyle and have shown that an extreme northwestern migration into Canada came from the Midwest.
Strontium isotope ratios and monarch butterflies
My collaborators and I recently demonstrated how strontium isotopes can be used to study animal migration. We found that strontium isotopes, especially when combined with hydrogen isotopes, can estimate the natal origin of a monarch butterfly to a more precise geographic location — about four times better — than using hydrogen alone.
In our study, we created a strontium isoscape map for the breeding range of the monarch butterfly. This means we now have a ready-to-use tool for estimating the natal origin of monarch butterflies using strontium.
We hope that applying strontium isotopes to both new and archived monarch specimens will advance our understanding of how monarch migration patterns and connectivity have changed over time, and ultimately help guide conservation actions to protect this migratory phenomenon.
Megan Reich receives funding from the Ontario Government (OGS and QEII-GSST), the University of Utah SPATIAL group (ORIGIN Graduate Fellowship), and the Entomological Society of Canada.
NASA Lucy Mission: Are Solar System Stem Cells Orbiting Jupiter? – The Press Stories
- Jonathan Amos
- Science Reporter
17 October 2021, 13:13 IST
A spacecraft was sent from Cape Canaveral to explore the fossil record in the solar system.
Lucy is a spacecraft orbiting Jupiter (Jupiter-Jupiter) to study clusters of two asteroids. One of them is in front of Jupiter in the orbit of the campus. The other is in the back.
NASA scientists say the study of these asteroids could help understand the effects of the first phase of solar system formation.
The Lucy spacecraft was launched from the Cape Canaveral in Florida at 9.45am on Saturday on an Atlas-5 rocket.
NASA initially decided to spend $ 98.1 billion (approximately Rs. 7,360 crore) on the mission over a twelve-year period.
There is a human fossil in Africa called Lucy. It was this fossil that helped us learn more about the existence of the human race.
Due to its inspiration, NASA carries out this mission under the same name.
“Trojan meteorites orbit Jupiter at 60 degrees,” said Hall Lewison of the Southwest Research Institute in Colorado. He was the leading researcher on the Lucy spacecraft.
“Under the influence of the gravitational pull of Jupiter and the Sun, these asteroids are constantly orbiting in that orbit. If any object falls there in the early days of the solar system, it will always be stable. So these fragments are fossils of what the planets are made of,” said Hall Louison.
Lucy explores many factors such as the shape, texture, surface conditions and composition of the materials that make up their pieces that are the size of the city or larger.
Jupiter is examining whether these fragments are derived from objects found on satellites.
“For example, if they were made of the same materials as we call the Khyber belt, we would assume that they are made of the Khyber belt and then rotate,” said Dr. Carly Howet, a Southwest Mission scientist. Research Institute.
Carly said the task was the result of some unusual navigation calculations.
Lucy will travel a total of 600 million kilometers. It will explore the Trojan complex in 2027/28. Jupiter will then reach the clusters of pieces on the other side in 2033.
When and where did Lucy go
The group ahead of Jupiter in orbit:
* Eurobates, Queta (Natural Satellite) – August 2027
* Polymel – September 2027
Lucas – April 2028
* Oras – November 2028
The group behind Jupiter in orbit:
* Petroclus, Menosius – March 2033
Key Belt Asteroids:
* Donald Johnson – April 2025
Astronauts capture stunning aurora from International Space Station – Space.com
Astronauts got to see an amazing display of southern lights over New Zealand and Antarctica earlier this month.
“I caught this aurora just as orbital sunrise was beginning. Breathtaking!” wrote NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough on Oct. 12, two days after the show took place. With his tweet came a sweeping view of auroras over the barely lit limb of the Earth.
Auroras take place when charged particles from the sun, known as the solar wind, flow along the magnetic field lines of Earth and interact with our atmosphere. As the particles are deflected by the magnetic field to our planet’s poles, their interactions with the atmosphere dumps in energy and causes the atmosphere to glow.
Amazing auroras: Stunning northern lights photos
I caught this aurora just as orbital sunrise was beginning. Breathtaking! pic.twitter.com/8km6i4M5VjOctober 12, 2021
The sun is somewhat near the beginning of a solar cycle, which lasts about 11 years. Each cycle has a “maximum,” at which point there is more solar activity manifested as solar flares and coronal mass ejections, which can cause auroras if any particles flow in the right direction towards Earth.
While we’re not near that maximum phase right now, the astronauts had a great viewpoint from their orbit at approximately 250 miles (400 km) above Earth, with no interfering atmosphere in the way. That said, French astronaut Thomas Pesquet said eventually the sun stopped observations.
“The view in this #timelapse passes the #aurora to marvel at the stars and then be overwhelmed by a sunrise,” Pesquet wrote in a tweet posted on Sunday (Oct. 17).
Although the aurora is beautiful, it could accompany a real danger for astronauts: radiation. NASA has lifetime radiation protocols in place for its spaceflyers to protect against ill effects of radiation events in orbit, which can be associated with conditions such as cancer. The agency is also investigating the exposure for astronauts at future spaceflight destinations such as the moon and Mars.
💚🌊 Une aurore polaire, des étoiles et l’éblouissement final du lever de soleil : que demander de plus ? #BonneNuit.💚🌊 The view in this #timelapse passes the #aurora to marvel at the stars and then be overhwelmed by a sunrise. #MissionAlpha pic.twitter.com/M7LDGtqd5lOctober 17, 2021
Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.
Australia must commit to carbon cuts to keep green energy advantage -Fortescue’s Forrest
Australia risks losing its advantage in the green energy revolution if its leaders don’t promptly commit to cutting carbon emissions by 2050, the country’s richest man, Fortescue Metals Group founder Andrew Forrest said on Monday.
Forrest, who grew Fortescue from a minnow to rival the world’s biggest mining giants in less than two decades, has spearheaded his company’s global green energy drive, signing deals from Brazil to Indonesia to Democratic Republic of Congo.
The company aims to build a 250 megawatt hydrogen electrolyser at Bell Bay in Tasmania — 25 times the size of the biggest existing electrolysers in the world — for less than A$1 billion ($740 million), Forrest said, putting a price on the project for the first time.
Fortescue is ready to make a final investment decision this year, as promised, but is waiting for support from the state government before going ahead with the project.
While Forrest told Reuters that Australia is the best place to realise his green vision, the country’s failure to commit to a policy to cut emissions is risking that advantage.
“I would say 2050 neutrality is a certainty for Australia. If we support it by COP26 the dividend flow to regional Australia will be substantial. If we don’t support it by COP26, the future will remain uncertain,” Forrest said, referring to the COP 26 climate conference in Glasgow at the end of October.
“The renewable energy, green hydrogen, green ammonia, green electricity industry is very, very mobile,” he said.
“It is where the will is strongest – they will be the first to be developed.”
Australia’s energy policy is again in the spotlight as Prime Minister Scott Morrison prepares to attend the conference, where global leaders will meet to set further climate goals to follow on from the landmark 2015 Paris accord.
But Morrison is short on updated climate ambitions to bring to the table given his reliance on the junior partner in Australia’s coalition government which said it would not be rushed into a decision on whether to support a target of net zero emissions by 2050.
The Nationals who represent coal and farming heartlands worry that stronger emissions targets will cost jobs. Coal is the country’s second biggest export earner.
But Forrest, speaking to Reuters from London, said that rural Australians were set to be the biggest winners in the move to green energy – if agreements are made in time.
“I have demonstrated investment into the regions despite the fact Australia is dragging the chain,” Forrest told Reuters.
Fortescue is investigating the potential to convert top Australian fertiliser maker Incitec Pivot’s Brisbane ammonia plant to use green hydrogen as a feedstock instead of natural gas, with an on-site electrolysis plant that will produce up to 50,000 tonnes of hydrogen a year.
The plant’s future had been under threat due to soaring gas prices, however setting up a green hydrogen production site to feed the existing plant could save 400 jobs and create many more, Forrest said.
At the same time, the product from the plant will be cheaper for local farmers.
“So farmers in Australia long into the future can plan for the next season, or even for the next generation … knowing that fertilisers are coming from a hydrogen molecule that is infinite,” Forrest said.
(Reporting by Melanie Burton and Sonali Paul; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)
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