Mammoth Blood & Crowdsourced Telescope | SciByte 96

Mammoth Blood & Crowdsourced Telescope | SciByte 96

We take a look at Woolly Mammoth blood, University Rover Challenge, conductive paint, crowdsourcing a telescope, frozen moss, viewer feedback, spacecraft updates, Curiosity news, and as always take a peek back into history and up in the sky this week.

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Woolly Mammoth Blood!?!?!?

  • The Wooly Mammoth
  • An expedition led by Russian scientists earlier this month uncovered the well-preserved carcass of a female mammoth on a remote island in the Arctic Ocean
  • The head of the expedition, said the animal died 10,000 to 15,000, at the age of around 60 some, making it the first time that an old female had been found
  • Wooly mammoths are thought to have died out around 10,000 years ago
  • Scientists think small groups of them lived longer in Alaska and on Russia\’s Wrangel Island off the Siberian coast.
  • The Claim on the Body Preservation
  • The lower part of the carcass was very well preserved as it ended up in a pool of water that later froze over
  • The upper part of the body including the back and the head are believed to have been eaten by predators
  • The team was surprised that the carcass was so well preserved that it still had blood and muscle tissue, and that when they broke the ice beneath the stomach, very dark blood flowed out
  • The muscle tissue is also said to be red, the colour of fresh meat
  • The temperature at the time of excavation was -7 to – 10 degrees Celsius [19.4 to 14 degrees Fahrenheit]
  • Because these temperatures are below freezing it may be assumed that the blood of mammoths had some cryoprotective properties
  • To Be Studied
  • If these claims are true, it will be the most well-preserved tissue found from a Woolly Mammoth
  • Mammoth specialists from South Korea, Russia and the United States are expected to study the remains which the Russian scientists are now keeping at an undisclosed northern location
  • \”Jurassic Park Prize\”
  • Scientists already have deciphered much of the genetic code of the woolly mammoth from balls of mammoth hair found frozen in the Siberian permafrost
  • The discovery gives researchers a really good chance of finding live cells which can help in cloning a mammoth
  • Last year the researchers signed a deal with cloning pioneer Hwang Woo-Suk of South Korea\’s Sooam Biotech Research Foundation, who in 2005 created the world\’s first cloned dog.
  • Those who succeed in recreating an extinct animal could claim a \”Jurassic Park prize\”, the concept of which is being developed by the X Prize Foundation
  • Multimedia
  • YouTube | Russians Find Mammoth Carcass With Liquid Blood | AssociatedPress
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Russian scientists make rare find of \’blood\’ in mammoth |


University Rover Challenge

  • What is the University Rover Challenge?
  • The competition is hosted by the Mars Society, a non-profit research organization dedicated to promoting the exploration and eventual settlement of Mars
  • The competition site is located at the society\’s Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS), a rocky barren landscape that\’s similar to Martian terrain
  • Each team was allowed to spend up to $15,000 on their rovers, which can weigh no more than 50 kilograms – about 110 lbs.
  • The URC is based on the assumption that the rovers are telerobots, which means they would be operated by astronauts on or orbiting Mars
  • Team members must guide their rovers via a remote connection, such as a computer in the back of a truck, as long as it\’s shielded so the team can\’t see their rovers
  • Teams compete in four challenges, which change year to year, designed to replicate the activities of NASA\’s rovers on Mars.
  • The Tasks for 2013
  • Teams will guide their rovers to collect the subsurface soil samples most likely to contain photosynthetic bacteria, lichen and other bits of living material
  • Deliver a series of packages, such as emergency supplies to \”astronauts\” (URC staff) in the field
  • Fix a dust-covered solar panel (without water, of course)
  • Navigate an obstacle course that will include climbing steep grades, getting over boulders and passing through PVC pipe gates, aimed to test each rover\’s maneuverability
  • The Teams
  • This year\’s teams represent universities and colleges in Canada, India, Poland and the United States
  • These include two-time returning champions Toronto\’s York University (2012 and 2009) and Oregon State (2010 and 2008)
  • Full list of entries for the 2013 URC
  • Winners
  • First Place with 493 out of 500 points (highest ever scored) | The Hyperion Team from Bialystok University of Technology, Poland
  • Second Place with 401 out of 500 points | Scorpio 3 team from Wroclaw University of Technology, Poland
  • Third Place with 350 out of 500 points | OSU Mars Rover Team from Oregon State University, USA
  • Multimedia
  • YouTube | Bialystok University of Technology – Hyperion Team
  • YouTube | Wroclaw University of Technology – Scorpio 3 Team
  • YouTube | University Rover Challenge Clips | Jeremy LeFevre
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • The Rocky Road to Building the Next Mars Rover |
  • Contest Challenges Students to Design Next Mars Rover | University Rover Challenge |
  • University Rover Challenge |


Conductive Paint

  • What Is It?
  • The substance allows the painting of \”liquid wiring\” on any surface, except for skin
  • Radio Shack stocks paint pens, which the inventors emphasized, is the first non-toxic electrically conductive paint available and it dries at room temperature
  • The inventors also say that they hope to appeal to a wide creative range of hobbyists, artists, and engineers for innovative ways to use their products
  • In addition the substance is child friendly, which opens the door to educational projects, including toys, and touch-sensitive paper drawings that play sounds
  • Applications
  • Generally split into two simple classifications, signaling and powering
  • Signaling could include using the Paint as a potentiometer while interfacing with a micro-controller, as a conduit in a larger circuit or as a capacitive sensor
  • Powering a device would include lighting LED\’s or driving small speakers
  • According to the company, Bare Paint has a surface resistivity of approximately 55 ohms/square at 50 microns layer thickness (human hair is ~100 microns)
  • Multimedia
  • YouTube | Bare Conductive Paint | Adafruit Industries
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Conductive paint lands in pens and pots for creatives |

Crowdsourced Telescope

  • A commercial asteroid-mining company aiming to launch a crowdfunded space telescope raised more than $200,000 on the first day of its campaign
  • Total raised by the morning of filming this show (June 3) $714,473
  • The Plan
  • Planetary Resources, a private venture aiming to mine near-Earth space rocks announced on May 29 that it would build and launch a space telescope for public use if it could raise at least $1 million in 33 days.
  • The telescope will be a twin copy of the Arkyd spacecraft the company is developing to detect, track and study asteroids in preparation for its mining mission
  • A test version of the spacecraft is set for its maiden trial flight in April 2014, while the crowdfunded model would launch in early 2015
  • What the Backers Get
  • Public backers would use it to study celestial objects of their choice, they also have the option of sponsoring research projects at schools, universities or museums that could use the instrument.
  • The telescope will also take self portraits that show the telescope in orbit, with a user-submitted photo displayed on the instrument\’s screen, a camera mounted on the hull of the spacecraft will snap the photo.
  • Where Does the Name \”ARYKD\” Come From?
  • To some Star Wars fans, it might sound familiar
  • In the start of the project while looking for a code name the idea was to make a derivation of Arakyd Industries from the Star Wars universe
  • According to the StarWars.wikia : \”Arakyd Industries was a major manufacturer of droids, heavy weapons, and starships, dating back to the days of the Galactic Republic\”
  • They made such things as the Viper probe droid model, which the Empire used to locate the Echo Base on the planet Hoth
  • The Viper probe droids themselves were based on earlier probe droids that were the first true probe droids to search planets and asteroids for valuable resources, such as metals to fuel the processing plants of industry
  • Other Random/Interesting Facts
  • The space shuttle had room for 1 Hubble Space Telescope in its payload bay, it could have fit 1,000 ARKYD Space Telescopes
  • Going at 5 mi/sec it will travel 8x faster than an SR-71 Blackbird flying at mach 3, that\’s going from San Francisco to Boston in 10 min
  • At those speeds it will have a few min each orbit to download information at DSL speeds, the primary/first ground station will be in Seattle
  • Once the mission is going it will take 150 \”selfies\” and make 15 astronomical observations per day
  • It will run off of only 50 W, the same amount as a standard household light … or 111 hamster wheels
  • ARYKD Dimensions
  • Weight : 15 kg / 33 lb
  • Height 200 mm / 7.8 in
  • Wingspan Deployed : 600 mm / 23.6 in
  • Peak Power : 50 W
  • Multimedia
  • YouTube | ARKYD: A Space Telescope for Everyone | PlanetaryResources
  • YouTube | Planetary Resources Announces ARKYD: A Space Telescope for Everyone | PlanetaryResources
  • YouTube | Planetary Resources Kickstarter Community Event with Star Trek\’s Brent Spiner (Lt. Cmdr Data) | PlanetaryResources
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Space Telescope Crowdfunding Project Raises $167,000 |
  • Asteroid Mining Company Puts Orbital Telescope On Kickstarter | Popular Science
  • Find out more on Kickstarter

Frozen Moss, Back to Life

  • Zombie Moss?
  • Scientists have recently found that even after hundreds of years buried under ice, mosses can regrow
  • The revived plants come from Canada’s Ellesmere Island, where the Teardrop Glacier has retreated since the end of a cold period in 1550 to 1850 known as the Little Ice Age
  • On recently exposed ground they found clumps of mosses that looked dead. But among the brown tangles, the team noticed a few green sprigs
  • The team took brown moss samples back to the lab and used radiocarbon dating to determine that they had lived about 400 years ago
  • Based on the glacier’s retreat rate, the researchers estimated the plants had been uncovered for less than two years.
  • The team then ground up some of the plants and gave them nutrients, water and light
  • From seven of 24 samples, a total of four moss species grew
  • The budding plants didn’t come from seeds or spores because in moss, any cell can be reset, almost like a stem cell, to grow a new plant
  • How long a moss cell can stay viable is “anyone’s guess,”
  • The findings suggest that the regenerated mosses may help repopulate ecosystems after glaciers retreat
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Mosses frozen in time come back to life | Life | Science News


EyeSpy an Exoplanet!

  • The Hubby | Check This Out! | Exoplanet Directly Observed
  • A newly discovered gaseous planet has been directly photographed orbiting a star about 300 light-years from Earth
  • Only a few planets have been directly observed so far, and this world may be the least massive planet directly observed outside of the solar system
  • The Planet
  • The photo released by the European Southern Observatory (ESO) on June 3 depicts the suspected gas giant (called HD 95086 b) circling its young star (named HD 95086) in infrared light
  • The planet was discovered by ESO\’s Very Large Telescope in Chile. Based on the planet\’s brightness, scientists estimate that it is only about four or five times more massive than Jupiter
  • The planet orbits its star at about twice the distance from the sun to Neptune and about 56 times the distance between Earth and the sun, the blue circle in the photo represents the distance between the sun and Neptune.
  • The star is relatively young, at only 10 million to 17 million years old, making the formation of the exoplanet and the dusty disc surrounding the star potentially intriguing to researchers
  • Formation
  • The planet might have grown by assembling the rocks that form the solid core and then slowly accumulated gas from the environment to form the heavy atmosphere
  • It also might have started forming from a gaseous clump that arose from gravitational instabilities in the disc
  • Interactions between the planet and the disc itself or with other planets may have also moved the planet from where it was born
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Never-Before-Seen Alien Planet Imaged Directly in New Photo |


Lunar Gravity Map

  • Mascons
  • Mascons, or gravitational anomalies, were discovered on the moon in the 1960s, as NASA officials were planning for the Apollo moon missions, but the cause of these anomalies was unknown
  • By mapping the moon\’s gravity field, the Grail probes uncovered the locations of lunar mascons, and offered unprecedented views of the moon\’s interior structure
  • This enabled scientists to study two basins – one on the lunar nearside and one on the far side of the moon – to develop sophisticated computer models for how mascons form
  • New Ideas How They Formed
  • Billions of years ago, massive asteroids that collided with the moon left deep craters that reached into the mantle material that lies beneath the thin lunar crust
  • What had been unexplained until now was how these big impact sites could support extremely dense material, and how the gravity field in these basins could be in such disequilibrium
  • Mascon basins on the near side of the moon were partially filled in with ancient flows of dense lava, which seemed able to account for the mass excess and positive gravity anomalies
  • For some basins, however, the observed lava flows were too thin to explain the mass excess, some basins were even found that exhibited mascons but lacked lava infill altogether
  • The researchers determined that ancient asteroid impacts excavated large craters on the moon, causing surrounding lunar materials and rocks from the moon\’s mantle to melt and collapse inward
  • This melting caused the material to become denser and more concentrated than the strong lunar crust, which also slides down into the impact hole, eventually forms a curved but rigid barrier over the basin, holding the dense materials down
  • New models from this data gave the researchers a glimpse of how the moon\’s mascons formed in the aftermath of huge asteroid impacts
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Mystery of Moon\’s Lumpy Gravity Explained | Moon Missions |


  • Radiation Findings
  • Curiosity\’s Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD) is the first instrument to measure the radiation environment during a Mars cruise mission from inside a spacecraft that is similar to potential human exploration spacecraft
  • The findings,indicate radiation exposure for human explorers could exceed NASA\’s career limit for astronauts if current propulsion systems are used.
  • Forms of Radiation
  • GCR\’s. Galactic cosmic rays are particles caused by supernova explosions and other high-energy events outside the solar system.
  • SEP\’s. Solar energetic particles are associated with solar flares and coronal mass ejections from the sun
  • Radiation Exposure
  • NASA has established a three percent increased risk of fatal cancer as an acceptable career limit for its astronauts currently operating in low-Earth orbit
  • Only about three percent of the radiation dose was associated with solar particles because of a relatively quiet solar cycle and the shielding provided by the spacecraft
  • The radiation detected for the accumulated dose during the trip was about what you would get if you had a whole-body CT scan once every five or six days
  • Shielding
  • Current spacecraft shield much more effectively against SEPs than GCRs. To protect against the comparatively low energy of typical SEPs, astronauts might need to move into havens with extra shielding on a spacecraft or on the Martian surface, or employ other countermeasures
  • GCRs tend to be highly energetic, highly penetrating particles that are not stopped by the modest shielding provided by a typical spacecraft.
  • The Future
  • RAD data collected during Curiosity\’s science mission will continue to inform plans to protect astronauts as NASA designs future missions to Mars in the coming decades
  • Radiation
  • The MSL spacecraft structure (which includes the backshell and heat shield as well as the Curiosity rover and its descent stage) provided significant shielding from the deep space radiation environment
  • The spikes in radiation levels occurred in February, March and late May of 2012 because of large solar energetic particle events caused by solar activity
  • Multimedia
  • Image Galleries at JPL and Curiosity Mulimedia
  • Social Media
  • Curiosity Rover @MarsCuriosity
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Data From NASA Rover\’s Voyage To Mars Aids Planning | Comparison of Some Radiation Exposures to Mars-Trip Level |
  • Calculating Radiation Dose for Biological Tissue |
  • Radiation Measurements During Trip From Earth to Mars |


Looking back

  • June 6, 1878 : 135 years ago : Liquid air : In 1878, liquid air obtained at a temperature of -192ºC was exhibited by Professor James Dewar at the Royal Institution, London. His work followed the small-scale production of liquid air by Raoul Pictet of Geneva (Dec 1877) and Cailletet of Paris (Jan 1878). In March 1893, Dewar produced solid air. He gave six well-illustrated Christmas Lectures on “Air: gaseous and liquid” at the Royal Institution between 28 Dec 1893 and 9 Jan 1894. (Some of the air in the room was liquefied in the presence of the audience, and remained so for some time, when enclosed in a vacuum jacket.) He demonstrated several physical properties of liquid air, and produced solid air at the Friday 19 Jan 1894 meeting of the Royal Institution

Looking up this week

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