Monday, June 22, 2009

Monday, June 22, 2009

This gallery highlights a few particularly tough species of bacteria and archaea, a lesser-appreciated but equally-vast branch of the organismal tree.

Once upon a time, scientists routinely found life in places where it wasn’t supposed to exist. That doesn’t happen anymore, and not because the pace of discovery has slowed. If anything, it’s accelerated. It’s simply become clear that life can exist almost anywhere on Earth.After 3 billion years of evolution, life has flowed into every last nook and cranny, from the bottom of the sea to the upper edge of the stratosphere. From blazing heat and freezing cold to pure acidity and atomic bomb-caliber radiation, there’s seemingly no stress so great that some bug can’t handle it.This gallery highlights a few particularly tough species of bacteria and archaea, a lesser-appreciated but equally-vast branch of the organismal tree. Until the late 1970s, archaea was lumped in with bacteria, a confusion that speaks to the embryonic state of human microbial knowledge. Less than 1 percent of Earth’s microorganisms have been identified, and most of those won’t even grow in a lab.In some cases, the bugs are labeled as being uniquely durable, but the labels almost certainly won’t stick. Hardly a month passes without some newly characterized species setting a new microbial benchmark. Indeed, the very concept of species might not apply. Bacteria and archaea exchange genes “horizontally,” without the need for reproduction. It’s as if, while encountering someone on the street, you could trade for whatever genes came in handy at the time. This fungibility makes a mockery of old-fashioned, animal-based notions of species, and some microbiologists want to abandon the concept altogether.Speaking of the common gut bacteria Escherichia coli, biology pioneer Lynn Margulis once said, “If you put a particular plasmid into E. coli, all of a sudden you have Klebsiella and not E. coli. You’ve changed not only the species, but the genus. It’s like changing a person to a chimpanzee. Can you imagine doing that, putting a chimpanzee in the refrigerator, and getting him out the next morning, and now he’s a person?”It’s pretty hard to imagine, and the idea of microbes as an Earth-spanning ur-organism might take some getting used to. In the meantime, here are some examples of life’s awesome adaptability.Image: WikiMedia Commons/U.S. National Parks ServiceUpdate, 11:30am ET: The post originally mischaracterized archaea as being far less complicated than bacteria, and bacteria as possessing a cell nucleus — neither of which is true. They differ from each other profoundly, but not in ways that lend themselves to such hierarchical judgments.One thing bacteria and archaea have in common, however, is the lack of a nucleus or other membrane-bound cellular substructures. Only eukaryotic cells, which compose the bodies of plants, animals and fungi, have such structures.Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
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And then the rest of the email is

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Update: US Space Mission. Where are we going with NASA? I remember watching LIVE the TV broadcast of our first landing on the Moon on July 21, 1969..
Forty Years Later, Where are we going with all this?After a lengthy fueling delay because of stormy weather, launch of the shuttle Endeavour on a space station mission was scrubbed Wednesday when a presumably repaired hydrogen vent line umbilical began leaking potentially dangerous vapor for the second launch try in a row. Endeavour will be grounded until at least July 11 when the next shuttle/space station launch window opens. There are only eight remaining shuttle fights on the schedule this year to finish the construction of the International Space Station, which will be managed by Russian and the European Space Agency. Next year the thirty year old shuttle craft will be off to museums and exhibitions, and the manned USA race into Space will have ended. Later today — if weather conditions and hardware permit — NASA will launch its much anticipated and deeply imaginative Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), the first American spacecraft of any kind to make a lunar trip since 1999. Not only will the LRO help us study the moon in greater detail than ever before, it should also give us our first look at the six Apollo landing sites since we abandoned the historic campgrounds in December 1972 -- 37 years ago. NASA plans to return to Space with expendable rockets, known as Ares, and a beefed-up Apollo-style capsule called Orion that can ferry crews to the moon and other destinations. Orion's debut flight to the space station is targeted for 2015 -- five years after the shuttle stops flying -- 43 years after we left the Moon.
However, a presidential panel on Wednesday began looking at alternative ways to get there and whether the United States should even go back to the Moon - been there, done that.
In this decade, the moon has once again become the hot place to go. Three countries with little spacefaring history — Japan, China and India — have all sent probes moonward since 2007, and China in particular has made it clear that it plans to return, first with more robot ships, then with astronauts. Time Magazine this week has a feature on these other space programs: (See a photo-essay of the world's most competitive space programs.)In 2004, the U.S. restarted its own lunar program when President George W. Bush announced a new commitment to have astronauts back on the moon by 2020 and on Mars in the years after. There was surely some political motivation in Bush's election-year proposal, but it was followed up by hardheaded planning and real NASA action.With the shuttles scheduled to be mothballed by 2010, the space agency has committed itself to building and flying a lunar-capable manned ship by 2015, and though the Obama Administration is reconsidering the entire lunar program, so far it's still on track.The Obama review panel, led by Norman R. Augustine, former chief executive of Lockheed Martin, was appointed by the Obama administration to re-evaluate NASA’s human spaceflight program and make recommendations by the end of August. The daylong meeting on Wednesday, at the Carnegie Institution of Washington, was the first of four planned public sessions.Senator Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat who is a leading lawmaker on NASA issues, told the panel that its recommendations would probably shape the United States’ space program for years to come and that supporters of any competing vision would be hard pressed to gain support in Congress.As the panel held its meeting to explore NASA’s future, technical problems were showing up in the degrading the accuracy of signals from the last GPS satellite launched by the Pentagon, sparking concerns among U.S. military and aerospace industry officials that the next generation of the widely used satellites could face similar troubles.The Air Force's Southern California space acquisition center on Tuesday announced that a Global Positioning System satellite, manufactured by Lockheed Martin Corp. and launched in March, is experiencing performance problems in orbit.It hasn't become part of the "operational constellation" of more than two dozen other GPS satellites, and is slated to undergo a battery of tests expected to stretch through October to try to resolve the problems, according to an Air Force news release.The GPS system, which serves both military and civilian users, provides precise time and location coordinates for everything from military missile launches and "smart" bombs to automated bank-teller machines to aircraft, ships and everyday vehicles.The Lockheed satellite is the first to include a new civilian frequency -- dubbed L5 -- designed for, among other things, use by future nationwide air-traffic control systems. But that signal, part of test package, apparently is interfering with other signals from the satellite and reducing their accuracy, according to industry and Air Force officials. The degraded signals are accurate only to about 20 feet, versus about two feet for typical GPS signals, industry officials said.The issue is significant, according to these officials, because it could complicate deployment of a new family of Boeing Co. GPS satellites currently being built that also feature the L5 signal.Already years behind schedule and hundreds of millions of dollars over budget, the 12 satellites, which are scheduled to replace satellites currently in orbit, could face further testing and delays to ensure that they are free of interference problems. The Boeing satellites have a history of quality-control and manufacturing problems unrelated to the latest concerns.In its release, the Air Force said the routine in-orbit checkout of the suspect Lockheed satellite revealed that some signals "were inconsistent" with comparable GPS satellites. The Air Force also said upcoming tests will include simulations and "testing of real-life GPS receiver equipment to the greatest extent possible" to prevent "inadvertent impacts to GPS users."So, the question remains for both NASA and you in the car, Where do we go from here.FD.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

What books would be in your school library for this class?

Book overview of RED MARS -
Chronicles the colonization of Mars in the year 2026. In his most ambitious project to date, award-winning author Kim Stanley Robinson utilizes years of research and cutting-edge science in the first of three novels that will chronicle the colonization of Mars. For eons, sandstorms have swept the barren desolate landscape of the red planet. For centuries, Mars has beckoned to mankind to come and conquer its hostile climate. Now, in the year 2026, a group of one hundred colonists is about to fulfill that destiny. John Boone, Maya Toitavna, Frank Chalmers, and Arkady Bogdanov lead a mission whose ultimate goal is the terraforming of Mars. For some, Mars will become a passion driving them to daring acts of courage and madness; for others it offers and opportunity to strip the planet of its riches. And for the genetic "alchemists, " Mars presents a chance to create a biomedical miracle, a breakthrough that could change all we know about life, and death. The colonists place giant satellite mirrors in Martian orbit to reflect light to the planets surface. Black dust sprinkled on the polar caps will capture warmth and melt the ice. And massive tunnels, kilometers in depth, will be drilled into the Martian mantle to create stupendous vents of hot gases. Against this backdrop of epic upheaval, rivalries, loves, and friendships will form and fall to pieces, for there are those who will fight to the death to prevent Mars from ever being changed. Brilliantly imagined, breathtaking in scope and ingenuity, Red Mars is an epic scientific saga, chronicling the next step in human evolution and creating a world in its entirety. Red Mars shows us a future, with both glory and tarnish, that awes with complexity and inspires with vision.

Book overview of GREEN MARS -
Nearly a generation has passed since the first pioneers landed, but the transformation of Mars to an Earth-like planet has just begun. In Green Mars the colonists will attempt to turn the red planet into a lush garden for humanity. They will bombard the atmosphere with ice meteorites to add moisture. They will seed the red deserts with genetically engineered plants. Then they will tap the boiling planetary core to warm the planet's frozen surface. But their heroic efforts don't go unchallenged. For their plan to transform Mars is opposed by those determined to preserve the hostile and barren beauty of Mars. Led by rebels like Peter Clayborne, these young people are the first generation of children born on Mars, and they will be joined in their violent struggle by original settlers Maya Toitovna, Simon Frasier, and Sax Russell. Against this cosmic backdrop, passions, rivalries, and friendships will explode in a story as big as the planet itself. A novel of breathtaking scope and imagination, of lyric intensity and social resonance, Kim Stanley Robinson employs years of research and state-of-the-art science to create a prophetic vision of where humanity is headed - and of what life will be like on another world.

Book overview - Mars Life
Jamie Waterman discovered the cliff dwelling on Mars, and the fact that an intelligent race lived on the red planet sixty-five million years ago, only to be driven into extinction by the crash of a giant meteor. Now the exploration of Mars is itself under threat of extinction, as the ultraconservative New Morality movement gains control of the U.S. government and cuts off all funding for the Mars program.Meanwhile, Carter Carleton, an anthropologist who was driven from his university post by unproven charges of rape, has started to dig up the remains of a Martian village. Science and politics clash on two worlds as Jamie desperately tries to save the Mars program and uncover who the vanished Martians were.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Rebooting Resembles February Event

PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is in safe mode and in communications with Earth after an unexpected rebooting of its computer Wednesday evening, June 3.

The spontaneous reboot resembles a Feb. 23 event on the spacecraft.

Engineers concluded the most likely cause for that event was a cosmic ray or solar particle hitting electronics and causing an erroneous voltage reading.

Jim Erickson, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., said, "The spacecraft is sending down high-rate engineering data, power positive, batteries fully charged, sun pointed and thermally safe.The flight team is cautiously bringing the orbiter back to normal operations. We should be resuming our exploration of Mars by next week."

The reboot occurred at approximately 6:10 p.m. PDT (9:10 p.m. EDT) on June 3.

This is the sixth time since the spacecraft began its primary science phase in November 2006 that it has entered safe mode, which is its programmed precaution when it senses a condition for which it does not know a more specific response.###Guy Webster 818-354-6278Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Californiaguy.webster@jpl.nasa.govNEWS RELEASE: 2009-095

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Student Reports - Submit yours to FREDDALLAS@AOL.COM

How does the Moon affect the tides on Earth?
How do the tides affect life in the bays and estuaries of Earth?

Does Mar’s Moon affect it in a similar way?

The gravitational attraction between the Earth and the Moon causes the tides on Earth. Tides are the rising of Earth’s water surfaces. The tides raise the water surfaces and then the water surfaces lower because of the changing position of the Moon relative to the Earth and also because the Earth rotates.

The tides affect life in the bays and estuaries on Earth as the life (organisms)present In the bays and estuaries that exist between the high water line and the low water line have to adapt to being out of the water part of the time and being covered by water at other times. Also some of these organisms provide food for humans and thus help human life exist.

The gravitational attraction between Mars and its moons (which are much smaller than Earth’s moon) does produce tidal forces, however since there is very little liquid water on Mars and no known form of life on Mars, its moons do not affect Mars in a similar way.

Two Martian Moons: Newsletter Challenge (05/29/07)
Posted May 27, 2007 5:01 PM
Pathfinder Tags: challenge questions
The question as it appears in the 05/29 edition of Specs & Techs from GlobalSpec:
Mars has two moons, Deimos and Phobos; both orbit in the same direction. Standing near the equator on the Martian surface one night, you watch them both. To your astonishment, Deimos appears to be slowly moving from east to west relative to you, while Phobos is slowly moving from west to east. How can this be? Supporting calculations will score extra points!
Thanks to Jorrie who submitted the original question (which we revised a bit).

(Update: June 5, 8:35 AM EST) And the Answer is...
The closer a satellite (natural or artificial) is to the planet it orbits, the faster it travels around that planet. Both Martian moons travel around Mars from west to east. Deimos, however, is sufficiently far from Mars (like the Earth's moon is from Earth) that it travels around the planet slower than Mars rotates on its axis. Thus, to an observer on the surface of Mars, Deimos appears to be "left behind in the sky" and appears to move from east to west. Phobos, on the other hand, is much closer and actually orbits around Mars faster than Mars rotates.हटमल

Mars Melt Hints at Solar, Not Human, Cause for Warming, Scientist Says
Kate Raviliousfor National Geographic News
February 28, 2007
Simultaneous warming on Earth and Mars suggests that our planet's recent climate changes have a natural—and not a human-induced—cause, according to one scientist's controversial theory.
Earth is currently experiencing rapid warming, which the vast majority of climate scientists says is due to humans pumping huge amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. (Get an overview: "Global Warming Fast Facts"।) रीड मोरे अत थे लिंक अबोवे

FAQ on Mars

NOAA reading on Mars weather:

How Does Earth’s Rotation and Tilt Affect It’s Biosphere?

Compare To Mars Rotation And Tilt (If Any).

Does Mars Experience Seasonal Changes And Weather Conditions Like Earth?

Earth’s rotation causes periods of sunlight and darkness (which are day and night). Earth’s tilt makes the amount of sunlight reaching any certain spot on Earth to vary over the different times of the year. This causes the seasons and in the Northern Hemisphere when the North Pole is pointing toward the sun it is summer and the days last longer and the sun climbs higher in the sky. This makes the days longer and hotter. Winter is the opposite.

Mars has a pretty similar rotation and tilt to that of Earth. Because Mars is much further from the sun than Earth its orbit takes almost twice as long so a Mar’s year is almost twice as long as an Earth year. This makes the seasons on Mars about twice as long as those on Earth. It does not get nearly as hot on Mars during the summers but it gets much colder than on Earth during the winters.

Student Reports on Mars Topics

Compare the Earth’s temperature, liquid water resources, mass and atmospheric gases to those on Mars. Do conditions for Earth-like life exist on Mars?

The highest and lowest temperatures recorded on Earth’s surface are 134F and -128F while the figures for Mars are 68F and -220F.
Earth has a great deal of liquid water resources from oceans, inland seas, lakes, rivers and underground water. Mars has no liquid water because of its low atmospheric pressure except for short periods of time at the lowest points on its surface.
Earth’s mass is 5.9736 x 10 (to the 24th power) Kilos. Mar’s mass is 6.4185 x 10 (to the 23rd power) Kilos . This means that Mars has only 11% of the mass of Earth.
Earth’s atmospheric gases consist of about 78% Nitrogen, 21% Oxygen, .93% Argon, .038% Carbon dioxide and 1% Water vapor. This compares to Mar’s atmospheric gases of about 3% Nitrogen, 1.6% Argon, 95% Carbon dioxide, and small traces of Oxygen, Water vapor, and other gases.
Conditions for Earth-like life don’t exist on Mars. There is practically no liquid water on its surface because of the thin atmosphere and other things like solar wind and a lot of ultraviolet light. But our scientists have still not completely ruled out the possibility of some form of life.