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So many satellites in orbit. Can we clear the space?



At the end of 2022, a European satellite unfurled a shimmering silver sail behind it. The purpose of this appendage was simple: to accelerate the self-destruction of the satellite by pushing it into the Earth’s atmosphere.

As strange as it may sound at first glance, this was the latest in a growing wave of efforts to tackle the growing problem of space debris. In recent years, the situation over our sky has changed dramatically. For decades, since the beginning of the space age in the late 1950s, satellite launch rates have remained fairly stable. The growth in the number of satellites is now exponential, fueled by the efforts of corporations like Amazon. Collisions in space, meanwhile, produce clouds of debris that could pose a danger to spacecraft for decades.

Why did we write this

As the amount of man-made debris in space grows, so does the search for solutions. Some experts say the first step is to think of space not as an endless garbage dump, but as a common area requiring agreed-upon norms of behaviour.

Threat mitigation efforts are underway, including so-called active garbage disposal. Concepts include the cosmic equivalent of a net, magnet, or harpoon. Another approach is to minimize the creation of new debris, mainly by promoting international agreement on what the norms of behavior should be.

“People on Earth are benefiting tremendously from space,” says Crystal Azelton, director of space applications programs at the Secure World Foundation, a US organization that promotes collaborative solutions to make space sustainable. “It’s fragile, it’s not infinite, and it needs to be managed in a way that’s sustainable.”

At the end of 2022, a European satellite unfurled a shimmering silver sail behind it. The purpose of this appendage was simple: to accelerate the self-destruction of the satellite by pushing it into the Earth’s atmosphere.

Strange as it may sound at first glance, this was actually just the latest wave of efforts to address a growing problem facing humanity in space – the proliferation of debris and satellites in orbit around our planet.

In fact, we treat space like a garbage dump.

Why did we write this

As the amount of man-made debris in space grows, so does the search for solutions. Some experts say the first step is to think of space not as an endless garbage dump, but as a common area requiring agreed-upon norms of behaviour.

And the task doesn’t get any easier: In early February, the United States gave Amazon permission to launch more than 3,000 satellites, not to mention the Russian rocket that destroyed a defunct Soviet satellite in November 2021, creating a new cloud of debris that would pose a danger. spacecraft for years, maybe decades to come.

There is hope, as the European Space Agency’s silver sail shows, but the situation is difficult. A multitude of countries and companies are currently striving to embrace a space perspective with a number of competing and overlapping priorities. This raises the question of who is responsible for cleaning up this mess, and whether we even need to care about it.

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Lovely young cannibals: locust research could lead to better pest management | insects



Locusts are voracious eaters with an appetite that extends to members of their own species. Now, scientists have discovered “anti-cannibalism” pheromones used by insects to protect themselves in dense swarms, which could pave the way for new pest control strategies.

The scientists said the discovery opens up many possibilities, including spraying crops with something like protective pheromones as a non-toxic insecticide, or finding a way to reduce its impact on locusts and get them to attack each other more.

“You can make the locusts behave more cannibalistically and thus potentially control themselves,” said Bill Hansson, director of the lab. Department of Evolutionary Neuroethology at the Max Planck Institute and senior author of the study.

Cannibalism is widespread in nature. “People have invented ethical rules that prevent us from being cannibals, but this is not a general rule in nature. For other species, meat is meat,” Hansson said. “A fox will eat a dead fox, a rat will definitely eat another rat, a mouse will eat another mouse.”

He added: “As for locusts, people think they live off grass and greenery, but they will also very obviously eat each other.”

The migratory locust exists in a “solitary phase” for most of its life; live individually, staying in one territory and shunning other insects. However, when the population density in an area exceeds a certain threshold, the locusts enter their “herd phase” within a few hours; changing color, becoming very active, aggressive and voracious eaters, and eventually forming collective highly destructive swarms that consume everything in their path, including sometimes each other.

Scientists have previously shown that cannibalism plays a critical role in swarm formation because when individuals try to eat those in front of them while avoiding being eaten by those approaching from behind, the swarm begins to move as one.

Last work published in the journal Science, shows that locusts also release pheromones called phenylacetonitrile (PAN) that deter cannibalism, potentially allowing the swarm to grow and sustain itself for longer. In a series of experiments, the researchers found that as the number of grasshoppers living in a cell increased, they began to release more of the chemical.

When scientists used Crispr genome editing to create locusts unable to produce the PAN enzyme, the likelihood of these insects being eaten increased. And locusts, which lacked the ability to smell pheromones, were more likely to eat fellow insects.

In one experiment, two locusts—one normal and one not producing pheromones—were released into a cage with 50 hungry locusts. “The poor guy who didn’t smell was just eaten,” Hansson said.

Professor Ian Cousin of the Max Planck Institute for Animal Behavior in Germany, who was not involved in the latest study, said the findings are important because the locust infestation is estimated to affect the livelihoods of one in ten. people on the planet.

Kuzin said: “Finding a chemical signal that suppresses this, as in this work, offers a means to control swarm movement. Insecticides tend to also target species that are beneficial to humans, such as pollinators. This discovery may allow future development of control agents that target molecular pathways specific to the plague locust.”

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Highlights from NASA disclosure of astronauts on Artemis II moon



HOUSTON — For the first time in more than half a century, NASA has announced the composition of the crew of astronauts heading to the moon.

Humans have not dared to leave the planet more than a few hundred miles since the return of Apollo 17, NASA’s last mission to the Moon, in 1972. use what is found there to answer questions about how the solar system formed.

Astronauts in 2023 are very different from when the United States was in the race to beat the Soviet Union on the Moon. During the Apollo program, 24 astronauts flew to the moon, 12 of them set foot on the surface. All of them were Americans. They were all white males, many of whom were test pilots.

This time around, the astronaut troop reflects a much wider range of society.


Astronauts Reed Wiseman, Christina Koch, Victor Glover and Jeremy Hansen have been selected for a future 10-day lunar orbit mission.CreditCredit…NASA Johnson Space Center

This is Reed Wiseman, mission commander; Victor Glover, pilot; Christina Koch, Mission Specialist; and Jeremy Hansen, also a mission specialist. The first three are NASA astronauts, and Mr. Hansen is a member of the Canadian Space Agency.

“When we were selecting astronauts back then,” Mr. Glover said in an interview, “we intended to select the same person, just a few copies.”

Ms. Koch will be the first woman to travel beyond low Earth orbit, and Mr. Hansen, as a Canadian, the first non-American to travel so far.

– So I’m excited? Ms. Koch said during a crew launch event at Ellington Field, a small airport used by NASA for astronaut training. “Absolutely. But my real question is: Are you excited?”

The assembled crowd applauded in response.

The mission is an important step in NASA’s Artemis program to send astronauts back to the lunar surface to explore cold regions near the lunar south pole. Water ice found in deep, dark craters could provide water and oxygen for future astronauts, as well as fuel for deeper space missions.

“Together we go—to the Moon, to Mars, and beyond,” said Bill Nelson, NASA administrator.

But the four astronauts aboard the next Artemis II mission won’t land on the moon.

Instead, travelers will embark on a 10-day trip around the moon and return to Earth. It is currently scheduled for the end of next year.

“This is an exciting time for the people of Artemis, no doubt about it,” Harrison Schmitt, the last surviving Apollo 17 astronaut, said in an interview. He added that many people “do not fully realize that we are about three generations away from any human experience in deep space, and this is probably the most important part of the mission.”

Production of the liquid oxygen tank for the Artemis II mission rocket at the Michoud assembly plant in New Orleans.Credit…NASA

Dr. Schmitt, who is also a former United States Senator from New Mexico, said he’s not necessarily surprised it took so long. “I’d say I’m disappointed,” he said. “Many things conspired to stop the Apollo program and keep us from returning for a while.”

Mr. Hansen noted that the United States could have carried out the Artemis missions on its own, but opted to join forces instead. international cooperation with Canada and the European Space Agency. The agreement reserved a seat for a Canadian astronaut on Artemis II. “All of Canada is grateful for such global thinking and such leadership,” Mr. Hansen said.

Mr. Glover, who was the first black crew member on the International Space Station, said diversity is “an important goal for the agency and our partners.”

“But it also had to happen organically because we have a corps that represents America so well,” he said.

As the name of the mission suggests, Artemis II will be the second in NASA’s Artemis program. Artemis I was launched last November as an unmanned test of the space launch system, NASA’s giant new rocket, and the Orion astronaut capsule. The Orion spacecraft spent two weeks in orbit around the Moon before returning to Earth, splashing down in the Pacific Ocean.

After years of delay – development of the rocket took longer than originally promised – the Artemis I mission went smoothly for the most part, although there were some problems. The Orion’s heat shield protected the spacecraft as it re-entered Earth’s atmosphere, but sheared off more than expected.

Artemis II, with four astronauts on board, will allow a full test of Orion’s life support systems. Then NASA officials will feel more confident about the longer and more difficult Artemis III mission, during which two astronauts will land near the south pole.

Mr. Wiseman, Mr. Glover and Ms. Koch said they are not disappointed that Artemis II’s crew membership rules out the possibility of walking on the moon during Artemis III.

“It may sound cliché,” Mr. Wiseman said, “but just flying on any of these missions is a huge thing. It’s incredible. I like the idea of ​​going beyond the moon.”

He added: “Watching our fellow astronauts walk on the Moon will be a success for us.”

After a long day of interviews with reporters, four astronauts left the Johnson Space Center, escorted by a police escort, to NRG Stadium in Houston to watch the NCAA men’s basketball championship game between the University of Connecticut and San Diego State University.

NASA is currently aiming for the first moon landing to take place in late 2025, but NASA’s Inspector General has predicted the mission will be pushed back to 2026 or later. The Artemis III mission requires the use of Starship – a giant spacecraft being developed by SpaceX, Elon Musk’s rocket company – to carry two astronauts from a distant lunar orbit to the surface. The first test launch of Starship into space could take place in the coming weeks.

In the 1960s, the space race reflected the geopolitical struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union. Once the race was won, interest in the Moon from the public, politicians, and even NASA faded.

This time, too, there are geopolitical echoes. China also plans to send astronauts to the moon in the coming years. But it’s not just governments that are aiming for the moon right now.

Starship prototype at a SpaceX facility near Boca Chica, Texas.Credit…SpaceX

Yusaku Maezawa, a Japanese billionaire, has bought a starship trip that will orbit the moon, similar to the trajectory that Artemis II will follow. Dennis Tito, an entrepreneur who was the first space tourist to visit the International Space Station in 2001, and his wife Akiko booked seats on a separate space trip around the Moon.

Five decades ago, it would have been like a billionaire buying the Saturn V rocket that took the Apollo astronauts to the moon.

Today, it seems almost inevitable that tourist footprints will cross the surface of the moon in the coming years.

In an interview with Chris Hadfield, a Canadian astronaut who retired in 2013 after three spaceflights, compared space travel to the dawn of aviation. The wobbly craft built by the Wright brothers in 1903 flew, but with difficulty. But there was almost progress. The first flight of the Dutch airline KLM was made in 1920.

“Seventeen years from the Wright brothers to a profitable airline that still exists,” Mr. Hadfield said.

He added that innovations have significantly reduced the cost of leaving Earth.

“You can see that the cost will continue to come down as vehicles get better validated and that will increase access and opportunity,” said Mr Hadfield.

For astronauts Artemis II Dr. Schmitt’s advice was simple: “Just enjoy,” he said.

Vyosa Isai another Jesus Jimenez made a report.

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Zoonomia: 240 mammalian genomes reveal what makes humans unique



Zoonomia scientists have cataloged the diversity of mammalian genomes by comparing the DNA sequences of 240 living species.

Zoonomia’s message: 240 mammalian genomes reveal what makes humans unique first appeared on Sci.News: Breaking Science News.

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