Hexbyte Glen Cove NASA extends Ingenuity Mars Helicopter mission

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NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter acquired this image in the northwest portion of a region known as “Séítah” using its high-resolution color camera during its 20th flight on Feb. 25, 2022. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA has extended flight operations of the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter through September. In the months ahead, history’s first aircraft to operate from the surface of another world will support the Perseverance rover’s upcoming science campaign exploring the ancient river delta of Jezero Crater. Along the way, it will continue testing its own capabilities to support the design of future Mars air vehicles.

The announcement comes on the heels of the rotorcraft’s 21st successful flight, the first of at least three needed for the helicopter to cross the northwest portion of a region known as “Séítah” and reach its next staging area.

“Less than a year ago we didn’t even know if powered, controlled flight of an aircraft at Mars was possible,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, the associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. “Now, we are looking forward to Ingenuity’s involvement in Perseverance’s second science campaign. Such a transformation of mindset in such a short period is simply amazing, and one of the most historic in the annals of air and space exploration.”

Ingenuity’s new area of operations is entirely different from the modest, relatively flat terrain it has been flying over since its first flight last April. Several miles wide and formed by an ancient river, the fan-shaped delta rises more than 130 feet (40 meters) above the crater floor. Filled with jagged cliffs, angled surfaces, projecting boulders, and sand-filled pockets that could stop a rover in its tracks (or upend a helicopter upon landing), the delta promises to hold numerous geologic revelations—perhaps even the proof necessary to determine that microscopic life once existed on Mars billions of years ago.






Upon reaching the delta, Ingenuity’s first orders will be to help determine which of two dry river channels Perseverance should take when it’s time to climb to the top of the delta. Along with routing assistance, data provided by the helicopter will help the Perseverance team assess potential science targets. Ingenuity may even be called upon to image geologic features too far afield (or outside of the rover’s traversable zone), or perhaps scout landing zones and caching sites for the Mars Sample Return program.

“The Jezero river delta campaign will be the biggest challenge the Ingenuity team faces since first flight at Mars,” said Teddy Tzanetos, Ingenuity team lead at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. “To enhance our chances of success, we have increased the size of our team and are making upgrades to our geared toward improving operational flexibility and flight safety.”







The Ingenuity Mars Helicopter’s carbon fiber blades can be seen in this video taken by the Mastcam-Z instrument aboard NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover on April 8, 2021, the 48th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. They are performing a wiggle test before the actual spin-up to ensure they were working properly. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU

Higher flights

Several of these upgrades have led to reduced navigation errors during flight, which increases both flight and landing safety. A recent software change already on the rotorcraft frees Ingenuity from its previously programmed maximum altitude of 50 feet (15 meters). The altitude gains could result in incremental increases in both air speed and range. A second upgrade allows Ingenuity to change airspeed as it flies. Another enables it to better understand and adjust to changes in terrain texture during flight. Future software upgrades may include adding terrain elevation maps into the navigation filter and a landing-hazard-avoidance capability.

Before aerial reconnaissance of the delta can begin, Ingenuity has to complete its journey to the area. Scheduled for no earlier than March 19, Ingenuity’s next flight will be a complex journey, about 1,150 feet (350 meters) in length, that includes a sharp bend in its course to avoid a large hill. After that, the team will determine whether two or three more flights will be required to complete the crossing of northwest Séítah.

This annotated image depicts the multiple flights – and two different routes – NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter could take on its trip to Jezero Crater’s delta. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona/USGS

The first experimental flight on another world took place on April 19, 2021, and lasted 39.1 seconds. After another four flights, six more minutes in the air, and traveling a total distance of 1,637 feet (499 meters), NASA transitioned Ingenuity into an operations demonstration phase, testing its ability to provide an aerial dimension to the Perseverance mission. With the completion of Flight 21, the rotorcraft has logged over 38 minutes aloft and traveled 2.9 miles (4.64 kilometers). As Ingenuity pushes farther into uncharted territory, these numbers will inevitably go up, and previous flight records will more than likely fall.

“This upcoming will be my 22nd entry in our logbook,” said Ingenuity chief pilot Håvard Grip of JPL. “I remember thinking when this all started, we’d be lucky to have three entries and immensely fortunate to get five. Now, at the rate we’re going, I’m going to need a second book.”



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NASA extends Ingenuity Mars Helicopter mission (2022, March 15)
retrieved 16 March 2022
from https://phys.org/news/2022-03-nasa-ingenuity-mars-helicopter-mission.html

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Marine snail inspires fast-acting injectable insulin for better diabetes control

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A fish-hunting cone snail can drop the blood sugar of its prey so precipitously that it quickly becomes paralyzed and defenseless. This phenomenon has inspired scientists to develop insulins that provide people with diabetes better and more immediate control over blood sugar. Credit: Baldomero Olivera

For millions of people with diabetes, insulin is essential medicine. But for some ocean-dwelling predators, insulin is a weapon. With a burst of venom, a fish-hunting cone snail can drop the blood sugar of its prey so precipitously that it quickly becomes paralyzed and defenseless. That remarkable phenomenon has inspired scientists at University of Utah (U of U) Health, Stanford University and University of Copenhagen to make better injectable insulins for patients.

In the journal Nature Chemical Biology, the scientific team reports on a new insulin whose design is based on from the Conus kinoshitai. By introducing biochemical features that enable the snail’s insulin to start working quickly, they have created a modified form of human insulin that they hope could give patients with better, more immediate control over their blood sugar.

“There was always this idea that if one could design a very rapidly acting insulin analog, one could get much better control of blood sugar levels in people with diabetes,” says Helena Safavi, Ph.D., a biologist at University of Copenhangen. She is co-corresponding author on the study with biochemist Christopher Hill, D.Phil., Vice Dean of Research for University of Utah School of Medicine, and Stanford protein chemist Danny Hung-Chieh Chou, Ph.D.

The new molecule is a promising candidate for therapeutic development. More broadly, it has revealed an unexpected biochemical strategy for converting human insulin into a fast-acting compound.

Snails’ speedy insulin

Normally, human insulin is produced and stored in the pancreas until it is needed to manage blood sugar and energy levels. To facilitate efficient storage, individual molecules of insulin come together, linking up first into pairs, or dimers, and then into groups of six. But for people who rely on insulin injections, the molecule’s tendency to pair up is an impediment. Insulin can’t make its way from the injection site to the bloodstream until clustered molecules dissociate. This creates a delay that can make it difficult for people with diabetes to keep their blood glucose within the optimal range, increasing the risk of complications.







A fish-hunting cone snail can drop the blood sugar of its prey so precipitously that it quickly becomes paralyzed and defenseless. This phenomenon has inspired scientists to develop insulins that provide people with diabetes better and more immediate control over blood sugar. Credit: Baldomero Olivera

The cone snails’ venomous insulins, which Safavi first discovered in a species called Conus geographus as a postdoctoral researcher in the lab of University of Utah professor Baldomero Olivera, caught the research team’s attention because they don’t form these clusters. “The cone snail doesn’t need to have insulin for storage. It wants to have something that very quickly acts to paralyze fish,” Safavi says. “And when we looked at the insulin, we found that it doesn’t come together in six insulin molecules. It’s just a single insulin that acts in the fish prey.”

Since that work began, some insulins that form fewer clusters than natural human insulin have become available to patients. Hill explains that these therapeutic insulins do form pairs, but they separate more readily than human insulin. “But the snails have been able to do even better than that,” he says. “The snails been particularly good at shifting the balance all the way over to the monomeric [singular] form.”

Fishing for answers

In 2020, a team led by Chou, then a professor at U of U Health, achieved that same shift to the monomeric form by incorporating a few key molecular features of Conus geographus insulin into human insulin. Then Safavi discovered that Conus geographus isn’t the only cone snail that makes insulin.

About 150 species of cone snails feed on fish, and each species makes its own complicated cocktail of toxins to subdue its prey. By exploring a U of U collection of cone snail venoms, Safavi found several that contained insulin-like molecules. Surprisingly, one of those venomous insulins was structured quite differently from the insulin made by Conus geographus, even though it, too, was fast-acting and cluster-free. “It’s just amazing, because they are using very different methods to engage the [insulin] receptor,” Chou says.

Once the team recognized Conus kinoshitai’s unique biochemical tactics, Chou used that knowledge to develop a new hybrid insulin. The new molecule maintains the ability to bind to the human but does not form clusters, just like the original Conus geographus-inspired insulin. Chou says that at this point, the two hybrid insulin molecules, each based on venom from one of the two cone snail species, hold similar promise as potential therapeutics.

Helena Safavi, left, helps her colleague, José Rosado from Maputo, Mozambique, sort cone snails collected by scuba divers near the Solomon Islands in the south Pacific. The scientists set up a mobile lab on the diving ship to dissect and preserve the biological samples. Credit: Adam Blundell

It took detailed images captured by Alan Blakely, a graduate student in Hill’s lab, to reveal how the new hybrid insulin works. Blakeley used cryo-electromagnetic microscopy to visualize the structure of the new insulin and how it interacts with its receptor.

Normally, the human insulin receptor is activated by the same region of insulin that links the molecules to one another—but to create the snail-human insulin hybrids, this segment has been removed to prevent clustering. The Hill lab’s structural analysis clarified how the new manages to activate the receptor without it.

Understanding exactly how the two molecules interact will help guide further development of potential fast-acting insulins.

“What’s really beautiful about this study is the way it spans a wide range of science, starting with the study of a fascinating question in animal behavior and leading to the multidisciplinary, collaborative development of a potential therapeutic,” says Hill.

“This research has opened an exciting avenue for developing better therapeutics for people with diabetes,” he says.



More information:
Xiaochun Xiong et al, Symmetric and asymmetric receptor conformation continuum induced by a new insulin, Nature Chemical Biology (2022). DOI: 10.1038/s41589-022-00981-0

Citation:
Marine snail inspires fast-acting injectable insulin for better diabetes control (2022, March 15)
retrieved 16 March 2022
from https://phys.org/news/2022-03-marine-snail-fast-acting-insulin-diabetes.html

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Hexbyte Glen Cove New research reveals clues to how antibodies become fine-tuned to fight infection

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Hexbyte Glen Cove NASA system predicts impact of small asteroid

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Credit: Jet Propulsion Laboratory

A small asteroid hit Earth’s atmosphere over the Norwegian Sea before disintegrating on March 11, 2022. But this event wasn’t a complete surprise: Astronomers knew it was on a collision course, predicting exactly where and when the impact would happen.

Two hours before the asteroid made impact, K. Sarneczky at the Piszkéstető Observatory in northern Hungary first reported observations of the small object to the Minor Planet Center—the internationally recognized clearinghouse for the position measurements of small celestial bodies. The object was posted on the Minor Planet Center’s Near-Earth Object Confirmation Page to flag it for additional observations that would confirm it as a previously unknown asteroid.

NASA’s “Scout” impact hazard assessment system then took these early measurements to calculate the trajectory of 2022 EB5. As soon as Scout determined that 2022 EB5 was going to hit Earth’s atmosphere, the system alerted the Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) and NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office, and flagged the object on the Scout webpage to notify the near-Earth object observing community. Maintained by CNEOS at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, Scout automatically searches the Minor Planet Center’s database for possible new short-term impactors. CNEOS calculates every known near-Earth asteroid orbit to improve impact hazard assessments in support of the Planetary Defense Coordination Office.

“Scout had only 14 observations over 40 minutes from one observatory to work with when it first identified the object as an impactor. We were able to determine the possible impact locations, which initially extended from western Greenland to off the coast of Norway,” said Davide Farnocchia, a navigation engineer at JPL who developed Scout. “As more observatories tracked the asteroid, our calculations of its trajectory and impact location became more precise.”







This animation shows asteroid 2022 EB5’s predicted orbit around the Sun before impacting into the Earth’s atmosphere on March 11, 2022. The asteroid – estimated to be about 6 ½ feet (2 meters) wide – was discovered only two hours before impact. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Scout determined that 2022 EB5 would enter the atmosphere southwest of Jan Mayen, a Norwegian island nearly 300 miles (470 kilometers) off the east coast of Greenland and northeast of Iceland. At 5:23 p.m. EST (2:23 p.m. PST), 2022 EB5 hit the atmosphere as predicted by Scout, and infrasound detectors have confirmed the impact occurred at the predicted time.

From observations of the asteroid as it approached Earth and the energy measured by infrasound detectors at time of impact, 2022 EB5 is estimated to have been about 6 1/2 feet (2 meters) in size. Tiny asteroids of this size get bright enough to be detected only in the last few hours before their impact (or before they make a very close approach to Earth). They are much smaller than the objects that the Planetary Defense Coordination Office is tasked by NASA with detecting and warning about.

“Tiny asteroids like 2022 EB5 are numerous, and they impact into the atmosphere quite frequently—roughly every 10 months or so,” said Paul Chodas, the director of CNEOS at JPL. “But very few of these asteroids have actually been detected in space and observed extensively prior to impact, basically because they are very faint until the last few hours, and a survey telescope has to observe just the right spot of sky at the right time for one to be detected.”

A larger asteroid with hazardous impact potential would be discovered much farther from Earth. NASA’s goal is to keep track of such asteroids and to calculate their in order to have many years’ notice ahead of a potential impact should one ever be identified. But this real-world event with a very small asteroid allowed the planetary defense community to exercise capabilities and gave some confidence that the impact prediction models at CNEOS are highly capable of informing the response to the potential impact of a larger object.

2022 EB5 is only the fifth small asteroid to be detected in space before hitting Earth’s atmosphere. The first asteroid to be discovered and tracked well before hitting Earth was 2008 TC3, which entered the atmosphere over Sudan and broke up in October 2008. That 13-foot-wide (4-meter-wide) scattered hundreds of small meteorites over the Nubian Desert. As surveys become more sophisticated and sensitive, more of these harmless objects will be detected before entering the atmosphere.



More information:
More information about CNEOS, asteroids, and near-Earth objects can be found at cneos.jpl.nasa.gov and www.jpl.nasa.gov/asteroid-watch

Citation:
NASA system predicts impact of small asteroid (2022, March 15)
retrieved 16 March 2022
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Hexbyte Glen Cove An R package for comprehensive data analysis of peptide-centric bottom-up proteomics data

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https://CRAN.R-project.org/package=protti) and work on all major operating systems. The development version is maintained on GitHub (https://github.com/jpquast/protti).



More information:
Jan-Philipp Quast et al, protti: an R package for comprehensive data analysis of peptide- and protein-centric bottom-up proteomics data, Bioinformatics Advances (2021). DOI: 10.1093/bioadv/vbab041

Citation:
An R package for comprehensive data analysis of peptide- and protein-centric bottom-up proteomics data (2022, March 14)
retrieved 15 March 2022
from https://phys.org/news/2022-03-package-comprehensive-analysis-peptide-protein-centric.html

This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no
part may be reproduced without the written permission. Th

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