Hexbyte Glen Cove Sim City for food science takes on Listeria outbreaks

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A spinach weigher in a fresh-cut produce facility that has a ‘digital twin.’ Credit: Genevieve Sullivan, Cornell University

Researchers from Cornell University are blending food science expertise and computer programming savvy to help the food industry stop Listeria outbreaks.

Listeriosis, an infection caused by eating food contaminated by the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes, causes approximately 260 deaths and 1,600 infections each year. If certain foods aren’t pasteurized, cooked thoroughly enough or washed properly, the bacteria can take hold and cause severe illness, including brain infections.

In a new study, the researchers developed a “” of two fresh-cut produce facilities, using these to identify the optimal times and locations to look for the bacteria’s presence and therefore prevent .

“Our findings are another step forward in equipping food producers with science-based tools to manage food safety risks,” said Renata Ivanek, associate professor at the College of Veterinary Medicine and senior author on the paper that published in the journal of Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

The researchers’ provides a novel way for food safety managers to first visualize microbial contamination risks and patterns in their operations, and then to experiment with different environmental sampling practices, such as collecting sponge samples from different pieces of equipment.

Because of the complexity of these facilities, experimenting in the actual environment is not always practical, and by using a digital twin, each facility can personalize its unique features. “For example, in the two facilities we modeled in this study, we wanted to find when sampling certain types of locations would be more beneficial than sampling random locations, and vice versa,” Ivanek said.

The next step in this research will develop similar models for produce packing houses as well as grocery stores. Ultimately, the authors hope to provide the with digital twins that can be updated with real-time data, and can use simulation, modeling and machine learning to help workers make decisions about food safety hazards.

“For this vision to become reality, there is also a great need to ensure secure and confidential data sharing among food production businesses, and also to regulate liabilities from using such tools,” Ivanek said.

This study is part of a larger, multi-institutional effort to develop digital decision support tools for various parts of the food system, from farm to retail, with the ultimate goal of developing systems models and digital twins that will improve food safety decision-making system-wide.

“The learning curve needed to develop such models is steep, requiring understanding of food systems and food safety on the one hand and computer programing on the other,” Ivanek said. “There is a great need for cross-training between and computer science disciplines and we hope our scholarship encourages that.”



More information:
Articles of Significant Interest in This Issue, Applied and Environmental Microbiology (2021). DOI: 10.1128/AEM.01747-21

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Powerful new technique allows scientists to study how proteins change shape inside cells

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Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Understanding how proteins bend, twist, and shape-shift as they go about their work in cells is enormously important for understanding normal biology and diseases. But a deep understanding of protein dynamics has generally been elusive due to the lack of good imaging methods of proteins at work. Now, for the first time, scientists at the UNC School of Medicine have invented a method that could enable this field to take a great leap forward.

The scientists’ new “binder-tag” technique, described in a paper in Cell, allows researchers to pinpoint and track proteins that are in a desired shape or “conformation,” and to do so in real time inside living . The scientists demonstrated the technique in—essentially—movies that track the active version of an important signaling —a molecule, in this case, important for .

“No one has been able to develop a method that can do, in such a generalizable way, what this method does. So I think it could have a very big impact,” said study co-senior author Klaus Hahn, Ph.D., the Ronald G. Thurman Distinguished Professor of Pharmacology, and director of the UNC-Olympus Imaging Center, at UNC School of Medicine.

The work was a collaboration between Hahn’s laboratory and the laboratory of imaging analysis expert Timothy Elston, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology and co-director of the Computational Medicine Program at the UNC School of Medicine.

Filming the very small

The new method, like all biological imaging techniques, addresses the that many of the molecules at work in living cells cannot be visualized directly and precisely with an ordinary light microscope. Down at the scales where proteins operate, light flows in enormous waves that bend around things and cannot render objects sharply.

One approach to this problem, especially when proteins need to be imaged in their normal live-cell habitats, has been to tag the targeted proteins with fluorescent beacons, so that at least the beacons’ light emissions can be seen and captured directly with microscopy—for example, to map the places where a particular protein works in a cell. A technique called FRET (Förster resonant energy transfer), which relies upon exotic quantum effects, embeds pairs of such beacons in target proteins in such a way that their light changes as the protein’s conformation changes. This allows some study of protein dynamics as they shape-shift inside cells. But FRET and other existing methods have limitations, such as weak fluorescent signals, that greatly limit their utility.

The new binder-tag method starts with the insertion of a tiny molecular “tag” within a protein being studied, and the use of a separate molecule that binds to the tag only when the tag-containing protein takes a certain shape or conformation, such as when the protein is active to help a cell perform a particular function. Placing appropriate fluorescent beacons within the binder and/or the tag molecule effectively allows a researcher to image, over time, the precise locations of tagged proteins that are in a particular conformation of interest.







Individual molecules followed within live cells. When they change color, they have adopted a new conformation, something Scientists could not previously see or study. Credit: Hahn/Elston, UNC School of Medicine

The method is compatible with a wide range of beacons, including much more efficient ones than the interacting beacon pairs required for ordinary FRET. Binder-tag can even be used to build FRET sensors more easily, Hahn said. Moreover, the binder-tag molecules were chosen so that nothing in cells can react with them and interfere with their imaging role.

The net result, according to Hahn, is a robust technique that in principle can handle a broad variety of protein-dynamics studies previously out of reach, including studies of proteins only sparsely present in cells.

In the Cell paper, Hahn and colleagues discuss several proof-of-principle demonstrations. They used the new method to image an important growth-signaling protein called Src to reveal, in unprecedented detail, how it forms tiny islands of activity. This, in turn, enabled the researchers to analyze factors affecting the protein’s biological roles.

“With this method we can see, for example, how microenvironmental differences across a cell affect, often profoundly, what a protein is doing,” Hahn said.

Now the researchers are using the technique to map the dynamics of other important proteins. They are also doing further demonstrations to show how binder-tag can be tailored to capture the dynamics of very diverse protein structures and functions, not just proteins that work like Src.

The scientists envision that binder-tag ultimately will become a basic enabling technique for studying normal proteins, larger multi-molecular structures in cells, and even the dysfunctional proteins associated with diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

“For a lot of protein-related diseases, scientists haven’t been able to understand why proteins start to do the wrong thing,” Hahn said. “The tools for obtaining that understanding just haven’t been available.”



More information:
Bei Liu et al, Biosensors based on peptide exposure show single molecule conformations in live cells, Cell (2021). DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2021.09.026

Journal information:
Cell



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Hexbyte Glen Cove Researchers develop self-healing polymers for cracked cellphone screens

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Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

If you’re like most cellphone users, at one point you have experienced a cracked screen.

This pesky problem can be frustrating to live with, and it’s pricey to fix.

Two Concordia researchers from the Oh Research Group in the Faculty of Arts and Science are looking at ways to “self-heal” your cellphone, and their research could have broader implications as well.

Turning down the heat

“One of the major difficulties in these types of projects is to maintain a balance between the mechanical and self-healing properties,” explains Ph.D. candidate Twinkal Patel (BSc 17), first author on the paper “Self-Healable Reprocessable Triboelectric Nanogenerators Fabricated with Vitrimeric Poly(hindered Urea) Networks,” published in ACS Nano.

Patel says this research stands out from similar work on the topic because of its focus on temperature.

“Our goal is to not compromise the toughness of the network while adding dynamic ability to self-heal damage and scratches. We focus on achieving complete healing of scratches at just room temperature. This feature sets our research apart from others.”

Saving time and money

The team created self-healing polymer networks through very simple synthetic routes. The developed materials demonstrated excellent results at room temperature.

“These materials can quickly repair damages and cracks due to the self-healing mechanism,” says Pothana Gandhi Nellepalli, Horizon postdoctoral fellow and co-author on the paper.

“As a result, these materials save consumers time and money while also extending the lifespan of the material used and reducing environmental burden.”

Life in the Oh lab

Patel is quick to credit the project’s success to the Oh Research Group, led by John Oh, professor and Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in Nanobioscience in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

“Working here has been a great experience. During my time here I have met amazing and supportive members who have made this lab feel like a second family,” she says.

“I am very thankful for the mentorship I received from my supervisor to publish my first paper. I feel accomplished to see the hard work I’ve done be published.”

What else can this technology do?

“In the future, I would like to use self-healing polymer networks for improving the battery life of triboelectric nanogenerators,” Patel adds.

This technology allows a device to store energy and convert it into electricity when repeated movement is applied—think of LED lights that are activated when you pass by.

“This same technology could definitely be used to extend the lifespan of batteries. In the future, we would be able to charge them just by walking.”



More information:
Twinkal Patel et al, Self-Healable Reprocessable Triboelectric Nanogenerators Fabricated with Vitrimeric Poly(hindered Urea) Networks, ACS Nano (2020). DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.0c03819

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Researchers develop self-healing polymers for cracked cellphone screens (2021, October 18)
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Hexbyte Glen Cove Climate change a double blow for oil-rich Mideast: experts

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Sun-baked farmland in eastern Iraq’s Saadiya area, north of Diyala, pictured on June 24, 2021 amid a blistering summer heat wave and water shortages that killed fields and livestock.

The climate crisis threatens a double blow for the Middle East, experts say, by destroying its oil income as the world shifts to renewables and by raising temperatures to unliveable extremes.

Little has been done to address the challenge in a region long plagued by civil strife, war and refugee flows, even as looks likely to accelerate these trends, a conference heard last week.

“Our region is classified as a global climate change hotspot,” Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades told the International Conference on Climate Change in the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East.

Home to half a billion people, the already sun-baked region has been designated as especially vulnerable by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the UN’s World Meteorological Organization.

Yet it is also home to several of the last countries that have not ratified the 2015 Paris Agreement—Iran, Iraq, Libya and Yemen—weeks before the UN’s COP26 climate conference starts in Glasgow.

When it comes to climate change and the Middle East, “there are terrible problems,” said Jeffrey Sachs, who heads the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network.

“First, this is the centre of world hydrocarbons, so a lot of the economies of this region depend on a fuel that is basically anachronistic, that we have to stop,” said Sachs of New York’s Columbia University.

A Lebanese army helicopter drops water on a forest fire in the Qubayyat area of northern Lebanon’s remote Akkar region during a heat wave on July 29, 2021.

“Second, obviously, this is a dry region getting drier, so everywhere one looks, there is water insecurity, water stress, dislocation of populations,” he told AFP.

Sachs argued that “there needs to be a massive transformation in the region. Yet this is a politically fraught region, a divided region, a region that has been beset by a lot of war and conflict, often related to oil.”

The good news, he said, is that there is “so much sunshine that the solution is staring the region in the face. They must just look up to the sky. The provides the basis for the new clean, green economy.”

Like ‘disaster movie’

Laurent Fabius, the former French foreign minister who oversaw the Paris Agreement, pointed out that in this year’s blistering summer, “we had catastrophic wildfires in Cyprus, Greece, Turkey, Israel, Lebanon”.

In this file photo taken on October 3, 2021 a man wades through a flooded street amid cyclone Shaheen in Oman’s capital Muscat.

“There were temperatures over 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit) in Kuwait, Oman, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran. We have drought in Turkey, water stress in different countries, particularly Jordan.

“These tragic events are not from a disaster movie, they are real and present.”

Cyprus, the EU member closest to the Middle East, is leading an international push involving 240 scientists to develop a 10-year regional action plan, to be presented at a summit a year from now.

The two-day conference last week heard some of the initial findings—including that the from the region have overtaken those of the European Union.

Already extremely water-scarce, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) has been warming at twice the global average rate, at about 0.45 degrees Celsius per decade, since the 1980s, scientists say.

Graphic explaining the greenhouse effect, which contributes to a warming Earth.

Deserts are expanding and dust storms intensifying as the region’s rare mountain snow caps slowly diminish, impacting river systems that supply water to millions.

By the end of the century, on a business-as-usual emissions trajectory, temperatures could rise by six degrees Celsius—and by more during summertime in “super- or ultra-extreme heatwaves”—said Dutch atmospheric chemist Jos Lelieveld.

‘Future conflicts’

“It’s not just about averages, but about the extremes. It will be quite devastating,” Lelieveld of Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Chemistry told AFP.

Peak temperatures in cities, so-called ‘heat islands’ that are darker than surrounding deserts, could exceed 60 degrees Celsius, he said.

“In heat waves, people die, of heat strokes and heart attacks. It’s like with corona, the will be suffering—the elderly, younger people, pregnant women.”

Fabius, like other speakers, warned that as farmlands turn to dust and tensions rise over shrinking resources, climate change can be “the root of future conflicts and violence”.

The region is already often torn over freshwater from the Nile, Jordan, Euphrates and Tigris river systems that all sustained ancient civilisations but have faced pressure as human populations have massively expanded.

Sachs pointed to the much-debated theory that was one of the drivers behind Syria’s civil war, because a 2006-2009 record drought sent more than a million farmers into cities, heightening social stress before the uprising of 2011.

“We saw in Syria a decade ago how those dislocations of the massive drought spilt over, partially triggered and certainly exacerbated massive violence,” he said.

Some of the MENA region’s highest use of solar power is now seen in Syria’s last rebel-held area, the Idlib , which has long been cut off from the state power grid and where photovoltaic panels have become ubiquitous.



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Hexbyte Glen Cove Volcanic ash halts flights on Spanish island

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Clouds of ash from the volcano that began erupting a month ago forced airlines to scrap all flights on La Palma.

Planes were grounded on La Palma, one of Spain’s Canary Islands, for the second straight day Sunday because of ash from a volcano that began erupting a month ago.

Airlines scrapped all 38 flights scheduled for Sunday, most of them to and from other in the Atlantic archipelago off Morocco, an airport spokesman said.

Only four of the 34 flights scheduled for Saturday went ahead as planned.

Local airline Binter said in a statement it would “restart activity as soon as possible and as long as conditions allow flights to resume safely”.

La Cumbre Vieja , which lies 15 kilometres (nine miles) west of the airport, erupted on September 19, spewing out rivers of lava that have slowly crept towards the sea.

So far no-one has been killed by the continuous lava flows, but the molten rock has covered 750 hectares (1,850 acres) and destroyed 1,800 buildings, including hundreds of homes, according to the European Union’s Copernicus disaster monitoring programme.

About 7,000 people have been evacuated from their homes on the island, which has a population of around 85,000 people.

The eruption has covered a large area with and been accompanied by dozens of minor earthquakes most days.

The eruption has buried a large area of La Palma island under volcanic ash.

La Palma airport has had to close twice since the eruption began and airlines have sporadically had to cancel flights.

The head of the regional government of the archipelago, Angel Victor Torres, said Sunday that scientists monitoring the eruption have seen no indications that it is abating.

“We are at the mercy of the volcano, it’s the only one who can decide when this ends,” he told reporters.

Spain’s central government and the regional government of the Canary Islands have so far earmarked 300 million euros ($348 million) for reconstruction on the island, which lives mainly from tourism and .

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has vowed to “spend whatever money is needed to reconstruct this marvellous island”.

“We will be there until we have rebuilt 100 percent of everything which this volcano has destroyed,” he added during an interview with private television La Sexta on Thursday.

It is the island’s third volcanic eruption in a century, the last one taking place in 1971.



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Hexbyte Glen Cove Russians return to Earth after filming first movie in space

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Yulia Peresild spent 12 days on the International Space Station (ISS) to shoot scenes for the first movie in orbit.

A Russian actress and a film director returned to Earth Sunday after spending 12 days on the International Space Station (ISS) shooting scenes for the first movie in orbit.

Yulia Peresild, 37, and Klim Shipenko, 38, landed as scheduled on Kazakhstan’s steppe at 0436 GMT, according to footage broadcast live by Russia’s Roscosmos space agency.

Shipenko appeared distressed but smiling as he exited the capsule, waving his hand to cameras before being carried off by medical workers for an examination.

Peresild, who plays the film’s starring role and was selected from some 3,000 applicants, was extracted from the capsule to applause and a bouquet of flowers.

The actress said she is “sad” to have left the ISS.

“It seemed that 12 days was a lot, but when it was all over, I didn’t want to leave,” she told Russian television.

“This is a one-time experience.”

The team was ferried back to terra firma by cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky, who had been on the space station for the past six months.

21st century space race

The filmmakers had blasted off from the Russia-leased Baikonur Cosmodrome in ex-Soviet Kazakhstan earlier this month, travelling to the ISS with veteran cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov to film scenes for “The Challenge”.

The project is set to beat a Hollywood project announced last year by Tom Cruise and Elon Musk.

If the project stays on track, the Russian crew will beat a Hollywood project announced last year by “Mission Impossible” star Tom Cruise together with NASA and Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

The Russian movie’s plot, which has been mostly kept under wraps along with its budget, centres around a surgeon who is dispatched to the ISS to save a cosmonaut.

Shkaplerov, 49, along with the two Russian cosmonauts who were already aboard the ISS are said to have cameo roles in the film.

The mission was not without small hitches.

As the film crew docked at the ISS earlier this month, Shkaplerov had to switch to manual control.

And when Russian flight controllers on Friday conducted a test on the Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft the ship’s thruster fired unexpectedly and destabilised the ISS for 30 minutes, a NASA spokesman told the Russian news agency TASS.

The team’s landing, which was documented by a film crew, will also feature in the movie, Konstantin Ernst, the head of the Kremlin-friendly Channel One TV network and a co-producer of “The Challenge”, told AFP.

Russian firsts

The mission will add to a long list of firsts for Russia’s space industry.

After a decade-long pause, Russia will send two Japanese tourists, including billionaire Yusaku Maezawa (C),to the ISS in December, capping a year that has been a milestone for amateur space travel.

The Soviets launched the first satellite Sputnik, and sent into orbit the first animal, a dog named Laika, the first man, Yuri Gagarin and the first woman, Valentina Tereshkova.

But compared with the Soviet era, modern Russia has struggled to innovate, and its space industry is fighting to secure state funding with the Kremlin prioritising military spending.

Its space agency is still reliant on Soviet-designed technology and has faced a number of setbacks, including corruption scandals and botched launches.

Russia is also falling behind in the global space race, facing tough competition from the United States and China, with Beijing showing growing ambitions in the industry.

Russia’s Roscosmos was also dealt a blow after SpaceX last year successfully delivered astronauts to the ISS, ending Moscow’s monopoly for journeys to the orbital station.

In a bid to spruce up its image and diversify its revenue, Russia’s space programme revealed this year that it will be reviving its tourism plan to ferry fee-paying adventurers to the ISS.

After a decade-long pause, Russia will send two Japanese tourists—including billionaire Yusaku Maezawa—to the ISS in December, capping a year that has been a milestone for amateur space travel.



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Russians return to Earth after filming first movie in space (2021, October 17)
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Hexbyte Glen Cove Martian Image: the ridges of ‘South Séítah’

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This annotated image indicates the location of several prominent geologic features visible in a mosaic composed of 84 pictures taken by the Mastcam-Z imager aboard Perseverance. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS

NASA’s Perseverance rover captures a geologic feature with details that offer clues to the area’s mysterious past.

Ask any space explorer, and they’ll have a favorite photograph or two from their mission. For Jorge Núñez, an astrobiologist and planetary scientist working on the science team of NASA’s Perseverance rover, one of his current favorites is a rover’s-eye panorama of the “South Séítah” region of Mars’ Jezero Crater. Exploring the geologic unit was among the major objectives of the team’s first science campaign because it may contain some of the deepest, and potentially oldest, rocks in the giant crater.

“Just like any excited tourist approaching the end of a major road trip, we stopped at a lookout to get a first view of our destination,” said Núñez, who is based at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland. “This panorama is spectacular because you feel like you are there. It shows not only the incredible scale of the area, but also all the exploration possibilities South Séítah has to offer. With multiple intriguing rocky outcrops and ridgelines, each one is seemingly better than the last. If it’s not a field geologist’s dream, it’s pretty close.”

This image indicates the location of several prominent geologic features visible in a mosaic composed of 84 pictures taken by the Mastcam-Z imager aboard NASA’s Perseverance rover. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS

Composed of 84 individual enhanced-color images that were later stitched together, the mosaic was taken on Sept. 12 (the 201st Martian day, or sol, of the mission) by the Mastcam-Z camera system as the rover was parked on an elevated overlook just outside its entry point into South Séítah. Perseverance had just completed a record 190-yard (175-meter) drive the previous sol.

The mosaic was taken at the highest magnification and stretched to allow subtle color differences in the rocks and soil to be visible to the naked eye. Left of center and halfway up the image are the gray, darker gray, and Swiss-coffee-colored rocky outcrops of the ridge nicknamed “Faillefeu” (after a medieval abbey in the French Alps). The distinctly thin, at times tilted layering evident in several of Faillefeu’s rocks would have been high on the science team’s list of things to explore, because tilted layering suggests the possibility of tectonic activity. But similar features—along with other compelling geology—were visible on another ridgeline that the mission’s science team opted to explore instead.

The “Martre Ridge” (named after a commune in southeastern France) is like Faillefeu except three times as big. It contains not only low-lying flat rocks near the base of the ridge, but also rocky outcrops with thin layering at the base and massive caprocks near and at the ridge’s peak. The caprocks are usually made of harder, more resistant material than those stacked below them, suggesting potential differences in how the material was deposited.

“Another cool thing about this image is that one can also see in the background, on the right, the path Perseverance took as it made its way to South Séítah,” said Núñez. “And finally, there is the peak of ‘Santa Cruz’ far in the distance. We’re currently not planning on going there; it’s too far out of our way. But it is geologically interesting, reinforcing just how much great stuff the team gets to pick and choose from here at Jezero. It also looks cool.”



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Hexbyte Glen Cove China’s ‘space dream’: A Long March to the Moon and beyond

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The launch of a rocket carrying China’s Chang’e-5 lunar probe underlined how much progress Beijing had made towards its ‘space dream’

The arrival of three astronauts at China’s new space station on Saturday marks a landmark step in its space ambitions, its longest crewed mission to date.

The world’s second-largest economy has put billions into its military-run space programme, with hopes of having a permanently crewed space by 2022 and eventually sending humans to the Moon.

The country has come a long way in catching up with the United States and Russia, whose astronauts and cosmonauts have decades of experience in .

Here is a look at China’s space programme, and where it is headed:

Mao’s vow

Soon after the Soviet Union launched Sputnik in 1957, Chairman Mao Zedong pronounced: “We too will make satellites.”

It took more than a decade, but in 1970, China launched its first satellite on a Long March rocket.

Human spaceflight took decades longer, with Yang Liwei becoming the first Chinese “taikonaut” in 2003.

As the launch approached, concerns over the viability of the mission caused Beijing to cancel a live television broadcast at the last minute.

But it went smoothly, with Yang orbiting the Earth 14 times during a 21-hour flight aboard the Shenzhou 5.

China has launched seven crewed missions since.

The Jade Rabbit lunar rover surveyed the moon’s surface for 31 months.

Space station and ‘Jade Rabbit’

Following in the footsteps of the United States and Russia, China has planned to build its own space station circling the planet.

The Tiangong-1 lab was launched in 2011.

In 2013, the second Chinese woman in space, Wang Yaping, gave a video class from inside the space module to children across the world’s most populous country.

The craft was also used for and, most importantly, tests intended to prepare for the construction of a space station.

That was followed by the “Jade Rabbit” in 2013, which initially appeared a dud when it turned dormant and stopped sending signals back to Earth.

It made a dramatic recovery, however, ultimately surveying the Moon’s surface for 31 months—well beyond its expected lifespan.

In 2016, China launched its second orbital lab, the Tiangong-2. Astronauts who visited the station have run experiments on growing rice and other plants.

‘Space dream’

Under President Xi Jinping, plans for China’s “space dream” have been put into overdrive.

China is looking to finally catch up with the United States and Russia after years of belatedly matching their milestones.

Besides a space station, China is also planning to build a base on the Moon, and the country’s National Space Administration said it aims to launch a crewed lunar mission by 2029.

China has been carrying out experiments in a lab simulating a lunar-like environment in preparation for its long-term goal of putting humans on the moon.

But lunar work was dealt a setback in 2017 when the Long March-5 Y2, a powerful heavy-lift rocket, failed to launch on a mission to send communication satellites into orbit.

That forced the postponement of the Chang’e-5 launch, originally scheduled to collect Moon samples in the second half of 2017.

Another robot, the Chang’e-4, landed on the far side of the Moon in January 2019—a historic first.

This was followed by one that landed on the near side of the Moon last year, raising a Chinese flag on the lunar surface.

The unmanned spacecraft returned to Earth in December with rocks and soil—the first lunar samples collected in four decades.

And in February 2021, the first images of Mars were sent back by the five-tonne Tianwen-1, which then landed a rover on the Martian surface in May that has since started to explore the surface of the Red Planet.

Palace in the sky

A trio of astronauts docked successfully on Saturday with the core Tianhe module of the Chinese space station, which was placed in orbit on April 29.

The astronauts are set to stay at the station for six months, China’s longest crewed mission to date and double the duration of the first crewed to Tiangong completed earlier this year.

The Chinese space station Tiangong—meaning “heavenly palace”—will need a total of around 11 missions to bring more parts and assemble them in orbit.

Once completed, it is expected to remain in low Earth orbit at between 400 and 450 kilometres (250 and 280 miles) above our planet for at least 10 years—realising an ambition to maintain a long-term human presence in .

While China does not plan to use its for global cooperation on the scale of the International Space Station, Beijing said it is open to foreign collaboration.

It is not yet clear how extensive that cooperation will be.



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China’s ‘space dream’: A Long March to the Moon and beyond (2021, October 16)
retrieved 17 October 2021
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Hexbyte Glen Cove Moderate earthquake rocks Bali, killing at least 3

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A woman walks past houses by Lake Batur which were damaged by an earthquake-triggered landslide in Bangli, on the island of Bali, Indonesia, Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021. A few people were killed and another several were injured when a moderately strong earthquake and an aftershock hit the island early Saturday. Credit: AP Photo/Dewa Raka

A moderately strong earthquake and an aftershock hit Indonesia’s resort island of Bali early Saturday, killing at least three people and destroying dozens of homes.

The quake hit just before dawn, causing people to run outdoors in a panic. It struck just after the island has begun to reopen to tourism as the pandemic wanes.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the magnitude 4.8 quake was centered 62 kilometers (38.5 miles) northeast of Singaraja, a Bali port town. Its of 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) may have amplified the amount of damage.

A magnitude 4.3 aftershock followed. That quake was relatively deep, at 282 kilometers (174 miles).

Photos from the island showed homes buried in rocks and mud and buildings collapsed, walls splintered on the ground.

Gede Darmada, head of the island’s Search and Rescue Agency, said the agency was still collecting updates on damage and casualties.

Apart from the three confirmed dead, at least seven people were reported hurt, with or broken bones.

The earthquake triggered landslides in a hilly district, killing at least two people and cutting off access to at least three villages, Darmada said.

It toppled homes and temples in Karangasem, the area closest to the epicenter, killing a 3-year-old girl who was hit by falling debris, he said.

  • Rescuers inspect a house damaged by an earthquake-triggered landslide in Bangli, on the island of Bali, Indonesia, Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021. A few people were killed and another several were injured when a moderately strong earthquake and an aftershock hit the island early Saturday. Credit: AP Photo/Dewa Raka
  • An Indonesian soldier walks past houses damaged by an earthquake-triggered landslide in Bangli, on the island of Bali, Indonesia, Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021. A few people were killed and another several were injured when a moderately strong earthquake and an aftershock hit the island early Saturday. Credit: AP Photo/Dewa Raka
  • A man stands near his house damaged by an earthquake in Karangasem on the island of Bali, Indonesia, Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021. A few people were killed and another several were injured when a moderately strong earthquake and an aftershock hit the island early Saturday. Credit: AP Photo/Andi Husein

“Nearly 60% of the houses in our village were damaged and can no longer be lived in,” said I Nengah Kertawa, head of Bunga village in Karangasem, one of the worst-hit communities.

Houses and also were damaged in Trunyan and in Kintamani, a popular sightseeing destination with a stunning lake.

Known as the “island of the gods,” Bali is home to more than 4 million mostly Hindu people in the mainly Muslim nation. It is famed for its temples, scenic volcanos and beautiful white-sand beaches.

On Thursday the island reopened to international travelers for the first time in more than a year after Indonesia’s COVID-19 caseload declined considerably.

The country has had around 1,000 cases a day in the past week after peaking at around 56,000 daily new cases in July.

Indonesia, a vast archipelago of 270 million people, is frequently struck by earthquakes, and tsunamis because of its location on the “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanoes and that arcs the Pacific.

The last major earthquake was in January when a magnitude 6.2 killed at least 105 people and injured nearly 6,500. More than 92,000 people were displaced after it struck Mamuju and Majene districts in West Sulawesi province.



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Moderate earthquake rocks Bali, killing at least 3 (2021, October 16)
retrieved 17 October 2021
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Hexbyte Glen Cove Nothing funny about bad year for Maine’s clownish puffins

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In this July 1, 2013, file photo, a puffin prepares to land with a bill full of fish on Eastern Egg Rock off the Maine coast. This year’s warm summer was bad for Maine’s beloved puffins. Far fewer chicks fledged than need to to stabilize the population. Credit: AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File

Maine’s beloved puffins suffered one of their worst years for reproduction in decades this summer due to a lack of the small fish they eat.

Puffins are seabirds with colorful beaks that nest on four small islands off the coast of Maine. There are about 1,500 breeding pairs in the state and they are dependent on fish such as herring and sand lance to be able to feed their young.

Only about a quarter of the were able to raise chicks this summer, said Don Lyons, director of conservation science for the National Audubon Society’s Seabird Institute in Bremen, Maine. About two-thirds of the birds succeed in a normal year, he said.

The colonies have suffered only one or two less productive years in the four decades since their populations were restored in Maine, Lyons said. The birds had a poor year because of warm ocean temperatures this summer that reduced the availability of the fish the chicks need to survive, he said.

“There were fewer for puffins to catch, and the ones they were able to were not ideal for chicks,” Lyons said. “It’s a severe warning this year.”

The islands where puffins nest are located in the Gulf of Maine, a body of water that is warming faster than the vast majority of the world’s oceans. Researchers have not seen much mortality of adult puffins, but the population will suffer if the birds continue to have difficulty raising chicks, Lyons said.

In this July 19, 2019, file photo, research assistant Andreinna Alvarez, of Ecuador, holds a puffin chick before weighing and banding the bird on Eastern Egg Rock, a small island off the coast of Maine. This year’s warm summer was bad for Maine’s beloved puffins. Far fewer chicks fledged than need to to stabilize the population. Credit: AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File

The discouraging news comes after positive signs in recent years despite the challenging environmental conditions. The population of the birds, which are on Maine’s state threatened species list, has been stable in recent years.

The birds had one of their most productive seasons for mating pairs in years in 2019. Scientists including Stephen Kress, who has studied the birds for decades, said at the time that birds seemed to be doing well because the Gulf of Maine had a cool year that led to an abundance of food.

The puffins are Atlantic puffins that also live in Canada and the other side of the ocean. Internationally, they’re listed as “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.



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Nothing funny about bad year for Maine’s clownish puffins (2021, October 15)
retrieved 16 October 2021
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