#space science Tumblr posts

  • Eye in the sky by European Space Agency
    Via Flickr:
    This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope Picture of the Week features NGC4826 — a spiral galaxy located 17 million light-years away in the constellation of Coma Berenices (Berenice’s Hair). This galaxy is often referred to as the “Black Eye”, or “Evil Eye”, galaxy because of the dark band of dust that sweeps across one side of its bright nucleus. NGC4826 is known by astronomers for its strange internal motion. The gas in the outer regions of this galaxy and the gas in its inner regions are rotating in opposite directions, which might be related to a recent merger. New stars are forming in the region where the counter rotating gases collide. This galaxy was first discovered in 1779 by the English astronomer Edward Pigott. Credits: ESA/Hubble & NASA, J. Lee and the PHANGS-HST Team; CC BY 4.0 Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt

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  • https://sciencespies.com/news/how-the-brainless-slime-mold-stores-memories/

    How the Brainless Slime Mold Stores Memories

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    Slime molds, which are not actually fungi but cousins of single-celled amoebas, are goopy organisms that can find their way through a maze and remember the location of food—all without the benefit of a brain or nervous system. Now, new research brings us a step closer to understanding how exactly these slimy blobs store the “memories” that allow them to do things like relocate food, reports Nicoletta Lanese for Live Science.

    When placed in a new environment, a slime mold sends out a fractal net of oozing tendrils to explore its surroundings. According to the new research, published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the slime mold encodes information about what it finds during these searches by changing the diameter of its exploratory tubes.

    “There is previous work that biological signals within slime molds can store information about previous experiences,” Karen Alim, a biological physicist at the Technical University of Munich and co-author of the study tells Tara Yarlagadda of Inverse. “Yet, that the network architecture can store memories is [a] novel concept in the context of slime mold and fungi.”

    The study’s main finding emerged from simply watching a bright yellow slime mold named Physarum polycephalum do its thing under a microscope. When the slime mold found food, the researchers noticed the network of tubes and tendrils changed its architecture in response, with some getting thicker and others getting thinner. What’s more, that pattern persisted long after the slime mold finished its meal.

    “Given P. polycephalum‘s highly dynamic network reorganization, the persistence of this imprint sparked the idea that the network architecture itself could serve as memory of the past“, says Alim in a statement.

    By measuring the changing diameters of the slime mold’s tubes when it found food and by developing a computer simulation of the organism’s behavior, the researchers found that the tubes closest to a morsel of food got thicker while those farther away withered and sometimes disappeared entirely, according to Inverse.

    That pattern of thicker and thinner tubes ends up serving as a persistent imprint, that is, a rudimentary form of memory.

    Per the paper, “memories stored in the hierarchy of tube diameters, and particularly in the location of thick tubes, are subsequently layered on top of each other, with every new stimulus differentially reinforcing and weakening existing thick tubes in superposition of existing memories.”

    Given their observations, the researchers think that when the slime mold detects food it releases some chemical that softens the walls of nearby tubes, allowing them to expand. However, Alim tells Live Science that their results give no clues as to what chemical this might be, adding that this will be the subject of future studies.

    “These results present an important piece of the puzzle in understanding the behavior of this ancient organism and at the same time points to universal principles underlying behavior,” says Alim in the statement. “We envision potential applications of our findings in designing smart materials and building soft robots that navigate through complex environments.”

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  • hey, i’m looking for some more blogs to follow so like/reblog this if you:

    - are a studyblr

    - are a bookblr

    - are a writeblr

    - post about your chronic illnesses (I have neurosarcoidosis and need some spoonie buddies)

    - post about space

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    #space science #black girl magic #black lives matter #colors#penup#periscope#repost#art
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  • https://sciencespies.com/humans/guess-which-animal-is-in-australias-oldest-rock-painting-dating-back-17000-years/

    Guess which animal is in Australia’s oldest rock painting, dating back 17,000 years

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    In Western Australia’s northeast Kimberley region, on Balanggarra Country, a two-metre-long painting of a kangaroo spans the sloping ceiling of a rock shelter above the Drysdale River.

    In a paper published today in Nature Human Behaviour, we date the artwork as being between 17,500 and 17,100 years old – making it Australia’s oldest known in-situ rock painting.

    We used a pioneering radiocarbon dating technique on 27 mud wasp nests underlying and overlying 16 different paintings from 8 rock shelters. We found paintings of this style were produced between 17,000 and 13,000 years ago.

    Our work is part of Australia’s largest rock art dating initiative. The project is based in the Kimberley, one of the world’s premier rock art regions. Here, rock shelters have preserved galleries of paintings, often with generations of younger artwork painted over older work.

    By studying the stylistic features of the paintings and the order in which they were painted when they overlap, a stylistic sequence has been developed by earlier researchers based on observations at thousands of Kimberley rock art sites.

    They identified five main stylistic periods, of which the most recent is the familiar Wanjina period.

    Styles in rock art

    The oldest style, which includes the kangaroo painting we recently dated, often features life-sized animals in outline form, infilled with irregular dashes. Paintings in this style are said to belong to the “Naturalistic” stylistic period.

    The ochre used is an iron oxide in a red-mulberry colour. Unfortunately, no current scientific dating method can determine when this paint was applied to the rock surface.

    A different approach is to date fossilised insect nests or mineral accretions on the rock surfaces that happen to be overlying or underlying rock art pigment. These dates provide a maximum (underlying) or minimum (overlying) age range for the painting.

    Our dating suggests the main period for Naturalistic paintings in the Kimberley spanned from at least 17,000 to 13,000 years ago.

    The oldest known Australian rock painting

    Very rarely, we’ll find mud wasp nests both overlying and underlying a single painting. This was the case with the painting of the kangaroo, made on the low ceiling of a well-protected Drysdale River rock shelter.

    We were able to date three wasp nests underlying the painting and three nests built on top of it. With these ages, we determined confidently the painting is between 17,500 and 17,100 years old; most likely close to 17,300 years old.

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    (Picture by Damien Finch. Illustration by Pauline Heaney)

    Our quantitative ages support the proposed stylistic sequence that suggests the oldest Naturalistic style was followed by the Gwion style. This style featured paintings of decorated human figures, often with headdresses and holding boomerangs.

    From animals and plants to people

    Research we published last year shows Gwion paintings flourished about 12,000 years ago – some 1,000-5,000 years after the Naturalistic period.

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    (Pauline Heaney, Damien Finch)

    Above: This map of the Kimberley region in Western Australia shows the coastline at three distinct points in time: today, 12,000 years ago (the Gwion period) and 17,300 years ago (the earlier end of the known Naturalistic period).

    With these dates, we can also partially reconstruct the environment in which the artists lived 600 generations ago. For example, much of the Naturalistic period coincided with the end of the last ice age when the environment was cooler and drier than now.

    During the Naturalistic period, 17,000 years ago, sea levels were a staggering 106 metres below today’s and the Kimberley coastline was about 300 kilometres further away, more than half the distance to Timor.

    Aboriginal artists at this time often chose to depict kangaroos, fish, birds, reptiles, echidnas and plants (particularly yams). As the climate warmed, ice caps melted, the monsoon was re-established, rainfall increased and sea levels rose, sometimes rapidly.

    By the Gwion period around 12,000 years ago, sea levels had risen to 55m below today’s. This would undoubtedly have prompted long-term adjustment to territories and social relations.

    This is when Aboriginal painters depicted highly decorated human figures, bearing a striking resemblance to early 20th-century photographs of Aboriginal ceremonial dress. While plants and animals were still painted, human figures were clearly the most popular subject.

    Reaching into the past

    While we now have age estimates for more paintings than ever before, more work is continuing to find out, more accurately, when each art period began and ended.

    For example, one minimum age on a Gwion painting suggests it may be more than 16,000 years old. If so, Gwion art would have overlapped with the Naturalistic period but further dates are required to be more certain.

    Moreover, it’s highly unlikely the oldest known Naturalistic painting we dated is the oldest surviving one. Future research will almost certainly locate even older works.

    For now, however, the 17,300-year-old kangaroo is a sight to marvel at.

    Acknowledgements: we would like to thank the Balanggarra Aboriginal Corporation, the Australian National Science and Technology Organisation, Rock Art Australia and Dunkeld Pastoral Co for their collaboration on this work.

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    Damien Finch, Postdoctoral Researcher, The University of Melbourne; Andrew Gleadow, Emeritus Professor, The University of Melbourne; Janet Hergt, Redmond Barry Distinguished Professor, The University of Melbourne, and Sven Ouzman, Senior Lecturer in Archaeology and Centre for Rock Art Research + Management, University of Western Australia.

    This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


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  • Perseverance Rover’s Descent and Touchdown on Mars (Official NASA Video)

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    Space Animals Coloring Book!

    I love space and I love animals! Combine them both and we have the cutest coloring book ever <3 Check it out!

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  • © ESA/BepiColombo/MTM

    BepiColombo’s Earth flyby

    A sequence of images taken by the MCAM selfie cameras on board of the European-Japanese Mercury mission BepiColombo as it neared Earth ahead of its gravity-assist flyby manoeuvre in April 2020. As BepiColombo approached the planet at a speed of more than 100 000 km/h, the distance to Earth diminished from 281 940 km to 128 000 km during the time the sequence was captured.

    Read more.

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    Pillars of Creation – a photograph and a term for a region in the Eagle Nebula imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope. The image shows majestic elephant trunks of interstellar gas and dust floating in the Serpens Constellation some 6,500–7,000 light years from us.

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  • Okay so,

    Who wants to go with me to Mars for a little picnic? The more the merrier.

    #life on mars #space science
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    The first ever image captured by the Perseverance Rover shortly after successfully landing on the Red Planet!

    To the stars and beyond indeed!

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  • The NASA Perseverance Mars Rover, is expected to land this week. 

    It is on a journey that could help resolve the debate of whether ancient Mars was warm and wet or cold and dry.

    Learn more about the mission: https://fcld.ly/jmppsnp

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  • https://sciencespies.com/humans/long-lost-neanderthal-tooth-reveals-a-surprising-unknown-link-to-modern-humans/

    Long-lost Neanderthal tooth reveals a surprising unknown link to modern humans


    In 1928, the renowned British archaeologist, Dorothy Garrod, excavated the Shukbah Cave in the hills of Palestine, just north of Jerusalem.

    This was some of her earliest work in a long and successful career, revealing a rich collection of ancient stone tools, animal bones, and a single fossilised tooth – what looked like a large human molar.

    For fifty years the discovery was lost in the private collection of a collaborator, unrecognised and neglected. Then, at the turn of the century, the long-lost tooth landed in the laps of researchers at the British Museum of Natural History.

    Looking closely at the large molar, researchers realised it was probably from a young Neanderthal, possibly between the ages of 7 and 12.

    To date, the Shukbah tooth is the southernmost example of the Neanderthal range in Arabia.

    “Up to now we have no direct evidence of a Neanderthal presence in Africa,” says Chris Stringer, who studies human evolution at the Natural History Museum.  

    “But the southerly location of Shukbah, only about 400 km from Cairo, should remind us that they may have even dispersed into Africa at times.”

    What’s more, the associated stone tools excavated nearby looked remarkably modern in their illustrations.

    When Garrod found the tooth all those years ago, she immediately suspected it was from a Neanderthal, but because her discovery became lost in a private collection, the claim was never verified.

    Other associated artefacts she unearthed from the Shukbah cave, including flakes, points, and retouched tools, were also separated and dispersed to several global institutions over the years.

    Re-analysing the tooth and these tools decades later, researchers at the British Museum have confirmed the molar did, in fact, belong to a Neanderthal child, roughly 9 years of age.

    What’s more, the stone tools excavated near this Neanderthal child appear to have been made using a method of stone knapping thought to have been exclusively used by Homo sapiens.

    This type of knapping is known as the Nubian Levallois technique, and its presence in southern Arabia during the Palaeolithic is sometimes thought to mark the expansion of Homo sapiens out of Africa.

    As such, several other excavations in the region have simply assumed the presence of Nubian Levallois tools were made by Homo sapiens, even without fossilised human remains nearby to support that hunch.

    But there is another explanation. The area in which Garrod was excavating all those years ago has a relatively high concentration of cave sites with remnants of ancient hominin societies.

    Over the years, discoveries in this important hub, many of which were made by Goddard, have revealed a landscape inhabited by both Neanderthals and Homo sapiens.

    The Nubian Levallois technique might therefore have been adopted by Neanderthals moving from Europe further south, which meant the method may have been used by both Neanderthals and Homo sapiens at the same time.

    The differences between Neanderthals and Homo sapiens have become harder to define in recent years, and this new research suggests using the presence of stone tools as a way to determine whether the site was connected to Neanderthals or Homo sapiens is insufficient on its own.

    The stone tool technology found in the Shukbah caves shares broad characteristics with other mid-late Palaeolithic finds associated with Neanderthals. Yet the authors say the Nubian Levallois method was clearly there in some specimens. 

    “In the end, we identified many more artefacts produced using the Nubian Levallois methods than we had anticipated,” says archaeologist Jimbob Blinkhorn, who worked on the research while at the University of London.

    “This is the first time they’ve been found in direct association with Neanderthal fossils, which suggests we can’t make a simple link between this technology and Homo sapiens.”

    The finding falls short of proof that Neanderthals crafted the tools themselves using this method. Stone implements could have been a valued commodity worth sharing. But it’s enough to shake confidence that the technology can be used to distinguish a specific human presence.

    The range of Neanderthals in southern Arabia is often restricted to the woodlands, but the Shuqbah cave might have represented a transition phase between these lusher areas and more arid landscapes in the south, the authors suggest.

    “This study highlights the geographic range of Neanderthal populations and their behavioural flexibility,” says archaeologist Simon Blockley from the University of London.

    “But also issues a timely note of caution that there are no straightforward links between particular hominins and specific stone tool technologies.” 

    The study was published in Scientific Reports.


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  • https://sciencespies.com/space/the-moons-biggest-crater-is-revealing-lunar-formation-secrets-we-never-knew/

    The Moon’s Biggest Crater is Revealing Lunar Formation Secrets We Never Knew


    A crater that covers nearly a quarter of the Moon‘s surface has revealed new information on how Earth’s natural satellite buddy formed – and the findings have tremendous implications, researchers say.

    A new analysis of the material ejected from the South Pole-Aitken basin impact has allowed scientists to refine the timeline of the development of the lunar mantle and crust, using radioactive thorium to uncover the order of events.

    “These results,” wrote a team of researchers led by planetary geologist Daniel Moriarty of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, “have important implications for understanding the formation and evolution of the Moon.”

    On a Moon that’s absolutely covered with impact scars, the South Pole-Aitken basin really stands out. At 2,500 kilometres (1,550 miles) across and up to 8.2 kilometres (5.1 miles) deep, it’s one of the biggest impact craters in the Solar System.

    It was produced by a giant impact around 4.3 billion years ago, when the Solar System (currently 4.5 billion years old) was still a baby. At this time, the Moon was still pretty warm and malleable, and the impact would have “splashed” a significant amount of material from below the surface.

    Because the basin is on the lunar far side, it hasn’t been as easy to study as the side of the Moon that faces us. Researchers have now run a new simulation of the splash pattern from the South Pole-Aitken impact, and discovered that where the ejecta should have fallen corresponds with thorium deposits on the lunar surface.

    One of the peculiar things about the Moon is that the near side and the far side are very different from each other. The near side – which always faces Earth – is covered in dark splotches. These are the lunar maria, wide plains of dark basalt from ancient volcanic activity inside the Moon.

    By contrast, the far side is far paler, with fewer basalt patches, and a lot more craters. The crust on the far side is thicker, too, and it has a different composition from the near side.

    Most of the thorium we’ve detected appears on the near side, so its presence is usually interpreted as related to this difference between the two sides. But a link to ejecta from the South Pole-Aitken impact tells a different story.

    The Moon’s thorium was deposited during a period known as the Lunar Magma Ocean. At this time, about 4.5 to 4.4 billion years ago, the Moon is thought to have been covered by molten rock that gradually cooled and solidified.

    During this process, denser minerals sank to the bottom of the molten layer to form the mantle, and lighter elements floated to the top to form the crust. Since thorium is not easily incorporated into mineral structures, it would have remained in the molten layer sandwiched between these two layers, only sinking down towards the core during or after crystallisation of the crust and mantle.

    According to the new analysis, when the South Pole-Aitken impact hit, it excavated a whole bunch of thorium from this layer, splashing it across the lunar surface on the near side.

    This means the impact would have occurred before the thorium layer sank. It also suggests that the thorium layer must at that time have been globally distributed, instead of being concentrated on the lunar near side.

    The South Pole-Aitken impact also melted rock from greater depths than the ejecta. Compositionally, this is very different from the material sprayed across the surface, with very little thorium. In turn, this suggests the upper mantle had two compositionally distinct layers at the time of the impact that were exposed in different ways.

    The impact splash material has since been covered up by over 4 billion years of cratering and weathering and volcanic activity, but the team managed to locate several pristine thorium deposits in recent impact craters. These will be important sites to visit in future lunar missions.

    “Formation of the South Pole-Aitken Basin is among the most ancient and important events in lunar history. Not only did it affect the thermal and chemical evolution of the lunar mantle, but it preserved heterogeneous mantle materials on the lunar surface in the form of ejecta and impact melt,” the researchers wrote in their paper.

    “As we enter into a new age of international and commercial lunar exploration, these mantle materials at the lunar surface must be considered amongst the highest-priority targets for the advancement of planetary science.”

    The research has been published in JGR Planets.


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