NASA delays commercial crew mission to study Falcon 9 engine issue

WASHINGTON — NASA is delaying the launch of the first operational SpaceX commercial crew mission to the first half of November to provide more time to review a problem during a recent Falcon 9 launch attempt.

NASA announced Oct. 10 the Crew-1 mission, which was scheduled to launch on a Falcon 9 in the early morning hours of Oct. 31 from the Kennedy Space Center, will now launch no earlier than early to mid-November.

The delay, the agency said, will provide more time for SpaceX “to complete hardware testing and data reviews as the company evaluates off-nominal behavior of Falcon 9 first stage engine gas generators observed during a recent non-NASA mission launch attempt.” NASA did not identify the specific launch attempt in question, but an Oct. 2 launch of a Falcon 9 carrying a GPS 3 satellite was scrubbed just two seconds before liftoff because of SpaceX Chief Executive

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Hydroxychloroquine does not counter SARS-CoV-2 in hamsters, high dose of favipiravir does: study — ScienceDaily

Virologists from the KU Leuven Rega Institute in Belgium have shown that a treatment with the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine does not limit SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus replication in hamsters. A high dose of the anti-flu drug favipiravir, by contrast, has an antiviral effect in the hamsters. The team published their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Virologists at the KU Leuven Rega Institute have been working on two lines of SARS-CoV-2 research: searching for a vaccine to prevent infection, and testing existing drugs to see which one can reduce the amount of virus in infected people.

To test the efficacy of the vaccine and antivirals preclinically, the researchers use hamsters. The rodents are particularly suitable for SARS-CoV-2 research because the virus replicates itself strongly in hamsters after infection. Moreover, hamsters develop a lung pathology similar to mild COVID-19 in humans. This is not the case with

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A new study is one of the first to measure the problem of underemployment among female surgeons in the United States — ScienceDaily

Female surgeons at a large academic medical center perform less complex surgical procedures than their male counterparts, according to a new study by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). This study, published in Annals of Surgery, is one of the first to measure the problem of underemployment among female surgeons in the United States, which can affect compensation, career advancement and job satisfaction.

Only about one in five surgeons practicing in U.S. is female. Unemployment is virtually nonexistent among surgeons, but many female surgeons, as well as professional women in other fields, experience underemployment — the underuse of skills — according to the Federal Reserve Bank. “Women in surgery talk among themselves about how they may be perceived as less confident or competent, and for those reasons they may have less opportunity to do exciting and challenging cases,” says Cassandra Kelleher, MD, a pediatric surgeon at MGH and senior

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Study shows how climate impacts food webs, poses socioeconomic threat in Eastern Africa

Study shows how climate impacts food webs, poses socioeconomic threat in Eastern Africa
The research team spent 12 days on Lake Tanganyika collecting core samples from the lake’s floor. They chartered a Congolese merchant vessel, seen here, and adapted it for their research project. Credit: Michael McGlue, University of Kentucky

A new study is sounding the alarm on the impact climate change could have on one of the world’s most vulnerable regions.


Michael McGlue, Pioneer Natural Resources Professor of Stratigraphy in the University of Kentucky Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, and his team conducted the study at Lake Tanganyika—a major African fishery. The results, which published today in Science Advances, show how certain changes in climate may place the fishery at risk, potentially diminishing food resources for millions of people in this area of eastern Africa.

“Lake Tanganyika’s fish are a critically important resource for impoverished people from four nations (Tanzania, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi and Zambia) and resilience

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Researchers study the invasive frog’s role in Galapagos food web

Researchers study the invasive frog’s role in Galapagos food web
Fowler’s snouted treefrog Scinax quinquefasciatus was introduced on the Galápagos archipelago in the late 1990s. Credit: Senckenberg/Ernst

“I have taken pains to verify this assertion, and have found it true that frogs, toads, and newts are absent from most oceanic islands”—thus states Charles Darwin in his well-known work “On the Origin of Species.” For a long time, this observation by the famous naturalist also held true for the Galápagos Islands, which are inextricably linked to his name. “This only changed with the arrival of Fowler’s snouted treefrog Scinax quinquefasciatus on the archipelago in 1997 or 1998,” explains Dr. habil. Raffael Ernst of the Senckenberg Natural History Collections in Dresden, and he continues, “In our study, we examined the interactions of this newcomer with the local, primarily endemic fauna on Galápagos.”

Ernst and his colleagues were curious to find out what role this 33-to-38-millimeter-long frog plays within the island fauna’s food

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Climate patterns linked in Amazon, North and South America, study shows

amazon rainforest
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

University of Arkansas researchers have established a link between climate patterns in the Amazon and large parts of North and South America using their newly developed tree-ring chronology from the Amazon River basin.


The discovery helps researchers better understand large-scale climate extremes and the impact of the El Niño phenomenon.

Tree growth is a well-established climate proxy. By comparing growth rings in Cedrela odorata trees found in the Rio Paru watershed of the eastern Amazon River with hundreds of similar chronologies in North and South America, scientists have shown an inverse relationship in tree growth, and therefore precipitation patterns, between the areas. Drought in the Amazon is correlated with wetness in the southwestern United States, Mexico and Patagonia, and vice versa.

The process is driven by the El Niño phenomenon, which influences surface-level winds along the equator, researchers said. El Niño is the name given to

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Scientists study the rugged surface of near-Earth asteroid Bennu — ScienceDaily

As the days count down to NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft’s Touch-And-Go asteroid sample collection attempt, Southwest Research Institute scientists have helped determine what the spacecraft can expect to return from the near-Earth asteroid Bennu’s surface. Three papers published online by Science on Oct. 8 discuss the color, reflectivity, age, composition, origin and distribution of materials that make up the asteroid’s rough surface.

On October 20, the spacecraft will descend to the asteroid’s boulder-strewn surface, touch the ground with its robotic arm for a few seconds and collect a sample of rocks and dust — marking the first time NASA has grabbed pieces of an asteroid for return to Earth. SwRI scientists played a role in the selection of the sample sites. The first attempt will be made at Nightingale, a rocky area 66 feet in diameter in Bennu’s northern hemisphere. If this historic attempt is unsuccessful, the spacecraft will try again

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Climate change threatens Coachella Valley, Palm Springs tourism, study says

Climate change threatens Coachella Valley, Palm Springs tourism, study says
Climate change threatens Coachella Valley, Palm Springs tourism, study says

The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is one of the most famous music festivals in the world and is also amongst the most profitable, grossing an impressive $114.6 million in 2017, which set a record for the first recurring festival franchise to earn over $100 million. Coachella, Stagecoach and the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament are attractions that have drawn millions to the Coachella Valley over the years, but scientists warn that this could change as extreme heat becomes a dangerous reality.

The Coachella Valley is a desert region in southern California with virtually zero annual rainfall and an annual average temperature of 22.8°C, which makes it a desirable destination for those seeking year-round warmth. While this region hosts world-renowned events and is unlikely to lose popularity anytime soon, a study warns that rapidly rising temperatures are threatening the

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Study finds fungal disease of snakes in 19 states, Puerto Rico — ScienceDaily

In a collaborative effort between scientists and personnel on military bases in 31 states in the continental U.S. and Puerto Rico, researchers surveyed for an infection caused by an emerging fungal pathogen that afflicts snakes. The effort found infected snakes on military bases in 19 states and Puerto Rico, demonstrating that the fungus is more widely distributed than was previously known. The team reports the findings in the journal PLOS ONE.

“Ophidiomycosis — formerly known as ‘snake fungal disease’ — is an emerging infectious disease caused by the fungus Ophidiomyces ophidiicola,” said Dr. Matt Allender, a professor in the veterinary diagnostic laboratory at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign who led the new study. “It has been documented in over 15 genera of wild and captive snakes. Infection with the pathogen causes a wide range of clinical signs in snakes, from difficulty shedding skin, to crusts and ulcers on the

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Designing solar panels in checkerboard lines increases their ability to absorb light by 125%, a new study says — ScienceDaily

Designing solar panels in checkerboard lines increases their ability to absorb light by 125 per cent, a new study says.

Researchers say the breakthrough could lead to the production of thinner, lighter and more flexible solar panels that could be used to power more homes and be used in a wider range of products.

The study — led by researchers from the University of York and conducted in partnership with NOVA University of Lisbon (CENIMAT-i3N) — investigated how different surface designs impacted on the absorption of sunlight in solar cells, which put together form solar panels.

Scientists found that the checkerboard design improved diffraction, which enhanced the probability of light being absorbed which is then used to create electricity.

The renewable energy sector is constantly looking for new ways to boost the light absorption of solar cells in lightweight materials that can be used in products from roof tiles to

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