MIT engineers have come up with a conceptual design for a system to store renewable energy, such as solar and wind power, and deliver that energy back into an electric grid on demand. The system may be designed to power a small city not just when the sun is up or the wind is high, but around the clock.

 

The new design stores heat generated by excess electricity from solar or wind power in large tanks of white-hot molten silicon, and then converts the light from the glowing metal back into electricity when it’s needed. The researchers estimate that such a system would be vastly more affordable than lithium-ion batteries, which have been proposed as a viable, though expensive, method to store renewable energy.

 

 

Sourced through Scoop.it from: techxplore.com

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced Thursday that nine U.S. companies will compete to deliver experiments to the lunar surface. The space agency will buy the service and let private industry work out the details on getting there, he said.

 

The goal is to get small science and technology experiments to the surface of the moon as soon as possible. The first flight could be next year; 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the first manned moon landing.

 

 

The nine companies, representing seven states, are:

  • Astrobiotic Technology Inc., Pittsburgh;
  • Deep Space Systems, Littleton, Colorado;
  • Draper, Cambridge, Massachusetts;
  • Firefly Aerospace Inc., Cedar Park, Texas;
  • Intuitive Machines, Houston;
  • Lockheed Martin, Littleton;
  • Masten Space Systems Inc., Mojave, California;
  • Moon Express, Cape Canaveral; and
  • Orbit Beyond, Edison, New Jersey.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.canadianmanufacturing.com

NASA’s InSight lander touched down on Mars on November 26 for a study of the Red Planet’s insides. “Touchdown confirmed, InSight is on the surface of Mars!” said Christine Szalai, a spacecraft engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., in a live broadcast from mission control. The lander sent its first picture — which mostly showed the inside of the dust cover on its camera lens — shortly after landing.

 

The landing of InSight, short for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, brings the total number of successful NASA Mars landings to eight. InSight touched down at about 2:55 p.m. Eastern time in a wide, flat plain called Elysium Planitia, near Mars’ equator. News of the landing was relayed by a pair of tiny satellites called MarCO that travelled to Mars with InSight as an in-house communications team.

 

Over the next Martian year (about two Earth years), InSight will use a seismometer to listen for “Marsquakes” and other seismic waves rippling through the planet (SN: 5/26/18, p. 13). The lander will also drill five meters into Mars’ surface to measure the planet’s internal heat flow, a sign of how geologically active Mars is today.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.sciencenews.org

It sounds like the plot of the world’s tiniest horror movie: deep in the Ecuadorian Amazon, a newly discovered species of wasp transforms a "social" spider into a zombie-like drone that abandons its colony to do the wasp’s bidding. That’s the gruesome, real-life discovery by University of British Columbia researchers, who detail the first example of a manipulative relationship between a new Zatypota species wasp and a social Anelosimus eximius spider in a study published recently in Ecological Entomology.

 

"Wasps manipulating the behaviour of spiders has been observed before, but not at a level as complex as this," said Philippe Fernandez-Fournier, lead author of the study and former master’s student at UBC’s department of zoology. "Not only is this wasp targeting a social species of spider but it’s making it leave its colony, which it rarely does."

 

Sourced through Scoop.it from: new.eurekalert.org

Landing on Jupiter’s moon Europa will be even harder than we thought due to a forbidding belt of huge ice spikes that could trap or incapacitate a spacecraft.

 

If you want to attempt a landing on Europa, you’d better bring a repair kit. Parts of its surface may be covered in meters-long blades of ice that could make exploring Jupiter’s frigid moon a dangerous endeavour.

 

 

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.newscientist.com

Climate change and human activity are dooming species at an unprecedented rate via a plethora of direct and indirect, often synergic, mechanisms. Among these, primary extinctions driven by environmental change could be just the tip of an enormous extinction iceberg. As our understanding of the importance of ecological interactions in shaping ecosystem identity advances, it is becoming clearer how the disappearance of consumers following the depletion of their resources — a process known as ‘co-extinction’ — is more likely the major driver of biodiversity loss.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: news.flinders.edu.au

For this study, Dr Mathilda Mommersteeg and her team at the University of Oxford studied two types of Mexican tetra fish – river-dwellers that are able to self-heal their heart tissue, and cave-dwellers that cannot. The cave fish, who once lived in the rivers of Northern Mexico, were washed into caves by floodwaters about 1.5 million years ago and evolved, losing their sight and color because of living in perpetual darkness.

 

 

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.bbc.com

To unearth new functional regions in the human genome with potential roles in shaping clinically important traits, researchers searched for how elephants, hibernating bats, orcas, dolphins, naked mole rats, and ground squirrels changed critical parts of the human genome that are shared with most other mammals. These regions are highly conserved, but to evolve their highly distinctive traits, these seven species had to change how these conserved DNA elements work.

 

For example, elephants are the largest land mammals and were discovered to have changed several conserved regions associated with DNA repair. This discovery hints at why elephants rarely get cancer despite their large size and may provide clues to the genetics of human cancer. The study was published March 6 2018 in the journal Cell Reports.

 

 

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.eurekalert.org