For the first time, astronomers have uncovered evidence of water vapor in the atmosphere of Jupiter’s moon Ganymede. This water vapor forms when ice from the moon’s surface sublimates—that is, turns from solid to gas.

 

Scientists used new and archival datasets from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope to make the discovery, published in the journal Nature Astronomy. Previous research has offered circumstantial evidence that Ganymede, the largest moon in the solar system, contains more water than all of Earth’s oceans. However, temperatures there are so cold that water on the surface is frozen solid. Ganymede’s ocean would reside roughly 100 miles below the crust; therefore, the water vapor would not represent the evaporation of this ocean. Astronomers re-examined Hubble observations from the last two decades to find this evidence of water vapor.

 

Read the full article at: esahubble.org

The global economy’s business-as-usual approach to climate change has seen Earth’s “vital signs” deteriorate to record levels, an influential group of scientists said Wednesday, warning that several climate tipping points were now imminent. The researchers, part of a group of more than 14,000 scientists who have signed on to an initiative declaring a worldwide climate emergency, said that governments had consistently failed to address the root cause of climate change: “the overexploitation of the Earth”.

Since a similar assessment in 2019, they noted an “unprecedented surge” in climate-related disasters, including flooding in South America and Southeast Asia, record-shattering heatwaves and wildfires in Australia and the US, and devastating cyclones in Africa and South Asia. Of 31 “vital signs”—key metrics of planetary health that include greenhouse gas emissions, glacier thickness, sea-ice extent and deforestation—they found that 18 hit record highs or lows. For example, despite a dip in pollution linked to the pandemic, levels of atmospheric CO2 and methane hit all-time highs in 2021.

Greenland and Antarctica both recently showed all-time low levels of ice mass, and glaciers are melting 31 percent faster than they did just 15 years ago, the authors said. Both ocean heat and global sea levels set new records since 2019, and the annual loss rate of the Brazilian Amazon reached a 12-year high in 2020.

Highlights of a landmark Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) draft report on the effects of a warming planet on nature. Echoing previous research, they said that forest degradation linked to fire, drought and logging was causing parts of the Brazilian Amazon to now act as a source of carbon, rather than absorb the gas from the atmosphere. Livestock such as cows and sheep are now at record levels, numbering more than four billion and with a mass exceeding that of all humans and wild land mammals combined, they said.

Tim Lenton, director of the University of Exeter’s Global Systems Institute and study co-author, said the recent record-breaking heatwave in the Western United States and Canada showed that the climate had already begun to “behave in shocking, unexpected ways. We need to respond to the evidence that we are hitting climate tipping points with equally urgent action to decarbonize the global economy and start restoring instead of destroying nature,” he said.

Read the full article at: phys.org

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Immunohistochemical stains for individual markers revolutionized diagnostic pathology decades ago but cannot capture enough information to accurately predict response to immunotherapy. Newer multiplex immunofluorescent technologies provide the potential to visualize the expression patterns of many functionally relevant molecules but present numerous challenges in accurate image analysis and data handling, particularly over large tumor areas. Drawing from the field of astronomy, in which petabytes of imaging data are routinely analyzed across a wide spectral range, Berry et al. developed a platform for multispectral imaging of whole-tumor sections with high-fidelity single-cell resolution. The resultant AstroPath platform was used to develop a multiplex immunofluorescent assay highly predictive of responses and outcomes for melanoma patients receiving immunotherapy.

Read the full article at: bigthink.com

Changing climate patterns have left millions of people vulnerable to weather extremes. As temperature fluctuations become more commonplace around the world, conventional power-guzzling cooling and heating systems need a more innovative, energy-efficient alternative, and in turn, lessen the burden on already struggling power grids.

 

In a new study, researchers at Texas A&M University have created novel 3D printable phase-change material (PCM) composites that can regulate ambient temperatures inside buildings using a simpler and cost-effective manufacturing process. Furthermore, these composites can be added to building materials, like paint, or 3D printed as decorative home accents to seamlessly integrate into different indoor environments.

 

“The ability to integrate phase-change materials into building materials using a scalable method opens opportunities to produce more passive temperature regulation in both new builds and already existing structures,” said Dr. Emily Pentzer, associate professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and the Department of Chemistry. Dr. Emily Pentzer and her team have created novel 3D printable phase-change material composites that can regulate ambient temperatures inside buildings using a simpler and cost-effective manufacturing process.

 

This study was published in the June issue of the journal Matter. Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are the most commonly used methods to regulate temperatures in residential and commercial establishments. However, these systems guzzle a lot of energy. Furthermore, they use greenhouse materials, called refrigerants, for generating cool, dry air. These ongoing issues with HVAC systems have triggered research into alternative materials and technologies that require less energy to function and can regulate temperature commensurate to HVAC systems.

 

One of the materials that have gained a lot of interest for temperature regulation is phase-change materials. As the name suggests, these compounds change their physical state depending on the temperature in the environment. So, when phase-change materials store heat, they convert from solid to liquid upon absorbing heat and vice versa when they release heat. Thus, unlike HVAC systems that rely solely on external power to heat and cool, these materials are passive components, requiring no external electricity to regulate temperature.

Read the full article at: engineering.tamu.edu

Jupiter’s moon Europa and its global ocean may currently have conditions suitable for life. Scientists are studying processes on the icy surface as they prepare to explore.

 

Jupiter’s icy moon Europa and its global ocean may currently have conditions suitable for life. Scientists are studying processes on the icy surface as they prepare to explore. It’s easy to see the impact of space debris on our Moon, where the ancient, battered surface is covered with craters and scars. Jupiter’s icy moon Europa withstands a similar trouncing – along with a punch of super-intense radiation. As the uppermost surface of the icy moon churns, material brought to the surface is zapped by high-energy electron radiation accelerated by Jupiter.

 

NASA-funded scientists are studying the cumulative effects of small impacts on Europa’s surface as they prepare to explore the distant moon with the Europa Clipper mission and study the possibilities for a future lander mission. Europa is of particular scientific interest because its salty ocean, which lies beneath a thick layer of ice, may currently have conditions suitable for existing life. That water may even make its way into the icy crust and onto the moon’s surface.

 

The new study, which was published July 12, 2021 in the journal Nature Astronomy, is a bit more pessimistic. In it, researchers modeled how Europa’s surface is disturbed by small but frequent impacts — a real issue for a world without a substantial atmosphere to burn up incoming hunks of rock and ice.
 

They found that such “impact gardening” likely churns the top 12 inches (30 cm) or so of Europan ice significantly, bringing previously buried bits up to the surface, where radiation can zap any interesting molecules into unrecognizable goo. “If we hope to find pristine, chemical biosignatures, we will have to look below the zone where impacts have been gardening,” study lead author Emily Costello, a planetary research scientist at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, said in a statement. “Chemical biosignatures in areas shallower than that zone may have been exposed to destructive radiation.”

 

Previous work has suggested that just 8 inches (20 centimeters) of ice could likely shield any biomolecules that might exist on Europa from that punishing radiation environment, even in the hardest-hit regions of the moon. 

Read the full article at: www.jpl.nasa.gov