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  • richardmitnick 1:04 pm on December 30, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: apolipoprotein E (ApoE) gene, , ASU, ,   

    From ASU via phys.org: “New study shows cognitive decline may be influenced by interaction of genetics and… worms” 

    ASU Bloc

    ASU

    phys.org

    phys.org

    1
    A depiction of the double helical structure of DNA. Its four coding units (A, T, C, G) are color-coded in pink, orange, purple and yellow. Credit: NHGRI

    You’ve likely heard about being in the right place at the wrong time, but what about having the right genes in the wrong environment? In other words, could a genetic mutation (or allele) that puts populations at risk for illnesses in one environmental setting manifest itself in positive ways in a different setting?

    That’s the question behind a recent paper published in The FASEB Journal by several researchers including lead author Ben Trumble, an assistant professor at Arizona State University’s School of Human Evolution and Social Change and ASU’s Center for Evolution and Medicine.

    These researchers examined how the apolipoprotein E (ApoE) gene might function differently in an infectious environment than in the urban industrialized settings where ApoE has mostly been examined. All ApoE proteins help mediate cholesterol metabolism, and assist in the crucial activity of transporting fatty acids to the brain. But in industrialized societies, ApoE4 variant carriers also face up to a four-fold higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease and other age-related cognitive declines, as well as a higher risk for cardiovascular disease.

    The goal of this study, Trumble explains, was to reexamine the potentially detrimental effects of the globally-present ApoE4 allele in environmental conditions more typical of those experienced throughout our species’ existence—in this case, a community of Amazonian forager-horticulturalists called the Tsimane.

    “For 99% of human evolution, we lived as hunter gatherers in small bands and the last 5,000-10,000 years—with plant and animal domestication and sedentary urban industrial life—is completely novel,” Trumble says. “I can drive to a fast-food restaurant to ‘hunt and gather’ 20,000 calories in a few minutes or go to the hospital if I’m sick, but this was not the case throughout most of human evolution.”

    Due to the tropical environment and a lack of sanitation, running water, or electricity, remote populations like the Tsimane face high exposure to parasites and pathogens, which cause their own damage to cognitive abilities when untreated.

    As a result, one might expect Tsimane ApoE4 carriers who also have a high parasite burden to experience faster and more severe mental decline in the presence of both these genetic and environmental risk factors.

    But when the Tsimane Health and Life History Project tested these individuals using a seven-part cognitive assessment and a medical exam, they discovered the exact opposite.

    In fact, Tsimane who both carried ApoE4 and had a high parasitic burden displayed steadier or even improved cognitive function in the assessment versus non-carriers with a similar level of parasitic exposure. The researchers controlled for other potential confounders like age and schooling, but the effect still remained strong. This indicated that the allele potentially played a role in maintaining cognitive function even when exposed to environmental-based health threats.

    For Tsimane ApoE4 carriers without high parasite burdens, the rates of cognitive decline were more similar to those seen in industrialized societies, where ApoE4 reduces cognitive performance.

    “It seems that some of the very genetic mutations that help us succeed in more hazardous time periods and environments may actually become mismatched in our relatively safe and sterile post-industrial lifestyles,” Trumble explains.

    Still, the ApoE4 variant appears to be much more than an evolutionary leftover gone bad, he adds. For example, several studies have shown potential benefits of ApoE4 in early childhood development, and ApoE4 has also been shown to eliminate some infections like giardia and hepatitis.

    “Alleles with harmful effects may remain in a population if such harm occurs late in life, and more so if those same alleles have other positive effects,” adds co-author Michael Gurven, professor of anthropology at University of California, Santa Barbara. “Exploring the effects of genes associated with chronic disease, such as ApoE4, in a broader range of environments under more infectious conditions is likely to provide much-needed insight into why such ‘bad genes’ persist.”

    The abstract and full research paper “Apolipoprotein E4 is associated with improved cognitive function in Amazonian forager-horticulturalists with a high parasite burden” can be viewed here in The FASEB Journal

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    Stem Education Coalition

    ASU is the largest public university by enrollment in the United States.[11] Founded in 1885 as the Territorial Normal School at Tempe, the school underwent a series of changes in name and curriculum. In 1945 it was placed under control of the Arizona Board of Regents and was renamed Arizona State College.[12][13][14] A 1958 statewide ballot measure gave the university its present name.
    ASU is classified as a research university with very high research activity (RU/VH) by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, one of 78 U.S. public universities with that designation. Since 2005 ASU has been ranked among the Top 50 research universities, public and private, in the U.S. based on research output, innovation, development, research expenditures, number of awarded patents and awarded research grant proposals. The Center for Measuring University Performance currently ranks ASU 31st among top U.S. public research universities.[15]

    ASU awards bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in 16 colleges and schools on five locations: the original Tempe campus, the West campus in northwest Phoenix, the Polytechnic campus in eastern Mesa, the Downtown Phoenix campus and the Colleges at Lake Havasu City. ASU’s “Online campus” offers 41 undergraduate degrees, 37 graduate degrees and 14 graduate or undergraduate certificates, earning ASU a Top 10 rating for Best Online Programs.[16] ASU also offers international academic program partnerships in Mexico, Europe and China. ASU is accredited as a single institution by The Higher Learning Commission.

    ASU Tempe Campus
    ASU Tempe Campus

     
  • richardmitnick 3:48 pm on October 20, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ASU, , TolTEC camera   

    From ASU: “In international experiment, ASU astronomers explore mysteries of star formation” 

    ASU Bloc

    ASU

    Uniquely sensitive camera, with optics and electronics designed and built at ASU, will probe into giant clouds of interstellar dust.

    How do stars form deep inside clouds of molecular gas? What’s the history of star formation throughout cosmic time? When did the first stars form? And how did they produce the materials necessary for life on Earth?

    A group of astronomers at Arizona State University is seeking answers to such questions as part of an international experiment that has been awarded more than $6 million in funding from the National Science Foundation to help build a uniquely sensitive camera, called TolTEC, to probe these mysteries.

    “Half the light from stars in the universe is absorbed by clouds of interstellar dust and then re-radiated at long wavelengths invisible to the human eye,” said Philip Mauskopf, of Arizona State University’s School of Earth and Space Exploration (SESE). “Astronomical observations at these wavelengths can let us see into the cores of stellar nurseries where new stars are forming.”

    Mauskopf, a professor in SESE, is the leader of the ASU team that will design and construct the optics for the new camera. The team will also develop the electronics for producing images from the instrument’s superconducting detectors.

    Big eye

    The new camera will be attached to a giant telescope in Mexico. On top of the 15,000-foot Sierra Negra in the state of Puebla sits the Large Millimeter Telescope , with a 50-meter (164-foot) diameter main mirror.

    Large Millimeter Telescope Alfonso Serrano, Mexico
    Large Millimeter Telescope Alfonso Serrano, Mexico

    It is the largest telescope in the world designed to operate at a wavelength of 1 millimeter, ideal for making detailed study of the dusty universe. The construction of this telescope, with contributions from the University of Massachusetts, has been the biggest scientific project in the history of Mexico.

    In addition to Mauskopf, the ASU team includes postdoctoral scholar Sean Bryan, electrical engineer Hamdi Mani, mechanical engineer Matt Underhill as well as graduate student and NASA Earth and Space Science fellow Sam Gordon and Barrett Honors College student Rhys Kelso.

    “To get the best images, we have to supercool the optics and the superconducting detectors,” Mauskopf said. “While developing this kind of superconducting technology can be difficult, the detectors and readout electronics we are using for TolTEC are very similar to ones we have already developed for use on balloon-borne telescopes at shorter wavelengths.”

    Once the TolTEC camera is completed, it will be mounted on the Large Millimeter Telescope and begin a two-year program of three large sky surveys covering hundreds of square degrees. These surveys will target regions where there are known dust clouds in our own galaxy. They will also target regions where there is relatively little local dust so that more distant objects are visible for comparison with deep optical images containing large numbers of galaxies.

    Major step forward

    Observations that require today’s telescopes five years to complete will be done in a little more than a week with TolTEC.

    “It’s hard to grasp the increased capabilities of the new instrument,” said Grant Wilson of UMass, principal investigator for TolTEC. “The combination of the new camera and the LMT requires a new outlook on what types of investigations are possible.”

    The details of the TolTEC surveys will be worked out in consultation with the international astronomical community through a series of workshops led by members of the TolTEC scientific advisory board. Data from the surveys will be made public as quickly as possible to allow the maximum scientific return.

    The data from TolTEC will enable cosmologists, such as SESE’s Evan Scannapieco, to trace the mysterious mechanism that is shutting off star formation in giant galaxies. It will also help astronomers including SESE’s Judd Bowman, Rogier Windhorst, James Rhoads and Sangeeta Malhotra, who are using other methods to directly observe the oldest and most distant galaxies responsible for the re-ionization of the hydrogen gas in the early universe.

    “Designing and building this camera will be a wonderful hands-on opportunity for SESE students and researchers,” Mauskopf said. “And the end result will be a powerful new tool for studying the universe.”

    Other partners in TolTEC include the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Northwestern University, the University of Michigan, Cardiff University (UK), and the National Institute of Astrophysics, Optics and Electronics in Mexico.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    ASU is the largest public university by enrollment in the United States.[11] Founded in 1885 as the Territorial Normal School at Tempe, the school underwent a series of changes in name and curriculum. In 1945 it was placed under control of the Arizona Board of Regents and was renamed Arizona State College.[12][13][14] A 1958 statewide ballot measure gave the university its present name.
    ASU is classified as a research university with very high research activity (RU/VH) by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, one of 78 U.S. public universities with that designation. Since 2005 ASU has been ranked among the Top 50 research universities, public and private, in the U.S. based on research output, innovation, development, research expenditures, number of awarded patents and awarded research grant proposals. The Center for Measuring University Performance currently ranks ASU 31st among top U.S. public research universities.[15]

    ASU awards bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in 16 colleges and schools on five locations: the original Tempe campus, the West campus in northwest Phoenix, the Polytechnic campus in eastern Mesa, the Downtown Phoenix campus and the Colleges at Lake Havasu City. ASU’s “Online campus” offers 41 undergraduate degrees, 37 graduate degrees and 14 graduate or undergraduate certificates, earning ASU a Top 10 rating for Best Online Programs.[16] ASU also offers international academic program partnerships in Mexico, Europe and China. ASU is accredited as a single institution by The Higher Learning Commission.

    ASU Tempe Campus
    ASU Tempe Campus

     
  • richardmitnick 12:15 pm on June 23, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Asteroid PSYCHE, , ASU, , PSYCHE mission proposal   

    From ASU: “Psyche: Journey to a Metal World” 

    ASU Bloc

    ASU

    Undated entry
    No writer credit

    1
    Psyche is both the name of an asteroid orbiting between Mars and Jupiter — and the name of an ASU-proposed mission to visit that asteroid. The mission was chosen by NASA as a semi-finalist for the agency’s Discovery Program, a series of low-cost missions to solar system targets. NASA is expected to make its decision by late 2016.

    If the Psyche Mission is chosen for flight, the spacecraft will likely launch in 2020 and travel to the asteroid using solar-electric (low-thrust) propulsion. After a six-year cruise, the mission plan calls for one Earth year spent in orbit around the asteroid, mapping it and studying its properties.

    Psyche, the asteroid

    Only the 16th minor planet to be discovered — hence its formal designation, 16 Psyche — the asteroid was found in 1852 by Italian astronomer Annibale de Gasparis, who named it for the Greek mythological figure Psyche.

    What gives 16 Psyche great scientific interest is that it is made of metal. It appears to be the exposed nickel-iron core of a protoplanet, one of the building blocks of the Sun’s planetary system. At 16 Psyche scientists will explore, for the first time ever, a world made not of rock or ice, but of metal.

    The asteroid is most likely a survivor of violent hit-and-run collisions, common when the solar system was forming. Thus 16 Psyche may be able to tell us how Earth’s core and the cores of the other terrestrial planets came to be.

    Every world explored so far by humans has a surface of ice or rock or a mixture of the two. Deep within the terrestrial planets, including Earth, scientists infer the presence of metallic cores, but these lie unreachably far below the planets’ rocky mantles and crusts. Because we cannot see or measure Earth’s core directly, 16 Psyche offers a unique window into the violent history of collisions and accretion that created the terrestrial planets.

    2

    16 Psyche follows an orbit in the outer part of the main asteroid belt, at an average distance from the Sun of 3 astronomical units (AU); Earth orbits at 1 AU. Psyche is large (about 150 miles in diameter), dense (7,000 kg/m³), and made almost entirely of nickel-iron metal. It is the only known place in our solar system where we can examine directly what is almost certainly a metallic core.

    What is Psyche’s story? One scenario is that long ago, a protoplanet that had separated internally into a rocky mantle and iron core suffered violent impacts that stripped away its mantle, leaving only the metal core. Or is Psyche a survivor of some more unusual process not yet imagined? What can it tell us about how planets everywhere form and about what’s inside the Earth, Mars, Venus, and Mercury?

    The science goals of the Psyche Mission are to understand these building blocks of planet formation and to explore first-hand a wholly new and unexplored type of world. The mission team seeks to determine whether Psyche really is a protoplanetary core, how old it is, whether it formed in similar ways to the Earth’s core, and what its surface is like.

    Psyche, the mission

    If selected by NASA for flight, the Psyche Mission will launch in November 2020. Following a six-year cruise to 16 Psyche, the spacecraft will arrive in 2026. Plans calls for it to spend 12 months at the asteroid, performing science operations from four staging orbits, which become successively closer.

    3

    The spacecraft’s instrument payload includes magnetometers, multispectral imagers, a gamma ray and neutron spectrometer, and a radio-science experiment.

    4

    The Psyche Multispectral Imager
    The Multispectral Imager provides high-resolution images using filters to discriminate between 16 Psyche’s metallic and silicate constituents. The instrument consists of a pair of identical cameras designed to acquire geologic, compositional, and topographic data. The purpose of the second camera is to provide redundancy for mission-critical optical navigation. The science team is based at Arizona State University.

    • Psyche Gamma Ray and Neutron Spectrometer
    The Gamma Ray and Neutron Spectrometer will detect, measure, and map 16 Psyche’s elemental composition. The instrument is mounted on a 2-m boom to distance the sensors from background radiation created by energetic particles interacting with the spacecraft and to provide an unobstructed field of view. The science team is based at the Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University.

    • Psyche Magnetometer
    The Psyche Magnetometer is designed to detect and measure the remanent magnetic field of the asteroid. It is composed of two identical high-sensitivity magnetic field sensors located at the middle and outer end of a 2-m (6-foot) boom. The science team is based at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of California Los Angeles.

    • Radio Science
    The Psyche mission will use the X-band radio telecommunications system to measure 16 Psyche’s gravity field to high precision. When combined with topography derived from onboard imagery, this will provide information on the interior structure of Psyche. The science team is based at MIT and JPL.
    Science team

    Principal investigator Lindy Elkins-Tanton, director of ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration (SESE), heads the Psyche Mission scientific team. Other SESE scientists include Jim Bell (deputy principal investigator and co-investigator), Erik Asphaug (co-investigator), and David Williams (co-investigator).

    Other co-investigators are David Bercovici (Yale), Bruce Bills (JPL), Richard Binzel (MIT), William Bottke (SwRI), Ralf Jaumann (DLR), Insoo Jun (JPL), David Lawrence (APL), Simon Marchi (SwRI), Timothy McCoy (Smithsonian), Ryan Park (JPL), Patrick Peplowski (APL), Carol Polanskey (JPL), Carol Raymond (JPL), Benjamin Weiss (MIT), Dan Wenkert (JPL), Mark Wieczorek (IPGP), and Maria Zuber (MIT).
    Science partners

    Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR), General Dynamics, Glenn Research Center (GRC), Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (IPGP), Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Malin Space Science Systems (MSSS), Planetary Science Institute (PSI), Smithsonian Institution, Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), Space Systems/Loral (SSL), Tesat Spacecom, University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), Yale University.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    ASU is the largest public university by enrollment in the United States.[11] Founded in 1885 as the Territorial Normal School at Tempe, the school underwent a series of changes in name and curriculum. In 1945 it was placed under control of the Arizona Board of Regents and was renamed Arizona State College.[12][13][14] A 1958 statewide ballot measure gave the university its present name.
    ASU is classified as a research university with very high research activity (RU/VH) by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, one of 78 U.S. public universities with that designation. Since 2005 ASU has been ranked among the Top 50 research universities, public and private, in the U.S. based on research output, innovation, development, research expenditures, number of awarded patents and awarded research grant proposals. The Center for Measuring University Performance currently ranks ASU 31st among top U.S. public research universities.[15]

    ASU awards bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in 16 colleges and schools on five locations: the original Tempe campus, the West campus in northwest Phoenix, the Polytechnic campus in eastern Mesa, the Downtown Phoenix campus and the Colleges at Lake Havasu City. ASU’s “Online campus” offers 41 undergraduate degrees, 37 graduate degrees and 14 graduate or undergraduate certificates, earning ASU a Top 10 rating for Best Online Programs.[16] ASU also offers international academic program partnerships in Mexico, Europe and China. ASU is accredited as a single institution by The Higher Learning Commission.

    ASU Tempe Campus
    ASU Tempe Campus

     
  • richardmitnick 1:18 pm on May 9, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ASU, , Nobel laureate Frank Wilczek joins ASU,   

    From ASU: “Nobel laureate Frank Wilczek joins ASU” 

    ASU Bloc

    ASU

    5.9.16

    1

    Frank Wilczek, a theoretical physicist and mathematician who shared the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2004, is joining Arizona State University as a professor in the physics department.

    Wilczek will work on a variety of important issues in theoretical physics. He will also be organizing workshops to gather the best and brightest physicists worldwide at ASU to help propel the advancement of the discipline. He is the second Nobel Prize-winning professor to join ASU in the last week.

    “At a minimum I will be giving lectures to advance students on frontier topics, basically what I’m working on,” he said. “It’s also quite possible I will try to involve students at earlier stages in some of the more practical work, where they don’t need as much theoretical background.”

    Wilczek said he’s looking for a new adventure, and his move to Arizona State will be another step in the evolution of an existing relationship.

    “(My wife) Betsy and I have visited ASU regularly for the past several years,” he said. “We’ve had many great experiences in the Tempe and Phoenix community already. We’ve been impressed with the visionary ambition and dynamism of the university in general, and with its encouragement of new scientific and cross-disciplinary initiatives in particular. I’m looking forward to exciting adventures in advancing the frontiers of science, sharing it and putting it to use in coming years.”

    Wilczek received his bachelor of science in mathematics at the University of Chicago in 1970, a master of arts in mathematics at Princeton University in 1972, and a PhD in physics at Princeton University in 1974. Currently he is the Herman Feshbach professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

    Wilczek, along with David Gross and H. David Politzer, was awarded the Nobel for their discovery of asymptotic freedom in the theory of the strong interaction.

    Theoretical physicist and cosmologist Lawrence KraussKrauss is a Foundation Professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and director of its Origins Project. called Wilczek the pre-eminent theoretical physicist of his generation.

    “Yes, he won the Nobel Prize for work he did as a graduate student when he was 21, but that just tells a small part of the story,” Krauss said. “He is a true polymath, working in and mastering almost every area of physics, but his interests range far more broadly. …

    “What has interested Frank in ASU in particular is the breadth of work being done here, the highly interactive transdisciplinary atmosphere — which Origins in particular benefits from — and the openness of the university, from the president on down, to new ideas.”

    Ferran Garcia-Pichel, dean of natural sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, said he looked forward to Wilczek’s contributions to the university.

    “He is sure to contribute seminally to the development of theoretical physics at ASU and to the teaching and mentoring of our students, as he has already done during previous stays as a visiting professor,” Garcia-Pichel said. “He will definitely help us attract the field’s center of gravity closer to home.”

    Garcia-Pichel announced Wednesday that Sidney Altman, who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1989, will join the School of Life Sciences at ASU.

    On a trip to Arizona this past January, Wilczek toured an art installation called “Field of Lights” at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix.

    The display, by the artist Bruce Munro, consists of thousands of spheres of colored light, slowly pulsating and strewn across the desert.

    Wilczek wrote in a column for the Wall Street Journal that as he walked among the lights, “I felt I’d gotten an inkling of what thought looks like.”

    That experience, he wrote, changed the way he thinks about the brain, and himself, and it helped him conceive of a potentially innovative way of teaching the complexity of the brain.

    “Frank Wilczek’s quest for different ways of examining some of the most complicated questions and ideas fits perfectly with ASU’s distinguished faculty and the university’s principles of finding your own path to discovery, both in learning and research,” said Mark Searle, ASU’s executive vice president and university provost.

    Wilczek’s Nobel Prize-winning work focused on the strong force, one of the four fundamental forces in nature, together with gravity, electromagnetism and the weak force.

    “At the early part of the 20th century, when people looked at the interior of atoms, they found that the classic forces — gravity and electromagnetism — were inadequate,” Wilczek said. “Two new forces were required — the strong and the weak force. … There was a long period of exploration. It’s not easy to access the new forces, because nuclei are so small. [In the Nobel Prize-winning work] we put together some key experimental observations, together with the principles of quantum mechanics and relativity, to propose a complete, precise set of equations for the strong force: the theory known as quantum chromodynamics, or QCD. We made many predictions based on this work, which proved to be correct.”

    Wilczek and his colleagues discovered, theoretically, new subatomic particles called color gluons, which, he said, “hold atomic nuclei together.” Color gluons were subsequently observed experimentally.

    His current research strikes a balance between theoretical ideas and observable phenomena, like applying particle physics to cosmology and the application of field theory techniques to condensed matter physics. He described it as “more nitty-gritty experimental realities.”

    “If anything, in recent years my work has gotten more down to earth,” Wilczek said. “As time has gone on, my interests have expanded. I haven’t lost my interest in fundamental cosmology. … What I hope to accomplish is to continue the same sort of thing I’ve always done, which is look for new opportunities.

    “I’m a theorist, not an experimentalist, so it doesn’t take me long to change from one subject to another. … I’m going to be looking into applications that are driven by our increasing control of the quantum world. I’ve also been exploring classical applications, like the physical basis of perception.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    ASU is the largest public university by enrollment in the United States.[11] Founded in 1885 as the Territorial Normal School at Tempe, the school underwent a series of changes in name and curriculum. In 1945 it was placed under control of the Arizona Board of Regents and was renamed Arizona State College.[12][13][14] A 1958 statewide ballot measure gave the university its present name.
    ASU is classified as a research university with very high research activity (RU/VH) by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, one of 78 U.S. public universities with that designation. Since 2005 ASU has been ranked among the Top 50 research universities, public and private, in the U.S. based on research output, innovation, development, research expenditures, number of awarded patents and awarded research grant proposals. The Center for Measuring University Performance currently ranks ASU 31st among top U.S. public research universities.[15]

    ASU awards bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in 16 colleges and schools on five locations: the original Tempe campus, the West campus in northwest Phoenix, the Polytechnic campus in eastern Mesa, the Downtown Phoenix campus and the Colleges at Lake Havasu City. ASU’s “Online campus” offers 41 undergraduate degrees, 37 graduate degrees and 14 graduate or undergraduate certificates, earning ASU a Top 10 rating for Best Online Programs.[16] ASU also offers international academic program partnerships in Mexico, Europe and China. ASU is accredited as a single institution by The Higher Learning Commission.

    ASU Tempe Campus
    ASU Tempe Campus

     
  • richardmitnick 8:21 am on February 23, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ASU, , High pressure technology, Origin of Earth's Water   

    From ASU: “ASU receives $1.5M Keck Foundation award to study the origin of Earth’s water” 

    ASU Bloc

    Arizona State University

    February 16, 2016
    Karin Valentine
    480-965-9345
    Karin.Valentine@asu.edu

    Arizona State University has received a $1.5 million award from the W.M. Keck Foundation’s Science and Engineering Research Grant Program to study the origin of Earth’s water and hydrogen.

    The project, entitled “Water from the Heavens: The Origins of Earth’s Hydrogen,” will be headed by Principal Investigator and Regents’ Professor Peter Buseck, of the School of Earth and Space Exploration and the School of Molecular Sciences.

    “True to the Sun Devil spirit, Professor Buseck’s team proposal was ambitious in scope, innovative in approach, and ripe with transformative potential. We are delighted to see the Keck Foundation’s decided endorsement of this attempt to tackle one of the most intriguing controversies in planetary genesis,” says CLAS Natural Science Dean Ferran Garcia-Pichel.

    Buseck and his team will seek to answer the fundamental question of where the water on Earth originally came from. The path to understanding this leads to experiments that measure how hydrogen behaved among the metallic elements in the core and mantle of the early Earth.

    “The origin of Earth’s water and hydrogen is a long-debated, yet unsolved mystery,” says Buseck.

    While current models dismiss the theory that a significant source of hydrogen is from the early Earth’s gas cloud, the team’s theory, referred to as the “ingassing hypothesis” would require that substantial amounts of hydrogen be removed from the mantle and stored in the core. This has not been an easy theory to test, however, because of the complexity of simulating the extreme pressure and temperature deep within Earth.

    To overcome these challenges, Buseck and his team have developed breakthrough high-pressure techniques using transmission electron microscopes and diamond-anvil cells, both located on the ASU Tempe campus.

    Diamond Anvil cell
    Greatly enlarged pair of diamonds used to squeeze a spherical carbon container (shown schematically with a chicken-wire appearance) that will provide high pressures to the enclosed iron metal (show in red). Photo Credit: S.-H. Shim and Jun Wu.

    If successful, the method would significantly advance high-pressure technology.

    “Support for the hypothesis would be a cosmochemical game-changer, potentially shifting the framework of our understanding of the origin of water, noble gases, and other volatiles on Earth and rocky exoplanets,” says Buseck. “This could have significant consequences for our understanding of planetary habitability.”

    The Experiment team is led by Buseck and Assistant Research Professor Jun Wu, with Associate Professor Sang-Heon Shim and Associate Research Professional Kurt Leinenweber.

    The Analysis team is led by Assistant Research Scientist Stephen Romaniello and President’s Professor Ariel Anbar, along with Regents’ Professor and Center for Stable Isotopes Director Zachary Sharp at the University of New Mexico.

    The Theory team is led by Professor Steven Desch and Foundation Professor Linda Elkins-Tanton.

    ASU is one of only six universities this year to receive a Keck Foundation award in the Science and Engineering Research Grant category.

    The W. M. Keck Foundation was established in 1954 by William Myron Keck, founder of The Superior Oil Company. Mr. Keck envisioned a philanthropic institution that would provide far-reaching benefits for humanity, supporting pioneering discoveries in science, engineering and medical research.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    ASU is the largest public university by enrollment in the United States.[11] Founded in 1885 as the Territorial Normal School at Tempe, the school underwent a series of changes in name and curriculum. In 1945 it was placed under control of the Arizona Board of Regents and was renamed Arizona State College.[12][13][14] A 1958 statewide ballot measure gave the university its present name.
    ASU is classified as a research university with very high research activity (RU/VH) by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, one of 78 U.S. public universities with that designation. Since 2005 ASU has been ranked among the Top 50 research universities, public and private, in the U.S. based on research output, innovation, development, research expenditures, number of awarded patents and awarded research grant proposals. The Center for Measuring University Performance currently ranks ASU 31st among top U.S. public research universities.[15]

    ASU awards bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in 16 colleges and schools on five locations: the original Tempe campus, the West campus in northwest Phoenix, the Polytechnic campus in eastern Mesa, the Downtown Phoenix campus and the Colleges at Lake Havasu City. ASU’s “Online campus” offers 41 undergraduate degrees, 37 graduate degrees and 14 graduate or undergraduate certificates, earning ASU a Top 10 rating for Best Online Programs.[16] ASU also offers international academic program partnerships in Mexico, Europe and China. ASU is accredited as a single institution by The Higher Learning Commission.

    ASU Tempe Campus
    ASU Tempe Campus

     
  • richardmitnick 9:03 am on December 17, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ASU, ,   

    From Sandia: “Sandia, ASU collaborate on algae computational modeling, look for algae pond predators” 


    Sandia Lab

    December 17, 2015
    Michael Padilla
    mjpadil@sandia.gov
    (925) 294-2447

    1
    Sandia National Laboratories researcher Jerilyn Timlin serves as a principal investigator for the Algal Predator and Pathogen Signature Verification project. (Photo by Randy Montoya)

    Work part of a broader framework for funding energy-related science, technology

    Sandia National Laboratories and Arizona State University (ASU) have teamed up to further improve computational models of algae growth in raceway ponds that can predict performance, improve pond design and operation and discover ways to improve algae yield outdoors.

    Such ponds consist of an oval-shaped closed-loop channel — or raceway — in which the cultivation mixture of water and algae is propelled to flow around the raceway and undergo mixing by a paddlewheel powered by an electric motor.

    In addition, Sandia and ASU will further develop spectroradiometric techniques to optically monitor the growth and health of algae pond cultivation in real-time and detect early warnings of predators and pathogens in outdoor algal ponds.

    The work is part of a newly signed Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) between ASU and Sandia to collaborate on algae-based biofuels, solar fuels, concentrating solar technologies, photovoltaics, electric grid modernization and the energy-water nexus. The umbrella CRADA also covers international applications of the technologies and science and engineering education. The topics were first identified in a 2013 memo of understanding between Sandia and ASU focusing on collaborations to support science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, fields.

    This is the first CRADA Sandia has executed with a university in nearly 15 years and is currently the only active umbrella CRADA with an institution of higher education. The algae cultivation modeling and monitoring projects are the first two efforts funded under this umbrella CRADA.

    Sandia researcher Ron Pate said Sandia brings distinctive capabilities for physics-based modeling of algae cultivation systems performance and for remote spectroradiometric monitoring and diagnostics of algae growth and state of health, while ASU has a variety of algae species under cultivation in outdoor ponds in a range of scales in which to take measurements.

    “Sandia is excited about the collaboration with ASU,” Pate said. “This agreement allows Sandia to continue modeling and monitoring work that we have been pursuing with ASU since 2013 under the original ATP3 (Algae Testbed Public-Private Partnership) project.” Pate serves as deputy director for ATP3, overseeing Sandia technical tasks under the project.

    The ATP3 project was established to support the algae research and development community and industry to advance the field and help accelerate progress toward more rapid and successful commercialization of algae-based technologies for fuels and products. ATP3 is funded by the DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Bioenergy Technologies Office. ATP3 partners include Sandia, ASU, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta and the algae companies San Diego-based Cellana Inc. with algae cultivation facilities in Kona, Hawaii, Commercial Algae Management in Franklin, North Carolina and Florida Algae in Vero Beach, Florida.

    Two projects exercise new Sandia, ASU CRADA

    The first project under the agreement, Algal Cultivation Growth Dynamic Modeling and Analysis, focuses on the further development of a Sandia algae growth model based on the effect of light, temperature, nutrients, pH and salinity integrated into an open raceway pond hydrodynamic computational fluid dynamics model. The algae growth model has been partially validated utilizing multiple data sets from partners involved in ATP3. Under the CRADA, the modeling will be further refined through improvement of the paddlewheel driven pond circulation flow and mixing portion of the model based on the application of hydrodynamic measurement data taken from experimental testing with progressively larger scale outdoor ponds operated by ATP3 partners.

    The 12-month project, led by principal investigators Patricia Gharagozloo from Sandia and John McGowen from ASU, will be conducted in two phases. The first phase will study the flow dynamics of turbulence models and control parameters in open raceway ponds, which are currently the most promising outdoor cultivation system approach for cost-effectively growing algae at the large scales required for producing fuels. In this phase, ASU will measure the spatial variations in velocity of the flow of algae-water mix in the ponds at various paddlewheel speeds.

    The second phase will calibrate the model and verify the appropriate turbulence physics to be accounted for at certain scales of ponds for one paddlewheel speed. After the two phases, a study will be conducted to compare the data with model results at additional paddlewheel speeds.

    The second 12-month project, Algal Predator and Pathogen Signature Verification, looks at exploring and exploiting the various detailed optical signatures that arise when the algae cultivation pond surface is monitored using Sandia’s optical spectroradiometric techniques. These techniques can differentiate algae growth and state of health and provide an early warning of the active presence of predators and pathogens in outdoor algal ponds. Sandia researcher Jerilyn Timlin and McGowen are the principal investigators for this project. Sandia researcher Tom Reichardt, who pioneered the original technology as part of a bioscience Laboratory Directed Research & Development project, also serves as technical contributor to the project.

    During the first phase of this project, controlled experiments will be conducted in the laboratory with a host-pathogen-predator pair that the team has seen cause problems in the field in order to understand the parameters that control culture collapse and identify spectral markers that indicate the presence of the pathogen or predator. The second phase will consist of experiments in the field to determine how well the identified spectral markers predict the presence of the pathogen or predator in the challenges of an outdoor environment.

    “The continuation of the technical work related to algae biofuels, which began under the ATP3 project, is a great opportunity to exercise this new Sandia-ASU CRADA,” Pate said. “However, collaborative work on the other STEM topic areas could also be pursued in the future as funding becomes available and the mutual interest exists at ASU and Sandia.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    Stem Education Coalition

    Sandia Campus
    Sandia National Laboratory

    Sandia National Laboratories is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corporation, for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major R&D responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies, and economic competitiveness.
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    i2
    i3

     
  • richardmitnick 11:20 pm on November 24, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ASU,   

    From ASU: “Volcanic rocks hold clues to Earth’s interior” 

    ASU Bloc

    Arizona State University

    November 24th, 2015
    Nikki Cassis

    1

    Earth’s deep interior transport system explains volcanic island lava complexities.

    The journey for volcanic rocks found on many volcanic islands began deep within the Earth. Brought to the Earth’s surface in eruptions of deep volcanic material, these rocks hold clues as to what is going on deep beneath Earth’s surface.

    Studies of rocks found on certain volcanic islands, known as ocean island basalts, revealed that although these erupted rocks originate from Earth’s interior, they are not the same chemically.

    According to a group of current and former researchers at Arizona State University, the key to unlocking this complex, geochemical puzzle rests in a model of mantle dynamics consisting of plumes – upwelling’s of abnormally hot rock within the Earth’s mantle – that originate in the lower mantle and physically interact with chemically distinct piles of material.

    The team revealed that this theoretical model of material transport can easily produce the chemical variability observed at hotspot volcanoes (such as Hawaii) around the world.

    “This model provides a platform for understanding links between the physics and chemistry that formed our modern world as well as habitable planets elsewhere,” says Curtis Williams, lead author of the study whose results are published in the Nov. 24 issue of the journal Nature Communications.

    Basalts collected from ocean islands such as Hawaii and those collected from mid-ocean ridges (that erupt at spreading centers deep below oceans) may look similar to the naked eye; however, in detail their trace elements and isotopic compositions can be quite distinct. These differences provide valuable insight into the chemical structure and temporal evolution of Earth’s interior.

    “In particular, it means that the Earth’s mantle – the hot rock below Earth’s crust but above the planet’s iron core – is compositionally heterogeneous. Understanding when and where these heterogeneities are formed and how they are transported through the mantle directly relates to the initial composition of the Earth and how it has evolved to its current, habitable state,” said Williams, a postdoc at UC Davis.

    While a graduate student in ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration, Williams and faculty members Allen McNamara and Ed Garnero conceived a study to further understand how chemical complexities that exist deep inside the Earth are transported to the surface and erupt as intraplate volcanism (such as that which formed the Hawaiian islands). Along with fellow graduate student Mingming Li and Professional Research Associate Matthijs van Soest, the researchers depict a model Earth, where in its interior resides distinct reservoirs of mantle material that may have formed during the earliest stages of Earth’s evolution.

    Employing such reservoirs into their models is supported by geophysical observations of two, continent-sized regions – one below the Pacific Ocean and one below parts of the Atlantic Ocean and Africa – sitting atop the core-mantle boundary.

    “In the last several years, we have witnessed a sharpening of the focus knob on seismic imaging of Earth’s deep interior. We have learned that the two large anomalous structures at the base of the mantle behave as if they are compositionally distinct. That is, we are talking about different stuff compared to the surrounding mantle. These represent the largest internal anomalies in Earth of unknown chemistry and origin,” said Garnero.

    These chemically distinct regions also underlie a majority of hotspot volcanism, via hot mantle plumes from the top of the piles to Earth’s surface, suggesting a potential link between these ancient, chemically distinct regions and the chemistry of hotspot volcanism.

    To test the validity of their model, Williams and coauthors compare their predictions of the variability of the ratios of helium isotopes (helium-3 and helium-4) in plumes to that observed in ocean island basalts.

    3He is a so-called primordial isotope found in the Earth’s mantle. It was created before the Earth was formed and is thought to have become entrapped within the Earth during planetary formation. Today, it is not being added to Earth’s inventory at a significant rate, unlike 4He, which accumulates over time.

    Williams explained: “The ratio of helium-3 to helium-4 in mid-ocean ridge basalts are globally characterized by a narrow range of small values and are thought to sample a relatively homogenous upper mantle. On the other hand, ocean island basalts display a much wider range, from small to very large, providing evidence that they are derived from different source regions and are thought to sample the lower mantle either partially or in its entirety.”

    The variability of 3He to 4He in ocean island basalts is not only observed between different hotspots, but temporally within the different-aged lavas of a single hotspot track.

    “The reservoirs and dynamics associated with this variability had remained unclear and was the primary motivation behind the study presented here,” said Williams.

    Williams continues to combine noble gas measurements with dynamic models of Earth evolution working with Sujoy Mukhopadhyay (Professor and Director of the Noble Gas Laboratory) at the University of California at Davis.

    The School of Earth and Space Exploration is a unit of ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

    News Link:
    https://asunow.asu.edu/20151124-lava-rocks-offer-clues-whats-happening-far-below

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    ASU is the largest public university by enrollment in the United States.[11] Founded in 1885 as the Territorial Normal School at Tempe, the school underwent a series of changes in name and curriculum. In 1945 it was placed under control of the Arizona Board of Regents and was renamed Arizona State College.[12][13][14] A 1958 statewide ballot measure gave the university its present name.
    ASU is classified as a research university with very high research activity (RU/VH) by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, one of 78 U.S. public universities with that designation. Since 2005 ASU has been ranked among the Top 50 research universities, public and private, in the U.S. based on research output, innovation, development, research expenditures, number of awarded patents and awarded research grant proposals. The Center for Measuring University Performance currently ranks ASU 31st among top U.S. public research universities.[15]

    ASU awards bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in 16 colleges and schools on five locations: the original Tempe campus, the West campus in northwest Phoenix, the Polytechnic campus in eastern Mesa, the Downtown Phoenix campus and the Colleges at Lake Havasu City. ASU’s “Online campus” offers 41 undergraduate degrees, 37 graduate degrees and 14 graduate or undergraduate certificates, earning ASU a Top 10 rating for Best Online Programs.[16] ASU also offers international academic program partnerships in Mexico, Europe and China. ASU is accredited as a single institution by The Higher Learning Commission.

    ASU Tempe Campus
    ASU Tempe Campus

     
  • richardmitnick 1:31 pm on November 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ASU, , ,   

    From ASU: “Forged in the hearts of stars” 

    ASU Bloc

    Arizona State University

    November 16th, 2015
    Nikki Cassis

    ASU and UNC researchers to study thermonuclear reaction rates to determine how much of certain elements exploding stars can produce

    We are all made from stars. And that’s not just a beautiful metaphor.

    Apart from hydrogen, as many have heard from the Carl Sagan and Neil DeGrasse Tyson Cosmos series, every ingredient in the human body is made from elements forged by stars.

    The calcium in our bones, the oxygen we breathe, the iron in our blood – all those are forged in the element factories of stars. Even the carbon in our apple pie.

    Stars are giant element furnaces. Their intense heat can cause atoms to collide, creating new elements – a process known as nuclear fusion. That process is what created chemical elements like carbon or iron – the building blocks that make up life as we know it.

    It sounds pretty simple, but it is a very intricate process. And there are still many uncertainties.

    Professors Sumner Starrfield and Frank Timmes, both from Arizona State University, and Professor Christian Iliadis, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, hope to resolve some of those uncertainties.

    “Broad brush we have a good idea that massive stars become one kind of supernova and binary stars with white dwarfs become another type of supernova. We know a lot about what may have caused the explosions but there are many unexplained parts that need to be worked out,” said Starrfield, Regents’ Professor in ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration.

    The team was awarded a NASA grant of nearly $700,000 to better understand how supernovae evolve to an explosion. The study is aimed at determining how much of certain elements a star can produce.

    Inside these element factories, how much carbon for our apple pies gets made, how much calcium is available to make our bones, depends on their nuclear reaction rates.

    For example, as shown in the recent movie The Martian, if you were trying to make water, you would take hydrogen and oxygen and some energy and put it together in a container and it would make water at a certain rate depending on the temperature of the container. Add more heat, and the reaction speeds up, producing more water.

    A similar thing happens inside stars – except it’s nuclear reactions releasing a factor of one million times more energy than a chemical reaction. Stars run on nuclear reactions. Smash together a carbon nucleus and a helium nucleus inside the furnace of a star, and out pops the oxygen we breathe. Speed up that reaction, and the star yields more oxygen.

    Researchers use computers and solve equations to predict how a star evolves. Part of that input into how stars evolve are nuclear reaction rates. One set rate has been used to arrive at an estimate of how much of a certain element a star can produce. But is that number optimal? Is it some super optimistically high value, or it pessimistically low?

    “What we will define is a meaningful range, given the uncertainties of what is measured here on Earth, of what actually comes out. At the end of the day, what we are going to know is the variation – how much variation is there in a star’s output. How much calcium or carbon comes out of the star?” said Timmes, an astrophysicist in ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration.

    Investigating the range of elements that a star can produce is based on what is measured in the terrestrial laboratory. This is where nuclear physicist Iliadis, who recently published a textbook on the nuclear physics of stars, fits in; he’s the experimentalist providing the data on the nuclear fusion reaction rates and their uncertainties.

    “It is not quite “The power of the Sun, in the palm of my hands”, as muttered by Dr. Octavius in Spiderman 2; nevertheless we do measure with our accelerator facilities the very same nuclear fusion reactions that occur in stars,” said Iliadis.

    But uncertainties are inherent in lab measurements. What you want to do is connect what you do in the lab with what you see in the night sky. And that’s Starrfield’s contribution – he’s an expert in dead and dying suns. He will use the reaction rates from Iliadis in new calculations of how different types of stars can become supernovae.

    This proposal ties in a tight loop experiments done here on earth with observations in the night sky. For over two decades Timmes has been doing modeling of stars; the models he creates will serve as the glue between what is measured on earth by Iliadis and what is seen in the dark night sky by Starrfield.

    The team is going to be checking roughly 50 of the most important nuclear reaction rates for producing elements that form the building blocks of life as we know it. And just as important, some of these reaction rates are useful in nuclear fusion experiments to produce clean power on Earth.

    As a star ages, hydrogen and then helium nuclei fuse to form heavier elements. These reactions continue in stars today as lighter elements are transformed into heavier ones.

    Late in life, most stars will explode, ejecting the elements they forged into interstellar space. If a star is heavy enough, or has a close companion, it will explode in a supernova that creates many heavy elements including iron and nickel. The explosion also disperses the different elements across the galaxy, scattering the stellar material that will eventually make up planets, including Earth.

    Starrfield will compare their calculations with observations of exploding stars and determine the amounts of chemical elements blown into space. “We are the results,” said Starrfield.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    ASU is the largest public university by enrollment in the United States.[11] Founded in 1885 as the Territorial Normal School at Tempe, the school underwent a series of changes in name and curriculum. In 1945 it was placed under control of the Arizona Board of Regents and was renamed Arizona State College.[12][13][14] A 1958 statewide ballot measure gave the university its present name.
    ASU is classified as a research university with very high research activity (RU/VH) by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, one of 78 U.S. public universities with that designation. Since 2005 ASU has been ranked among the Top 50 research universities, public and private, in the U.S. based on research output, innovation, development, research expenditures, number of awarded patents and awarded research grant proposals. The Center for Measuring University Performance currently ranks ASU 31st among top U.S. public research universities.[15]

    ASU awards bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in 16 colleges and schools on five locations: the original Tempe campus, the West campus in northwest Phoenix, the Polytechnic campus in eastern Mesa, the Downtown Phoenix campus and the Colleges at Lake Havasu City. ASU’s “Online campus” offers 41 undergraduate degrees, 37 graduate degrees and 14 graduate or undergraduate certificates, earning ASU a Top 10 rating for Best Online Programs.[16] ASU also offers international academic program partnerships in Mexico, Europe and China. ASU is accredited as a single institution by The Higher Learning Commission.

    ASU Tempe Campus
    ASU Tempe Campus

     
  • richardmitnick 9:07 am on September 3, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ASU, ,   

    From ASU: “ASU instruments on Mars orbiters help scientists probe ancient Mars atmosphere” 

    ASU Bloc

    ASU

    September 2nd, 2015

    Robert Burnham, robert.burnham@asu.edu
    (480) 458-8207
    Mars Space Flight Facility

    1
    Researchers estimating the amount of carbon held in the ground at the largest known carbonate-containing deposit on Mars utilized data from three different NASA Mars orbiters. Each image in this pair covers the same area about 36 miles (58 kilometers) wide in the Nili Fossae plains region of Mars’ northern hemisphere. The tally of carbon content in the rocks of this region is a key piece in solving a puzzle of how the Martian atmosphere has changed over time. Carbon dioxide from the atmosphere on early Mars reacted with surface rocks to form carbonate, thinning the atmosphere.
    The image on the left presents data from the Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) instrument on NASA’s Mars Odyssey orbiter. The color coding indicates thermal inertia — the property of how quickly a surface material heats up or cools off. Sand, for example (blue hues), cools off quicker after sundown than bedrock (red hues) does. The color coding in the image on the right presents data from the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) instrument on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. From the brightness at many different wavelengths, CRISM data can indicate what minerals are present on the surface. In the color coding used here, green hues are consistent with carbonate-bearing materials, while brown or yellow hues are olivine-bearing sands and locations with purple hues are basaltic in composition. The gray scale base map is a mosaic of daytime THEMIS infrared images. Annotations point to areas with different surface compositions. The scale bar indicates 20 kilometers (12.4 miles).
    In addition to data from THEMIS and CRISM, researchers estimating the amount of carbon in rocks of the Nili Fossae plains used data from the Thermal Emission Spectrometer instrument on NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor orbiter, which operated from 1997 to 2006, and from two telescopic cameras on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter: the Context Camera and the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment.
    Arizona State University, Tempe, provided and operates THEMIS. The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Maryland, provided and operates CRISM. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Mars Odyssey projects for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built the orbiters and collaborates with JPL to operate them. Date 2 September 2015

    2
    This view combines information from two instruments on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to map color-coded composition over the shape of the ground in a small portion of the Nili Fossae plains region of Mars’ northern hemisphere. This site is part of the largest known carbonate-rich deposit on Mars. In the color coding used for this map, green indicates a carbonate-rich composition, brown indicates olivine-rich sands, and purple indicates basaltic composition. Carbon dioxide from the atmosphere on early Mars reacted with surface rocks to form carbonate, thinning the atmosphere by sequestering the carbon in the rocks. An analysis of the amount of carbon contained in Nili Fossae plains estimated the total at no more than twice the amount of carbon in the modern atmosphere of Mars, which is mostly carbon dioxide. That is much more than in all other known carbonate on Mars, but far short of enough to explain how Mars could have had a thick enough atmosphere to keep surface water from freezing during a period when rivers were cutting extensive valley networks on the Red Planet. Other possible explanations for the change from an era with rivers to dry modern Mars are being investigated. This image covers an area approximately 1.4 miles (2.3 kilometers) wide. A scale bar indicates 500 meters (1,640 feet). The full extent of the carbonate-containing deposit in the region is at least as large as Delaware and perhaps as large as Arizona. The color coding is from data acquired by the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM), in observation FRT0000C968 made on Sept. 19, 2008. The base map showing land shapes is from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera. It is one product from HiRISE observation ESP_010351_2020, made July 20, 2013. Other products from that observation are online at http://www.uahirise.org/ESP_032728_2020.The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has been using CRISM, HiRISE and four other instruments to investigate Mars since 2006. The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Maryland, led the work to build the CRISM instrument and operates CRISM in coordination with an international team of researchers from universities, government and the private sector. HiRISE is operated by the University of Arizona, Tucson, and was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colorado. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Project for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built the orbiter and collaborates with JPL to operate it.Date 2 September 2015

    Mars was not always the arid Red Planet that we know today. Billions of years ago it was a world with watery environments — but how and why did it change?

    A new analysis of the largest known deposit of carbonate minerals on Mars helps limit the range of possible answers to that question.

    The Martian atmosphere currently is cold and thin — about 1 percent of Earth’s — and almost entirely carbon dioxide. Yet abundant evidence in the form of meandering valley networks suggests that long ago it had flowing rivers that would require both a warmer and denser atmosphere than today. Where did that atmosphere go?

    Carbon dioxide gas can be pulled out of the Martian air and buried in the ground by chemical reactions that form carbonate minerals. Once, many scientists expected to find large deposits of carbonates holding much of Mars’ original atmosphere. Instead, instruments on space missions over the past 20 years have detected only small amounts of carbonates spread widely plus a few localized deposits.

    The instruments searching for Martian carbonate minerals include the mineral-detecting Thermal Emission Spectrometer (TES) on NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor orbiter and the Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) on NASA’s Mars Odyssey orbiter. THEMIS’ strength lies in measuring and mapping the physical properties of the Martian surface.

    NASA Mars Global Surveyor
    NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor orbiter

    ASU TES on NASA Mars Global Surveyor
    TES

    NASA Mars Odessy Orbiter
    NASA’s Mars Odyssey orbiter

    ASU THEMIS on NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter
    Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS)

    Both instruments were designed by Philip Christensen, Regents’ Professor of geological sciences in ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration. TES fell silent when NASA lost contact with Mars Global Surveyor in 2006, but THEMIS remains in operation today.

    “We designed these instruments to investigate Martian geologic history, including its atmosphere,” Christensen said. “It’s rewarding to see data from all these instruments on many spacecraft coming together to produce these results.”

    Other instruments involved in the search include the mineral-mapping Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars and two telescopic cameras on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

    NASA Mars Reconnaisence Orbiter
    NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

    ASU Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer
    Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars

    Big, but not big enough

    By far the largest known carbonate-rich deposit on Mars covers an area at least the size of Delaware, and maybe as large as Arizona, in a location called Nili Fossae. But its quantity of carbonate minerals comes up short for what’s needed to produce a thick atmosphere, according to a new paper just published online in the journal Geology.

    The paper’s lead author is Christopher Edwards, a former graduate student of Christensen’s. He is now with the U.S. Geological Survey in Flagstaff, Arizona. Both TES and THEMIS contributed to the work, he said.

    “The Thermal Emission Spectrometer told us how much Nili has of several kinds of minerals, especially carbonates,” Edwards noted.

    And, he added, “THEMIS played an essential complementary role by showing the physical nature of the rock units at Nili. Were they impact-shattered small rocks and soil? Were they fractured and cemented rocks? Or dunes? THEMIS data let us differentiate these units by composition.”

    Bethany Ehlmann of the California Institute of Technology and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is Edwards’ co-author. She said Nili doesn’t measure up to what’s needed. “The biggest carbonate deposit on Mars has, at most, twice as much carbon within it as the current Mars atmosphere.

    “Even if you combined all known carbon reservoirs together,” she explained, “it is still nowhere near enough to sequester the thick atmosphere that has been proposed for the time when there were rivers flowing on the Martian surface.”

    Edwards and Ehlmann estimate that Nili’s carbonate inventory, in fact, falls too short by at least a factor of 35 times. Given the level of detail in orbital surveys, the team thinks it highly unlikely that other large deposits have been overlooked.

    Atmosphere going, going, gone

    So where did the thick ancient atmosphere go?

    Scientists are looking at two possible explanations. One is that Mars had a much denser atmosphere during its flowing-rivers period, and then lost most of it to outer space from the top of the atmosphere, rather than into minerals and rocks. NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover mission has found evidence for ancient top-of-atmosphere loss, but uncertainty remains just how long ago this happened. NASA’s MAVEN orbiter, examining rates of change in the outer atmosphere of Mars since late 2014, may help reduce the uncertainty.

    NASA Mars Curiosity Rover
    NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover

    NASA Mars MAVEN
    NASA’s Mars MAVEN orbiter

    An alternative explanation, favored by Edwards and Ehlmann, is that the original Martian atmosphere had already lost most of its carbon dioxide by the era of rivers and valleys.

    “Maybe the atmosphere wasn’t so thick by the time the valley networks formed,” Edwards suggested. “Instead of Mars that was wet and warm, maybe it was cold and wet with an atmosphere that had already thinned.”

    How warm would it need to have been for the valleys to form? It wouldn’t take much, Edwards said.

    “In most locations, you could have had snow and ice instead of rain. You just have to nudge above the freezing point to get water to thaw and flow occasionally, and that doesn’t require very much atmosphere.”

    The School of Earth and Space Exploration is a unit of ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    ASU is the largest public university by enrollment in the United States.[11] Founded in 1885 as the Territorial Normal School at Tempe, the school underwent a series of changes in name and curriculum. In 1945 it was placed under control of the Arizona Board of Regents and was renamed Arizona State College.[12][13][14] A 1958 statewide ballot measure gave the university its present name.
    ASU is classified as a research university with very high research activity (RU/VH) by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, one of 78 U.S. public universities with that designation. Since 2005 ASU has been ranked among the Top 50 research universities, public and private, in the U.S. based on research output, innovation, development, research expenditures, number of awarded patents and awarded research grant proposals. The Center for Measuring University Performance currently ranks ASU 31st among top U.S. public research universities.[15]

    ASU awards bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in 16 colleges and schools on five locations: the original Tempe campus, the West campus in northwest Phoenix, the Polytechnic campus in eastern Mesa, the Downtown Phoenix campus and the Colleges at Lake Havasu City. ASU’s “Online campus” offers 41 undergraduate degrees, 37 graduate degrees and 14 graduate or undergraduate certificates, earning ASU a Top 10 rating for Best Online Programs.[16] ASU also offers international academic program partnerships in Mexico, Europe and China. ASU is accredited as a single institution by The Higher Learning Commission.

    ASU Tempe Campus
    ASU Tempe Campus

     
  • richardmitnick 7:43 pm on August 27, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ASU, , Building a CubeSat   

    From ASU: “How a university went into space: ASU’s story” 

    ASU Bloc

    ASU

    August 27th, 2015
    Scott Seckel

    1
    A Mars rover replica at ASU. The university has played roles in 25 missions to eight planets, three asteroids, two moons and the sun.
    Photo by: ASU

    Only 30 institutions in the United States can build spacecraft. Only seven build interplanetary spacecraft that leave Earth’s orbit.

    Arizona State University is one of them.

    ASU’s space program is in elite company. And this week’s CubeSat mission announcement adds to the university’s stellar resume: It will be the first time ASU will lead an interplanetary science expedition.

    It’s not the university’s first outing by a long shot, however.

    ASU has played roles in 25 missions to eight planets, three asteroids, two moons and the sun.

    The School of Earth and Space Exploration was created in 2006. As an institution however, ASU’s space program started much longer ago. This is the story of how a traditional geology program merged with the astronomy side of the physics department and grew into a powerhouse that builds spacecraft.

    Rocks and fighter jocks

    ASU’s space exploration origins lie in the quest to send men to the moon in the 1960s. Ron Greeley, one of the founders of planetary geology, was working at NASA, helping select landing sites for the Apollo missions and assisting in geologic training for astronauts.

    Back in the Apollo days, science was incidental to missions. Engineers – who just wanted to put boots on the moon – frequently clashed with scientists, who wanted to do at least a few things as long as we were going all that way.

    One famous story illustrating the rift centered on a geologist who suggested a rock hammer be included in an astronaut’s tool bag. “But we took one of those on the last mission!” an engineer exploded.

    Early astronauts tended to be fighter jocks who weren’t much interested in rocks either. Greeley succeeded in educating them to be more sophisticated than simply describing rocks as big or little, and how to differentiate between an interesting rock and a more prosaic sample.

    “He was trying to get them to think about the geology and the rocks and what to look for when they got to the moon,” said Phil Christensen, a Regents Professor of geological sciences in ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration. “If you listen to the transcripts of those astronauts, Ron and others who trained them did a fantastic job. There were a few (astronauts) who were classic test pilots, Navy guys on an adventure and, oh, I picked up a few rocks. Most of them did a good job.”

    In 1977, Greeley was hired at ASU and focused his research on data from early robotic NASA missions. He received a number of honors during his career, from an asteroid named for him (30785 Greeley) in 1988 to numerous NASA awards.

    From rocks to gadgets

    If Greeley was the father of ASU’s space program, Christensen is the founder of what the program has become.

    Back in 1981, Greeley hired Christensen as a young postdoc who was starting to get involved in space missions. Christensen won a big NASA grant to put an instrument on one of the Mars orbiters.

    He’s since become a Regents Professor (top tenured faculty who have made significant contributions to their field) and is the director of the Mars Space Flight Facility in SESE.

    Greeley was a brilliant field geologist and planetary scientist, but he wasn’t an instrument guy, Christensen said.

    “Ron was a pioneer in looking at the data that came back from these probes, looking at images of the moon and Mars and analyzing them, thinking about them,” he said. “He had no interest in building the instruments, building the cameras, building the spectrometers. … He was on the team, he had access to the data, he was a leader in the field, but he was mostly looking at data that existed and doing the usual science. That’s what ASU did. They didn’t build anything.”

    And when Christensen won a huge contract to build an instrument in the early 1980s, hardly anyone jumped for joy. In fact, the reaction was nervousness and wondering where to put them.

    Christensen asked an associate dean for office space.

    “He said, “Well, there’s a couple of filing cabinets you can have.’ They just didn’t get it. We had this 10, 20 million dollar contract. It was the biggest contract ASU had ever done. They had no idea how to do it. They had no idea how to deal with an aerospace company. So to go from someone offering me two file cabinets to (the current space program and state-of-the-art facilities) … there’s been a lot of changes at this university. It’s been really amazing to watch this grow.”Jim Bell is a professor in SESE, the deputy principal investigator of the LunaH-Map CubeSat mission, and director of the NewSpace Initiative at ASU.

    4
    LunaH-Map CubeSat

    The latter is a program that connects students and faculty doing space-related work with outside entities doing the same thing. They range “from SpaceX to a couple of teenagers in a garage,” Bell said. “Where do they need our help? Can you do a mission for 1 percent of the cost of a big NASA mission?” (They don’t know the answer to that yet.)

    Until now, ASU’s space program has revolved around making instruments that are snapped up by NASA. ASU faculty have been involved with all of NASA’s robotic missions.

    “NASA knows us scientifically, but also from an engineering standpoint,” said Bell, who has built several cameras currently on Mars or in space.

    And that is because of Christensen and Greeley.

    “Those two guys were part of the bedrock foundation of the NASA work here at ASU,” Bell said.

    How to woo NASA

    In the early 1980s, NASA picked the University of Arizona to run a Mars mission. That university asked Christensen if he could build an instrument for it.

    At the same time, defense contractor Raytheon shut down the Santa Barbara facility where Christensen had been working for ASU. Three or four of his colleagues became available. He thought if they came in, and ASU helped out, an instrument could be built at ASU. The instrument they wanted was very similar to one they had already built.

    “It was a perfect storm,” Christensen said. “We were one instrument that was part of a bigger project. It wasn’t a huge risk to NASA to pick the UofA to run this mission and one of the instruments will be built at ASU. It was very similar to what we’d built before. … It was fortuitous that everything came together just right.”

    They worked their tails off for five years.

    “This was a one-shot deal,” Christensen said. “Reputation works both ways. If we screw this up, they’re never going to talk to ASU again. Fifteen people on this project took that really seriously. Not just their careers; ASU had spent a lot of money on this building and these facilities. There was a lot riding on us succeeding. People took a lot of pride in this succeeding. And it did.”

    The campus where spacecraft are built

    ASU had no place to build instruments or spacecraft when Christensen landed at the university in the early 1980s.

    “Now we can build a NASA flight-quality instrument in this building,” he said. “Ten years ago we would have laughed: ‘We can’t do that. We don’t have the facilities, the people, the credibility.’ But we’ve done it. And now because of that, people are coming to me to build them instruments for Europa and other missions.

    NASA Europa
    NASA/Europa

    Jim Bell can say we can build and test cameras here. We have new faculty coming in. Ten years from now there will be several people building instruments in this building. ASU will eventually win a Discovery-class mission.”

    NASA’s Discovery missions are low-cost missions within the solar system with narrow focus. (Cost is relative in space. Discovery missions still cost what an average person would consider a vast sum, but they’re cheap compared with anything involving people being present.)

    “A NASA mission is 90 percent about the process,” Christensen said. “How do you do it? How do you make it work? All things you have to do, all the people working together, keeping them together, keeping them from killing each other – to me that’s half the fun. … Within NASA, like a lot of other places, it’s all about reputation. Can you do it? Once you can, that’s a huge step. Suddenly you’re building more, and people come because of that. It sort of mushrooms.”

    And the university’s physical investment in its space program has come a long way from two battered filing cabinets.

    The 300,000-square-foot Interdisciplinary Science & Technology Building IV (or ISTB4, in local parlance) opened in 2012. It boasts labs, clean rooms, offices, high bays, a 250-seat auditorium and one of two mission operations centers on campus.

    “My colleagues at any other institution come here and they’re jealous,” Christensen said. Last week a Jet Propulsion Lab delegation met with Christensen at the space building. They were jealous, too.

    “It takes money to make money,” Christensen said. “You build a facility like this, it pays for itself. NASA does not want you building stuff out of spit and baling wire. When they come here and see this, they say, ‘You guys are for real.’ ”

    Incidentally, 40 countries can build spacecraft, but only four can build interplanetary spacecraft. That puts ASU ahead of most countries in that aspect.

    The clean rooms in the ASU space building are about the size of a small high school gym.

    “That’s where we’ll build the (LunaH-Map) spacecraft,” Bell said.

    It has the usual desks, monitors and chairs. What isn’t usual are the two vacuum chambers, one the size of a packing crate and the other about the size of a Volkswagen bus. They’re used to simulate space conditions. The lab team can crank all the oxygen out of the chamber, drop the temperature down to absolute zero (minus 459.67 degrees Fahrenheit), and see how what they’ve built stands up to space conditions.

    “You turn it into outer space,” Bell said. “It’s pretty rare for a college campus (to be able to test instruments in that environment). Only a handful of campuses around the country have that capability. Typically you only find that in NASA centers and big aerospace companies.”

    Working together beating things up

    Space system engineer Jekan Thanga came to ASU two years ago, attracted by the school and the space program. He specializes in robots, artificial evolution, exploration of extreme environments, and CubeSats, the small spacecraft like the one ASU is sending to the moon. (He is the chief engineer on the project.)

    The institute’s collaborative nature drew Thanga here. It’s not a conventional aerospace environment. A scientist can walk down the hall, tell an engineer like Thanga he needs to get data from somewhere really nasty and inaccessible, and the engineer can figure out how to make a machine that will go there, survive and get the data home.

    “To the engineering world, it’s a radical departure,” Thanga said. “There is determination here.”

    Thanga and his team spend a lot of time in the clean rooms. They have put machines inside the vacuum chambers, thrown in a bunch of dust and rocks, and cranked them up to see how they fared. (If you were in put it, your eyeballs would pop, the blood in your veins would boil, and eventually you’d boil away. Outer space is a tough place.)

    It’s not uncommon to come in to the clean rooms at 7 a.m. on a Saturday morning and find grad students working on projects. About 15 to 20 people are working on all aspects of design and development at any given time.

    The cutting edge of space exploration

    It’s a far cry from the ’60s, when engineers fought scientists. Now they are in the same building, unseparated by distance or bureaucratic walls.

    “The cutting edge of space exploration is that it’s not good enough to just tell somebody to go build a camera and show up and use it later,” Bell said. “You really have to have your goals in mind while that instrument is on paper. You really have to dive in and become an optics expert. I’ve got to work with optics experts and electrical engineers and all that because I want to make a certain measurement to a certain level of accuracy in a certain environment.

    “The more I can partner with people who understand the engineering and the guts of the electronics, the better my experiments will be. Building those people into the department that is my home at the university is just incredibly efficient and wonderful.”

    Mars rocks

    Some 40 years after Greeley’s time, NASA comes to ASU’s door.

    “When you do things well – really, really well – people notice,” Christensen said. “It’s not just me. ‘Oh, ASU can build those instruments.’ And that flows over to Jim and Craig (Hardgrove, principal investigator on the lunar CubeSat mission) and Erik (Asphaug, working on how to perform a CAT scan on a comet) and Linda (Elkins-Tanton, school director). We’ve built ASU’s reputation.”

    The Mars Rover helped a lot too, he said.

    “Being world leaders in something as visible as exploring Mars got a lot of attention to ASU that leveraged a lot of things going on here now,” Christensen said. “A lot of science is fabulous but, I’m sorry, landing on Mars is not the same as discovering a new type of plastic for Coke bottles; OK, great. Landing on Mars gets you on the cover of magazines.”

    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    Stem Education Coalition

    ASU is the largest public university by enrollment in the United States.[11] Founded in 1885 as the Territorial Normal School at Tempe, the school underwent a series of changes in name and curriculum. In 1945 it was placed under control of the Arizona Board of Regents and was renamed Arizona State College.[12][13][14] A 1958 statewide ballot measure gave the university its present name.
    ASU is classified as a research university with very high research activity (RU/VH) by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, one of 78 U.S. public universities with that designation. Since 2005 ASU has been ranked among the Top 50 research universities, public and private, in the U.S. based on research output, innovation, development, research expenditures, number of awarded patents and awarded research grant proposals. The Center for Measuring University Performance currently ranks ASU 31st among top U.S. public research universities.[15]

    ASU awards bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in 16 colleges and schools on five locations: the original Tempe campus, the West campus in northwest Phoenix, the Polytechnic campus in eastern Mesa, the Downtown Phoenix campus and the Colleges at Lake Havasu City. ASU’s “Online campus” offers 41 undergraduate degrees, 37 graduate degrees and 14 graduate or undergraduate certificates, earning ASU a Top 10 rating for Best Online Programs.[16] ASU also offers international academic program partnerships in Mexico, Europe and China. ASU is accredited as a single institution by The Higher Learning Commission.

    ASU Tempe Campus
    ASU Tempe Campus

     
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