Heart Rate Gets Altered in Space But Returns to Normal on Earth

Upon return to Earth, space-flown heart cells show normal structure and morphology

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Heart Rate
Relatively little is known about the role of microgravity in influencing human Heart Rate at the cellular level. Pixabay

Heart Rate gets altered in space but return to normal within 10 days on Earth, say researchers who examined cell-level cardiac function and gene expression in human heart cells cultured aboard the International Space Station (ISS) for 5.5 weeks.

Exposure to microgravity altered the expression of thousands of genes, but largely normal patterns of gene expression reappeared within 10 days after returning to Earth, according to the study published in the journal Stem Cell Reports.

“We’re surprised about how quickly human heart muscle cells are able to adapt to the environment in which they are placed, including microgravity,” said senior study author Joseph C. Wu from Stanford University.

These studies may provide insight into cellular mechanisms that could benefit astronaut health during long-duration spaceflight, or potentially lay the foundation for new insights into improving heart health on Earth.

Past studies have shown that spaceflight induces physiological changes in cardiac function, including reduced heart rate, lowered arterial pressure, and increased cardiac output.

But to date, most cardiovascular microgravity physiology studies have been conducted either in non-human models or at tissue, organ, or systemic levels.

Relatively little is known about the role of microgravity in influencing human cardiac function at the cellular level.

Heart Rate
Heart Rate gets altered in space but return to normal within 10 days on Earth, say researchers who examined cell-level cardiac function and gene expression in human heart cells cultured aboard the International Space Station (ISS) for 5.5 weeks. Pixabay

To address this question, the research team studied human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (hiPSC-CMs). They generated hiPSC lines from three individuals by reprogramming blood cells, and then differentiated them into heart cells.

Beating heart cells were then sent to the ISS aboard a SpaceX spacecraft as part of a commercial resupply service mission.

Simultaneously, ground control heart cells were cultured on Earth for comparison purposes.

Upon return to Earth, space-flown heart cells showed normal structure and morphology. However, they did adapt by modifying their beating pattern and calcium recycling patterns.

In addition, the researchers performed RNA sequencing of heart cells harvested at 4.5 weeks aboard the ISS, and 10 days after returning to Earth.

These results showed that 2,635 genes were differentially expressed among flight, post-flight, and ground control samples.

Most notably, gene pathways related to mitochondrial function were expressed more in space-flown heart cells.

A comparison of the samples revealed that heart cells adopt a unique gene expression pattern during spaceflight, which reverts to one that is similar to groundside controls upon return to normal gravity, the study noted.

Heart Rate
Past studies have shown that spaceflight induces physiological changes in cardiac function, including reduced Heart Rate, lowered arterial pressure, and increased cardiac output. Pixabay

According to Wu, limitations of the study include its short duration and the use of 2D cell culture.

In future studies, the researchers plan to examine the effects of spaceflight and microgravity using more physiologically relevant hiPSC-derived 3D heart tissues with various cell types, including blood vessel cells.

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“We also plan to test different treatments on the human heart cells to determine if we can prevent some of the changes the heart cells undergo during spaceflight,” Wu said. (IANS)

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ESA Observes Strong Reduction in Ozone Concentrations Over Arctic

Satellite Indicates 'Mini-Hole' in Arctic Ozone Layer

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Ozone Hole arctic
European Space Agency (ESA) satellite say they have observed a strong reduction in ozone concentrations over the Arctic. (Representational Image). Pixabay

Scientists studying data from a European Space Agency (ESA) satellite say they have observed a strong reduction in ozone concentrations over the Arctic, creating what they are calling a “mini-hole” in the ozone layer.

The ozone layer is a natural, protective layer of gas in the stratosphere that shields life from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation, often associated with skin cancer and cataracts, as well as other environmental issues.

Ozone Hole arctic
This image made available by NASA shows a map of a hole in the ozone layer over Arctic region. VOA

The “ozone hole” most often referenced is over Antarctica, forming each year. But observations scientists made at the German Aerospace Center in the last week indicate ozone depletion over northern polar regions as well.

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The scientists refer to the Arctic depletion zone as a “mini-hole” because it has a maximum extension of less than a million square kilometers, which is tiny compared with the 20 million- to 25 million-square-kilometer hole that forms over the Antarctic.

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ESA released an animation using data from its satellite showing daily ozone levels over the Arctic from March 9 to April 1. Scientists say unusual atmospheric conditions, including freezing temperatures in the stratosphere, led ozone levels to drop in the region. (VOA)

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The Positive Effect of COVID-19 Lockdown on Earth

Earth's crust is shaking less as people stay home

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Earth
The COVID-19 lockdowns globally have not only made air breathable or rivers clean but have also resulted in the way our Earth moves. (Representational Image). Pixabay

The COVID-19 lockdowns globally have not only made air breathable or rivers clean but have also resulted in the way our Earth moves, as researchers now report a drop in seismic noise (the hum of vibrations in the planets crust) because transport networks, real estate and other human activities have been shut down.

According an article in the journal Nature, efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus mean that the planet itself is moving a little less, which could “allow detectors to spot smaller earthquakes and boost efforts to monitor volcanic activity and other seismic events”.

Vibrations caused by moving vehicles and industrial machinery produce background noise, which reduces seismologists’ ability to detect other signals occurring at the same frequency.

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“A noise reduction of this magnitude is usually only experienced briefly around Christmas,” said Thomas Lecocq, a seismologist with the Royal Observatory of Belgium in Brussels which has observed the drop in seismic noise.

Data from a seismometer at the observatory show that measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 in Brussels caused human-induced seismic noise to fall by about one-third. In Belgium, scientists report at least a 30 per cent reduction in that amount of ambient human noise since lockdown began there.

Earth
It has been found that the crust of the Earth is shaking less. (Representational Image). Pixabay

The current drop has boosted the sensitivity of the observatory’s equipment, improving its ability to detect waves in the same high frequency range as the noise, said the Nature article. However, not all seismic monitoring stations will see an effect as pronounced as the one observed in Brussels.

According to Emily Wolin, a geologist at the US Geological Survey in Albuquerque, New Mexico, many stations are purposefully located in remote areas to avoid human noise. “These should see a smaller decrease, or no change at all, in the level of high-frequency noise they record,” she was quoted as saying.

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The fall in noise could also benefit seismologists who use naturally occurring background vibrations, such as those from crashing ocean waves, to probe Earth’s crust. A fall in human-induced noise could boost the sensitivity of detectors to natural waves at similar frequencies “There’s a big chance indeed it could lead to better measurements,” said Lecocq.

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The reduction in seismic activity, like reduction in air pollution, also show that people are adhering to social distancing guidelines.

“From the seismological point of view, we can motivate people to say, ‘OK look, people. You feel like you’re alone at home, but we can tell you that everyone is home. Everyone is doing the same. Everyone is respecting the rules,'” Lecocq told CNN. (IANS)

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NASA Plans To Unveil New Mission For Studying The Causes of Solar Particle Storms

"We are so pleased to add a new mission to our fleet of spacecraft that help us better understand the Sun, as well as how our star influences the space environment between planets," said Nicky Fox, Director of NASA's Heliophysics Division

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NASA
NASA has awarded $62.6 million to design, build and launch SunRISE by no earlier than July 1, 2023. Pixabay

NASA is planning to launch a new mission to study how the Sun generates and releases giant space weather storms — known as solar particle storms — into planetary space.

The new mission, called the Sun Radio Interferometer Space Experiment (SunRISE), is an array of six CubeSats operating as one very large radio telescope, the US space agency said on Monday. NASA has awarded $62.6 million to design, build and launch SunRISE by no earlier than July 1, 2023.

Understanding how the Sun generates and releases giant space weather storms can ultimately help protect astronauts travelling to the Moon and Mars by providing better information on how the Sun’s radiation affects the space environment they must travel through.

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“We are so pleased to add a new mission to our fleet of spacecraft that help us better understand the Sun, as well as how our star influences the space environment between planets,” said Nicky Fox, Director of NASA’s Heliophysics Division.

“The more we know about how the Sun erupts with space weather events, the more we can mitigate their effects on spacecraft and astronauts.” The mission design relies on six solar-powered CubeSats — each about the size of a toaster oven — to simultaneously observe radio images of low-frequency emission from solar activity and share them via NASA’s Deep Space Network.

The constellation of CubeSats would fly within six miles (9.6 kms) of each other, above Earth’s atmosphere, which otherwise blocks the radio signals SunRISE will observe.

Solar System
NASA is planning to launch a new mission to study how the Sun generates and releases giant space weather storms — known as solar particle storms — into planetary space. Pixabay

Together, the six CubeSats will create 3D maps to pinpoint where giant particle bursts originate on the Sun and how they evolve as they expand outward into space. This, in turn, will help determine what initiates and accelerates these giant jets of radiation.

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The six individual spacecraft will also work together to map, for the first time, the pattern of magnetic field lines reaching from the Sun out into interplanetary space, NASA said. (IANS)