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NASA Plans To Install An Instrument To Monitor Plant Water Use

The instrument, called ECOSTRESS, or ECOsystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometre Experiment on Space Station

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L'Ralph needs to have many capabilities in a small, light body structure to keep the spacecraft efficient and the mission productive.Flickr
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NASA plans to install on the International Space Station (ISS) an instrument that will measure the temperature of plants from space, enabling researchers to determine plant water use and to study how drought conditions affect plant health.

The instrument, called ECOSTRESS, or ECOsystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometre Experiment on Space Station, will hitch a ride to the space station on a SpaceX cargo resupply mission scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on June 29, NASA said on Tuesday.

Plants draw in water from the soil, and as they are heated by the Sun, the water is released through pores on the plants’ leaves through a process called transpiration.

This cools the plant down, much as sweating does in humans. However, if there is not enough water available to the plants, they close their pores to conserve water, causing their temperatures to rise.

Plants use those same pores to take up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere for photosynthesis — the process they use to turn carbon dioxide and water into the sugar they use as food.

If they continue to experience insufficient water availability, or “water stress,” they eventually starve or overheat, and die.

The data from ECOSTRESS will show these changes in plants’ temperatures, providing insight into their health and water use while there is still time for water managers to correct agricultural water imbalances.

“When a plant is so stressed that it turns brown, its often too late for it to recover,” said Simon Hook, ECOSTRESS principal investigator at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

“But measuring the temperature of the plant lets you see that a plant is stressed before it reaches that point,” Hook said.

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These temperature measurements are also considered an early indicator of potential droughts.

When plants in a given area start showing signs of water stress through elevated temperature, an agricultural drought is likely underway.

Having these data in advance gives the agricultural community a chance to prepare and/or respond accordingly, NASA said.

Also read: Woman Sues NASA Over Keeping Moon Dust Gifted to Her by Neil Armstrong

“ECOSTRESS will allow us to monitor rapid changes in crop stress at the field level, enabling earlier and more accurate estimates of how yields will be impacted,” said Martha Anderson, an ECOSTRESS science team member with the US Department of Agriculture in Beltsville, Maryland. (IANS)

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Google Doodle Celebrates First Message of Humanity into Space

Astronomer and astrophysicist Frank Drake from Cornell University wrote the message with the help from American astronomer Carl Sagan, among others

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Google Doodle celebrates humanity's first message into space. (VOA)

In 1974, scientists sent humankind’s first, three-minute long interstellar radio message – the Arecibo Message – and 44 years later, Google on Friday celebrated the feat with a Doodle.

The Arecibo message is a 1974 interstellar radio message carrying basic information about humanity and Earth sent to globular star “cluster M13” 25,000 light years away, with a hope that extraterrestrial intelligence might receive and decipher it.

The message was sent from the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.

It had exactly 1,679 binary digits (210 bytes) which, if arranged in a specific way, can explain basic information about humanity and earth to extraterrestrial beings.

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Representational Image of ‘Doodle for Google’. Flickr

The message was broadcast into space a single time via frequency modulated radio waves.

Astronomer and astrophysicist Frank Drake from Cornell University wrote the message with the help from American astronomer Carl Sagan, among others.

Also Read- Social Circles Pose More Risks Online Than Strangers: Microsoft Study

“It was a strictly symbolic event, to show that we could do it,” Cornell University professor Donald Campbell was quoted as saying in an Independent report.

Since it will take nearly 25,000 years for the message to reach its destination — and an additional 25,000 years for a reply, if any, the Arecibo message is viewed as the first demonstration of human technological achievement. (IANS)