Tuesday November 13, 2018
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NASA’s Curiosity Rover Tests New Drill Method On Mars

It now offers Curiosity a vital sense of touch, preventing the drill bit from drifting sideways too much and getting stuck in a rock

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This year NASA discovered few earth like planets. Wikimedia Commons
This year NASA discovered few earth like planets. Wikimedia Commons
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  • NASA’s Rover conducted new drill methods on Mars
  • This can help NASA get samples from Mars
  • After this, they can start a more comprehensive study of the planet

NASA’s Curiosity rover has conducted a new drill method on Mars, marking the first operation of the rover’s drill since a motor problem began acting up more than a year ago.

ISS is aIt is the first ever drilling attempt on Mars. Wikimedia Commons permanent base for astronauts stationed in the outer sky. Wikimedia Commons
It is the first ever drilling attempt on Mars. Wikimedia Commons

This early test produced a hole about a one-centimetre deep at a target called Lake Orcadie — not enough for a full scientific sample, but enough to validate that the new method works mechanically, NASA said on Wednesday.

This was just the first in what will be a series of tests to determine how well the new drill method can collect samples. If this drill had achieved sufficient depth to collect a sample, the team would have begun testing a new sample delivery process, ultimately delivering to instruments inside the rover.

Also Read: NASA’s Kepler Discovers Nearly 100 New Exoplanets

Curiosity has used its drill to collect samples 15 times since landing in 2012. Then, in December of 2016, a key part of the drill stopped working.

If the previous method was like a drill press, holding the drill bit steady as it extends into a surface, it is now more freehand. The rover is using its entire arm to push the drill forward, re-centring itself while taking measurements with a force sensor. That sensor was originally included to stop the rover’s arm if it received a high-force jolt, NASA said.

It now offers Curiosity a vital sense of touch, preventing the drill bit from drifting sideways too much and getting stuck in a rock.

This ice which was found can help scientists understand the climate history of Mars. IANS
This will help NASA study Mars more comprehensively. IANS

“We’re now drilling on Mars more like the way you do at home,” said Steven Lee, Deputy Project Manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.

“Humans are pretty good at re-centring the drill, almost without thinking about it. Programming Curiosity to do this by itself was challenging — especially when it wasn’t designed to do that,” Lee added. IANS

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NASA to Send Organ-on-Chips To Test Human Tissue Health in Space

Called a micro-physiological system, a tissue chip needs three main properties

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NASA, tissue
NASA to send tissue chips to space to test human health, genetic changes. Flcikr

NASA is planning to send small devices containing human cells in a 3D matrix — known as tissue chips or organs-on-chips — to the International Space Station (ISS) to test how they respond to stress, drugs and genetic changes.

Made of flexible plastic, tissue chips have ports and channels to provide nutrients and oxygen to the cells inside them.

The “Tissue Chips in Space” initiative seeks to better understand the role of microgravity on human health and disease and to translate that understanding to improved human health on Earth, NASA said.

“Spaceflight causes many significant changes in the human body,” said Liz Warren, Associate Program Scientist at the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) in the US.

Kepler, NASA, tissue
This illustration made available by NASA shows the Kepler Space Telescope. As of October 2018, the planet-hunting spacecraft has been in space for nearly a decade. VOA

“We expect tissue chips in space to behave much like an astronaut’s body, experiencing the same kind of rapid change,” Warren said.

The US space agency is planning the investigations in collaboration with CASIS and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) at the National Institutes for Health (NIH).

Many of the changes in the human body caused by microgravity resemble the onset and progression of diseases associated with ageing on Earth, such as bone and muscle loss. But the space-related changes occur much faster.

That means scientists may be able to use tissue chips in space to model changes that might take months or years to happen on Earth.

Parkinson's Disease, Kepler, NASA, tissue
A researcher takes a tissue sample from a human brain at the Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s UK Tissue Bank, VOA

This first phase of Tissue Chips in Space includes five investigations. An investigation of immune system ageing is planned for launch on the SpaceX CRS-16 flight, scheduled for this year.

The other four, scheduled to launch on SpaceX CRS-17 or subsequent flights, include lung host defense, the blood-brain barrier, musculoskeletal disease and kidney function.

In addition, four more projects are scheduled for launch in summer 2020, including two on engineered heart tissue to understand cardiovascular health, one on muscle wasting and another on gut inflammation.

Kepler, NASA, tissue
“Detecting life in an agnostic fashion means not using characteristics particular to Earth life,” said Heather Graham at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Pixabay

Also called a micro-physiological system, a tissue chip needs three main properties, according to Lucie Low, scientific programme manager at National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences in the US.

Also Read: NASA’s Ralph Will Explore Jupiter’s Trojan Asteroids in 2021

“It has to be 3D, because humans are 3D,” she explained.

“It must have multiple, different types of cells, because an organ is made up of all kinds of tissue types. And it must have microfluidic channels, because every single tissue in your body has vasculature to bring in blood and nutrients and to take away detritus,” she added. (IANS)