Monday May 21, 2018

‘Sensory skin’ to help astronauts to know exactly when the outside of their spacecraft has been damaged: NASA

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Washington, March 26, 2017: Scientists at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida are developing a system that acts like a sensory skin to help astronauts to know exactly when the outside of their spacecraft has been damaged.

The “Flexible Damage Detection System” technology may offer a possible solution to NASA’s problem of figuring out in real-time where a spacecraft is damaged and how seriously.

“I kind of look at it like a sensory skin,” said Martha Williams, the scientist leading the development team.

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“It’s a sensory system that tells us where we are damaged and the level of intensity,” Williams said in a statement.

Micrometeoroids and orbital debris pose threats to spacecraft as they move at speeds of 17,500 mph or 28,000 km per hour in low-Earth orbit, and at over 24,000 mph or 38,400 kmph on trips to the Moon and deep space.

As space shuttle windows revealed, something as small as a paint chip moving at that velocity can punch through several layers of glass.

If something pierces a spacecraft’s hull — or the first layer or two — there are very limited ways for astronauts aboard a spacecraft to know there might be damage.

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An impact that goes all the way through and causes a leak would set off alarms, but otherwise the current methods to detect damage require either a camera inspection or a spacewalking astronaut.

Nor is there a precise way to pinpoint exactly in real-time where the damage occurred if not visible to the eye or camera so that astronauts can assess it.

The new invention uses a series of several technologies to create circuits printed on thin layers and that can be embedded in a spacecraft’s structure, scientists behind the invention said.

The researchers believe that if successfully incorporated, the innovation could also be applied to a host of satellites and aircraft. (IANS)

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Scientists Identified 80 Genes That Trigger Depression

Nearly 80 genes that could be linked to depression have been identified, a finding that adds to the evidence that it is partly a genetic disorder, say scientists. Depression, a common mental disorder, is the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide.

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Suspension may lead to depression.
Suspension may lead to depression. Pixabay

Nearly 80 genes that could be linked to depression have been identified, a finding that adds to the evidence that it is partly a genetic disorder, say scientists.

Depression, a common mental disorder, is the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide.

According to the latest estimates from the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than 300 million people are now living with depression, an increase of more than 18 per cent between 2005 and 2015.

“This study identifies genes that potentially increase our risk of depression, adding to the evidence that it is partly a genetic disorder,” said lead author David Howard, research fellow at the University of Edinburgh.

Some of the pinpointed genes are known to be involved in the function of synapses, tiny connectors that allow brain cells to communicate with each other through electrical and chemical signals, the researchers said.

Opioid use may increase risk of falls, death in elderly
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The study could help explain why some people may be at a higher risk of developing the condition as well as help researchers develop drugs to tackle mental health conditions.

“The findings also provide new clues to the causes of depression and we hope it will narrow down the search for therapies that could help people living with the condition,” Howard added.

For the study, published in Nature Communications, the team scanned the genetic code of 300,000 people to identify areas of DNA that could be linked to depression.

The WHO has identified strong links between depression and substance use disorders and diabetes and heart disease.

Studies Show: Elderly With Symptoms of Depression Are More Prone to Memory Problems

Depression is also an important risk factor for suicide, which claims hundreds of thousands of lives each year.

Lack of support for people with mental disorders, coupled with a fear of stigma, prevent many from accessing the treatment they need to live healthy, productive lives. (IANS)