The Infrared Universe - NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope
NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope celebrated its 12th anniversary with the release of a new digital calendar showcasing some of the best pictures taken by the telescope. The images above demonstrate the Spitzer space telescope’s amazing infrared imaging abilities. These images include Nebulae, Galaxies, Super Nova, and much more. Though the calendar is now outdated, it still has a lot of great science information (and cool images). Check the credit for links!
Researchers using contrast-enhanced MRI have identified leakages in the blood-brain barrier (BBB) of people with early Alzheimer’s disease (AD), according to a new study published online in the journal Radiology. The results suggest that increased BBB permeability may represent a key mechanism in the early stages of the disease.
The BBB, a collection of cells and subcellular structures in the cerebrovascular wall that separates the circulating blood from the brain, is essential to keep brain tissue in healthy condition. It regulates the delivery of important nutrients and blocks neurotoxins, while removing surplus substances from the brain.
More information: “Blood-Brain Barrier Leakage in Patients with Early Alzheimer Disease,” Radiology, 2016.
Diagram of the brain of a person with Alzheimer’s Disease. Credit: Wikipedia/public domain.
H.Rebel is located in Tehran and blogs about her love of food, photography, and food photography here. What’s more is if you look closely at the top photo, you’ll notice she’s also a fan of one of our favs: Eclectic Eccentricity! Startorial worlds colliding!
If you can’t find the energy to make some stellar donuts yourself, those of you in the Seattle area can grab a snack at the fabulously named, Galaxy Donuts (which doesn’t offer space donuts, BUT TOTALLY SHOULD).
Moving to Tehran.
Trained immune cells raise prospect of universal cancer vaccine
Engineering immune cells to attack cancer is a form of treatment that is showing great promise, but it is complex because it involves extracting and modifying T cells before injecting them back into the body. Scientists have now demonstrated a way to not just arm immune cells while still inside the body, but equip them with the ability to fight any kind of cancer, providing an early proof-of-concept for a cheap, universal vaccine for the deadly disease.
Known as adoptive immunotherapy, the idea that our immune cells can be engineered to fight cancer has been explored by scientists since the 1980’s. Some seriously encouraging advances have been made in the last few years, most recently through a trial involving patients with advanced blood cancer that yielded unprecedented response rates of more than 93 percent.
The technique works by harvesting the body’s T cells, which play a central role in the immune response, and arming them with cancer-recognizing molecules through gene transfer. Known as chimeric antigen receptors, these molecules give the modified cells the ability to spot proteins on cancer cells once they are injected back into the body, at which point they latch on and start to kill them off.
While hugely promising, this method relies on the unique properties of blood cancer for the modified T cells to lock onto their target. Scientists have been unable to apply this approach to solid tumors where such clear markers aren’t readily available, meaning the immune cells have trouble distinguishing healthy cells from cancerous ones.
See on gizmag.com
PLUTO’S HEART: LIKE A COSMIC ‘LAVA LAMP’
Like a cosmic lava lamp, a large section of Pluto’s icy surface is being constantly renewed by a process called convection that replaces older surface ices with fresher material. Combining computer models with topographic and compositional data gathered by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft last summer, New Horizons team members have determined the depth of this layer of solid nitrogen ice within Pluto’s distinctive “heart” feature – a large plain informally known as Sputnik Planum – and how fast that ice is flowing. The study is published in the June 2 issue of the journal Nature.
Mission scientists used state-of-the-art computer simulations to show that the surface of Sputnik Planum is covered with icy, churning, convective “cells” 10 to 30 miles (16 to 48 kilometers) across, and less than one million years old. The findings offer additional insight into the unusual and highly active geology on Pluto and, perhaps, other bodies like it on the outskirts of the solar system.
“For the first time, we can really determine what these strange welts of the icy surface of Pluto really are,” said William B. McKinnon, from Washington University in St. Louis, and the co-investigator on the New Horizons science team who led the study. “We found evidence that even on a distant cold planet billions of miles from Earth, there is sufficient energy for vigorous geological activity, as long as you have ‘the right stuff,’ meaning something as soft and pliable as solid nitrogen.” McKinnon and colleagues believe the pattern of these cells stems from the slow thermal convection of the nitrogen-dominated ices that fill Sputnik Planum. A reservoir that’s likely several miles deep in some places, the solid nitrogen is warmed by Pluto’s modest internal heat, becomes buoyant and rises up in great blobs – like a lava lamp – before cooling off and sinking again to renew the cycle. The computer models show that ice need only be a few miles deep for this process to occur, and that the convection cells are very broad. The models also show that these blobs of overturning solid nitrogen can slowly evolve and merge over millions of years. Ridges that mark where cooled nitrogen ice sinks back down can be pinched off and abandoned, resulting in Y- or X-shaped features in junctions where three or four convection cells once met.
“Sputnik Planum is one of the most amazing geological discoveries in 50-plus years of planetary exploration, and the finding by McKinnon and others on our science team that this vast area—bigger than Texas and Oklahoma combined – is created by current day ice convection is among the most spectacular of the New Horizons mission,” said New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colorado.
These convective surface motions average only a few centimeters a year – about as fast as your fingernails grow – which means cells recycle their surfaces every 500,000 years or so. While slow on human clocks, it’s a fast clip on geological timescales.
“This activity probably helps support Pluto’s atmosphere by continually refreshing the surface of 'the heart,’” McKinnon said. “It wouldn’t surprise us to see this process on other dwarf planets in the Kuiper Belt. Hopefully, we’ll get a chance to find out someday with future exploration missions there.”
New Horizons could also potentially take a close-up look at a smaller, more ancient object much farther out in the Kuiper Belt – the disk-shaped region beyond the orbit of Neptune believed to contain comets, asteroids and other small, icy bodies. New Horizons flew through the Pluto system on July 14, 2015, making the first close observations of Pluto and its family of five moons. The spacecraft is on course for an ultra-close flyby of another Kuiper Belt object, 2014 MU69, on Jan. 1, 2019, pending NASA approval of funding for an extended mission.
New Horizons is part of NASA’s New Frontiers Program, managed by the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory designed, built, and operates the New Horizons spacecraft and manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. The Southwest Research Institute leads the science mission, payload operations, and encounter science planning.
Irregular Polygons in Pluto’s Heart-Shaped Region Finally Explained