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  • What's New In Robotics This Week - 13.07.2018

    -Manufacturing & Cobot Roundup 
    -ABB to acquire AB Rotech
    -UR10 serves cotton candy 
    -Plant-carrying, stunt-performing & applause-generating robots
    -And much more! 

    Manufacturing & cobot roundup

     KUKA's LBR Med Robot Assistant cobot picked up an award at The 14th International IERA Award for Robotics and Automation.  


    LBR_Med_Torkarkinematik

    Caption: The LBR Med has seven axes and sensors designed for human-robot collaboration.  Credit: KUKA 

     Via Control Design

    In laboratories, clinics or operating theatres, the lightweight robot takes over various tasks depending on the tool and program - for example, during medical interventions, treatments or scientific test procedures.

    Experts from GM, FANUC and the Robotic Industries Association, appeared on Autoline TV to answer the question "What is a collaborative robot?" 

     

     

    (Note: For Robotiq's answer to the same question (from "way back" in 2015), check out this post.)

    ABB is to acquire AB Rotech, a privately-owned company headquartered in Bursa, Turkey, with nearly 20 years of experience in robotic welding solutions and services for the automotive industry.  The value of the deal --which is subject to regulatory approval and is expected to close later this year-- has not been disclosed. (H/T Reuters.) 

    Doosan showcased one of its cobots being used for wheel bolt fastening... 

     

     

     

    Robotics & Automation News explored "4 Reasons Why Collaborative Robotics Is The Answer To SME Automation": 

    1.  Enhanced human safety

    2.  Easy deployment

    3.  Improved flexibility

    4.  Extremely cost-effective

    Universal Robots took a fresh look back at Automatica 2018... 

     

     


    MIT Technology Review reported on a giant new warehouse and fulfillment centre in Shanghai, which has only four employees.  Owned by JD.com, one of China’s biggest e-commerce companies, the facility's employees are used for robot servicing. 

    Mobile Automation installed a UR10 cobot from Universal Robots in at Rockpress in Queensland, Australia at Rockpress. The cobot works on welding tasks and can handle welding 8 assemblies at a time with little assistance from a human colleague... 

     

     

     Meanwhile, "For the world’s second-largest economy [China] to realize its technology ambitions, it needs to start coming up with original solutions," says Asia Times;  robots are settling into life in Europe's warehouses (H/T JLL Real Views);  and, according to data from global job site Indeed, there has been a 186% rise in the number of Indians looking for employment in robotics between May 2015 and May 2018, with Maharashtra offering most of the jobs in the sector.  

    New video shows a Renishaw Equator flexible gauge integrated into a cell with a Mazak turning centre and a cobot from Fanuc.  This combination of technologies allows parts to be cut, handled and gauged in an automated cell without guarding... 

     

    Bridging the STEM skills gap in the United States will require both education and industry commitments, according to U.S. News & World Report.

    Northeastern University professor Taskin Padir is leading a new project "to bring collaborative robots developed at the university into processing plants at America’s busiest fishing port, located in New Bedford, Massachusetts."  The goal of introducing cobots is to "to increase production and efficiency, keep workers safe, and stimulate local job growth," News @ Northeastern reported. 

     seafood_embed-1400x2104

     

    Trade disputes with the United States "will not hamper China's ongoing move to become an advanced manufacturing power with intensified research and development efforts and international cooperation," according to experts quoted in ECNS.  

    OCTOPUZ delighted kids and adults alike by programming a UR cobot fitted with a Robotiq gripper to serve cotton candy... 

     

     

     

    Elsewhere...

    Chinese roboticist and entrepreneur Sun Tianqi has modded a six-legged toy robot made by his consumer robot firm Vincross so that it can carry a potted plant on its back. 

    The mod enables the robot to transport plants to the optimal position for sunlight.  The device also stomps its "legs" when the plant needs some water.  (H/T The Verge.) 

    08_1280.0Caption:  Vincross is turning plants into cyborgs, one piece of robotic enhancement at a time.  Credit:  Tianqi Sun. 

     

    South Korean telecommunications company KT Corp. has unveiled a new "next-generation platform for disaster and safety management." 

    SKYSHIP-unmanned-airship

    Credit:  KT Corp

    Via UST

    The SKYSHIP platform operates a special unmanned airship and a mobile communication center to remotely control drones and robots that carry out search and rescue operations for disaster survivors. Rescuers on the ground are also assisted with augmented reality glasses that have a direct line of communication to doctors at nearby hospitals for assistance delivering emergency treatment. 

    Michael Milford and  Jonathan Roberts from the Queensland University of Technology, experts in bio-inspired systems, shared some of their insights into robot vision in a fascinating piece for The Conversation.  

    If you're in the mood for a quick history of robotics, Interesting Engineering published "15 Engineers and Their Inventions That Defined Robotics."

    According to Europe's The Parliament magazine, "robotics needs AI and AI needs robotics."  

    Finally, all of us can appreciate a little positive affirmation every now and then.   But unless you're a performer an enthusiastic round of applause is something few of us will ever get to experience.  

    Thankfully, to meet this need (and a few others in the service robotics space) there's a new robot that can provide you with an uplifting round of applause whenever you like and, quite frankly, whether you deserve it or not.  Now that's progress... 

     

     


    I'll be back next week with more robotics news!  Until then... 

    Five vids for Friday 

    1.  MIT's Cheetah 3 robot can now leap and gallop across rough terrain, climb debris-littered staircases, and swiftly recover its balance when yanked or shoved and all without relying on complicated vision systems --a repertoire of skills that could prove useful in disaster zones. 

     

     

     

    2.  Get out the popcorn, folks.  The popular foodstuff has proven itself to be a cheap, biodegradable way to provide a robot with once-off actuation.  (H/T IEEE Spectrum.) 

     

     

     

    3.  SoftBank Robotics' humanoid service bot Pepper explained to a Business Insider reporter why we don't need to be afraid of advanced robots.  The pair's conversation also encompassed the age-old philosophical problem of feelings vs. tacos. 

     

     

     

    4.  CGTN visited the China International Robot Show in Shanghai to explore the future of the robotics industry. 

     

     

     

    5.  Disney Imagineering released stunning new video of it autonomous, robotic stunt doubles in action.  

     

     

     Start production faster with Lean Robotics

    Read more »
  • What's New on Insights: Match Robot KPIs with your Work Shifts
    We like to say that "the only thing all factories have in common is that they're all different." With that in mind, learn how to customize our Insights monitoring software to suit your production schedule. Even if your business runs 24 hours a day in many different time zones, it can be done!
      robotiq gripper ur robot factory
    Align your robot's production with your whole production schedule to get more accurate KPIs.
     

    Define shifts and operating times

    Now you can s et KPIs based on work shifts, and measure production when the work actually takes place—rather than by full calendar days.
     
    current time period KPI
     
    current time period KPI
    KPIs for a "full day" (top) vs. custom operating hours (bottom).
     
    After you input the robot's work times, Insights will automatically track the robot's performance at those times, and display them in the graphs as "operating times" (counted in hours and days).
     
    robotiq insights interface efficiency chartTrack progress during your robot's operating hours.
     

    Define robot time zones

    Do you have robots operating in many different time zones? Now you can input their locations to monitor them all in local time. This makes coordinating with on-site staff much easier. 

    Robotiq insights robot timezone

    Follow each robot's progress in its own time zone.

    Every robot you connect on Insights can be tracked in its own time zone, which will be reflected in the data displayed on graphs, operating times and shifts, logs of events, and your daily, weekly, and monthly reports.

     Robotiq insights connected robot running

     Connect your Universal Robots 

    Read more »
  • 20 Reasons Why You Should Invest in a Precision Gripper

    What's the benefit of a precision gripper over any other? Here are 20 reasons why a precision gripper is well worth it.

    Choosing the right robotic gripper can be a tough decision. There are so many on the market, it's hard to figure out which is best for your purposes.

    And with the recent release of our Hand-E Adaptive Gripper, the range of options just got even wider. You might be wondering: Do I really need a precision gripper?

    Here are 20 qualities of precision grippers that make them a worthwhile investment:

    1. Ability to handle small parts

    Perhaps the most obvious benefit of a precision gripper is that it can accurately manipulate small parts. This is becoming more and more important for tasks like assembly, machine tending, and quality testing.

    A few years ago, cobots were best suited to imprecise pick and place tasks, but now they're precise enough to tackle almost any task.

     

    2. Sub-mm precision

    The precision of a gripper has a huge effect on whether you can use a robot for detailed tasks. Our Hand-E gripper has a sub-mm precision, whereas our other Adaptive Grippers are better suited to tasks that require only millimeter-level precision.

    robotiq adaptative grippers familyRobotiq's Adaptive Grippers.

    3. Sub-mm part detection

    Part detection refers to a gripper's ability to verify that an object is present just by grasping it. Our grippers all have this capability, but with varying degrees of precision. Hand-E can detect the size of a part down to the sub-mm level.

     

    Validate your part with the Grip Check Node on the Adaptive Grippers URCap.

    4. True translational motion

    The fingers of our other 2-Finger Adaptive Grippers use a parallel linkage mechanism. This keeps the fingertips parallel, but it also means they follow a slightly curved motion as they close. Hand-E, on the other hand, has truly translational motion.

    See our article Parallel Robot Grippers: Which is Best? for an explanation of the benefits of translational grippers.

     

    5. Better control

    One of the advantages of a translational gripper is the high degree of control it gives you. You can be sure the fingertips will follow a precise linear motion throughout the grasp, so they're all set to handle delicate parts like small electronic boards.

     

    6. Easier to control

    True translational motion also makes the gripper easier to control for precision applications.

    For example, with the 2F-85 and 2F-140 Grippers, picking a thin part from a tabletop can be tricky. You have to offset the gripper a little to counteract the effect of the curved fingertip motion.

    With Hand-E, you can touch the fingertips close to the surface and be sure that they'll remain at the same distance from the surface throughout the motion.

     

    7. Precise force settings

    Picking up delicate parts is only possible if you can precisely control the force applied by the gripper. With Hand-E, as with the other Adaptive Grippers, you can precisely control the gripping force. Hand-E has a force range of 60–130 N, and you can control the force in increments of 0.27 N.

     

    8. Easy to hand-guide

    Hand-guiding is an easy way to program a robot: you just move the robot to where you want it and save the position to the robot program. But whereas some grippers are hard to grab, Hand-E is designed to be easy to grab, which makes hand-guiding even easier.

     

    9. Simple to program

    Some grippers add a surprising amount of programming complexity. Others, like Hand-E, can be programmed within minutes.

    Robotiq Gripper URCap

    All three Robotiq Adaptive Grippers have the same intuitive programming software.

    10. Precise speed settings

    When you need a gripper to pick up large, durable objects, the exact speed of motion is not so important. However, precise applications often require you to set the closing speed.

    The speed of a precision gripper should be controllable down to fractions of a millimeter. You can set Hand-E's speed in real time by increments of 0.5 mm/s.

     

    11. Manufactured to low tolerances

    The only way to build a "precision" gripper is to manufacture it to low tolerances. This is certainly the case with Hand-E, which has been manufactured to the lowest tolerances of all our grippers.

     

    12. Potentially cableless

    Cables are a pain: they spoil your nice, sleek robot by running up the robot's arm. However, there's no need for cables when you use Hand-E with the UR e-Series robots, since the e-Series has internal cabling that plugs directly into the gripper.

    Compare the two demos from our booth at automatica 2018. The thermostat assembly demo used Hand-E with a normal UR robot and had cables running up the arm. The pick-and-place demo used an e-Series robot with no cables. Doesn't it look so much neater?

    robotiq 2 finger gripper hand-eNo more cables! Hand-E is ready for the Universal Robots e-Series.

    13. Highly durable

    Although a precision gripper is designed to handle small and delicate objects, it should not be delicate itself. The mechanical design and fabrication of the gripper should be durable enough to withstand tough industrial environments and demanding tasks.

     

    14. Sealed from contaminants

    Industrial environments are often filled with dust, dirt, and liquid. Since precision grippers are often used in these environments, they should be sealed to protect against such contaminants. Hand-E has been manufactured to withstand environments with lots of liquid and dust.

     

    15. Highly reliable

    All our Adaptive Grippers are reliable, but this is particularly true for Hand-E, which is targeted at demanding precision tasks. Plus, keep downtime to a minimum by combining it with Insights.

     

    16. Quicker to deploy

    Many of the above benefits, especially the simplicity of programming and ease of control, make Hand-E quick to deploy. In most cases, you can have it up and running within an hour.

     

    17. Quicker to earn an ROI

    A quicker deployment also means you'll see a return on investment (ROI) sooner. Also, since some precision tasks are value-added tasks (e.g., precise assembly) it can be easier to work out the ROI for these than it is for non-value-added tasks.

     

    18. Small footprint

    A precision gripper shouldn't take up a lot of space, because precision tasks often have to be carried out in a restricted workspace. This makes such tasks difficult for a lot of bulky cobot grippers. Hand-E, on the other hand, has a working envelope of just 75 mm, meaning it can fit into very small spaces.

     

    19. Highly customizable

    One property of precision tasks is that they often require custom fingertips. Small, shiny, or otherwise-awkward gripping points can be handled by making new fingertips or modifying existing ones.

    With Hand-E, it's easy to create new fingertips and attach them to the actuation rack in minutes.

     

    20. Highly versatile

    Even if you're just using the supplied aluminum fingertips, Hand-E is a very versatile gripper. It can handle a huge range of objects with a high degree of precision.

    This versatility is what makes Hand-E, as well as the rest of our Adaptive Gripper range, so useful for many applications. And that's why a precision gripper is well worth the investment.

    Choose the right Gripper!

    Read more »

NASA Breaking News

Space News

Universe Today

  • Juno Data Shows that Some of Jupiter’s Moons are Leaving “Footprints” in its Aurorae

    Since it arrived in orbit around Jupiter in July of 2016, the Juno mission has been sending back vital information about the gas giant’s atmosphere, magnetic field and weather patterns. With every passing orbit – known as perijoves, which take place every 53 days – the probe has revealed things about Jupiter that scientists will rely on to learn more about its formation and evolution.

    Interestingly, some of the most recent information to come from the mission involves how two of its moons affect one of Jupiter’s most interesting atmospheric phenomenon. As they revealed in a recent study, an international team of researchers discovered how Io and Ganymede leave “footprints” in the planet’s aurorae. These findings could help astronomers to better understand both the planet and its moons.

    The study, titled “Juno observations of spot structures and a split tail in Io-induced aurorae on Jupiter“, recently appeared in the journal Science. The study was led by A. Mura of the International Institute of Astrophysics (INAF) and included members from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Italian Space Agency (ASI), the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHUAPL), and multiple universities.

    Infrared images obtained by the Cassini probe, showing disturbances in Jupiter’s aurorae caused by Io and Ganymede. Credit: (c) Science (2018).

    Much like aurorae here on Earth, Jupiter’s aurorae are produced in its upper atmosphere when high-energy electrons interact with the planet’s powerful magnetic field. However, as the Juno probe recently demonstrated using data gathered by Ultraviolet Spectrograph (UVS) and Jovian Energetic Particle Detector Instrument (JEDI), Jupiter’s magnetic field is significantly more powerful than anything we see on Earth.

    In addition to reaching power levels 10 to 30 times greater than anything higher than what is experienced here on Earth (up to 400,000 electron volts), Jupiter’s norther and southern auroral storms also have oval-shaped disturbances that appear whenever Io and Ganymede pass close to the planet. As they explain in their study:

    “A northern and a southern main auroral oval are visible, surrounded by small emission features associated with the Galilean moons. We present infrared observations, obtained with the Juno spacecraft, showing that in the case of Io, this emission exhibits a swirling pattern that is similar in appearance to a von Kármán vortex street.”

    A Von Kármán vortex street, a concept in fluid dynamics, is basically a repeating pattern of swirling vortices caused by a disturbance. In this case, the team found evidence of a vortex streaming for hundreds of kilometers when Io passed close to the planet, but which then disappeared as the moon moved farther away from the planet.

    Reconstructed view of Jupiter’s northern lights through the filters of the Juno Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph instrument on Dec. 11, 2016, as the Juno spacecraft approached Jupiter, passed over its poles, and plunged towards the equator. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Bertrand Bonfond

    The team also found two spots in the auroral belt created by Ganymede, where the extended tail from the main auroral spots eventually split in two. While the team was not sure what causes this split, they venture that it could be caused by interaction between Ganymede and Jupiter’s magnetic field (since Ganymede is the only Jovian moon to have its own magnetic field).

    These features, they claim, suggest that magnetic interactions between Jupiter and Ganymede are more complex than previously thought. They also indicate that neither of the footprints were where they expected to find them, which suggests that models of the planet’s magnetic interactions with its moons may be in need of revision.

    Studying Jupiter’s magnetic storms is one of the primary goals of the Juno mission, as is learning more about the planet’s interior structure and how it has evolved over time. In so doing, astronomers hope to learn more about how the Solar System came to be. NASA also recently extended the mission to 2021, giving it three more years to gather data on these mysteries.

    And be sure to enjoy this video of the Juno mission, courtesy of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory:

    Further Reading: phys.org, Science

    The post Juno Data Shows that Some of Jupiter’s Moons are Leaving “Footprints” in its Aurorae appeared first on Universe Today.

    Read more »
  • Cassini’s “Grande Finale” Earns an Emmy Nomination!

    In 1997, the NASA/ESA Cassini-Huygens mission launched from Earth and began its long journey towards the Saturn system. In 2004, the Cassini orbiter arrived around Saturn and would spend the next thirteen years studying the gas giant, its rings, and its system of Moons. On September 15th, 2017, the mission ended when the probe entered Saturn’s upper atmosphere and burned up.

    This was known as Cassini’s “Grand Finale“, which began with the probe plunging into the unexplored region that lies between Saturn’s atmosphere and its rings and culminated with live coverage of it entering the atmosphere. In honor of the mission and NASA’s outstanding coverage of its final months, NASA was recently nominated for an Emmy Award by The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

    The award is in the category of Outstanding Original Interactive Program, which recognizes the JPL’s multi-month digital campaign that celebrated the mission’s science and engineering accomplishments – which included news, web, education, television and social media efforts. It is also a nod to the agency’s success in communicating why the spacecraft concluded its mission in the skies of Saturn.

    Essentially, the spacecraft was intentionally destroyed in Saturn’s atmosphere to prevent the possibility of it contaminating any of Saturn’s moons. Throughout the thirteen years it spent studying the Saturn system, Cassini found compelling evidence for the possible existence of life on Titan and in Enceladus’ interior ocean. In addition, scientists have speculated that there may be interior oceans within Rhea and Dione.

    In this respect, Cassini ended its mission the same way the Galileo probe did in 2003. After spending 8 years studying Jupiter and its system the moons, the probe crashed into the gas giant’s upper atmosphere in order to prevent any possible contamination of Europa or Ganymede, which are also thought to have an interior oceans that could support life.

    The “Grand Finale” campaign began on April 26th, 2017, and continued until the craft entered Saturn’s atmosphere on Sept. 15th, 2017, with the spacecraft sending back science to the very last second. The campaign utilized several different forms of media, was interactive, and was very comprehensive, providing regular updates and vital information about the mission.

    As NASA indicated on their Cassini website:

    “The multi-faceted campaign included regular updates on Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and the Cassini mission website; multiple live social, web and TV broadcasts during which reporter and public questions were answered; a dramatic short film to communicate the mission’s story and preview its endgame; multiple 360-degree videos, including NASA’s first 360-degree livestream of a mission event from inside JPL mission control; an interactive press kit; a steady drumbeat of articles to keep fans updated with news and features about the people behind the mission; state-standards aligned educational materials; a celebration of art by amateur space enthusiasts; and software to provide real-time tracking of the spacecraft, down to its final transmission to Earth.”

    The short film, titled “For Your Consideration: The NASA Cassini Grand Finale“, showcases the missions many accomplishments, pays tribute to all those who made it happen and who helped inform the public and communicate the importance of the mission.

    The Primetime Emmys will be awarded be on September 17th in Los Angeles. The Creative Arts Emmys, which includes interactive awards, will be presented during a separate ceremony on Saturday, Sept. 15th, at the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles. Other contenders include Back to the Moon, a Google Spotlight Stories App; Blade Runner 2049: Memory Lab, Coco VR, and Spiderman Homecoming, three Oculus VR experiences.

    And be sure to check out the videos, FYC: NASA Cassini Grand Finale, below:

    Further Reading: NASA

    The post Cassini’s “Grande Finale” Earns an Emmy Nomination! appeared first on Universe Today.

    Read more »
  • New Research Raises Hopes for Finding Life on Mars, Pluto and Icy Moons

    Since the 1970s, when the Voyager probes captured images of Europa’s icy surface, scientists have suspected that life could exist in interior oceans of moons in the outer Solar System. Since then, other evidence has emerged that has bolstered this theory, ranging from icy plumes on Europa and Enceladus, interior models of hydrothermal activity, and even the groundbreaking discovery of complex organic molecules in Enceladus’ plumes.

    However, in some locations in the outer Solar System, conditions are very cold and water is only able to exist in liquid form because of the presence of toxic antifreeze chemicals. However, according to a new study by an international team of researchers, it is possible that bacteria could survive in these briny environments. This is good news for those hoping to find evidence of life in extreme environments of the Solar System.

    The study which details their findings, titled “Enhanced Microbial Survivability in Subzero Brines“, recently appeared in the scientific journal Astrobiology. The study was conducted by Jacob Heinz from the Center of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the Technical University of Berlin (TUB), and included members from Tufts University, Imperial College London, and Washington State University.

    Based on new evidence from Jupiter’s moon Europa, astronomers hypothesize that chloride salts bubble up from the icy moon’s global liquid ocean and reach the frozen surface. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

    Basically, on bodies like Ceres, Callisto, Triton, and Pluto – which are either far from the Sun or do not have interior heating mechanisms – interior oceans are believed to exist because of the presence of certain chemicals and salts (such as ammonia). These “antifreeze” compounds ensure that their oceans have lower freezing points, but create an environment that would be too cold and toxic to life as we know it.

    For the sake of their study, the team sought to determine if microbes could indeed survive in these environments by conducting tests with Planococcus halocryophilus, a bacteria found in the Arctic permafrost. They then subjected this bacteria to solutions of sodium, magnesium and calcium chloride as well as perchlorate, a chemical compound that was found by the Phoenix lander on Mars.

    They then subjected the solutions to temperatures ranging from +25°C to -30°C through multiple freeze and thaw cycles. What they found was that the bacteria’s survival rates depended on the solution and temperatures involved. For instance, bacteria suspended in chloride-containing (saline) samples had better chances of survival compared to those in perchlorate-containing samples – though survival rates increased the more the temperatures were lowered.

    For instance, the team found that bacteria in a sodium chloride (NaCl) solution died within two weeks at room temperature. But when temperatures were lowered to 4 °C (39 °F), survivability began to increase and almost all the bacteria survived by the time temperatures reached -15 °C (5 °F). Meanwhile, bacteria in the magnesium and calcium-chloride solutions had high survival rates at –30 °C (-22 °F).

    Artist rendering showing an interior cross-section of the crust of Enceladus, which shows how hydrothermal activity may be causing the plumes of water at the moon’s surface. Credits: NASA-GSFC/SVS, NASA/JPL-Caltech/Southwest Research Institute

    The results also varied for the three saline solvents depending on the temperature. Bacteria in calcium chloride (CaCl2) had significantly lower survival rates than those in sodium chloride (NaCl) and magnesium chloride (MgCl2)between 4 and 25 °C (39 and 77 °F), but lower temperatures boosted survival in all three.  The survival rates in perchlorate solution were far lower than in other solutions.

    However, this was generally in solutions where perchlorate constituted 50% of the mass of the total solution (which was necessary for the water to remain liquid at lower temperatures), which would be significantly toxic. At concentrations of 10%, bacteria was still able to grow. This is semi-good news for Mars, where the soil contains less than one weight percent of perchlorate.

    However, Heinz also pointed out that salt concentrations in soil are different than those in a solution. Still, this could be still be good news where Mars is concerned, since temperatures and precipitation levels there are very similar to parts of Earth – the Atacama Desert and parts of Antarctica. The fact that bacteria have can survive such environments on Earth indicates they could survive on Mars too.

    In general, the research indicated that colder temperatures boost microbial survivability, but this depends on the type of microbe and the composition of the chemical solution. As Heinz told Astrobiology Magazine:

    “[A]ll reactions, including those that kill cells, are slower at lower temperatures, but bacterial survivability didn’t increase much at lower temperatures in the perchlorate solution, whereas lower temperatures in calcium chloride solutions yielded a marked increase in survivability.”

    This full-circle view from the panoramic camera (Pancam) on NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Spirit shows the terrain surrounding the location called “Troy,” where Spirit became embedded in soft soil during the spring of 2009. Credit: NASA/JPL

    The team also found that bacteria did better in saltier solutions when it came to freezing and thawing cycles. In the end, the results indicate that survivability all comes down to a careful balance. Whereas lower concentrations of chemical salts meant that bacteria could survive and even grow, the temperatures at which water would remain in a liquid state would be reduced. It also indicated that salty solutions improve bacteria survival rates when it comes to freezing and thawing cycles.

    Of course, the team emphasized that just because bacteria can subsist in certain conditions doesn’t mean they will thrive there. As Theresa Fisher, a PhD student at Arizona State University’s School of Earth and Space Exploration and a co-author on the study, explained:

    “Survival versus growth is a really important distinction, but life still manages to surprise us. Some bacteria can not only survive in low temperatures, but require them to metabolize and thrive. We should try to be unbiased in assuming what’s necessary for an organism to thrive, not just survive.”  

    As such, Heinz and his colleagues are currently working on another study to determine how different concentrations of salts across different temperatures affect bacterial propagation. In the meantime, this study and other like it are able to provide some unique insight into the possibilities for extraterrestrial life by placing constraints on the kinds of conditions that they can survive and grow in.

    These studies also allow help when it comes to the search for extraterrestrial life, since knowing where life can exist allows us to focus our search efforts. In the coming years, missions to Europa, Enceladus, Titan and other locations in the Solar System will be looking for biosignatures that indicate the presence of life on or within these bodies. Knowing that life can survive in cold, briny environments opens up additional possibilities.

    Further Reading: Astrobiology Magazine, Astrobiology

    The post New Research Raises Hopes for Finding Life on Mars, Pluto and Icy Moons appeared first on Universe Today.

    Read more »

European Space Agency Articles

  • Aeolus-Mission: Revolutionäre Windprofile

    Rund 16 Jahre hat die ESA diese technisch höchst komplizierte und anspruchsvolle wissenschaftliche Mission vorbereitet. Mitte August soll der Satellit in Kourou abheben, der die Dynamik der Erdatmosphäre messen und erstmals globale Windprofile erstellen soll. Die Simulationen für die „ADM-Aeolus“-Mission laufen im ESA-Satellitenkontrollzentrum ESOC in Darmstadt auf Hochtouren.

    Read more »
  • EIB und ESA vereinbaren Zusammenarbeit zur Erhöhung der Investitionen in Europas Raumfahrtsektor

    ESA-Generaldirektor Jan Wörner wurde am Dienstag vom Vizepräsidenten der Europäischen Investitionsbank (EIB), Ambroise Fayolle, zur Unterzeichnung einer gemeinsamen Erklärung im Namen der beiden Organisationen empfangen.

    Read more »
  • Horizons Mission - Planetenlabor und Experimente zum Muskelschwund

    Auf der Internationalen Raumstation ISS haben der deutsche ESA-Astronaut Alexander Gerst und die Crew der Mission 56/57 mit den ersten Experimenten im europäischen Forschungsmodul Columbus begonnen. Unter anderem wurde für das Experiment Myotones die Skelettmuskulatur von Gerst vermessen. Auf der Erde werden diese Erkenntnisse genutzt, um Rehabilitation- und Trainingsprogramme bei Muskel- und Knochenschwund zu verbessern. Zudem wurde das Grundlagen-Experiment MagVector/MFX-2 mit ersten Proben bestückt. Dabei untersuchen Planetenforscher, welchen Einfluss das Erdmagnetfeld auf verschiedene Gesteine hat.

    Read more »

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