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As NASA prepares to send astronauts back to the Moon and on to Mars, the agency’s quest to seek answers about our solar system and beyond continues to inform those efforts and generate new discoveries. The agency has extended the missions of two spacecraft, following an external review of their scientific productivity.

NASA Extends Exploration for Two Planetary Science Missions

NASA has extended both the Juno mission at Jupiter through September 2025 (left) and the InSight mission at Mars through December 2022. Image credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The missions – Juno and InSight – have each increased our understanding of our solar system, as well as spurred new sets of diverse questions.

An independent review panel, composed of experts with backgrounds in science, operations, and mission management, found the Juno and InSight missions have “produced exceptional science” and recommended NASA continue both missions.

The Juno spacecraft and its mission team have made discoveries about Jupiter’s interior structure, magnetic field, and magnetosphere, and have found its atmospheric dynamics to be far more complex than scientists previously thought. Extended through September 2025, or its end of life (whichever comes first), the mission will not only continue key observations of Jupiter, but also will expand its investigations to the larger Jovian system including Jupiter’s rings and large moons, with targeted observations and close flybys planned of the moons Ganymede, Europa, and Io.

The InSight mission is extended for two years, running through December 2022. InSight’s spacecraft and team deployed and operated its highly sensitive seismometer to expand our understanding of Mars’ crust and mantle. Searching for and identifying Marsquakes, the mission team collected data clearly demonstrating the robust tectonic activity of the Red Planet, and enhanced our knowledge of the planet’s atmospheric dynamics, magnetic field, and interior structure. InSight’s extended mission will focus on producing a long-duration, high quality seismic dataset. Continued operation of its weather station and burial of the seismic tether using the spacecraft’s Instrument Deployment Arm (IDA), will contribute to the quality of this seismic dataset. The extended mission may continue deployment (at low priority) of the spacecraft’s Heat Probe and Physical Properties instrument (HP3), which remains close to the surface.

“The Senior Review has validated that these two planetary science missions are likely to continue to bring new discoveries, and produce new questions about our solar system,” said Lori Glaze, director of the planetary science division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “I thank the members of the Senior Review panel for their comprehensive analysis and thank the mission teams as well, who will now continue to provide exciting opportunities to refine our understanding of the dynamic science of Jupiter and Mars.”

Extended missions leverage NASA’s large investments, allowing continued science operations at a cost far lower than developing a new mission. In some cases, the extensions allow missions to continue to acquire valuable long-duration datasets, while in other cases, they allow missions to visit new targets, with entirely new science goals.

NASA’s Planetary Science Division currently operates more than a dozen spacecraft across the solar system.

Source: JPL




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Proteomic analysis reveals when and how which proteins are degraded in cancer cells by Autophagy pathways

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Beyond maintenance of organelle and protein homeostasis, Autophagy also called “self-eating”, plays a major role in cellular survival as fundamental stress and adaptation response, in particular during diverse starvation conditions. There are, however, multiple different autophagic pathways in mammalian cells that is known to contribute for degrading different cellular components. Which of these autophagy pathways are responsible for degrading which proteins and when this occurs has remained undefined.

Thousands of proteins can be degraded in cancer cells through autophagy pathways

The research team at Karolinska Institutet, under the direction of Associate Professor Helin Norberg, has previously provided new insights into this by characterizing proteins degraded by different autophagic pathways in cancer cells (Autophagy, 2019). In the new study (Autophagy, 2021), they now reveal how and which proteins are degraded, and that it occurs in an orderly sequential manner, which was found to be dependent on the function the protein has in cancer cells.

“An important aspect of these findings is that the majority of the identified proteins display dominant oncogenic pro-survival activities, who’s pathogenic stabilization effectively sustains tumour progression and dissemination. Since our finding outline how these proteins can be degraded, our discoveries lay the basis for understanding the mechanisms of how oncoproteins can be “eaten up” by the cells. Most importantly, when we know how, when and which cancer-promoting proteins can be degraded, we can also start to design new strategies that could selectively promote their degradation-specific mechanisms for the development of novel anti-cancer approaches, says Helin Norberg, Docent at the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology.”

Source: Karolinska Institutet



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Flipkart SmartPack Offers 100% Moneyback on Top Smartphones in India

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Buying a new smartphone is a special feeling. But when you consider the amount of money you have to spend on a new phone, and on top of it all those Online Subscription Services, you have to think again. What if there was a way you could get 100% moneyback on the smartphone of your choice? What if you had to pay only for the online services you use?

Flipkart has come up with an industry-first innovative solution that brings 100% moneyback when you buy a new smartphone from popular brands such as Realme, Poco, Samsung, Redmi, Motorola, Infinix, Oppo, and others. You get the entire amount directly in your bank account after 12/18 months. Sounds too good to be true? Well, you better believe it.

What is Flipkart SmartPack?

Flipkart SmartPack is the Smartest way to buy a Smartphone of your choice. You get 100% moneyback along with access to some of the best online services which you’d normally have to pay for, besides spending money on a new smartphone. Flipkart SmartPack, will make it easier and more affordable for Indian smartphone users to buy a new smartphone every year.

What Does Flipkart SmartPack Offer?

The Flipkart SmartPack plans offer benefits of multiple online services including Disney+ Hotstar VIP, SonyLiv, Zee5, Zomato Pro, Cult.fit Live, Practo, Gaana, etc. Now you don’t have to buy individual subscription packs for each of these services. The feature gives you moneyback directly into your bank account, and not vouchers or points so that you can simply use the money to buy a new smartphone next year.

How to get 100% moneyback using Flipkart SmartPack?

Here are the simple steps you can follow to avail Flipkart SmartPack:

1. Choose your favourite smartphone on Flipkart
2. Pick a Flipkart SmartPack of your choice. You can choose from 12 months or 18 months duration.
3. Pay for your smartphone upfront, and you can pay for your Flipkart SmartPack every month. 4. Return your smartphone after 12 or 18 months in any working condition*, and Get upto 100% Moneyback in your bank account.

That’s it! Flipkart SmartPack is perfect for those who wish to buy the perfect smartphone for themselves, from a top mobile brand, and don’t want to pay the full amount. This way you only end up paying for a host of online services that you normally pay extra. Customers can also choose to pay the entire amount for the smartphone upfront or use the available no-cost EMI payment options.

The innovative offering lets you buy a smartphone, and get 100 percent moneyback directly in your bank account after a year. This way you only end up paying for the online services that you use. Customers can return the smartphone in any working condition, provided it turns on and the IMEI number is visible on the screen after 12/18 months.

Besides 100% moneyback, consumers will also get access to complete mobile protection plans that offer protection against screen damage, liquid damage, and other accidental covers. There is no better way to buy a new smartphone in India than the Flipkart SmartPack way. With Flipkart’s trusted network of sellers and an innovative offering like Flipkart SmartPack, you’re assured a Great Smartphone buying experience no matter which phone you buy.

Flipkart SmartPack is now available in India. For more details, visit this page.

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New sodium oxide paves way for advanced sodium-ion batteries

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Skoltech researchers and their collaborators from France, the US, Switzerland, and Australia were able to create and describe a mixed Na(Li1/3Mn2/3)O2 oxide that holds promise as a cathode material for sodium-ion batteries, which can one day complement or even replace lithium-ion batteries. The paper was published in the journal Nature Materials.

New sodium oxide paves way for advanced sodium ion batteries

Image credit: Pixabay (Free Pixabay license)

Lithium-ion batteries are powering the modern world of consumer devices and driving a revolution in electric transportation. But since lithium is rather rare and challenging to extract from an environmental standpoint, researchers and engineers have been looking for more sustainable and cost-effective alternatives for quite some time now.

One option is sodium-ion technology, as sodium is much more abundant than lithium. Na-ion batteries, however, still struggle to provide high energy density and cycling stability. Thus, the search for an optimal design for Na-based cathodes is underway in laboratories across the world.

Skoltech Professor and Director of the Center for Energy Science and Technology Artem Abakumov and PhD student Anatolii Morozov were part of an international team that studied the compound Na(Li1/3Mn2/3)O2, patented by Renault. This compound showed promise as a cathode material with high energy density, no voltage fade over multiple charge cycles, and moisture stability.

“We have performed all the transmission electron microscopy (TEM) studies using the equipment at Advanced Imaging Core Facility of Skoltech. We investigated the crystal structure of Na(Li1/3Mn2/3)O2 by electron diffraction and directly visualized it with atomic resolution scanning transmission electron microscopy techniques. Furthermore, we investigated this material at various states of charge by TEM, which allowed to trace the evolution of its crystal structure during the electrochemical cycling,” Morozov says.

Among other things, the team found that the new compound possesses a reversible specific discharge capacity of 190 mAh/g, which is relatively high values for sodium-ion battery cathode materials. According to Morozov, it also demonstrates a good capacity retention and moisture resistance, which is unusual for compounds of this kind. “Moreover, no significant voltage fade was observed during prolonged cycling of Na(Li1/3Mn2/3)O2; it’s a key drawback of similar Li-rich layered cathode materials,” the Skoltech PhD student says.

However, despite these promising properties, Na(Li1/3Mn2/3)O2 exhibits a large voltage hysteresis during charge and discharge, which leads to a decrease in the energy efficiency of the cathode material and can become an obstacle in commercial implementation. “We assume that the appearance of a large voltage hysteresis is associated with the migration of Mn within the structure. Thus, in the future it is necessary to develop a model for cation ordering and find a path to control it to overcome this issue,” Anatolii Morozov notes.

“The team used Titan Themis Z electron microscope at our Advanced Imaging Core Facility (AICF), which allows to visualize single atoms in the crystal lattice of a material and study its structure and how it relates to the properties of that material. But top-level equipment is necessary but not enough for impressive scientific results; we see the skills of our staff scientists and students as crucial and invest a lot in the development of those skills. With Prof. Abakumov being a Research Advisor of AICF, close scientific collaboration between our team and Skoltech scientists becomes possible. This gives Skoltech competitive advantage when it comes to the implementation of complex research projects or development of unique technologies.” notes Yaroslava Shakhova, Head of the Skoltech Advanced Imaging Core Facility.

Other organizations involved in this research include Chimie du Solide-Energie, Collège de France; Sorbonne Université; Renault Technocentre; Réseau sur le Stockage Electrochimique de l’Energie (RS2E); Université d’Orléans; Université de Pau et des Pays de l’Adour; Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; Paul Scherrer Institute; The University of Sydney; Australian Centre for Neutron Scattering, Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation; University of Illinois at Chicago; University of Montpellier.

Source: Skoltech




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