The Gemini program was designed as a bridge between the Mercury and Apollo programs, primarily to test equipment and mission procedures in Earth orbit and to train astronauts and ground crews for future Apollo missions. The general objectives of the program included: long duration flights in excess of of the requirements of a lunar landing mission; rendezvous and docking of two vehicles in Earth orbit; the development of operational proficiency of both flight and ground crews; the conduct of experiments in space; extravehicular operations; active control of reentry flight path to achieve a precise landing point; and onboard orbital navigation. Each Gemini mission carried two astronauts into Earth orbit for periods ranging from 5 hours to 14 days. The program consisted of 10 crewed launches, 2 uncrewed launches, and 7 target vehicles, at a total cost of approximately 1,280 million dollars.
Gemini 4 was the second crewed mission of the Gemini series and carried James McDivitt and Edward White on a 4-day, 62-orbit, 98-hr flight from June 3 to June 7, 1965. The mission included the first American spacewalk. The objective of the mission was to test the performance of the astronauts and capsule and to evaluate work procedures, schedules, and flight planning for an extended length of time in space. Secondary objectives included demonstration of extravehicular activity in space, conduct stationkeeping and rendezvous maneuvers, evaluate spacecraft systems, demonstrate the capability to make significant in-plane and out-of-plane maneuvers and use of the maneuvering system as a backup reentry system, and conduct 11 experiments.
Credit: NASA/JSC/Arizona State University
Western Pipistrelle (Parastrellus hesperus)
Also known as the “Canyon Bat” the western pipistrelle is a species of vesper bat (Vespertilionidae) that occurs in Mexico and the western United States. Like most bats western pipistrelles are active at night and are insectivorous. During periods of time when the weather gets cold or if food supplies lower P. hesperus is known to enter a period of hibernation, hibernating in caves, mines and rocky crevices.
“Mount Everest” of Synthetic Biology: First Eukaryotic Chromosome
For the first time, researchers have synthesized a eukaryotic chromosome, a new study reports. The chromosome was from one of the best-studied organisms on the planet, baker’s yeast, or Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Yeast is already used to make beer, biofuel and medicine, but once equipped with a full set of synthetic and changeable chromosomes like the one designed here, this single-celled organism could produce better versions of these important commodities, including new antibiotics or more environmentally friendly biofuels.
In this video courtesy of New York University Langone Medical Center, Dr. Jef Boeke discusses the research.
Read more about this research from the 28 March issue of Science here.
A delightful quiz from Nautilus: Can you identify these cities from their light signatures?
A star set to explodeFloating at the centre of this new Hubble image is a lidless purple eye, staring back at us through space. This ethereal object, known officially as [SBW2007] 1 but sometimes nicknamed SBW1, is a nebula with a giant star at its centre. The star was originally twenty times more massive than our Sun, and is now encased in a swirling ring of purple gas, the remains of the distant era when it cast off its outer layers via violent pulsations and winds.
But the star is not just any star; scientists say that it is destined to go supernova! 26 years ago, another star with striking similarities went supernova — SN 1987A. Early Hubble images of SN 1987A show eerie similarities to SBW1. Both stars had identical rings of the same size and age, which were travelling at similar speeds; both were located in similar HII regions; and they had the same brightness. In this way SBW1 is a snapshot of SN1987a’s appearance before it exploded, and unsurprisingly, astronomers love studying them together.
At a distance of more than 20 000 light-years it will be safe to watch when the supernova goes off. If we are very lucky it may happen in our own lifetimes…
Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA; acknowledgement: Nick Rose
Famed amnesia case, K.C. died last week. Having lost both hippocampuses after a motorcycle accident, he was somehow able to hold on to some memories, though “devoid of all context and emotion”… and his identity.
That’s actually a common theme in the neuroscience of accidents. It’s easy to see the victims of brain damage as reduced or diminished, and they are in some ways. But much of what they feel from moment to moment is exactly what you or I feel, and there’s almost nothing short of death that can make you forget who you are. Amid all the fascinating injuries in neuroscience history, you’ll come across a lot of tales of woe and heartbreak. But there’s an amazing amount of resiliency in the brain, too. [via]