research

Showing 19 posts tagged research

If you’ve ever pretended to be on the Red Planet, you’re not alone. This is Crew 138 of the Mars Society’s Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS), a team of scientists who are researching what it would be like to live on Mars by pretending. From Wikipedia:

The crews usually consist of a mix of astronomers, physicists, biologists, geologists, engineers and the occasional journalist. Each crew member is usually assigned a role: Commander, Executive Officer (ExO), Health and Safety Officer (HSO), Crew Biologist, Crew Geologist or Chief Engineer.

In addition to cooking, cleaning, exercise, HAB maintenance, GreenHab gardening, etc, the crew has mission objectives to complete. A final mission report is written from their notes, analysis, and experiences so that future Mars astronauts and explorers can be well prepared. From National Geographic:

On the mission, the international team is working on in-the-field mapping, collecting and analyzing rock samples, measuring the payoff from exercise, and taking blood samples to monitor crew health. The team is working in mock space suits and testing work protocols indoors and outside.

The first days were largely spent learning to live and work in the Habitat, which is a round two-story structure that measures about 25 feet across.

After the crew enters full simulation, the Habitat contains all the food and water we need, as well as work and sleep quarters.

This team was based in the Utah desert, but there have been other “extraterrestrial” sites: Haughton Crater on Devon Island, and next to the Krafla Rift Volcano in Iceland. There’s also one in the works 324 miles (521 km) north of Adelaide, South Australia. For more information about the project, including volunteer requirements, check out desert.marssociety.org, and read more at National Geographic.

Watch more Mars videos, including a topographically accurate landscapes of Mars and everything Mars Curiosity.

via Devour.

In the mountains of Ethiopia, the BBC’s Steve Backshall and his Deadly 60 team track a group of graminivorous (grass-eating) gelada baboons to observe their amazing, lion-sized, canine teeth, which are central to the primates’ social communications. From Mary Bates at Wired’s Zoologic blog

The gum-bearing yawn was most common with males, especially high-ranking ones. This kind of yawn exposed the gelada’s impressive canine teeth, which stood out against the reddish-pink color of their gums and the inside of their mouths. It was often accompanied by a loud call, and the researchers believe the yawn functions as a long-distance display. Males used this yawn during periods of tension, such as the time right before feeding, suggesting it may serve to intimidate other geladas.

The other two less intense types of yawns were seen most in females during friendly interactions. The researchers found these yawns to be more contagious, and observed females mirroring the intensity of other females’ yawns. They believe these yawns are part of a complex communication system between geladas that often engage in friendly interactions. The contagiousness of the yawns in these contexts suggests the behavior might play a role in synchronizing the activity between two geladas, strengthening the emotional connection between them,  or signaling the quality of their relationship.

Gelada males and females might use yawns differently, but all three types of yawn contribute to the smooth workings of gelada society; they function to let everyone know who’s in charge and which geladas are friends.

In the archives: more BBC, more primatesmore yawns, and some teeth.

For the last five years, Dr. Pim Bongaerts of University of Queensland’s Global Change Institute has been documenting the lives of corals through time-lapse photography. It all happens too slowly for the human eye, but capturing life in a coral reef over longer periods of time reveals much more about their growth, locomotion, and even their violent competition with each other. The video above is from BBC News: Underwater time-lapse shows secret life of a coral reef.

Plus some extra info from NOAA.gov:

So what exactly are corals?

Corals actually comprise an ancient and unique partnership, called symbiosis, that benefits both animal and plant life in the ocean. Corals are animals, though, because they do not make their own food, as plants do. Corals have tiny, tentacle-like arms that they use to capture their food from the water and sweep into their inscrutable mouths.

Any structure that we call a “coral” is, in fact, made up of hundreds to thousands of tiny coral creatures called polyps…

In the archives: more coral.

Thanks, Annie.

Updated video link.

An animal that can push with 40x their bodyweight, the hairy-tailed mole for example, is definitely something to better understand, and scientists at the University of Massachusetts and Brown University are trying to do just that. So how exactly do moles move so much dirt around as they tunnel underground?

From The New York Times’ ScienceTake: Uncovering the Secrets of Mole Motion.

Related locomotion videos: the design and movement of slithering snakes, a 600lb octopus and a goshawk can fit through tiny spaces, and Sir David Attenborough introduces the naked mole rat.

via @bittelmethis.

Why do birds often fly in a “V” shape formation? Researchers at the UK’s Royal Veterinary College have gathered data from individual ibises in a migratory flock to study why this pattern is so popular: their relative position and wing flap timing gives them extra lift from the upward motion of air created by the bird ahead of them.

In 2011, as part of a reintroduction programme, captive-bred ibises following an ultralight aircraft to their wintering grounds arranged themselves in the shape of a V. Data loggers on their backs captured every position and wing flap, yielding the most compelling experimental evidence yet that birds exploit the aerodynamics of the familiar formation to conserve energy.

Above, this lovely Nature Video tells the study’s story: Come fly with me. You can read more about this upwash exploitation at Nature or The New York Times, or watch a summary video at NPR.org.

Related watching: take a ride on an eagle’s back, TED Ed’s Bird Migration, A Perilous Journey, and behind the scenes of the BBC’s phenomenal Earthflight.