theme by 0racular

HIV returns in ‘cured’ Mississippi babyWhile doctors are disappointed to find traces of HIV in the nearly 4-year-old child, that she remained HIV-free for two years is an encouraging sign for the experimental treatment.

Diopside with Vesuvianite from Canada
by Dan Weinrich

In the Dachstein Giant Ice Cave, a physicist (top right) test-walks the Aouda.X space suit prototype.
On April 28, as an unseasonably hot sun melted 8-foot-high chunks of winter snow in the Austrian Alps, a man in a space suit waited near the entrance of a cave. Most visitors to the million-year-old Dachstein Giant Ice Cave prefer to wear standard winter coats during visits to its freezing, icy interior. But for five days the Dachstein cave system was a temporary lab for a squad of space scientists. Some 50 scientists assembled from three continents to use the UNESCO World Heritage site as a proxy for Mars—a first for the cave system, which normally hosts jazz concerts, modern art exhibits, laser shows, and a steady stream of tourists. The space scientists used the Dachstein caves to practice 12 experiments that they hope to perform on future missions to the Red Planet. Those missions include ExoMars, an unmanned mission planned for 2018 by the U.S. National Aeronautics & Space Administration and the European Space Agency (ESA) as well as a potential human mission that ESA has predicted will take place by 2030. Space scientists typically travel to remote deserts to simulate Mars’s dusty, arid environment, or they go to Antarctica as a proxy for the planet’s frigid temperature, which averages around –35 °C but can range from 30 to –140 °C. While these locations are excellent mimics of the Mars surface, astrobiologists searching for life have their eyes on the Red Planet’s caves, which is where the Dachstein caves come in. “If there is life on Mars—and it’s a big if—then it would likely be in the planet’s lava canals,” a network of underground caves in the planet’s basalt interior forged by lava during ancient volcanic eruptions, says Gernot Grömer, president of the Austrian Space Forum (ASF), the agency spearheading the field experiments at the Dachstein caves. Martian caves offer the best chance for life because they have a relatively stable temperature between –30 and –40 °C and they contain water—albeit in frozen form, Grömer explains. These underground passageways also offer protection from harmful ultraviolet radiation and solar flares that inundate the planet’s surface—protection that would probably be a prerequisite for life, says Bernard Foing, a space scientist at Free University of Amsterdam and with ESA.
-Sarah Everts
Space Suit in a Cave: Austrian Alps provide a proxy for Martian caves that could hold life
Chemical & Engineering News, May 14, 2012

Quartz (Herkimer Diamonds)
Herkimer, New York, USA