Although not designed to map changes in Earth's gravity over time, ESA's GOCE satellite has shown that the ice lost from West Antarctica over the last few years has left its signature. More than doubling its planned life in orbit, GOCE spent four years measuring Earth's gravity in unprecedented detail. Researchers have found that the decrease in the mass of ice during this period was mirrored in GOCE's measurements.
In a meeting Sept. 30, 2014 in Toronto, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and K. Radhakrishnan, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), signed two documents to launch a NASA-ISRO satellite mission to observe Earth and establish a pathway for future joint missions to explore Mars.
The European Space Agency's Rosetta mission will deploy its lander, Philae, to the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on Nov. 12. Philae's landing site, currently known as Site J, is located on the smaller of the comet's two "lobes," with a backup site on the larger lobe.
NASA's Cold Atom Laboratory (CAL) mission has succeeded in producing a state of matter known as a Bose-Einstein condensate, a key breakthrough for the instrument leading up to its debut on the International Space Station in late 2016.
Summer 2014 marked another milestone for the Aral Sea, the once-extensive lake in Central Asia that has been shrinking markedly since the 1960s. For the first time in modern history, the eastern basin of the South Aral Sea has completely dried.
Researchers say there should be an international database containing the very latest information about organ donations and transplants, so policy makers can make informed decisions on whether to adopt an opt-out or opt-in system.
Cell division, the process that ensures equal transmission of genetic information to daughter cells, has been fundamentally conserved for over a billion years of evolution. Considering its ubiquity and essentiality, it is expected that proteins that carry out cell division would also be highly conserved. Challenging this assumption, scientists from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have found that one of the foundational proteins in cell division, previously shown to be essential in organisms as diverse as yeast, flies and humans, has been surprisingly lost on multiple occasions during insect evolution.
Eyeless Mexican cavefish show no metabolic circadian rhythm in either light and dark or constant dark conditions, according to a study published September 24, 2014 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Damian Moran from Lund University, Sweden, and colleagues.
Achieving complete breakdown of plant biomass for energy conversion in industrialized bioreactors remains a complex challenge, but new research shows that termite fungus farmers solved this problem more than 30 million years ago. The new insight reveals that the great success of termite farmers as plant decomposers is due to division of labor between a fungus breaking down complex plant components and gut bacteria contributing enzymes for final digestion.
Most organisms, including humans, have parasitic DNA fragments called "jumping genes" that insert themselves into DNA molecules, disrupting genetic instructions in the process. And that phenomenon can result in age-related diseases such as cancer. But researchers at the University of Rochester now report that the "jumping genes" in mice become active as the mice age when a multi-function protein stops keeping them in check in order to take on another role.