Re­mote-con­trolled Is­raeli mini-lab­o­ra­tory reaches Int’l Space Sta­tion

Jerusalem Post - - NEWS - (Wiki­me­dia Com­mons) r #Z +6%: 4*&(&-

Un­der global cli­mate change, the dry, semi-arid re­gions are ex­pand­ing into higher lat­i­tudes while the tem­per­ate, rainy re­gions are mi­grat­ing to­wards the North and South Poles.

By dis­cov­er­ing that mid-lat­i­tude storms are steered fur­ther to­ward the poles in a warmer cli­mate, the re­searchers have pro­vided new in­sight into this phe­nom­e­non.

The teams’ mod­els of cli­mate change pre­dict that if av­er­age global tem­per­a­tures rise by four de­grees over the next 100 years, while storms will de­vi­ate pole­ward from their present tracks by two de­grees of lat­i­tude.

Prof. Yo­hai Kaspi of the in­sti­tute’s Earth and Plan­e­tary Sci­ences Depart­ment said: “Al­though two de­grees may not sound like a lot, the re­sult­ing de­vi­a­tion in tem­per­a­ture and rain pat­terns will have a sig­nif­i­cant ef­fect on cli­mate zones.”

The teams’ anal­y­sis, which also re­vealed the phys­i­cal mech­a­nisms that con­trol this phe­nom­e­non, in­volved a unique ap­proach of an­a­lyz­ing the storms’ dy­nam­ics that traced the pro­gres­sion of low-pres­sure weather sys­tems both from the out­side – in their move­ment around the globe – and from the in­side.

Kaspi ex­plained that the Earth’s cli­mate zones roughly fol­low lat­i­tu­di­nal bands. “Storms usu­ally move around the globe in pre­ferred re­gions called ‘storm tracks,’ form­ing over the ocean and gen­er­ally trav­el­ing east­ward and some­what pole­ward along th­ese paths.

“Thus, a storm that forms in the At­lantic off the East Coast of the US at about Lat. 40 de­grees N. will reach Europe in the re­gion of Lat. 50 de­grees N.,” he said.

Un­til re­cently this phe­nom­e­non was not re­ally un­der­stood. How­ever, Dr. Talia Tamarin from Kaspi’s group has solved this fun­da­men­tal ques­tion in her doc­toral re­search.

“From the ex­ist­ing cli­mate mod­els, one can ob­serve the av­er­age storm tracks, but it is hard to prove cause and ef­fect from th­ese,” ex­plained Kaspi. “They show us only where there are rel­a­tively more or fewer storms. Another ap­proach is fol­low­ing in­di­vid­ual storms; but we must deal with chaotic, noisy sys­tems that are heav­ily de­pen­dent on the ini­tial con­di­tions, mean­ing no storm is ex­actly like another.”

Tamarin de­vel­oped a method that com­bines th­ese two ap­proaches. She ap­plied a storm-track­ing al­go­rithm to sim­plify at­mo­spheric cir­cu­la­tion mod­els in which thou­sands of storms are gen­er­ated. This elim­i­nated the de­pen­dence on ini­tial con­di­tions.

It also al­lowed her to un­der­stand how such storms de­velop over time, space and what con­trols their move­ment.

In the present study, to un­der­stand how the move­ment of storms may change in a warmer world, Tamarin and Kaspi ap­plied the same method to full-com­plex­ity sim­u­la­tions of cli­mate change pre­dic­tions.

Their anal­y­sis showed that the ten­dency for tracked storms to veer in the di­rec­tion of the poles in­ten­si­fied in warmer con­di­tions.

They dis­cov­ered that two pro­cesses are re­spon­si­ble for this phe­nom­e­non. One is con­nected to the ver­ti­cal struc­ture and cir­cu­la­tion near the tops of th­ese weather sys­tems, while the sec­ond process is con­nected to the en­ergy tied up in the wa­ter vapor in such storms.

Global warm­ing stud­ies have shown that hot­ter air will con­tain more wa­ter vapor, and thus more en­ergy will be re­leased when the vapor con­denses to drops.

“The hottest, wettest air is cir­cu­lat­ing up the east­ern flank of the storm – to the north­ern side – and re­leas­ing en­ergy there,” said Tamarin. “This process pushes the storm north­ward (or south­ward in the south­ern hemi­sphere), and this ef­fect will also be stronger in a warmer cli­mate.”

The in­sti­tute’s re­search shows that part of this shift will be due to the mech­a­nism demon­strated, while the other part is tied to the fact that storms are born at a higher lat­i­tude in a warmer world.

A space lab de­vel­oped by the Space Pharma Com­pany in Is­rael and car­ry­ing four ex­per­i­ments in the field of life sci­ences ar­rived on Tues­day at the In­ter­na­tional Space Sta­tion af­ter a suc­cess­ful launch. The lab, whose de­vel­op­ment is sup­ported by the Is­rael Space Agency in the Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy Min­istry, is unique in that it will func­tion with­out di­rect hu­man con­tact but in­stead will be con­trolled by re­searchers from earth.

Two of the ex­per­i­ments were de­vel­oped by US re­searchers, one by a Swiss sci­en­tist and another by an Is­raeli phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pany. The ex­per­i­ments on live bi­o­log­i­cal cells are in­no­va­tive and have not yet been car­ried out in space. The first ex­per­i­ment is ex­pected to be­gin to­mor­row.

Ac­cord­ing to Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy Min­is­ter Ofir Aku­nis: “We are proud to see how Is­raeli en­trepreneurs in a new and de­vel­op­ing field of space start-ups are suc­ceed­ing in breach­ing bound­aries and reg­is­ter­ing achieve­ments in space.”

The Nexus space lab­o­ra­tory, which was launched on Sun­day, ar­rived along with three tons of sup­plies for astro­nauts liv­ing in the space sta­tion. The four ex­per­i­ments take up a space of only 10 cm. by 10 cm. by 20 cm. and weigh just 2.3 kg., thus min­i­miz­ing the cost of the launch. The pack­age in­cludes a cam­era-mi­cro­scope that takes sam­ples ac­cord­ing to the re­searchers’ in­struc­tions, unique in its tech­no­log­i­cal abil­ity to main­tain a tem­per­a­ture sim­i­lar to the hu­man body of 37 de­grees Cel­sius.

Al­low­ing con­trol of ex­per­i­ments by re­searchers from any­where on earth, it will be run via a Web site through a com­puter or mo­bile phone ap­pli­ca­tion. The re­searchers will be able to in­ter­vene in the ex­per­i­ment, man­age it, ex­tract mi­cro­scopic images and re­ceive real-time data on ra­di­a­tion, tem­per­a­ture and more, with­out the in­volve­ment of an astro­naut. Space pro­vides an op­ti­mal ex­per­i­men­tal en­vi­ron­ment for test­ing the ef­fects of sub-grav­ity con­di­tions on chem­i­cal and bi­o­log­i­cal ma­te­ri­als to, for ex­am­ple, test their re­sis­tance to drugs.

Ac­cord­ing to the com­pany’s founder, Yossi Yamin: “Meet­ing NASA’s tough stan­dards is a sig­nif­i­cant mile­stone for the com­pany. Work with the Amer­i­cans was de­mand­ing, and we can­not take for granted the fact that the sys­tem was ac­cepted.”

The lab is to be re­ceived at the space sta­tion by Ital­ian astro­naut Paolo De­spoli who vis­ited dur­ing Is­rael Space Week four years ago. He will con­nect it to the space sta­tion’s elec­tri­cal sys­tem. The ex­per­i­ments will be com­pleted within three weeks, and for the first time the lab­o­ra­tory will be re­turned to earth only a few months later for anal­y­sis by the re­searchers to speed up their investigation.

One of the ex­per­i­ments to be car­ried out is that of Dr. Sarah Walsh, whose study deals with the bac­te­ria that cause in­fec­tions, es­pe­cially among peo­ple whose im­mune sys­tem is weak. Her ex­per­i­ment ex­am­ines the ef­fect of mi­cro­grav­ity con­di­tions on a mol­e­cule that causes bac­te­ria to change.

AN EM­PEROR PEN­GUIN in Antarc­tica jumps out of the freez­ing wa­ter.

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