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The release of Polynesian snails became the largest species ever extinct in the wild | preservation



When French Polynesia was taken over by invasive African giant land snailto solve the problem, another alien species, the predatory pink wolf snail, was introduced.

Unfortunately, pink wolf snail instead, they devoured tiny endemic partula snails, hunting for the scent of their slimy trails at three times the speed of a normal snail.

But endangered partula snails are now gradually returning to health thanks to the largest release of “wild extinct” species in history, with more than 5,000 snails returned to the island after being bred in captivity.

Thousands of partula snails, belonging to 11 different species, have been reared at the zoos in London and Whipsnade, the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland and St. Louis Zoo in the United States. the islands of Moorea and Tahiti.

The paint ensures that the 1 to 2 cm long nocturnal snail glows under the ultraviolet light of torches, helping conservationists keep an eye on growing populations.

Over 5,000 snails have been returned to the islands after being bred in captivity. Photographer: ZSL

Dr. Paul Pierce-Kelly, ZSL Invertebrate Curator and Coordinator partula saving programsaid: “Despite their small size, these snails are of great cultural, ecological and scientific importance – they are the Darwinian finches of the snail world that have been studied for over a century due to their isolated habitat providing ideal conditions for study. evolution.

“This collaborative conservation initiative is without a doubt helping to bring these species back to the brink of extinction and demonstrates the conservation ability of zoos to reverse the loss of biodiversity.”

The last few surviving individuals of several partula species were rescued in the early 1990s by the London and Edinburgh Zoos to start an international breeding program at 15 zoos.

Eleven species have been saved, including the last known individual. Partula taeniata sumulans a cultivar that was donated to Edinburgh Zoo in 2010, where it was bred to a safe level of a few hundred.

Another kind of partula Partula Fabanot so lucky, and nine individuals brought to the Edinburgh Zoo failed to successfully breed in captivity, and the species died out in 2016.

Working with the government of French Polynesia to prepare the islands for their return with stocks of predator-proof snails, zoos began sending snails back into the wild nine years ago.

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Since then, over 21,000 partula snails, including 11 species classified as “extinct in the wild” IUCN Red List endangered species have been released to the islands. This year’s introduction was the largest number so far.

Partula snails, also known as Polynesian tree snails, play an important role in keeping rainforests healthy by eating decaying plant tissue and fungi. Returning them to the wild helps to restore the ecological balance on the islands.

Christophe Brocherier, Project Manager at the Polynesian Government’s Ministry of the Environment, said: “We are proud to be partners in this program, which highlights the importance of not giving up and persevering to achieve successful results in all of our conservation projects.”

Mollusk specialist Dr Justin Gerlach of Peterhouse, University of Cambridge, and another co-author of the project, said: “The releases have shown that partula snails, which have been bred in zoos for generations, have adapted very well to returning to the forests of their ancestors. “.


Japanese company says spacecraft likely crashed on moon



The Japanese company’s spacecraft apparently crashed while trying to land on the Moon on Wednesday, losing contact minutes before landing, and flight controllers had a hard time figuring out what happened.

More than six hours after the communications blackout, Tokyo-based ispace finally confirmed what everyone suspected, saying there was a “high possibility” that the lander had crashed into the moon.

It was a disappointing setback for ispace, which, after a 4.5-month mission, was on the verge of what only three countries had managed to do: successfully land a spacecraft on the moon.

Takeshi Hakamada, founder and CEO of ispace, remained hopeful even after contact was lost as the lander descended the final 33 feet (10 meters). Air traffic controllers stared at their screens in Tokyo as the minutes ticked by and the moon was silent.

The grim-faced crew surrounded Khakamada as he announced that the landing had probably failed.

The official word finally came in a statement: “It has been determined that there is a high probability that the lander eventually made a hard landing on the lunar surface.”

Had all gone well, ispace would have been the first private business to land on the moon. Khakamada promised to try again, saying that a second moon shot was already in preparation for next year.

Only three governments have successfully landed on the Moon: Russia, the US and China. An Israeli non-profit organization attempted to land on the moon in 2019. but his spaceship was destroyed on impact.

“If space is hard, landing is harder,” Lori Leshin, director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, tweeted. “I know from personal experience how terrible it is.”

The 7-foot (2.3-meter) Japanese lander carried a mini-lunar rover for the United Arab Emirates and a toy robot from Japan, designed to ride in the moon dust for about 10 days.

Leshin worked on NASA’s Mars Polar lander, which crashed on the red planet in 1999.

The 7-foot (2.3-meter) Japanese lander carried a mini-lunar rover for the United Arab Emirates and a toy robot from Japan, designed to ride in the moon dust for about 10 days. This was how everything else in the mission should have continued.

The spacecraft, named “white rabbit” in Japanese, has targeted the Atlas crater in the northeastern part of the Moon’s near side, more than 50 miles (87 kilometers) in diameter and just over 1 mile (2 kilometers) deep.

He made a long detour to the moon, following December start, shining with photographs of the Earth along the way. The lander entered lunar orbit on March 21.

Flight controllers were able to determine that the lander was upright as it used its engines to decelerate during its last approach on Wednesday. According to ispace, engineers monitoring the fuel gauge noticed that as the tank approached empty, the lander picked up speed as it descended, after which communication was lost. That’s what makes them think the lander crashed.

ispace, founded in 2010, hopes to start turning a profit as a one-way taxi service to the moon for other businesses and organizations. The company has already raised $300 million to cover the first three missions, Khakamada said.

“We will continue, never stop the lunar search,” he said.

For this test flight, the government sponsored two major experiments: the UAE’s 22-pound (10-kilogram) Rashid rover, named after Dubai’s royal family, and the Japan Space Agency’s orange-sized sphere designed to transform into a wheeled robot on the Moon The UAE sought to spread its presence on the Moon, already in orbit around the Earth from astronaut aboard the International Space Stationand in orbit around Mars.

The moon suddenly becomes hot again, and many countries and private companies are demanding to join the lunar bandwagon. China successfully landed three spacecraft on the Moon since 2013, and the satellites of the United States, China, India and South Korea are currently orbiting the Moon.

NASA’s first test flight as part of its new Artemis lunar mission program has ended. moon and back at the end of last year, paving the way for four astronauts to follow by the end of next year, and two others who will actually land on the Moon a year after that. Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic Technology and Houston-based Intuitive Machines are gearing up to launch lunar landers later this year at NASA’s direction.

Hakuto and the Israeli spacecraft Beresheet have been shortlisted for the Google Lunar X Prize, which requires a successful moon landing by 2018. The top prize of $20 million remained unclaimed.

The Associated Press Department of Health and Science receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Science and Education Media Group. AP is solely responsible for all content.

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Jupiter’s hot youth may have melted its icy moons



As a newborn planet, Jupiter shone brightly in the sky and eclipsed today’s sun from the perspective of the gas giant’s largest moons. This early glow and upcoming visits by several spacecraft could help solve a 40-year-old mystery about the composition of these moons.

For decades, scientists have been trying to understand the strange differences in density of Jupiter’s four Galilean moons, which, in order from closest to the planet to farthest, are Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. Although these natural satellites must have formed from the same source material and therefore have a similar composition, density measurements show that Callisto and Ganymede are much icier than Europa, and Io has no ice at all. disclosed At a conference last month, Carver Birson, a planetary scientist at Arizona State University, can shed some light on the subject.

Giant planets are formed by the merger and compression of huge volumes of gas and dust. This process releases a lot of excess energy and gives the newborn giants a literal youthful glow that can last for millions of years. This is more than a theory: astronomers regularly use this glow to image young giant exoplanets that would otherwise be lost in the glow of nearby stars. But the less glaring question of how such a glow could shape accompanying moons has been largely unexplored. In the case of Jupiter, computer simulations by Birson and colleagues suggest that the planet’s early glow illuminated its newborn moons and evaporated most of their water over a period of several million years.

“It gave people the opportunity to think about a completely new process,” says Francis Nimmo, who studies icy moons at the University of California, Santa Cruz and was not involved in the study.

Four satellites, one source

The differential compositions of the four Galilean moons have puzzled researchers for decades, ever since the first high-quality satellite density measurements were made. Locked inside Jupiter’s radiation belt and heated from within by the planet’s powerful tidal forces that knead the Moon’s interior like dough, Io is a completely ice-free world of hyperactive volcanoes. A little more distant Europe is also in the grip of the radiation and tides of Jupiter. But more modest levels of internal heating have given the Moon a subsurface ocean and icy crust, rather than lava-spewing calderas. Ganymede and Callisto are relatively inert, rich in ice, and much farther from Jupiter than Io and Europa.

Although the differences in Jupiter’s gravitational hold clearly explain some of the differences between the moons, planetary scientists were still trying to understand how these objects could have a common origin, yet be so different from each other. Just as planets form from spinning protoplanetary disks of gas and dust around nascent protostars, large moons can form from smaller mini-disks around gathering gas giant worlds. Current thinking calls for Jupiter to gain most of its mass very quickly, during the first 10 million years of the solar system’s life, before the light and stellar winds from the ever-brightening sun swept all the gas from the protoplanetary disk.

This relatively compressed timeline means that Jupiter would have had to greedily, quickly gulp gas to reach its current size, which would have caused it to heat up and glow, reaching a temperature estimated at 1,160 degrees Fahrenheit (627 degrees Celsius). For the Galilean moons, which supposedly formed around the same time as Jupiter itself, the planet would have shone like a star in the sky and overwhelmed the light coming from the more distant sun. By carefully modeling the effects of Jupiter’s increased luminosity on the Galilean moons, Birson and his colleagues found that this beam of light could clearly solve the riddle of today’s diverse satellite composition.

Composite image showing Jupiter’s four largest moons in order of increasing distance from the gas giant. From left to right: Io is closest, then Europa, then Ganymede, and finally Callisto. Credit: Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Fragrant fresh baked moons

Torn apart by Jupiter’s gravity, Io today is a hellish landscape of volcanic eruptions and is the most active body in the solar system. But the team found that Jupiter’s youthful glow may have originally given Io Earth’s temperatures and perhaps even the ocean. “I think it’s likely that either during Io’s formation or just after Io’s completion, there is some water on the surface,” Birson says.

That would change quickly, Birson said, as Io received about 30 times more energy from Jupiter than it receives from the Sun today. If Io had as much water as its cousin Ganymede currently holds, all that moisture would be quickly removed, and any remaining ocean would evaporate in the first million years of the moon’s existence.

Europa, further away than Io, would have had slightly cooler surface conditions – although they might still have been hot enough for this moon to lose a significant amount of its water. Farther away, on Ganymede, Jupiter would appear barely brighter than today’s Sun, a level of isolation without significant impact on lunar ice. The distant Callisto, sent to the outskirts of the Jupiter system, would not have been impressed by the radiant youth of Jupiter. (All of this assumes the moons were in their current positions. They probably formed closer before migrating to their current locations, however, this means the results of the study are probably only a lower limit on how much each moon was baked by Jupiter. .)

“The advantage of this hypothesis is that there are several tests that you can apply,” says Nimmo.

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If Europa had lost most of its ice in its lifetime, rather than formed from less ice than its siblings, the remaining hydrogen and oxygen would have a different isotopic fingerprint than the ice on Ganymede and Callisto. Thus, an isotopic comparison of Europa with one or both of the most distant moons could finally reveal the truth about how these moons diverged from their common origin. “The more comparisons you can make [among the chemistries of the moons]the more you will understand how things will develop at this very early time,” says Birson.

This is quite an attractive proposition, given the recent launch of the European Space Agency’s Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE) mission. Between 2031 and 2034, JUICE will make 35 flybys of Europa, Callisto and Ganymede before entering orbit around Ganymede. An extended tour can go a long way in determining whether all Galilean moons were born with the same amount of ice. JUICE has a mass spectrometer, which Nimmo says can make important measurements of hydrogen and water vapor that can come into space from moons, specifically Ganymede.

“The question is whether Ganymede provides enough material for the heights that JUICE can sample,” says Nimmo. He remains confident that this will be the case.

Even if JUICE research fails to crack the case, it won’t be the only moon-exploring spacecraft hovering in the Jupiter system. NASA’s Juno mission is already in orbit around the gas giant, and the space agency’s Europa Clipper mission is set to launch next year to travel to the mission’s moon of the same name. The Clipper data should provide a clear comparison of JUICE’s views of Europa’s ice that will be enough to extrapolate and distinguish from what a European spacecraft sees on Ganymede and possibly Callisto.

“Comparisons between moons will be extremely important,” Birson says. “It’s so exciting that JUICE and Europa Clipper will appear almost at the same time and maybe overlap a bit.”

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Water in the West: before and after satellite imagery shows snow boom per year, but…



As shown in the animation below, this was indeed a snow boom year in the western United States. This is especially true in water-stressed California and the mega-drought-hit Colorado River Basin, whose dwindling water is supporting a $1.4 trillion economy.

Before and after satellite images, one taken on April 8, 2022 by the NOAA-20 satellite and another taken on April 10, 2023 by the Suomi-NPP spacecraft, show a striking difference in snow cover in the mountains of the American West. . Snow cover is now much higher than average almost everywhere. (Source: images from NASA Worldview, animation by Tom Yulsman)

Incredible snow cover in California’s Sierra Nevada continues to make headlines, especially as heat builds up. threatens to meltraising the already high risk of flooding. As of April 26, snowpack levels across the Sierra Nevada were over 200 percent of the average for that date. In the southern part of the Sierra, this figure exceeded 300 percent of the average.

These numbers are not uncommon. right now in the western US, as shown on this map:

Credit: USDA/NRCS National Water and Climate Center.

All these blues and greens show where the snow cover is above average.

The abundance of snow in the mountains of the Colorado River Basin is a relief to the 40 million people in the seven states, Mexico and the numerous Indian tribes that depend on its waters. Two large reservoirs, Lake Powell and Lake Mead, which were needed to meet their water needs, have dropped to record lows. The water level in other reservoirs of the basin dropped sharply.


But now the snow cover gives hope that a further decline can be avoided – at least in the upcoming warm season. Based current forecaststhe reservoir for the basin as a whole will be filled to approximately 44 percent capacity on 30 September, at the end water year 2023. This is more than 33 percent at the beginning of the water year in October. January 1, 2022. Some good news for a change, but almost certainly not in the long run.

Satellite images of the Colorado Rockies before and after, the first image was taken on April 4, 2022, and the second on April 16 this year. (Source: images from NASA Worldview, animation by Tom Yulsman)

“This winter’s snow cover is promising and gives us an opportunity to help replenish Lakes Mead and Powell in the near term, but the reality is that drought conditions in the Colorado River Basin have been in place for more than two decades,” the US Bureau said. Land Reclamation Commissioner Camilla Kalimlim Tuton, in statements.

Recent Research shows that the region has suffered from the worst drought in the region for at least 1200 years. In the study, just over 40 percent of its severity was attributed to human-caused climate change, mostly due to rising temperatures that caused increased aridity.

As Touton points out, “despite welcome snow this year, the Colorado River system remains under threat from the ongoing effects of the climate crisis.”

Landsat-8 images of the upper Colorado River show a dramatic difference in snow cover between April 2022 and 2023. In both images, bodies of water are artificially tinted blue to make them stand out. (Source: Images via Sentinel Hub, animation by Tom Yulsman)

Assuming that this year’s abundance of snow results in expected runoff into streams and rivers – which isn’t really a given – it would give politicians a little more time to make some very difficult decisions about how to deal with the inevitable fact that much more water is being used. for agriculture, industry and municipal needs than flows in the Colorado River. That is why Lake Mead and Powell have shrunk to record lows. And thanks to the climate crisis, the flow deficit is unlikely to be eliminated in the long term.

This long-term perspective is associated with rising temperatures due to the rising concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which continue to their historically high growth rates in 2022, according to NOAA scientists.

“The bottom line is that to see any reduction in CO2 growth rates, emissions reductions need to be sustained and significant,” says Arlene Andrews, head of NOAA’s greenhouse gas emissions team.

Right now, we’re nowhere near seeing a reduction in emissions. Vice versa. In 2022, global energy-related CO2 emissions rose by 0.9 percent, according to the International Energy Agencyreaching a record level of almost 37 billion tons.

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