Three Expedition 60 Crew Members Heading to Station on Apollo 50th

ROSCOSMOS — Soyuz MS-13 Mission patch.

July 20, 2019

Image above: Expedition 60 crewmembers Drew Morgan, Alexander Skvortsov and Luca Parmitano launch aboard the Soyuz MS-13 rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Image Credits: NASA/Joel Kowsky.

Fifty years to the day that astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped on the Moon in a giant leap for humanity, NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan, Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) and Alexander Skvortsov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos will arrive Saturday for their mission aboard the International Space Station, where humans have lived and worked continuously for more than 18 years, begin a six-hour journey to the International Space Station.

Soyuz MS-13 launch

The Soyuz MS-13 spacecraft carrying Morgan, Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) and Alexander Skvortsov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos launched at 12:28 p.m. EDT July 20 (9:28 p.m. Kazakhstan time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and has safely reached orbit.  At the time of launch, the station was flying about 254 miles over southern Russia between Kazakhstan and Mongolia, 646 miles ahead of the Soyuz as it left the launch pad.

Image above: The Expedition 60 crew members (from top to bottom) Luca Parmitano, Andrew Morgan and Alexander Skvortsov wave bye before boarding their Soyuz MS-13 spacecraft in Kazakhstan. Image Credit: Roscosmos/NASA.

The crew has begun their six-hour trip to the orbital laboratory where they will live and work for their mission. Coverage of the Soyuz docking to the International Space Station will begin on NASA TV and the agency’s website at 6 p.m., with the spacecraft docking expected at 6:50 p.m.

Coverage of the hatch opening between the Soyuz and the space station will begin at 8 p.m.

Related links:

NASA Television:

Expedition 60:

Space Station Research and Technology:

International Space Station (ISS):

Images (mentioned), Video, Text, Credits: NASA/Mark Garcia/Roscosmos/SciNews.

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Do the Twist Sharing creativity with architects and designers,…

Do the Twist

Sharing creativity with architects and designers, bioengineers are exploring innovative ways to create intricate medical devices, albeit at a scale 10,000 times smaller than the Sydney Opera House. These tiny structures perfect a new trick – designs with a twist. A gold material is placed in patterns onto a stretched surface peppered with tiny cuts (top left). As the surface relaxes, the gold structures buckle, spiral or pop up into a 3D shape (bottom right), similar to the Japanese art of kirigami. As scientists know how the materials behave, these structures can be designed using computer models first, much like how computer-aided design is used for buildings and machines. Putting a twist into new artificial particles increases the flexibility of designs used in medical implants or sensors.

Written by John Ankers

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Secrets of a Babylonian Villa in Ur

Ur is one of the world’s oldest cities. What was life like for its inhabitants some 4000 years ago? A team led by Adelheid Otto, Director of the Institute of Near Eastern Archaeology at LMU, is carrying out excavations at Ur, which promise to provide some answers to this question. The team has now returned from Southern Iraq, having completed their second season due to the kind permission by the Iraqi State Board of Antiquities and Heritage. This year’s dig, funded by the Gerda Henkel Foundation and the Munich University Association, lasted for 9 weeks. Its target was a residential building that was located on the edge of the city, and has been dated to the period around 1835 BCE. The excavation forms part of a larger project led by Professor Elisabeth Stone of Stony Brook University in New York State.

Secrets of a Babylonian Villa in Ur
The LMU team has excavated the remains of a house on the periphery of the city, a capacious residence consisting
of 17 rooms. It belonged to the Administrator and Chief Priest of Ur’s second most important temple,
obviously a prominent member of the city’s elite [Credit: A. Otto/LMU; Berthold Einwag]

The LMU group began work on the site 2 years ago, and has now uncovered the whole house, together with a vaulted tomb in which the remains of 24 individuals were discovered. To accomplish this task, the team, which included Bachelor’s and Master’s students as well as doctoral candidates worked 6 days a week on the site. “They did a fantastic job,” says Adelheid Otto. “We began work every morning at 5 and worked until 10 or 11 o’clock at night.”
A villa on the outskirts of the city

What the team brought to light was a 17-roomed house with a large courtyard, and the surviving inventory were all recovered. “The question we originally wanted to answer was whether the poorer class of people lived on the periphery of the city, since excavations in the city center have revealed that its residential population was clearly well off. But instead of finding lower-class dwellings, we came upon this Old Babylonian villa. It was certainly a very imposing building. We have been able to identify the function of each of its rooms, and the finds give a very detailed and precise picture of how its inhabitants lived nearly 4000 years ago. Even the kitchen and a bathroom complete with toilet and a drainage system are preserved. Indeed, in terms of hygiene, the arrangements were excellent.”

Secrets of a Babylonian Villa in Ur
Here you can see the bathroom, which was tiled, and also the drain, which led a depth
of several metres [Credit: A. Otto/LMU; Berthold Einwag]

Thanks to the finds made during the excavation, it is now possible to piece together how the inhabitants led their lives. “It is the very model of a private residence in the Old Babylonian period,” says Adelheid Otto. “We have many pieces of the puzzle, which will provide us with a picture of this house’s past, not only the architecture with its various rooms and their functions, but also texts on clay tablets, including letters and the impressions of seals, which were deciphered by cuneiform specialists Professor Dominique Charpin (Collège de France Paris) and Professor Walther Sallaberger (LMU). That is a particular stroke of luck, because these finds tell us who the owner was.”
His name was Sîn-nada, and he was essentially high priest and managing director of the second most important temple in Ur, an office which made him a personage of considerable consequence in the city. “Interestingly, it turns out that his wife was also involved in the administration of the temple. In Ur during this period, women could also read and write.” The LMU researchers also collected botanical samples and animal bones in the course of the excavation, which are now being analyzed and promise to provide insight into the residents’ diet.

Secrets of a Babylonian Villa in Ur
The LMU archaeologists have excavated a crypt under the courtyard next to the house. Here the deceased family members
 were buried. «The people treated the deceased with great reverence. Older skeletons were carefully stacked
 on top of each other at the back,» says Adelheid Otto [Credit: A. Otto/LMU; Berthold Einwag]

The human remains found during the dig are being investigated further by anthropologist Andrea Göhring in the Department of Biology, who took an active part in the excavation. “Preliminary analyses indicate that these people were healthy and well nourished, and some of them survived for 70 years and more.

More detailed study should yield further information on what they ate, how long they lived and how healthy they were, and should also tell us whether or not they were related to each other, and whether they were natives of Ur or had moved to the city from elsewhere. Ur was a trading center, so it is likely that many of its inhabitants came from further afield, says Adelheid Otto. A team led by Professor Jörg Fassbinder of the Department of Geophysics has also carried out a geophysical survey of the South Mound, which revealed that this part of Ur was a densely built-up area, but it also had open spaces, such as public squares and harbours.

All that remains is – a pile of sand

So far, the investigations at Ur have demonstrated that, 4000 years ago, the city was a lively and densely settled metropolis. “It was a flourishing period during which people generally had a good life. That is certainly what this house and its residents tell us.”

Secrets of a Babylonian Villa in Ur
The finds also include inscribed clay tablets and unrolled seals. In this way the LMU archaeologists learn a lot about the lives of the residents of the house, such as what the landlord and mistress of the house were called and that they
also taught reading and writing in their house [Credit: A. Otto/LMU; Berthold Einwag]

Its owner Sîn-nada and his family led prosperous lives almost a century before the city itself met its end. Its fate was sealed when the city’s population revolted against the King of Babylonia, who had gained control of the city. The King responded by cutting off the city’s water supply by rerouting the course of the Euphrates.

Ur found itself, as it is today, in the middle of a dry steppe, and urban life eventually became impossible, says Adelheid Otto, and goes on to point out the relevance of this tragedy to the threats we face today from climate change. Within a very short time, the shortage of water turned this prosperous city into a pile of sand. By about 1720 BCE, Ur ceased to exist, and it was only hundreds of years later that life at Ur was resuming again.

Source: Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München [July 20, 2019]