August 23, 2019
Latest News

Astronauts train for Moon, Mars by sowing coral on ocean reefs

By Ivonne Malaver

Miami, Jun 11 (efe-epa).- Two astronauts this week are preparing off the coast of Florida for the "hostile conditions" of future missions to the Moon and Mars, sowing coral on the ocean bottom to help save the Earth's threatened reefs.

"We're ready to go live and work on the ocean floor!" wrote Samantha Cristoforetti, an Italian astronaut with the European Space Agency who commands the mission 19 meters (62 feet) beneath the ocean surface near Key Largo, on her Twitter account.

The latest edition of the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) brings together astronauts and "a land-based support team" from the US and European space agencies, along with environmental experts who will work until June 20 on tests for long-duration space missions.

One of their tasks is linked to the construction and installation of "coral trees" near the Aquarius Reef Base, an underwater preserve that Florida International University has about 10 km (6 miles) off the coast of Key Largo.

"In the interior of Aquarius, aquanauts and astronauts will tackle an array of experiments and human research related to long duration space travel," said Bill Todd, the head of the NEEMO 23 project, in a statement.

Cristoforetti is being accompanied by NASA astronaut candidate Jessica Watkins and marine researchers Shirley Pomponi and Csilla Ari D'Agostino, as well as other habitat specialists.

"In many ways, Aquarius functions like the Space Station, with set procedures, roles and tight timelines," said Cristoforetti at the start of the mission.

During their mission, the astronauts will carry out dexterity tasks similar to those needed to explore the surfaces of other planets while they are helping to save the coral, the Coral Restoration Foundation, a non-governmental organization participating in NEEMO 23, said.

"The daily seafloor traverses, or extravehicular activities in space jargon, are jam-packed with technology and operations concept testing, as well as complex marine science," said Todd.

During their mission, the astronauts will live and work underwater along with marine scientists to train themselves for spaceflight and other objectives linked with space missions, such as stays aboard the International Space Station and future missions to the Moon and Mars.

"It doesn't happen every day that you get to live 10 days underwater where you have this incredibly rich marine flora and fauna," said Cristoforetti.

The "coral trees" were developed by the CRF and are now being used by coral restoration groups all over the world to foster rapid growth of large quantities of coral.

A coral tree is a structure made of PVC (polyvinyl chloride) attached to the ocean bed and outfitted with floats on its upper part, to which up to 100 coral fragments about the size of a finger can be attached to grow.

The coral grows and reproduces sexually by spawning, but it also reproduces asexually by "fragmentation," when - under favorable conditions - a branch breaks off and falls onto the reef whereupon it can join with the reef and begin to grow into a new colony.

This second process is the one being used by the CRF, which already has seven nurseries in Florida that include up to 11 coral species.

Sowing the corals in deep water poses another challenge for environmentalists, said Amelia Moura, the director of the CRF's scientific program.

Moura said that the environment at the Aquarius base is "completely different" from the sites where coral is traditionally cultivated.

"This makes it an exciting opportunity to further understand how different coral species and different genetic strains within certain species react to different environments, different fish communities, and different light conditions," she said.

When NEEMO 23 is concluded, FIU will take charge of the new nursery and will study the young coral and monitor the nutrients and herbivores at the Aquarius base site.

News history
Malaysia much poorer than its government estimates, says UN

Bangkok, Aug 23 (EFE).- The Malaysian government’s near zero poverty rate claim is inaccurately low, a United Nations expert said on Friday, estimating that...

Myanmar's Rohingyas living in 'appalling conditions,' says HRW

Yangon, Myanmar, Aug 23 (efe-epa).- The Rohingya population in Myanmar’s Rakhine state is living in "appalling" conditions, while those responsible for the...

International community calls for saving of the Amazon, engulfed in fire

Bogota, Aug 22 (efe-epa).- The fires raging in Brazil's Amazon rainforest have fueled global fears of environmental devastation, the climate crisis and the...

Giraffes get protection on international trade for 1st time

Geneva, Aug 22 (efe-epa).- Giraffes were added on Thursday for the first time to a protection mechanism that restricts their international trade in response...

The former neo-Nazi who converted to Judaism

By Pablo Duer

Brazil's president doubles down on criticism of NGOs operating in Amazon

Brasilia, Aug 22 (efe-epa).- President Jair Bolsonaro said Thursday that while he did not have evidence that non-governmental organizations were behind the...

Mexican human rights commission condemns attacks on journalist

Mexico City, Aug 22 (efe-epa).- Mexico's National Commission on Human Rights (CNDH) on Thursday condemned the attacks by "individuals and authorities" on...

Still unsafe for Rohingyas to return to Myanmar, Amnesty warns

Bangkok Desk, Aug 22 (efe-epa).- Human rights organization Amnesty International warned Thursday that it was still unsafe for members of the Rohingya ethnic...

Cuba relying on bacteria to end dengue epidemic

Havana, Aug 21 (efe-epa).- The dengue epidemic in several Latin American countries is also affecting - albeit to a lesser degree - Cuba, where experts are...

Czechs denounce current leaders during rally to mark 1969 crackdown

Prague, Aug 21 (efe-epa).- Tens of thousands of Czechs held a demonstration here Wednesday in which they remembered countrymen who were killed or injured on...

Trump seeks to halt family migration by extending child detentions

By Laura Barros

Brazil's president points finger at NGOs in Amazon fires

Brasilia, Aug 21 (efe-epa).- President Jair Bolsonaro insinuated on Wednesday that non-governmental organizations may be behind the fires in the Amazon, the...

Kathmandu, Aug 21 (EFE).- Nepal will make the Everest region a plastic-free zone by 2020 by banning single-use plastics, a move that will curb excessive...

Nepal bans single-use plastics in Everest region

Kathmandu, Aug 21 (efe-epa).- Nepal will make the Everest region a plastic-free zone by 2020 by banning single-use plastics, a move that will curb excessive...

Thailand starts distribution of medical marihuana to cancer patients

Bangkok, Aug 20 (efe-epa).- Thailand has begun the distribution of Cannabis oil targeting terminally ill cancer patients following the approval of a law...

Hungarians revel in a sea of fragrant blooms

Hungarians reveled in a sea of colour and fragrant blooms to marks the 50th Debrecen Flower Festival.

Pogba target of racist slurs for missing penalty against Wolverhampton

London, Aug 20 (efe-epa).- Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba has been subjected to racist insults on social media after missing a penalty in the...

With no right to divorce, Filipinos are trapped in loveless marriages forever

By Sara Gomez Armas

El Salvador woman pardoned after manslaughter conviction for abortion

Ciudad Delgado, El Salvador, Aug 19 (efe-epa).- A court in El Salvador pardoned Evelyn Hernandez, 21, this Monday of the crime of aggravated manslaughter...

Bardem: If 30 pct. of oceans not protected in 2030, damage to be irreversible

By Alvaro Celorio

DNA extracted from turtle shell products in drive to save species

Sydney, Australia, Aug 18 (efe-epa).- Scientists have extracted DNA from products made out of hawksbill turtle shells in a bid to save a species that is...

European Commission president cuts Austria vacation short for urgent surgery

Brussels, Aug 17 (efe-epa).- The president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, has had to cut his vacation in Austria short for medical...

FAO: 39 million people suffer from hunger in Latin America

Montevideo, Aug 17 (efe-epa).- An increase in the number of people suffering from hunger in Latin America and the Caribbean, now totaling 39 million, is a...

Death toll in dengue outbreak hits 40 in Bangladesh

Dhaka, Aug 17 (efe-epa).- At least 40 people have died from dengue in Bangladesh, with over 50,000 cases reported throughout the country since January,...

I agree Welcome to news4europe.eu. We use cookies to improve your online experience. Find out more.