The Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (BCSIR) became the latest institution to sequence the genome of coronavirus samples from Bangladesh, revealing the 3 samples they worked with strongly suggested the virus arrived here from Europe.
BCSIR completed sequencing of three SARS-CoV-2 samples at its laboratory.
The detailed information of the successful sequencing is viewable through the website of the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID), where the database is stored.
“According to analysis, this Bangladeshi virus has 99.99 percent similarity with European sources, particularly Sweden,” said Dr Md Selim Khan, Principal Scientific Officer, project director and the team leader of the researchers.
Data analysis showed that nine variants were available at the amino acid level.
This brings the total number of genomes sequenced in Bangladesh to 23. And yet
“twenty-three complete sequencing data, including three from BCSIR, are not enough for detail knowledge or to come to a conclusion,” the media statement said.
Bangladesh needs more sequencing data from different places to speed up its research activities including that of developing a vaccine.
Earlier, Science and Technology Minister Yeafesh Osman and the ministry’s secretary directed to collect samples from all possible places of the country and sequence them at genomic research laboratory of BCSIR.
“Once the work is done, it will help develop antidote, medicine and vaccine,” the statement said.
Bangladesh is grappling with a rising number of coronavirus cases. On Saturday, it reported 28 deaths and 1,764 cases. So far, the country has confirmed 44,608 cases and 610 deaths.
The bones of about 60 mammoths were found at an under-construction airport north of Mexico City, reports AP.
Archaeologists say the discovery was made near the human-built 'traps' where more than a dozen mammoths were found last year. This could possibly indicate that humans may have been smarter — and mammoths clumsier — than people had previously thought.
"There are too many, there are hundreds," said archaeologist Pedro Sánchez Nava, of the National Institute of Anthropology and History.
The institute began digging in three large but shallow areas in October, when work started to convert an old military airbase into a civilian airport. In about six months, the bones of 60 mammoths were found, and Sánchez said that the pace — about 10 mammoths a month — may continue.
The airport project is scheduled for completion in 2022, at which the dig will end.
The excavations were conducted on the shores of an ancient lake, once known as Xaltocan and now disappeared. The shallow lake apparently produced generous quantities of grasses and reeds, which attracted mammoths who often ate 150kg of the stuff every day.
"It was like paradise for them," Sánchez Nava said.
But the new excavations at the airbase have not yet turned up any of the distinct cut marks that would suggest human butchering of the animals.
Sánchez said the most recently discovered mammoths had apparently got stuck in the mud of the ancient lake and died, or were eaten by other animals.
But the bones will be subject to further study because Sánchez said humans might have carved up the mammoths once they got stuck.
And, he said, ancient human could possibly have used the mud pools and flats around the lake shore as a sort of natural trap. "It's possible they may have chased them into the mud," he noted, adding, "They (ancient humans) had a very structured and organised division of labour" for getting mammoth meat.
The discovery also challenges the notion that mammoth was a chance, sporadic item on our ancestors’ menu.
Sánchez Nava said the large numbers of remains will allow scientists to research how mammoths fed and whether they were already suffering genetic inbreeding or decline, which could have contributed — along with human hunting — to their extinction on the mainland about 10,000 years ago.
NASA has selected three U.S. companies to design and develop human landing systems for the agency's Artemis program, one of which will land the first woman and next man on the surface of the moon by 2024.
The three companies are Blue Origin of Kent, Washington; Dynetics of Huntsville, Alabama; and SpaceX of Hawthorne, California, according to a release of the agency on Thursday night.
The human landing system awards are firm-fixed price, milestone-based contracts, and the total combined value for all awarded contracts is 967 million U.S. dollars for the 10-month base period, the release said.
"With these contract awards, America is moving forward with the final step needed to land astronauts on the Moon by 2024, including the incredible moment when we will see the first woman set foot on the lunar surface," said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.
"This is the first time since the Apollo era that NASA has direct funding for a human landing system, and now we have companies on contract to do the work for the Artemis program," he said.
NASA's commercial partners will refine their lander concepts through the contract base period ending in February 2021. During that time, the agency will evaluate which of the contractors will perform initial demonstration missions.
NASA will later select firms for development and maturation of sustainable lander systems followed by sustainable demonstration missions. NASA intends to procure transportation to the lunar surface as commercial space transportation services after these demonstrations are complete, according to the release.
Charged with returning to the moon in the next four years, NASA's Artemis program will reveal new knowledge about the moon, Earth, and the origins in the solar system.
The human landing system is a vital part of NASA's deep space exploration plans, along with the Space Launch System rocket, Orion spacecraft, and Gateway.
An unmanned Russian cargo capsule docked with the International Space Station, bringing more than 2 tons of supplies to the three-person crew.
The Progress spacecraft docked at 0512 GMT Saturday, about 3 1/2 hours after blasting off from Russia's Baikonur launch complex in Kazakhstan.
The ship carried fuel, water, food, medicine and other supplies.
There are three astronauts aboard the space station: Russia's Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner, and Chris Cassidy of the United States.
The Space Day of China, which falls on April 24, is more special this year, as it marks the 50th anniversary of the successful launch of Dongfanghong-1, the country's first man-made satellite.
It listed China as the fifth country in the world to develop and launch a man-made satellite on its own, and recorded the country's first step in exploring the vast space.
Affected by the novel coronavirus epidemic, China's space institutes and science popularization organizations held online forums and meetings, where the researchers engaged in the Dongfanghong-1 mission, mostly above 70, shared their stories with the satellite, a never-fading feat in the country's space history.
In the mid-1960s, in response to Chairman Mao Zedong's call, China began the research and development of its own man-made satellite.
In 1968, China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) was established, with Qian Xuesen, a founder of China's space industry, as its first president. The academy sped up the Dongfanghong-1 mission with specific planning and implementation steps.
Pan Houren, then deputy head of the overall design team of the satellite, recalled that the central government allocated 200 million yuan (about 28 million U.S. dollars) for the mission. "At that time, 200 million yuan was really not an easy sum."
However, China's elder space researchers still faced numerous difficulties. They knew little of the relevant technologies, and they did not have the satellite processing equipment and testing facilities. Nor could they seek help from outside, as Western countries blockaded China, and the Soviet Union also cut off the exchanges.
"At that time, China's industrial foundation was weak, and scientific research conditions were relatively poor. The international environment was unfavorable. So we had to make a satellite all by ourselves and from scratch," said Pan on an online forum initiated by SpaceD, a Beijing-based company spreading aerospace science.
To help young people understand the difficulty of the mission, Pan compared launching a satellite with making steamed bread. The researchers had to start from reclaiming wasteland, and then they could plant the seeds, grind the wheat and make steamed bread.
With a shape close to a globe, Dongfanghong-1 successfully entered its preset orbit on April 24, 1970. It is one meter in diameter and 173 kg in weight, heavier than the total of the first four manmade satellites launched by others.
Among the various technical problems, the most impressive one researchers had handled was to make it play in orbit "Dongfanghong," the folk song lauding Chairman Mao, and allow all the Chinese people to hear it through the radio.
According to CAST, researchers made a special musical device to simulate the song with electronic music, designing it to play the first eight sections of the music in 40 seconds and transmit the telemetry signals in the following 20 seconds.
However, the first sound from the musical device in a ground experiment was out of tune. After analysis, Liu Chengxi, a member of the research group, decided to turn to music experts for help. He went to a harmonica factory in Shanghai and found a master craftsman, who told him to add harmonic waves to make the sound cadenced and melodious.
Now that the tone problem was solved, how could people on the ground hear it?
Hu Qizheng, a member of the overall design team of the satellite, said they adopted the method of "relay transmission." First, "Dongfanghong" played by the satellite was decoded through the ground station. Then, it was sent to China National Radio and broadcasted. So all types of radios could receive it.
"Many of the people I know listened to 'Dongfanghong' from space on the radio during their childhood and decided to devote themselves to space exploration. It just had an invisible power," said Bai Ruixue, CEO of SpaceD.
"It is not only an important origin in China's space industry but also a milestone in Chinese people's minds. When the country was not yet open and life was so difficult, Dongfanghong-1 encouraged many Chinese to look up at the stars," Bai said.
Zhang Jihua, who gave the ignition order for the launching of Dongfanghong-1 at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China, recalled that when the mission was confirmed successful, everyone was in tears, shaking hands and hugging each other.
Sun Jiadong, head of the overall design team of the satellite, said it is hard to depict the excited mood at that moment. "Under such (poor) conditions, we sent our first satellite into space, with everything, even a screw, made by ourselves. I felt very proud."
Hu Qizheng believed that Dongfanghong-1 has brought three important impacts to China's space industry. "First, it laid a solid foundation for the subsequent development of space technologies. Second, researchers set up a set of procedures for developing satellites. Third, the mission trained a team of space professionals, which might be even more important than the technologies."