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News Article | April 21, 2017
Site: www.techtimes.com

Keen to promote agrarian revolution in space to ensure food sufficiency for astronauts on space missions, NASA has stepped up efforts to grow more plants and vegetables outside the Earth. The sense of urgency is spawned by the upcoming space missions including a Mars mission. The advantage of an accelerated food cultivation program will be keeping the astronauts healthy and inducing more self-sufficiency in food than bringing supplies from Earth. In the latest supplies payload sent to the International Space Station, the Advanced Plant Habitat or APH experiment stands out as a prominent plant and vegetable cultivation program. Unlike previous projects, APH is seeing more volume and faster production of vegetables at the space station and aims to increase the share of food of space crew. NASA's priority to raise plants in cosmic conditions has certainly moved to the next level. NASA has dovetailed the human mission to Mars with a plan for developing a reliable food supply to sustain the crew for longer periods on the Red Planet. Programs like APH are preparing the ground for growing vegetables outside the environment of Earth, noted Chris Wolverton, a professor of botany at Ohio Wesleyan University. "In the near-term, most experts expect astronauts will take the food they need for basic sustenance with them from the Earth," said Wolverton who studies plant gravity with the backing of NASA. The choice of leafy vegetables is unmistakable as they have been good at absorbing chemical elements and in producing vitamins to keep the crew healthy. In fact, APH is an offshoot of NASA's own initiative Vegetable Production System, called Veggie, launched in 2015. The Veggie program managed to produce lettuce successfully at the ISS as NASA's first food grown in space and which fed the astronauts. However, APH differs from Veggies with its subdued reliance on enclosed plants while the latter was processing more unfiltered air inside the station. The APH gives astronauts greater control of the growing chamber's environment as it is backed by many LEDs that emit white and infrared light to increase the output. "It's really a way for the scientists to modify the environment: the light, the water, the atmosphere," said program manager Bryan Onate. The harvest of red romaine lettuce at the ISS in August 2015 was the culmination of efforts that involved simulation of the Martian soil to grow vegetables in near-zero gravity conditions. Yet another experiment at Wageningen University showed that 10 crops can be grown on soil at conditions resembling Mars. The crops include pea, tomato, leek, rye, radish, spinach, garden rocket, cress, quinoa, and chives. Meanwhile, potato has emerged as the best candidate for a possible crop that can be planted on Mars. This is because potato can thrive in harsh environments and deliver 10 percent of caloric needs of a person. Collaboration is at work between scientists from the International Potato Center in Peru, NASA, and engineers at the University of Engineering and Technology in Lima for conducting advanced experiments in growing nutrient-rich spuds at Mars-like conditions. Compared with Earth, Mars gets less sunlight. Therefore, temperature and pressure are lower than that on Earth. Many variants of potatoes are under test for zeroing in on the best that can brave Martian conditions. That will help future astronauts to Mars to skip the effort at building warmer conditions equivalent to Earth. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.


Amid plans to send astronauts to and even establish a human colony on Mars, scientists are finding ways to make farming possible on the red planet. While there are other crops that can possibly be planted on Mars, scientists are particularly interested in one crop that can allow humans to farm on Mars: potato. Potatoes are known to thrive in harsh and dry environments and these contain 10 percent of a person's required caloric needs daily. Potatoes come in hundreds of varieties. Scientists have also genetically modified potatoes. Now, researchers appear to have found a potato variety that appears capable of surviving and thriving in the extreme conditions of the red planet. Scientists from the International Potato Center n Peru, in collaboration with scientists from NASA and engineers from the University of Engineering and Technology in Lima, conducted experiments to know what it would take to grow nutrient-rich spuds on Mars. The researchers now report of a variety that is most suitable to the planet's freezing temperatures and high amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Scientists built a simulator of a Martian environment inside a CubeSat satellite. The researchers designed an environment characterized by below-zero temperatures, high concentrations of carbon monoxide, and air pressure comparable to that at an altitude of 19,700 feet. The CubeSat holds soil from the southern Peruvian desert, considered as the most Mars-like soil on Earth, being the driest known in our planet. "If the crops can tolerate the extreme conditions that we are exposing them to in our CubeSat, they have a good chance to grow on Mars. We want to know what the minimum conditions are that a potato needs to survive," said Julio Valdivia-Silva from UTEC. The researchers also installed a system of lights that imitate day and night in the red planet. Cameras were likewise installed to see what is happening at all times. The cameras caught each moment a bud starts to grow. Researchers planted the tubers in the soil and then sealed these into the CubeSat that delivers water rich in nutrients. Of the 65 varieties of potato that the researchers planted, four sprouted from the soil. Researchers were able to identify the winning potato. It was a variety known as Unique. Valdivia-Silva, who described it as a super potato, said it can resist temperatures that get to freezing and very high carbon dioxide conditions. CIP potato breeder Walter Amoros said that the potato has great genetic capacity to adapt to extreme conditions. CIP has earlier bred potato clones that can tolerate soil salinity and drought to help farmers in marginal areas to grow food. The researchers plan to build three more potato simulators in extreme environments with the goal of getting a broad range of results. They also plan to increase the concentration of carbon dioxide to more closely imitate the atmosphere on the red planet. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.


News Article | April 26, 2017
Site: www.nature.com

Torrential rains pummelled Peru’s northern coastal desert in February and March, triggering floods that killed at least 113 people and destroyed some 40,000 homes. As families grapple with their losses and government officials tally the cost of repair and reconstruction, scientists are gearing up for an unusual opportunity to study ecosystems that go decades without much rain. The rains were spurred by an unusual ‘coastal’ El Niño climate pattern, in which warm water pooled off the coast of southern Ecuador and northern Peru — more so than during the much larger 2015–16 El Niño. Rains fell in both countries, but the human toll was highest in Peru’s normally parched northern desert. In the now-greening land, plants are growing, bird populations are shifting and rivers are moving sediments and pollution in ways they haven’t done for two decades. What scientists learn as they descend on the region could aid conservation efforts and help people and government officials to prepare for severe weather events. “Except for the impacts on the people,” says biologist Juan Torres of La Molina National Agrarian University in Lima, “this is a meteoro­logically enchanting moment.” Once roads are passable, Torres will visit field sites that he studied after the powerful 1997–98 El Niño, which also soaked the region. At that time, Torres found wild relatives of domesticated crops — including tomatoes, peppers, potatoes and squash — that had sprouted from dormant seeds. This year, he will again catalogue wild plants, along with the crops that farmers choose to grow on lands made fertile by the flooding. Part of the northern desert is irrigated farmland, but there are also patches of a dry forest that has been devastated in recent years by industrial agriculture, urban sprawl and the charcoal trade. Oliver Whaley at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in London, has studied Peru’s dry forests for 25 years, and hopes that the rain will bring respite to the ecosystem. One important tree species, known locally as huarango (Prosopis spp.), has been in rapid decline, in part because of pressure from insects and a fungus. The floods may have washed the insect pests away. Peruvian botanist Ana Juárez will survey the area further with Whaley in May, but has not seen any insects on the trees near her since the rains. That’s a good sign, but the ongoing destruction of the dry forest seems to have exacerbated erosion and flooding from the storms. Soil carried by the floods surged down normally tranquil rivers. Satellite images show the Tumbes and Chira rivers overflowing and spreading nutrient-rich sediment over swathes of farmland. That’s what the rivers are supposed to do, says Jorge Abad, a civil engineer at the University of Engineering and Technology in Lima. But these floods caused damage because the rivers have been channelled, dammed and dredged without considering sediment flow, he says, adding that better modelling would allow engineers to improve flood control and reduce future disaster risk. The rains have also washed rubbish, metals and chemicals from towns, mining operations and farmlands into the Pacific Ocean. That worries Carlos Zavalaga of the Scientific University of the South in Lima, who studies the seabirds that live along the Peruvian coast. Warm coastal waters can drive out schools of Peruvian anchovies (Engraulis ringens), robbing guano-producing birds of their main food supply and leading them to hunt elsewhere. As of February, two-thirds of the Guanay cormorants (Phalacrocorax bougainvillii) at Punta San Juan, on the south-central coast, had abandoned their nests. Besides the impact on the ecosystem, losing these birds will reduce the accumulation of guano, which is still mined in the area. Zavalaga plans to survey the situation in the coming weeks and to analyse bird blood and feathers for contaminants from the washout. No one predicted this year’s disaster until it was too late. Scientists had expected the major El Niño of 2015–16, but that system’s effects were muted in South America. And even though this year’s rainfall is comparable to that due to the large 1997–98 El Niño, the causes are different. That raises questions for climate scientists, says Rodney Martínez, an oceanographer at the International Center for Research on the El Niño Phenomenon in Guayaquil, Ecuador. He says that scientists need a better understanding of these atypical coastal El Niños, which may also have occurred in the 1920s and 1970s, and how they relate to larger ocean cycles. But studies could be undermined by a lack of funding. Ocean-monitoring buoys set by Peruvian and Ecuadorian scientists after the 1997–98 El Niño were vandalized and never repaired, and the Pacific-wide Tropical Atmosphere Ocean instrument array is suffering from deterioration and budget cuts. “What we’ve seen in Ecuador and Peru is resounding evidence of the importance of managing ecosystems for the prevention of extreme events,” Martínez says. “That still is not fully included in risk management.”


Nguyen C.H.,Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology | Tran T.S.,Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology | Pham D.P.,University of Engineering and Technology
Knowledge-Based Systems | Year: 2014

Computing with words and fuzzy linguistic rule based systems play important roles as they can find various significant applications based on simulating human capability. In fuzzy set approaches, words are mapped to fuzzy sets, on which work operations of the developed methodologies. The interpretability of the methodologies depends on how well word semantics is represented by fuzzy sets, which in practice are designed based on human-user's intuition. In these approaches there is no formal linkage of fuzzy sets with the inherent semantics of words to ensure the interpretability of fuzzy sets and, hence, fuzzy rules. Hedge algebras, as models of linguistic domains of variables, provide a formalism to generate triangular fuzzy sets of terms from their own semantics. This permits for the first time to design genetically terms along with their integrated triangular fuzzy sets and to construct effective fuzzy rule based classifiers. To answer the question if trapezoidal fuzzy sets can be used instead of triangular fuzzy sets in the above design method, in this study we introduce and develop the so-called enlarged hedge algebras, in which the concept of semantics core of words can be modeled. We show that these algebras provide a formal mechanism to design optimal words integrated with their trapezoidal fuzzy sets as well as fuzzy linguistic rule based classifiers to solve classification problems. Two case studies are examined to show the usefulness of the proposed algebras. © 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Mullick A.K.,University of Engineering and Technology
Indian Concrete Journal | Year: 2012

Conservation of natural resources, reduction of greenhouse gases and environmental pollution, and utilization of waste materials are among the basic tenets of sustainable development. In case of concrete construction, these objectives are fulfilled by appropriate choice of binder systems and aggregate, which are elaborated in the paper. Particular attention is drawn to the use of ternary cement blends containing industrial wastes, bottom ash as fine aggregate and recycled aggregate in structural grade concrete. Examples of current construction practice in India and research initiatives are highlighted.


Ahmad S.,University of Engineering and Technology | Zafrullah M.,University of Engineering and Technology
Journal of Modern Optics | Year: 2015

In this paper, the simulation of 60 GHz millimeter-wave radio over fiber link with 4-QAM OFDM modulation format at 40 Gb/s over 150 km SMF is proposed. The 60 GHz millimeter-wave signal is generated by the optical heterodyne method. Coherent detection has been used at the receiver to down-convert millimeter-wave signal to IF band. Introduction of the OFDM modulation in RoF-based system realizes the benefits of higher order modulations (such as 4-QAM, 16-QAM, etc.) to ensure the good spectral efficiency and multi-gigabit access. The performance of the system is analyzed by Q-factor and BER by which it can be shown that the best results are obtained at the input power of 10 dBm. The simulation results clearly demonstrate the feasibility of this 4-QAM OFDM RoF system over 150 km fiber link. © 2014 Taylor & Francis.


Asif R.,Friedrich - Alexander - University, Erlangen - Nuremberg | Asif R.,University of Engineering and Technology | Lin C.-Y.,Friedrich - Alexander - University, Erlangen - Nuremberg | Holtmannspoetter M.,Friedrich - Alexander - University, Erlangen - Nuremberg | Schmauss B.,Friedrich - Alexander - University, Erlangen - Nuremberg
Optics Express | Year: 2013

We numerically report on the complexity reduction of digital backward propagation (DBP) by utilizing correlative encoded transmission (dual-polarization quadrature duobinary) at a bit-rate of 112Gbit/s over 1640km fibe link. The single channel (N=1) and multi-channel (N=10) transmission performances are compared in this paper. In case of multichannel system, 10 transmitters are multiplexed with 25GHz channel spacing. The fibe link consists of Large Ae f f Pure-Silica core fibe with 20 spans of 82km each. No in-line optical dispersion compensator is employed in the link. The system performances are evaluated by monitoring the bit-error-ratio and the forward error correction limit corresponds to bit-error-ratio of 3.8×103. The DBP algorithm is implemented after the coherent detection and is based on the logarithmic step-size based splitstep Fourier method. The results depict that dual-polarization quadrature duobinary can be used to transmit 112Gbit/s signals with an spectral efficien y of 4-b/s/Hz, but at the same time has a higher tolerance to nonlinear transmission impairments. By utilizing dual-polarization quadrature duobinary modulation, comparative system performance with respect to dual-polarization 16-quadrature amplitude modulation transmission can be achieved with 60% less computations and with a step-size of 205km. © 2013 Optical Society of America.


Gondal I.A.,University of Engineering and Technology | Sahir M.H.,University of Engineering and Technology
International Journal of Energy Research | Year: 2012

This paper analyses the transportation and delivery features of hydrogen as energy market evolves and approaches a fully functional Hydrogen economy. Initially physical aspects have been assessed that affect the flow of hydrogen through the existing pipeline infrastructure. Line pack and compressors are the only identified problems that need to be addressed. This is followed by an investigation into the mixing of hydrogen with natural gas gradually. It was revealed that a mix of up to 17% by volume does not have any significant effect, however higher concentration of hydrogen leads to a changeover of high-pressure grid pipelines as well as the end-user applications. It is suggested that initially hydrogen can be introduced in the distribution system, while emphasizing towards developing means for high-pressure transportation of hydrogen fuel gas. Government policies towards encouraging use of hydrogen in an evolving market is important for widespread and early assimilation in energy mix. Renewable sources of energy are recommended for distributed generation of hydrogen along the pipeline network. © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


Asif R.,University of Engineering and Technology | Islam M.K.,University of Engineering and Technology | Zafrullah M.,University of Engineering and Technology
Journal of the Optical Society of Korea | Year: 2013

We have numerically implemented a receiver side all-optical signal processing method, i.e. optical backward propagation (OBP), by dispersion compensating fiber (DCF) and non-linear compensator (NLC) devised by effective negative Kerr non-linear coefficient using two highly non-linear fibers (HNLFs). The method is implemented for the post-processing of fiber transmission impairments, i.e. chromatic dispersion (CD) and non-linearities (NL). The OBP module is evaluated for dual-polarization (DP) m-ary (m=4, 16, 32, 64, 256) quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM) in 112 Gbit/s coherent transmission over 1200 km standard single mode fiber (SMF). We have also investigated an intensity limited optical backward propagation module (IL-OBP) by using a self-phase modulation-based optical limiter with an appropriate pre-chirping to compensate for the intensity fluctuations in the transmission link. Our results show that in highly non-linear sensitive 256QAM transmission, we have observed a 66% increase in the transmission distance by implementing IL-OBP as compared to conventional OBP.


Al-Gamal S.A.,University of Engineering and Technology
Journal of Hydrology | Year: 2011

A comprehensive understanding of the groundwater dynamics of a transboundary aquifer system is highly needed for any successful transboundary cooperation policy. Moreover, an analysis of the NWSAS can be of particular interest for policy makers and researchers. This paper aims to reveals and to assess the renewability of North-Western Sahara Aquifer System (NWSAS) as one of the major transboundary multi-layered aquifer system, in North Africa, shared by Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya and is often referred to as the Système Aquifère du Sahara Septentrional (SASS). The paper is primarily intended for exploring whether it receives a considerable fraction of modern water as recharge or it is at risk of being depleted and excessively pumped, where the main challenge for NWSAS, is that it should be abstracted rationally for equitable use. Environmental isotopes data of δ18O, δ2H, 3H, 14C as well as characteristics of d-excess are used to illustrate whether NSWAS is renewable or non-renewable resource. Geochemical, hydrological and statistical evidences supporting the renewability of NWSAS are provided through pairs of cross-plots. The study has clearly indicated that NWSAS is receiving a considerable fraction of modern water as recharge to the aquifer because of the following reasons: Firstly, the moderately depleted delta values of δ18O and δ2H of water from Sahara Atlas in Algeria and the Dahar and the Dj. Nefoussa in Tunisia and Libya with δ18O content (-6.0‰ to -5.0‰) compared with that of palaeowater (-7.0‰ to -9.0‰) indicate an appreciable fraction of modern water recharging NWSAS. This appreciable fraction of modern water should be attributed to originate from the present-day precipitation (-6.5‰). Secondly, the presence of significant amount of 14C>2% and 3H>5 TU, frequently found in data should be attributed to a mixing with shallow and modern water, where old water practically contains no 14C. The foregoing facts are in good agreement with the results of conventional hydrologic approach. This would contradict the assumption that the NWSAS is non-renewable water resource. In this context, the NWSAS is being located in one of the driest regions on the planet; these huge resources have been recognized to be of great importance to the socio-economic development of its riparian countries. So the present paper addresses the necessity of identifying specific cooperation problems which evolve out of these hydro geological attributes and prevalent use patterns. Accordingly, the description of NWSAS as non-renewable, devoid of any meaningful recharge, a rather stagnant water body, disconnected from any surface water body in addition to its classification as " non-renewable" would therefore be misleading and represents one of the most obvious inaccuracy as well. © 2010 Elsevier B.V.

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