Mariner 10’s Spectacular View – 40 Years On
A blue marble, swirling with clouds and weather systems. This is a colour-enhanced ultra-violet image of Venus was taken by the Mariner 10 spacecraft in 1974.
As the last launch in the Mariner program, the 474kg spacecraft was launched on November 3, 1973 and was designed to fly by Mercury and Venus.
The entire book “The Voyage of Mariner 10, Mission to Venus and Mercury” is available here and the entire Mariner 10 Image Archive is available here.
Image Credit: NASA
Image description: Marines carry a boat toward the water during a drill in Thailand.
Photo by Sgt. Matthew Troyer, U.S. Marine Corps.
The Temple of Seti I at Abydos, Egypt.
This temple consists of seven sanctuaries lined up in a row, each of which are dedicated to a different deity (the southernmost of these honours 19th Dynasty Pharaoh Seti I himself). The purpose for the construction of this building was to act as a funerary shrine for Seti I, as confirmed by the name of the building: "The house of millions of years of the King Men-Ma’at-Re [Seti I], who is contented at Abydos." Although he was actually buried in the Valley of the Kings at Thebes, Seti followed the royal tradition of constructing a second funerary complex at Abydos -the cult centre of the Egyptian god Osiris.
The bas-reliefs of this temple are some of the best persevered from ancient Egypt, and many retain the original paint work. A classical, traditional style is evoked by the raised relief decoration carved under Seti I on fine white limestone.
From north to south, the temple is dedicated to the following Egyptian deities: Horus, Isis, Osiris, Amen-Re, Re-Horakhty, and Ptah. Seti restoring the worship of the traditional gods of Egypt after the Amarna period could explain this combined dedication. The aftermath of the Amarna period is also reflected in the "king’s gallery". This is a rather selective list of legitimate pharaohs from Egyptian history, with the names of Akhenaten, Smenkhkare and Tutankhamen excluded -as though erasing their reigns from recorded history.
The first photo was taken by Irene Soto, and the rest by Kyera Giannini, all courtesy the New York University Institute for the Study of the Ancient World via Flickr. When writing up this post, Kathryn A. Bard’s Encyclopaedia of the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt (2005) was of use.
(by Ofer Levy)
X The Wheel of Fortune
OUT OF THE SOUTHWEST THEY CAME STRIDING: TYRANT KINGS OF GORE
Lythronax argesteswas a tyrannosaurid theropod dinosaur which lived around 80.6 to 79.9 million years ago. It was discovered in the southern part of the US state of Utah, in an area called the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. This is rather far south of most of its cousins that are mostly known from more northerly locations like Montana and Canada.
Lythronax was a large sized, moderately-built, ground-dwelling, bipedal carnivore, that could grow up to an estimated 8 m (26.2 ft) in length and weighed 2.5 tonnes (5,500 lb).
L. argestes becomes the oldest known tyrannosaurid, based on its stratigraphic position.
Described in a paper published November 06, 2013 in PLoS One (DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0079420): Tyrant Dinosaur Evolution Tracks the Rise and Fall of Late Cretaceous Oceans, by Loewen MA, Irmis RB, Sertich JJW, Currie PJ, Sampson SD.:
Lythronax argestes Loewen, Irmis, Sertich, Currie, and Sampson 2013 gen. et sp. nov. || urn:lsid:zoobank.org:act:DE2997BB-1D2B-47C2-A341-80D6FCEFDB34
Etymology: Lythronax, from lythron (Greek), gore, and anax (Greek), king; and argestes (Greek), the Homeric wind from the southwest, in reference to the geographic location of the specimen within North America.
IMAGES:  Lythronax skull by Mark Loewen ||  Wahweap coastline mural (detail) by Andrey Atuchin ||  Skeletal reconstructions and postcranial elements of Utah tyrannosaurs: (A) recovered elements of Lythronax argestes and (B) Teratophoneus curriei
Sunlight Reveals Ancient Mars
Photograph by NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
Tithonium Chasma is just one branch of Valles Marineris, which stretches some 2,500 miles (4,000 kilometers) across the face of Mars. Seen from overhead in a Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter image, light and dark strips of sediment are shown lining the chasm.
Astronomers suspect the fine lines etched across those sandy layers may date to a change in the tilt of the red planet hundreds of millions of years ago. An ancient shift from a 50° planetary tilt to today’s more modest 25° one, may have melted ice and released the water that etched the channels.
Brightness in the Dark Makes for an Invisible Shark
In the waters of the East Atlantic Ocean, a tiny shark about 60 centimetres long roams the depths, eating krill and other small marine animals. Like many sea creatures, the Velvet belly lanternshark (Etmopterus spinax) produces its own light through a process called bioluminescence, but it’s especially interesting because unlike many creatures, it has more than one source of light.
It was previously known that the shark has bioluminescent eyes and a belly that lights up via tiny light organs called photophores, which produce a blue-green light visible from up to four metres away. This is an optical trick, making the shark more difficult to seen by predators below—if its belly is bright, then it matches the brightness of the sunlit water above, and so it casts no shadow.
But researchers have found that the shark also has glowing, transparent spines along its dorsal fin. It’s thought that these act as a warning sign to predators—if they try to make a meal out of the shark, it’s going to come with a side of painful, sharp spines. If this is true, then it’s the first fish to actively use bioluminescence to ward off predators.
These two different light strategies seem contradictory, but they actually work well together: light from its belly can only be seen by predators below, and light from its spines can only be seen from the side and above, so the glow protects the little shark on all sides.
It’s also likely that the shark uses its bioluminescence to communicate with and recognise other sharks, as well as turn on members of the opposite sex.
I spent the afternoon at the Hunterian Museum in London.