Space porn: These images are (quite literally) out of this world
Oh tannenbaum! A study published by the Canadian Forest Service and researchers at Université Laval reveals that the genome of conifers like spruce, pine and fir has remained virtually unchanged over the last 100 million years. That means the Christmas tree in your living room right now is nearly identical to what existed during the Cretaceous period.
According to a report in Science Daily:
Researchers compared the genome macrostructure for 157 gene families present both in conifers and flowering plants. They observed that the genome of conifers has remained particularly stable for at least 100 million years, while that of flowering plants has undergone major changes in the same period.
This genetic stability partly explains why so few species of conifer exist today. There are currently only 600 varieties of the woody plant, compared to more than 400,000 species of flowering plants. According to professor Jean Bousquet, the Canada Research Chair in Forest and Environmental Genomics who supervised the study, “Conifers appear to have achieved a balance with their environment very early” as opposed to “flowering plants are under intense evolutionary pressure as they battle for survival and reproduction.”
Who knew it was so hard to be a dogwood?
NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins
On December 28, 2013, Expedition 38 crew member Mike Hopkins participating in the second of two space walks to replace a degraded pump module on the International Space Station. (NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio is reflected in his helmet!)
The Soyuz TMA-10M
The Soyuz TMA-10M headed towards the International Space Station with crew members from Expedition 37 onboard.
40 years ago the Apollo 8 mission flew up to the moon, orbited it ten times and then returned to Earth. This picture was taken from that flight and shows the Earth as it seemingly rises in similar fashion to a sunrise.
Sunrise from Expedition 36
NASA Flight Engineer Karen L. Nyberg of Expedition 36 took this photo of the sun rising -- a sight they saw nearly 16 times per day due to the speed of the International Space Station's orbit around the earth.
A pair of NanoRacks CubeSats -- nanosattelite spacecrafts carrying experiments -- were launched by Expedition 38.