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U.S. Builds World’s First 3D Imaging Whole Body Scanner

Developed by researchers at the University of California Davis, the world’s first total-body scanner can rapidly produce 3D images of the entire human body in as little as 20 seconds.

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Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor

Davis, CA, United States (4E) – Developed by researchers at the University of California Davis, the world’s first total-body scanner can rapidly produce 3D images of the entire human body in as little as 20 seconds.

This machine given the name “EXPLORER” generated its first 3D scans last week. EXPLORER is the brainchild of UC Davis scientists Simon Cherry and Ramsey Badawi (chief of Nuclear Medicine at UC Davis Health). Badawi and Cherry said they first conceptualized their total-body scanner 13 years ago.

They expect EXPLORER to have countless applications, from improving diagnostics to tracking disease progression to researching new drug therapies.

It can produce an image of an entire body in just 20 to 30 seconds. EXPLORER is the world’s first medical imaging scanner that can capture a 3D picture of the whole human body at once.

It can generate clearer and more accurate images no other imaging tool can achieve. EXPLORER scans a whole body some 40 times faster than PET scans now in use. It can produce a diagnostic image in as little as 20 to 30 seconds. Equally important, it uses a radiation dose up to 40 times less than the standard dose used in PET scans. This means a safer imaging technology with less radiation risk for patients.

EXPLORER is a combined positron emission tomography (PET) and x-ray computed tomography (CT) scanner that can image the entire body at the same time. It can produce an image in as little as one second because it captures radiation far more efficiently than other scanners.

Over time, EXPLORER will produce movies that can track specially tagged drugs as they move throughout the entire body.

The new device should revolutionize medical imaging globally and improve diagnosis and treatment of diseases since it creates far greater detail of different components of human body. The new imaging scanner will allow doctors for the first time to evaluate what is happening in all the organs and tissues of the body simultaneously. It can also measure blood flow or how the body uses glucose everywhere in the body.

The level of detail is astonishing, especially once they got the reconstruction method a bit more optimized, said Badawi. Using EXPLORER, doctors might see features you just don’t see on regular PET scans.

More surprisingly, the dynamic sequence showing the radiotracer moving around the body in three dimensions over time “was, frankly, mind-blowing.” There is no other device that can obtain data like this in humans, so this is truly novel, according to Badawi.

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SpaceX Breaks World Record for Most Commercial Launches in a Year

SpaceX has broken the world record for most commercial rocket launches in a year, with 20 successful launches thus far in 2018.

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Hawthorne, CA, United States (4E) – SpaceX has broken the world record for most commercial rocket launches in a year, with 20 successful launches thus far in 2018. It still has one more launch remaining on its 2018 manifest.

SpaceX also broke its own record for the most orbital rocket launches by a single company in a year. The company set the old record (18 launches over a single calendar year) in 2017. United Launch Alliance held the title prior to that with 16 commercial rockets launched in 2009.

This has been SpaceX’s best year yet for rocket launches. The 20 successful SpaceX missions sent dozens of payloads into orbit. It also took two experimental Starlink internet satellites into Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and even hurled a red-colored Tesla Model X with a dummy driver past the orbit of Mars.

In May, Musk was feeling good enough about SpaceX’s 2018 progress that he said the company might “launch more rockets than any other country.”

That didn’t pan-out since China successfully launched 35 of its Long March orbital rockets in 2018, and will still launch a few more rockets before the year ends.

The 20th SpaceX mission on Dec. 5 was a successful re-supply mission to the International Space Station.

The 21st and last SpaceX mission for 2018 will loft the U.S. Air Force’s GPS IIIA-01 satellite into LEO on Dec. 18. This sat will improve global positioning coverage for the U.S. military.

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U.S. Has Two More Astronauts Courtesy of Virgin Galactic

The United States has two new astronauts and they come from space tourism company, Virgin Galactic.

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Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor

Mojave, CA, United States (4E) – The United States has two new astronauts and they come from space tourism company, Virgin Galactic.

Virgin Galactic pilots Mark Stucky and “Rick” C.J Sturckow earned their U.S. astronaut wings by flying the rocket-powered spacecraft named Unity to an altitude of 83 kilometers or 51.4 miles. The flight on Dec. 13 was Virgin Galactic longest rocket-powered flight ever.

Stucky and Sturckow are also Virgin Galactic’s first astronauts.

The U.S. military and NASA consider pilots that have flown above 80 kilometers to be astronauts. The Federal Aviation Administration said both pilots will receive their commercial astronaut wings at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. early 2019.

“Many of you will know how important the dream of space travel is to me personally,” said Virgin Galactic founder Sir Richard Branson. “Ever since I watched the moon landings as a child I have looked up to the skies with wonder. This is a momentous day and I could not be more proud of our teams who together have opened a new chapter of space exploration.

Slung underneath the jet-powered mothership named Eve, Unity took off from the Mojave Air and Space Port in the California desert. Eve released Unity upon reaching an altitude above 40,000 feet.

Stucky and Sturckow then piloted Unity in a thunderous boost that lasted 60 seconds. The flight pushed Unity to a speed of Mach 2.9 (3,580 km/h) as it roared into a climb toward the edge of space, but far short of the Karman Line, which is the boundary where space begins.

After doing a slow backflip in microgravity, Unity turned and glided back to land at Mojave. This was the company’s fourth rocket-powered flight of its test program.

Unity also carried four NASA-funded payloads on this mission. NASA said the four technology experiments will collect valuable data needed to mature the technologies for use on future missions.

“Inexpensive access to suborbital space greatly benefits the technology research and broader spaceflight communities,” said Ryan Dibley, NASA’s flight opportunities campaign manager, in a statement.

In October, Branson said Virgin Galactic was “more than tantalizingly close” to its first trip to space.

“We will be in space with people not too long after that so we have got a very, very exciting couple of months ahead,” he said.

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China’s Lunar Probe Will Take a Month to Land on the Moon

A launch vehicle carrying a Chinese lunar probe that will attempt mankind’s first-soft landing on the Dark Side of the Moon blasted-off Dec. 8. Its payload spacecraft will reach the Moon by Jan. 1, 2019 at the earliest.

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Beijing, China (4E) – A launch vehicle carrying a Chinese lunar probe that will attempt mankind’s first-soft landing on the Dark Side of the Moon blasted-off Dec. 8. Its payload spacecraft will reach the Moon by Jan. 1, 2019 at the earliest.

The puzzling question is why will it take a month for this probe named Chang’e-4 to land on the Moon when it only took U.S. astronauts of the Apollo Program only three days to make the same journey?

China hasn’t given an official explanation, but Western scientists have their theories. The Smithsonian Institution said the Chang’e-4 space craft will make a few course corrections along the way to prepare for a landing at the Von Kármán crater in the South Pole-Aitken Basin.

Chang’e-4 will consist of a lander and a rover. The lander will deploy a ramp to allow the rover to access the lunar surface. The rover has dimensions of 1.5 × 1.0 × 1.0 meters and has a mass of 140 kg.

The Chang’e-4 lander will carry scientific payloads to study the geophysics of the landing site. Among the more intriguing payloads on the lander is a 3 kg container with potato and Arabidopsis thaliana seeds (among others), and silkworm larvae (or eggs) to test if plants and insects can hatch and grow together.

Chinese scientists hope that if the eggs hatch, the larvae will produce carbon dioxide. On the other hand, the germinated plants will emit oxygen through photosynthesis. The plants and silkworms will together establish a simple synergy inside the container. A camera will take pictures of this experiment.

This will be the first time humans have tried to grow plants and raise insects on the Moon.

The lander will also deploy the Lunar Lander Neutrons and Dosimetry (LND), a neutron dosimeter developed by Kiel University in Germany.

If China can pull it off, it will become the first country to land a probe on the Dark Side of the Moon. The South Pole-Aitken Basin is a vast basin in the southern hemisphere of the far side. It extends from the South Pole to Aitken crater.

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