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  1. The paper discusses an intelligent vision-based control solution for autonomous tracking and landing of Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) capable Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) on ships without utilizing GPS signal. The central idea involves automating the Navy helicopter ship landing procedure where the pilot utilizes the ship as the visual reference for long-range tracking; however, refers to a standardized visual cue installed on most Navy ships called the ”horizon bar” for the final approach and landing phases. This idea is implemented using a uniquely designed nonlinear controller integrated with machine vision. The vision system utilizes machine learning based object detectionmore »for long-range ship tracking and classical computer vision for the estimation of aircraft relative position and orientation utilizing the horizon bar during the final approach and landing phases. The nonlinear controller operates based on the information estimated by the vision system and has demonstrated robust tracking performance even in the presence of uncertainties. The developed autonomous ship landing system was implemented on a quad-rotor UAV equipped with an onboard camera, and approach and landing were successfully demonstrated on a moving deck, which imitates realistic ship deck motions. Extensive simulations and flight tests were conducted to demonstrate vertical landing safety, tracking capability, and landing accuracy. The video of the real-world experiments and demonstrations is available at this URL.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2023
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2023
  3. Abstract. We use 25 new measurements of in situ produced cosmogenic 26Al and 10Bein river sand, paired with estimates of dissolved load flux in river water,to characterize the processes and pace of landscape change in central Cuba.Long-term erosion rates inferred from 10Be concentrations in quartzextracted from central Cuban river sand range from3.4–189 Mg km−2 yr−1 (mean 59, median 45). Dissolved loads (10–176 Mg km−2 yr−1; mean 92, median 97), calculated from stream soluteconcentrations and modeled runoff, exceed measured cosmogenic-10Be-derived erosion rates in 18 of 23 basins. This disparity mandatesthat in this environment landscape-scale mass loss is not fully representedby the cosmogenic nuclide measurements. The 26Al / 10Be ratiosmore »are lower than expected for steady-state exposure or erosion in 16 of 24 samples. Depressed 26Al / 10Be ratios occur in many of the basins that have the greatest disparity between dissolved loads (high) and erosion rates inferred from cosmogenic nuclide concentrations (low). Depressed 26Al / 10Be ratios are consistentwith the presence of a deep, mixed, regolith layer providing extendedstorage times on slopes and/or burial and extended storage during fluvialtransport. River water chemical analyses indicate that many basins with lower 26Al / 10Be ratios and high 10Be concentrations are underlain at least in part by evaporitic rocks that rapidly dissolve. Our data show that when assessing mass loss in humid tropical landscapes,accounting for the contribution of rock dissolution at depth is particularly important. In such warm, wet climates, mineral dissolution can occur many meters below the surface, beyond the penetration depth of most cosmic rays and thus the production of most cosmogenic nuclides. Our data suggest the importance of estimating solute fluxes and measuring paired cosmogenic nuclides to better understand the processes and rates of mass transfer at a basin scale.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2023
  4. The paper discusses a machine learning vision and nonlinear control approach for autonomous ship landing of vertical flight aircraft without utilizing GPS signal. The central idea involves automating the Navy helicopter ship landing procedure where the pilot utilizes the ship as the visual reference for long-range tracking, but refers to a standardized visual cue installed on most Navy ships called the ”horizon bar” for the final approach and landing phases. This idea is implemented using a uniquely designed nonlinear controller integrated with machine vision. The vision system utilizes machine learning based object detection for long-range ship tracking, and classical computermore »vision for object detection and the estimation of aircraft relative position and orientation during the final approach and landing phases. The nonlinear controller operates based on the information estimated by the vision system and has demonstrated robust tracking performance even in the presence of uncertainties. The developed autonomous ship landing system is implemented on a quad-rotor vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) capable unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) equipped with an onboard camera and was demonstrated on a moving deck, which imitates realistic ship deck motions using a Stewart platform and a visual cue equivalent to the horizon bar. Extensive simulations and flight tests are conducted to demonstrate vertical landing safety, tracking capability, and landing accuracy while the deck is in motion.« less
  5. Tetrodotoxin (TTX) is a potent neurotoxin that was first identified in pufferfish but has since been isolated from an array of taxa that host TTX-producing bacteria. However, determining its origin, ecosystem roles, and biomedical applications has challenged researchers for decades. Recognized as a poison and for its lethal effects on humans when ingested, TTX is primarily a powerful sodium channel inhibitor that targets voltage-gated sodium channels, including six of the nine mammalian isoforms. Although lethal doses for humans range from 1.5–2.0 mg TTX (blood level 9 ng/mL), when it is administered at levels far below LD50, TTX exhibits therapeutic properties,more »especially to treat cancer-related pain, neuropathic pain, and visceral pain. Furthermore, TTX can potentially treat a variety of medical ailments, including heroin and cocaine withdrawal symptoms, spinal cord injuries, brain trauma, and some kinds of tumors. Here, we (i) describe the perplexing evolution and ecology of tetrodotoxin, (ii) review its mechanisms and modes of action, and (iii) offer an overview of the numerous ways it may be applied as a therapeutic. There is much to be explored in these three areas, and we offer ideas for future research that combine evolutionary biology with therapeutics. The TTX system holds great promise as a therapeutic and understanding the origin and chemical ecology of TTX as a poison will only improve its general benefit to humanity.« less
  6. Abstract We measured hardness, modulus of elasticity, and, for the first time, loss tangent, energy of fracture, abrasion resistance, and impact resistance of zinc- and manganese-enriched materials from fangs, stings and other “tools” of an ant, spider, scorpion and nereid worm. The mechanical properties of the Zn- and Mn-materials tended to cluster together between plain and biomineralized “tool” materials, with the hardness reaching, and most abrasion resistance values exceeding, those of calcified salmon teeth and crab claws. Atom probe tomography indicated that Zn was distributed homogeneously on a nanometer scale and likely bound as individual atoms to more than ¼more »of the protein residues in ant mandibular teeth. This homogeneity appears to enable sharper, more precisely sculpted “tools” than materials with biomineral inclusions do, and also eliminates interfaces with the inclusions that could be susceptible to fracture. Based on contact mechanics and simplified models, we hypothesize that, relative to plain materials, the higher elastic modulus, hardness and abrasion resistance minimize temporary or permanent tool blunting, resulting in a roughly 2/3 reduction in the force, energy, and muscle mass required to initiate puncture of stiff materials, and even greater force reductions when the cumulative effects of abrasion are considered. We suggest that the sharpness-related force reductions lead to significant energy savings, and can also enable organisms, especially smaller ones, to puncture, cut, and grasp objects that would not be accessible with plain or biomineralized “tools”.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2022
  7. Abstract. Outlet glaciers that flow through the Transantarctic Mountains (TAM) experienced changes in ice thickness greater than other coastal regions of Antarctica during glacial maxima. As a result, ice-free areas that are currently exposed may have been covered by ice at various points during the Cenozoic, complicating our understanding of ecological succession in TAM soils. Our knowledge of glacial extent on small spatial scales is limited for the TAM, and studies of soil exposure duration and disturbance, in particular, are rare. We collected surface soil samples and, in some places, depth profiles every 5 cm to refusal (up to 30 cm) from 11ice-free areasmore »along Shackleton Glacier, a major outlet glacier of the EastAntarctic Ice Sheet. We explored the relationship between meteoric 10Be and NO3- in these soils as a tool for understanding landscape disturbance and wetting history and as exposure proxies. Concentrations of meteoric 10Be spanned more than an order of magnitude across the region (2.9×108 to 73×108 atoms g−1) and are among the highest measured in polar regions. The concentrations of NO3- were similarly variable and ranged from ∼1 µg g−1 to 15 mg g−1. In examining differences and similarities in the concentrations of 10Be and NO3- with depth, we suggest that much of the southern portion of the Shackleton Glacier region has likely developed under a hyper-arid climate regime with minimal disturbance. Finally, we inferred exposure time using 10Be concentrations. This analysis indicates that the soils we analyzed likelyrange from recent exposure (following the Last Glacial Maximum) to possibly>6 Myr. We suggest that further testing and interrogation of meteoric 10Be and NO3- concentrations and relationships in soils can provide important information regarding landscape development, soil evolution processes, and inferred exposure durations of surfaces in the TAM.« less
  8. Abstract We present the full panchromatic afterglow light-curve data of GW170817, including new radio data as well as archival optical and X-ray data, between 0.5 and 940 days post-merger. By compiling all archival data and reprocessing a subset of it, we have evaluated the impact of differences in data processing or flux determination methods used by different groups and attempted to mitigate these differences to provide a more uniform data set. Simple power-law fits to the uniform afterglow light curve indicate a t 0.86±0.04 rise, a t −1.92±0.12 decline, and a peak occurring at 155 ± 4 days. The afterglowmore »is optically thin throughout its evolution, consistent with a single spectral index (−0.584 ± 0.002) across all epochs. This gives a precise and updated estimate of the electron power-law index, p = 2.168 ± 0.004. By studying the diffuse X-ray emission from the host galaxy, we place a conservative upper limit on the hot ionized interstellar medium density, <0.01 cm −3 , consistent with previous afterglow studies. Using the late-time afterglow data we rule out any long-lived neutron star remnant having a magnetic field strength between 10 10.4 and 10 16 G. Our fits to the afterglow data using an analytical model that includes Very Long Baseline Interferometry proper motion from Mooley et al., and a structured jet model that ignores the proper motion, indicates that the proper-motion measurement needs to be considered when seeking an accurate estimate of the viewing angle.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 26, 2022