biological research station

I really cracked up when I learnt for the first time that Ulysses and Biological Research Station share voice. I mean, all my respect to Roger Cross’ voice acting, both characters sound great and nothing alike, but this connection still leaves a funny feeling in the back of my head whenever I think about it.

1,400 Miles in Three Weeks

We received word this spring from the National Banding Lab that a young male ruby-throated hummingbird banded at Powdermill Nature Reserve on September 18, 2014 was recaptured three weeks later (October 10) in Lake Jackson, Texas. 

A journey of 1,425 miles in three weeks is pretty astounding when one considers that this male weighed in at just 3.5 grams, not much more than a penny. His wings measured 42 mm (a little over 1.5").

The hummingbird’s wing beat has been measured at 50 times per second. Now we’re not sure exactly when he left our banding area or if he was caught the day he arrived in Texas, but if he used every day in the interval to fly south, he would have averaged 65 miles per day. Pretty impressive! 

Once the data was collected in Texas, the bird was released and probably spent a few days fattening up for the next leg of its migration—a nonstop crossing of the Gulf of Mexico!


Powdermill Nature Reserve’s avian research center is part of Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s biological research station in Rector, Pennsylvania.  The research center operates a bird banding station, conducts bioacoustical research, and performs flight tunnel analysis with the goal of reducing window collisions. 

Let's talk about Metroid stages.

‘Hoy there, folks! It’s Wander again, for one more Stage Select article.

So here’s the thing. Here are some of the stages Smash has had to represent Metroid:

Notice any trends? Yeah, acid/lava seems to be a big thing with Metroid stages. Even when the lava doesn’t actually interact with the players (like in Pyrosphere), you know it’s there. To be fair, there have been Metroid stages based around things other than lava:

…specifically, spinning the stage around. Preferably with some large monster in the background (and even one of these still has lava in it!). You know, Metroid is famous for its atmosphere; for its distinct alien worlds and memorable locales. We’re sure that it could lend some fantastic stages to Smash that are a bit different from what we’ve seen before. That’s why we’ve made a list! Yep, this time it’s a…

Metroid Stages!

Keep reading

So, you want to get into the Metroid series? This masterpost will tell you everything you need to know about the series with minimal spoilers, and list all the main games in the series.

What is Metroid about?

Metroid is about Samus Aran, an independant bounty hunter, and her battles with the various entities that threaten the galaxy. Samus wears the Power Suit, an artifact given to her by the Chozo, an advanced avian alien species that raised her after she was orphaned at the hands of Ridley, a space pirate commander. The following games are categorized in chronological order.

Metroid/ Metroid: Zero Mission (NES/GBA) (1986/2004)

The first Metroid was a largely confusing game; Zero Mission was an enhanced remake of the original, with a more traditional method of storytelling. Zero Mission features the tradtional “Metroidvania” style of gameplay, with large, expansive maps, hidden items, secret passageways, and the best example of classic Metroid gameplay. In Zero Mission, Samus is sent to the planet Zebes, the abandoned Chozo planet, in order to exterminate the Space Pirates and their leader, Mother Brain.

Metroid Prime (Gamecube) (2002)

As there were no Metroid games released for the Nintendo 64, many players were worried as to how Metroid would fare on a “next-gen” system like the Gamecube. Retro Studios, the developers responsible for Prime, brought the series into the first person perspective, while still keeping the atmosphere and gameplay of the series intact. The Prime series focuses more on exploration and discovery rather than combat, but battles in the Prime series are by no means shallow or boring. In Prime, Samus investigates another abandoned Chozo planet, Tallon IV, to defeat the Space Pirates there, and halt the flow of a mysterious and powerful corruptive element known as Phazon.

Metroid Prime 2: Echoes (Gamecube) (2004)

A direct sequel to Metroid Prime, Echoes once again follows Samus to another planet wracked by Phazon; Aether. Aether has been split into two dimensions, Light and Dark, the latter being inhabited by an incredibly hostile and dangerous foe known as the Ing. Dark Samus also makes an appearance, and Samus must traverse through both Light Aether, and the poisonous Dark Aether in order to survive.

Metroid Prime: Hunters (DS) (2006)

While not a direct sequel to the Prime games, Hunters maintains the first person perspective unique to the first two Prime games. Samus receives yet another distress call from a remote planet, and seeks it out. Other bounty hunters are beckoned by the promise of power, and battle Samus on their way to the source of the signal. Hunters was unique in being one of the few Metroid games to feature online multiplayer, where the player could play as any of the seven unique hunters.

Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (Wii) (2007)

Corruption is yet another direct sequel in the Prime games. While maintaining the gameplay of the previous two, Corruption features the Wii’s motion and aiming controls, allowing for a more streamlined experience. Phazon is in full force in Corruption, and to defeat Dark Samus once and for all, Samus must learn to harness a new power that could ultimately destroy her from the inside out.

Metroid II: Return of Samus (Gameboy) (1991)

The Metroid species, introduced in the original game, have been designated a cosmic threat by the Galactic Federation. Samus is hired to travel to SR388, the Metroid homeworld, and wipe out the entire Metroid population. Various states of Metroid physiology are introduced, such as Gamma, Zeta, and Queen Metroids. The gameplay of II is similar to the original, and…

Super Metroid (Super Nintendo) (1994)

Widely regarded as the best Metroid game, Super Metroid tells of Samus’ return to Zebes, which is now portrayed as a massive planet with several vast areas. Samus collects multiple items which increase the capabilities of her suit and grant her special abilities. At this point in time, the last Metroid is in captivity, and the galaxy is at peace. Or is it?

Metroid Fusion (GBA) (2002)

The last game in the series, chronologically, Samus is in an accident which involves her Power Suit being permanently grafted to her body. Abandoned on the Biologic Space Labs research station, Samus must eradicate a new threat, the deadly X Parasite, while being hunted by an even more ruthless foe…

Other Games:

Metroid Prime Pinball (DS) (2005)

A simple pinball game for the Nintendo DS, Metroid Prime Pinball was another generic pinball game with elements from the Prime series.

Metroid Prime Trilogy (Wii) (2009)

All three Metroid Prime games were released together as the Metroid Prime Trilogy; each game is now playable with either the controls of the first two Prime games, or Corruption’s motion controls. The game saw a limited release, so copies are quite expensive.

Metroid: Other M (Wii) (2010)

Don’t. Other M is not essential to the Metroid storyline, and is widely considered to be non-canon, as well as starring extremely limited controls, a gameplay style that goes against the Metroid experience, and the butchering of existing Metroid canon.

How To Play

All of the Metroid games on the Game Boy Advance, NES, or Super Nintendo can be easily emulated (own a legal copy first, kids!), and the Prime games are largely inexpensive, and range usually under twenty dollars. 

Space Station Science: Biological Research

Each month, we highlight a different research topic on the International Space Station. In August, our focus is biological research. Learning how spaceflight affects living organisms will help us understand potential health risks related to humans on long duration missions, including our journey to Mars.

Cells, microbes, animals and plants are affected by microgravity, and studying the processes involved in adaptation to spaceflight increases our fundamental understanding of biological processes on Earth. Results on Earth from biological research in space include the development of new medications, improved agriculture, advancements in tissue engineering and regeneration, and more. 

Take a look at a few of the biological research experiments performed on space station:

Biomolecule Sequencer

Living organisms contain DNA, and sequencing DNA is a powerful way to understand how they respond to changing environments. The Biomolecule Sequencer experiment hopes to demonstrate (for the first time) that DNA sequencing is feasible in an orbiting spacecraft. Why? A space-based DNA sequencer could identify microbes, diagnose diseases and understand crew member health, and potentially help detect DNA- based life elsewhere in the solar system.

Ant-stronauts

Yes, ant-stronauts…as in ants in space. These types of studies provide insights into how ants answer collective search problems. Watching how the colony adapts as a unit in the quest for resources in extreme environments, like space, provides data that can be used to build algorithms with varied applications. Understanding how ants search in different conditions could have applications for robotics.

TAGES

The TAGES experiment (Transgenic Arabidopsis Gene Expression System) looks to see how microgravity impacts the growth of plant roots. Fluorescent markers placed on the plant’s genes allow scientists to study root development of Arabidopsis (a cress plant) grown on the space station. Evidence shows that directional light in microgravity skews root growth to the right, rather than straight down from the light source. Root growth patters on station mimic that of plants grown at at 45% degree angle on Earth. Space flight appears to slow the rate of the plant’s early growth as well.

Heart Cells

Spaceflight can cause a suite of negative health effects, which become more problematic as crew members stay in orbit for long periods of time. Effects of Microgravity on Stem Cell-Derived Cardiomycytes (Heart Cells) studies the human heart, specifically how heart muscle tissue contracts, grows and changes in microgravity. Understanding how heart muscle cells change in space improves efforts for studying disease, screening drugs and conducting cell replacement therapy for future space missions.

Medaka Fish

Chew on these results…Jaw bones of Japanese Medaka fish in microgravity show decreased mineral density and increased volume of osteoclasts, cells that break down bone tissue. Results from this study improve our understanding of the mechanisms behind bone density and organ tissue changes in space.

These experiments, and many others, emphasize the importance of biological research on the space station. Understanding the potential health effects for crew members in microgravity will help us develop preventatives and countermeasures.

Make sure to follow us on Tumblr for your regular dose of space: http://nasa.tumblr.com

Eastern Bluebird

This pretty little eastern bluebird was banded this year at Powdermill Nature Reserve’s bird banding lab in Rector, Pa.

Although they are common winter residents in a field just over the hill from the banding lab, eastern bluebirds only occasionally stray into the banding area, so it was a pleasant surprise to find this individual in one of our nets. 


Powdermill Nature Reserve’s avian research center is part of Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s biological research station in Rector, Pennsylvania.  The research center operates a bird banding station, conducts bioacoustical research, and performs flight tunnel analysis with the goal of reducing window collisions. 

8½-year-Old Black-capped Chickadee at Powdermill

Residents of western Pennsylvania are familiar with the small and spunky black-capped chickadees that often visit their birdfeeders. These fearless birds are also frequent visitors at our banding lab at Powdermill Nature Reserve.

Last winter, this chickadee was one of the oldest of his species banded at the lab. It was first banded as a hatch-year bird at the end of August 2007, which means its age was 8½ years! 

This individual has been captured 42 times in its life (so far!), at least twice every year, most often in the winter months. It has shown up in every month of the year except June and July. In 2011, the only year that we saw this bird in May, it had a cloacal protuberance, an enlargement of the cloaca indicating breeding condition in males. So we know it is a male and that his territory is obviously not near our nets. 

We are hoping to see this individual in the future. The oldest known black-capped chickadee was 11½ years old when it was banded in Minnesota in 2002.


Powdermill Nature Reserve’s avian research center is part of Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s biological research station in Rector, Pennsylvania.  The research center operates a bird banding station, conducts bioacoustical research, and performs flight tunnel analysis with the goal of reducing window collisions. 

 Lawrence’s Warbler

This bright yellow bird is a rare hybrid that was banded at Powdermill Nature Reserve, the museum’s environmental research center, in spring 2017.

This hybridization occurs when a golden-winged warbler mates with a blue-winged warbler. 
This individual was just the 12th Lawrence’s warbler banded at Powdermill in our 55 years of banding.


Powdermill Nature Reserve’s avian research center is part of Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s biological research station in Rector, Pennsylvania.  The research center operates a bird banding station, conducts bioacoustical research, and performs flight tunnel analysis with the goal of reducing window collisions. 

Hummingbird Bands

 At Powdermilll Nature Reserve, researchers use different sized bands for different sized birds, which helps them track the movement and lifespan of populations.

The band pictured above is a hummingbird band. It is so small that the customary nine-digit band number is reduced to five digits with a letter prefix.


Powdermill Nature Reserve’s avian research center is part of Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s biological research station in Rector, Pennsylvania.  The research center operates a bird banding station, conducts bioacoustical research, and performs flight tunnel analysis with the goal of reducing window collisions.