February 2010

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Basic Science

New Efforts on Exploration of the Galaxy - BeSSeL Project Initiated

Recently, the research project, ˇ°exploration of the structure and motion of the Galaxyˇ±, with Chinese scientists as main decision-makers and participants, obtained support from the Mega-Science Project of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory and formally named as BeSSeL. This project will carry out multi-epoch observation of masers associated massive star forming regions by utilizing the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) spanning the globe, use the phase reference technology for quasar and maser sources to precisely determine the position, proper motion and optical parallax of maser sources and establish a new model of the structure and motion of spiral arms of the Galaxy. So far, the research group of the BeSSeL Project has 12 members, including astronomers from China, the United States, Germany, Italy, Korea and Japan. Four Chinese researchers from the Nanjing University, Purple Mountain Observatory and Shanghai Astronomical Observatory participated in this research group. A postdoctoral researcher from the Purple Mountain Observatory is working in another field of this project, which is concerned with the research of small scale dynamics around massive star. In the next 5-6 years, researchers of the BeSSeL Project will occupy over 20% of observation time of VLBA every year to observe over 500 masers associated massive star forming regions. This is the first time in the history of the US National Radio Astronomy Observatory as well as the world history of high-precision measurement that such a long time is provided to a single project.

New Way to Control Bocavirus

Since it was found in 2005, the epidemic of human bocavirus has been widely reported throughout the world. The emerging virus research group led by Prof. Vincent Deubel from the Institut Pasteur of Shanghai, CAS investigated the virological and immunological characteristics of bocavirus through various experimental means and found the relationship between the infection of human bocavirus and humoral immune response and high co-infection of bocavirus and other respiratory viruses in children with respiratory tract infection. This calls our attention to the possibility that this virus adapts to the host and assists in the infection of other viruses. This research result was published in the Dec. 16, 2009 issue of the Journal of Clinical Virology.

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