I first covered a spacecraft landing on Mars on November 26, 2018, when NASA’s InSight mission made its way to the planet. The robotic lander touched down on the Martian surface with a smooth, balletic landing.
It sent back a “beep” and a picture of its landing spot to mission control a little while later as if to announce, “I made it!” I was dancing at my desk alongside the InSight team as they cheered at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, which was thousands of kilometres away.
The project has uncovered amazing information on Mars’ quakes and what the planet’s core may look like.
But due to dust obscuring its solar panels, the InSight mission is about to come to an end. The lander will no longer be able to beep to indicate that everything is well after a few weeks.
But the spaceship still has some surprises in store for us before it departs.
On December 24, Mars rumbled beneath InSight, and NASA scientists assumed it was simply another marsquake.
A few thousand miles away, a space asteroid crashed into the surface of Mars, causing the magnitude 4-magnitude earthquake.
Near the warm Martian equator, a sizable crater that the meteoroid left behind on the red planet revealed shimmering ice fragments.
In the meantime, scientists put a microbe known as “Conan the Bacterium” through a Mars-like environment. The resilient organism’s capacity to endure challenging circumstances led the researchers to hypothesise that there may be ancient microbial life dormant deep under the Martian surface.
Not only humans but other animals also pick their noses.
An unusual-looking lemur species known as an aye-aye was first observed digging around in its nose before licking its finger clean.
Other nonhuman primates taste their own snot as well, but the creature can reach all the way back down its throat thanks to its extraordinarily long middle finger, as shown in a CT scan acquired by the researchers.
The long digit of the nocturnal aye-aye is connected to death prophesies in its native Madagascar, according to local tradition. But scientists are hoping that people will see the importance of protecting this misunderstood and critically endangered animal.
Emperor penguins may be king at the South Pole, but the iconic species is in danger of extinction because of the global warming catastrophe.
The floating realm that these marine birds call home in the Southern Ocean is melting as greenhouse gas and carbon emissions warm the planet. They reproduce, raise their babies, protect themselves from predators, and forage for food on the sea ice.
Entire colonies of emperor penguins may disappear when sea ice vanishes.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service has now classified the flightless seabirds as threatened, which means they will now be covered under the Endangered Species Act.
An elusive shipwreck from the 17th century has finally been discovered by marine archaeologists in Sweden.
The pplet, one of four warships built by King Gustavus Adolphus in 1625, was discovered by the researchers. The ship, which is on display in a Stockholm museum and was a sister ship to the Vasa, capsized on her first trip.
The pplet served in the Thirty Years’ War in Europe until being purposefully sunk in 1659 due to its unsuitability for the water. Now, scientists want to create a 3D model of the shipwreck as it lies on the ocean below.
Across the universe
Last week, a brilliant glimpse of the Pillars of Creation star-forming region was presented by the James Webb Space Telescope.
Dust has obscured the stars in the ordinarily ethereal landscape, as shown in a new image of the same feature taken in mid-infrared light. Few crimson stars can be seen piercing the night.
The massive columns resemble a maze of spectral creatures scuttling across space. It would be a fitting representation of “the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir” from Edgar Allan Poe’s “Ulalume” with Halloween just around the corner.
Webb also noticed a surprise in the distance that might be the remnants of a long-ago galaxy merger from the early universe. Additionally, exoplanet researchers discovered a shocking discovery that could focus the search for habitable planets.
Check out these intriguing stories:
Numerous rhododendron species can be found in a strange region in China’s Hengduan Mountains. They have evolved to coexist rather than to compete with one another. Added on Friday
A new group of experts will investigate the mystery surrounding UFOs, including retired astronaut Scott Kelly. On Monday, the eagerly awaited NASA study began.
The tree of life has some cute new additions. On the eastern slopes of the Ecuadorian Andes, six new species of rainfrogs have been found after years of research.
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