A version of this story appeared in CNN’s Wonder Theory science newsletter. To get it in your inbox, sign up for free here.
You never forget your first mission to Mars.
When NASA’s InSight spacecraft arrived at the red planet on November 26, 2018, it was the first time I covered a spacecraft landing on Mars. The robotic lander made a graceful, ballet-like touchdown on the surface of Mars.
Moments later, it sent a beep and a photo of the landing site to mission control, as if to say: “I made it!” As the InSight team broke into cheers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, I danced with them thousands of miles away in my office.
The mission has made incredible discoveries about earthquakes on the red planet and what the core of Mars might be like.
But the InSight mission is nearing its end as dust obscures its solar panels. In a few weeks, the lander won’t be able to send a beep to show it’s okay now.
Before saying goodbye, however, the spaceship has some surprises in store.
When Mars rumbled under InSight’s feet on December 24, NASA scientists thought it was just another earthquake.
The magnitude 4 earthquake was actually caused by a space rock crashing into the surface of Mars a few thousand miles away.
The meteorite left a crater on the red planet and revealed chunks of ice glistening in a completely unexpected place – near the warm equator of Mars.
Meanwhile, the researchers tested a microbe nicknamed “Conan the Bacterium” under conditions similar to Mars. The hardy organism’s ability to withstand harsh conditions has led scientists to believe that ancient microbial life may be sleeping deep beneath the Martian surface.
Humans aren’t the only creatures who pick their noses.
For the first time, an aye-aye, an unusual-looking species of lemur, has been recorded rooting its nose – and then licking its finger clean.
Other non-human The primates also sample their own snot — but the creature’s incredibly long middle finger means it can reach all the way to the back of its neck, as shown in a CT scan the researchers took.
Local legends link the long digit of the nocturnal aye-aye with prophecies of death in its native Madagascar. But researchers hope people will see the value in saving this misunderstood and critically endangered creature.
Emperor penguins may reign supreme at the South Pole, but the iconic species is at risk of extinction due to the climate crisis.
As greenhouse gases and carbon emissions warm the Earth, the floating world in the Southern Ocean these seabirds call home is melting. Sea ice is where they breed and raise their young, stay safe from predators and forage.
When the sea ice disappears, the entire emperor penguin colonies may disappear.
Flightless seabirds are now listed as threatened by the US Fish and Wildlife Service — This means they will receive new protection under the Endangered Species Act.
Maritime archaeologists have finally located an elusive 17th-century shipwreck in Sweden.
Researchers found the Äpplet, one of four warships commissioned by King Gustavus Adolphus in 1625. The vessel was a sister ship to the Vasa, which capsized on its maiden voyage and is on display in a museum in Stockholm.
Äpplet is served in Europe Thirty Years’ War and then deliberately sunk in 1659 after being deemed unseaworthy. Researchers now plan to take a 3D image of the wreck as it rests on the seabed.
The James Webb Space Telescope was unveiled last week a shimmering view of the star-forming region called the Pillars of Creation.
A new image of the same feature, taken in mid-infrared light, reveals the dark underbelly of the normally ethereal scene where dust has drowned out starlight. Only a few red stars pierce the darkness.
The towering columns look like a tangle of ghosts traversing the universe. With Halloween around the corner, it would be a fitting depiction of “the goblin-haunted forest of Weir” from Edgar Allan Poe’s Ulalume.
In addition, Webb spied a distant surprise that could be an ancient merger between two galaxies during the early days of the universe. And planetary scientists have made a surprising discovery about exoplanets that may limit the search for habitable worlds.
Check out these interesting stories:
— A mysterious field in Hengduan, China Mountains it is filled with dozens of rhododendron species. Instead of competing with each other, they have evolved to live in harmony. (link added Friday)
— Retired astronaut Scott Kelly is part of a new team of experts to delve into the mysteries of UFOs. NASA’s long-awaited study began Monday.
— Meet some adorable additions to the tree of life. After years of effort, researchers have discovered six new species of frogs on the eastern slopes of the Andes of Ecuador.
Want to minimize your role in the climate crisis and reduce your ecological stress? Subscribe to CNN’s Life, But Greener limited edition newsletter series.
#space #rock #crashed #Mars #Christmas #Eve #Reveal #hidden #surprise #CNN