Following is a summary of current science news briefs.
Space and sea explorer dives to deepest point on Earth
Space and sea explorer Richard Garriott is the first person in the world to have explored the North Pole, the South Pole, flown to the International Space Station and descended to the deepest point on Earth – the Mariana Trench. “It is literally the deepest place on Earth,” Garriott, a video game developer, told Reuters on Thursday. “It is almost 11,000 meters of sea water deep – that is deeper than Mount Everest is high above sea level, by a couple thousand meters at least.”
Marine ecologist Lubchenco to lead climate in White House science office
Jane Lubchenco, a marine ecologist with wide federal government experience, has joined the Biden administration to lead climate and environment efforts at the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the White House said on Friday. Lubchenco led the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) during the Obama-Biden administration, from 2009 to 2013, where among other things she dealt with the aftermath of the BP underwater oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history. Biden picks ex-U.S.
President Joe Biden has tapped former U.S. senator and astronaut Bill Nelson to lead the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the White House said in a statement on Friday. Nelson, a Democrat from Florida – home to NASA’s Kennedy Space Station in Cape Canaveral – must secure U.S. Senate approval to be confirmed in the post.
NASA, SpaceX sign agreement to enhance space safety
NASA said on Thursday it had signed an agreement with billionaire Elon Musk’s SpaceX that would focus on avoiding collisions between the agency’s spacecraft and the rocket company’s large constellation of satellites. The agreement would enhance data sharing between NASA and Starlink, SpaceX’s space internet venture, to ensure both parties are fully aware of the exact location of spacecraft and debris in orbit.
UK’s top COVID-19 virus hunter had a long and winding path to the top
Sharon Peacock, one of the world’s top scientific warriors in the battle with the 0.0001-millimetre virus that causes COVID-19, had to fight a much more personal battle inside Britain’s education system to rise to the top. Peacock, 61, is a globally recognised virus hunter: COVID-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK), which she set up a year ago as the pandemic swept towards Britain, has sequenced nearly half of all the novel coronavirus genomes so far mapped around the world.
Bizarre ancient shark glided through the sea with lengthy wing-like fins
About 93 million years ago, a bizarre plankton-eating shark shaped unlike any other known marine creature glided through the sea in what is now northeastern Mexico using curiously elongated wing-like fins that rendered its body wider than it was long. Scientists on Thursday announced the discovery of a nearly complete fossil of the shark, called Aquilolamna milarcae, that lived during the Cretaceous Period at a time when dinosaurs ruled the land.
NASA completes major test on rocket that could take humans back to the moon
Aerospace firms on Thursday credited NASA with a successful test of engines on a Boeing-built rocket for Artemis missions that aim to return U.S. astronauts to the moon by 2024, more than half a century since the last lunar walk. NASA simulated a launch by firing the engines of the core stage of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket while it was anchored to a tower at its Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.
No virus variants can evade all antibody types, so far; new variants can infect mice
The following is a roundup of some of the latest scientific studies on the novel coronavirus and efforts to find treatments and vaccines for COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus. No variants escape all types of antibodies, so far Australia’s science agency ramps up security on foreign partnerships
Australia’s science agency will screen collaborations with foreign partners for national security risks using a new digital tool that vets by country, looking for potential political interference and human rights abuses, officials said on Friday. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) outlined the increased security measures to a parliamentary intelligence and security committee. The changes come against the backdrop of increasing diplomatic tensions between Australia and China, its top science partner.
(With inputs from agencies.)
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