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 seawater deep – that is deeper than Mount Everest is high above sea level, by a couple of thousand meters at least.”
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-millimeter 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 recognized 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.
Virus variants found to be deadlier, more contagious; some may thwart vaccines
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.
Multiple variants can “escape” vaccines 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 millrace, 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. Mars long ago was wet.
You may be surprised where the water went
Mars was once a wet world, with abundant bodies of water on its surface. But this changed dramatically billions of years ago, leaving behind the desolate landscape known today. So what happened to the water? Scientists have a new hypothesis. Researchers said this week that somewhere between about 30% and 99% of it may now be trapped within minerals in the Martian crust, running counter to the long-held notion that it simply was lost into space by escaping through the upper atmosphere.
Israeli town abuzz with delivery drones in coordinated airspace test
The skies above the Israeli town of Hadera were abuzz with delivery drones on Wednesday as national authorities tested a central control room for safely coordinating the small pilotless aircraft with each other as well as with planes and helicopters. The popularity of the cheap, low-flying drones, and their potential for ferrying anything from pizzas to prescription drugs between businesses and homes, has stirred fears of mid-air collisions or crashes that could cause casualties on the ground.
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.
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