Science News Roundup: Scientists hope genetic engineering can revive the American chestnut tree; Remdesivir appears safe for seriously ill children and more
The unprecedented extraction of oxygen, literally out of thin air on Mars, was achieved Tuesday by an experimental device aboard Perseverance, a six-wheeled science rover that landed on the Red Planet Feb. 18 after a seven-month journey from Earth. NASA-SpaceX set to launch next 4-member crew to International Space Station NASA and commercial rocket company SpaceX were due to launch a new four-astronaut team to the International Space Station early on Friday in what would be the first crew propelled into orbit by a rocket booster recycled from a previous spaceflight.
Following is a summary of current science news briefs.
Scientists hope genetic engineering can revive the American chestnut tree
A day before Earth Day, retired forester Rex Mann watched as scientists signed an agreement with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina to allow for the eventual planting of genetically engineered American chestnut trees on tribal land. Mann, who has heard countless stories about the American chestnut tree that once dominated the Appalachia region, was emotional as he witnessed the signing.
Remdesivir appears safe for seriously ill children; patients may not pose highest risk to hospital staff
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. Antiviral remdesivir appears safe for children
Russia plans to launch own space station after quitting ISS
Russia is ready to start building its own space station with the aim of launching it into orbit by 2030 if President Vladimir Putin gives the go-ahead, the head of its Roscosmos space agency said on Wednesday. The project would mark a new chapter for Russian space exploration and an end to more than two decades of close cooperation with the United States aboard the ageing International Space Station (ISS).
Australian academics enlist amateur scientists to study microplastics
Equipped with just a pan and sieve, a group of amateur scientists comb the beach looking for tiny bits of plastic that are near invisible to the naked eye but belie their threat. "There's evidence that we are breathing it, ingesting it in our foods. There's lots of studies showing it's in our water, it's in our food products," said Scott Wilson, research director of the Australian Microplastic Assessment Project (AUSMAP).
Robots to fan out across world's oceans to monitor their health
After years studying the icy waters of the Southern Ocean with floating robotic monitors, a consortium of oceanographers and other researchers is deploying them across the planet, from the north Pacific to the Indian Ocean. The project known as the Global Ocean Biogeochemistry Array, or GO-BGC, started in March with the launch of the first of 500 new floating robotic monitors containing computers, hydraulics, batteries and an array of sensors scientists say will relay a more comprehensive picture of the ocean and its health.
NASA extracts breathable oxygen from thin Martian air
NASA has logged another extraterrestrial first on its latest mission to Mars: converting carbon dioxide from the Martian atmosphere into pure, breathable oxygen, the U.S. space agency said on Wednesday. The unprecedented extraction of oxygen, literally out of thin air on Mars, was achieved Tuesday by an experimental device aboard Perseverance, a six-wheeled science rover that landed on the Red Planet Feb. 18 after a seven-month journey from Earth.
NASA-SpaceX set to launch next 4-member crew to International Space Station
NASA and commercial rocket company SpaceX were due to launch a new four-astronaut team to the International Space Station early on Friday in what would be the first crew propelled into orbit by a rocket booster recycled from a previous spaceflight. The company's Crew Dragon capsule, the Endeavour, was set for liftoff atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at 5:49 a.m. Eastern time (0949 GMT) from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
A black hole dubbed 'the Unicorn' may be galaxy's smallest one
Scientists have discovered what may be the smallest-known black hole in the Milky Way galaxy and the closest to our solar system - an object so curious that they nicknamed it 'the Unicorn.' The researchers said the black hole is roughly three times the mass of our sun, testing the lower limits of size for these extraordinarily dense objects that possess gravitational pulls so strong not even light can escape. A luminous star called a red giant orbits with the black hole in a so-called binary star system named V723 Mon.
Keeping up with T. Rex was easy, Dutch researchers say
Unlike its popular movie incarnations, Tyrannosaurus rex - the giant meat-eating dinosaur from the Cretaceous period - walked slower than previously thought, most likely ambling around at human walking speed, new Dutch research found. Working with a 3-dimensional computer model of "Trix", a female T. rex skeleton at the Dutch Naturalis museum, researcher Pasha van Bijlert added computer reconstructions of muscles and ligaments to find that it's likely that the dinosaur's preferred speed was 4.61 kms (2.86 miles) an hour, close to the walking pace of humans and horses.
EU should make better use of its space assets, auditors say
The European Union has not done enough to capitalise on its 18 billion euro ($21.6 billion) space programmes, including its Galileo satellite positioning system and Copernicus observation satellites, EU auditors said on Wednesday. The European Court of Auditors (ECA) found that the EU had failed to spell out the societal and economic benefits of its space programmes, or set clear targets or timeframes to achieve those benefits.
(With inputs from agencies.)