Science News Summary: SpaceX signs first private passenger to moon; foldable heat shield tested
Following is a summary of current science news briefs.
SpaceX signs first private passenger to fly around the moon
Elon Musk's space transportation company SpaceX said it has signed the world's first private passenger to fly around the moon aboard its BFR launch vehicle. "Find out who's flying and why on Monday, September 17," SpaceX said in a tweet on Thursday.
Bubbling Bolt toasts zero-gravity with champagne
Usain Bolt sprinted through thin air and sipped champagne floating on his back as he enjoyed near zero-gravity conditions in an aircraft performing stomach-lurching parabola dives. The eight-times Olympic champion grinned as he experienced weightlessness in the modified plane normally used for scientific research, but on this occasion to showcase a champagne bottle that will allow astronauts to drink bubbles in space.
British companies and academics will be excluded from the future development of the European Union's Galileo space project if the country leaves the bloc without a deal in March 2019, according to a series of technical notices published on Thursday. The UK government said in the notice that companies currently involved in Galileo, Europe's rival to the United States GPS program, may face difficulties completing their existing contracts and should contact authorities to try to ensure they can comply with the conditions of their contracts.
NASA tests foldable heat shield that could help human Mars landing
The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) launched and tested a new umbrella-like heat shield on Wednesday, opening the door to landing humans on Mars. The new technology - dubbed the Adaptable Deployable Entry Placement Technology (ADEPT) - stores like a folded umbrella inside smaller rockets, opening handle-up in space to protect larger payloads as they enter a planet's atmosphere, said Brandon Smith, NASA's principal investigator on the project. The shape allows it to protect larger areas than current heat shields.
Scientists investigate icy streams for survival clues
A team of scientists has embarked on a four-year quest to discover what beyond water the world loses when glaciers melt. By poring over microorganisms they find in glacier-fed streams, researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL) hope to better understand how these creatures have adapted to their extreme environments.
Roche boss says Brexit and curbs on drug use pose threat to UK science
Uncertainty over drug regulation and a reluctance by Britain's health service to use certain pricey modern medicines pose a threat to the country's respected life sciences sector, the head Swiss drugmaker Roche said on Thursday. With only six months to go until the United Kingdom is due to leave the European Union, the highly regulated pharmaceuticals industry still does not know exactly how medicines oversight will function.
Stone in South African cave boasts oldest-known human drawing
A small stone flake marked with intersecting lines of red ochre pigment some 73,000 years ago that was found in a cave on South Africa's southern coast represents what archaeologists on Wednesday called the oldest-known example of human drawing. The abstract design, vaguely resembling a hashtag, was drawn by hunter-gatherers who periodically dwelled in Blombos Cave overlooking the Indian Ocean, roughly 190 miles (300 km) east of Cape Town, the researchers said. It predates the previous oldest-known drawings by at least 30,000 years.
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