Science News Highlights: Sun's Magnetic Field, Silkworms in Cuba, and More

Key science updates: Sun's magnetic field is closer to the surface, Cuban artisans use silkworms, Psittacosaurus fossil reveals skin evolution, SpaceX launches US spy satellites, Australian gene-edited wheat, Russia launches potential space weapon, and Boeing's Starliner targets June 1 for crewed launch.

Reuters | Updated: 23-05-2024 18:27 IST | Created: 23-05-2024 18:27 IST
Science News Highlights: Sun's Magnetic Field, Silkworms in Cuba, and More

Following is a summary of current science news briefs.

Sun's magnetic field may originate closer to the solar surface

The sun's magnetic field, which causes solar storms like the one that hit Earth this month and produced beautiful auroras, may originate at shallower depths in the star's interior than previously thought, according to researchers. The sun's outer 30% is comprised of an "ocean" of churning gases plunging more than 130,000 miles (210,000 km) below the solar surface. The research, comparing new theoretical models to observations by the sun-observing SOHO spacecraft, provides strong evidence that its magnetic field is generated near the top of this ocean - less than 5% inward, or about 20,000 miles (32,000 km) - rather than near the bottom, as long hypothesized.

Cubans put Asian silkworms to work for artisans in experimental project

Cuban biochemist Dayron Martin, dressed in a white lab coat and jeans, looks over a table swarming with silkworms with the admiration of a proud father. Hundreds of the cream-colored caterpillars squiggle across a bed of dark green mulberry leaves - the worm's preferred food - freshly plucked from bushes just outside his laboratory.

Chinese fossil reveals evolution of skin in feathered dinosaurs

A new fossil of the Cretaceous Period dinosaur Psittacosaurus, a dog-sized herbivore with a parrot-like beak, that was donated to a Chinese university came with a surprise - one revealed only after scientists viewed it under ultraviolet light. It retained large patches of beautifully preserved skin, down to its cellular structure, providing new insight into skin evolution in feathered dinosaurs. The fossil points to "zoned development" in the skin of these dinosaurs, researchers said, with Psittacosaurus and probably other feathered dinosaurs possessing scaly, reptile-like skin on body regions without feathers, with soft, bird-like skin on areas with feathers.

SpaceX launches first satellites for new US spy constellation

SpaceX on Wednesday launched an inaugural batch of operational spy satellites it built as part of a new U.S. intelligence network designed to significantly upgrade the country's space-based surveillance powers, the first deployment of several more planned this year. The spy network was revealed in a pair of Reuters reports earlier this year showing SpaceX is building hundreds of satellites for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office, an intelligence agency, for a vast system in orbit capable of rapidly spotting ground targets almost anywhere in the world.

Australian trial of gene-edited wheat aims for 10% bigger yields

The groundwork for a major trial of gene-edited wheat has begun in Australia, where a state company is growing hundreds of varieties it says could be up to 10% more productive and make farming more sustainable. Gene-editing is an emerging technique its advocates say could create more nutritious, hardier crops with higher yields and less need for water, fertiliser and chemicals.

US assesses Russia launched space weapon in path of American satellite

Russia last week launched a satellite that U.S. intelligence officials believe to be a weapon capable of inspecting and attacking other satellites, the U.S. Space Command said on Tuesday as the Russian spacecraft trails a U.S. spy satellite in orbit. Russia's Soyuz rocket blasted off from its Plesetsk launch site some 500 miles (800 km) north of Moscow on May 16, deploying in low-Earth orbit at least nine satellites including COSMOS 2576, a type of Russian military "inspector" spacecraft U.S. officials have long condemned as exhibiting reckless space behavior.

Boeing targets June 1 for Starliner's debut crew launch amid helium leak probe

NASA and Boeing are targeting June 1 for the company's first crewed launch of its Starliner spacecraft as engineers investigate the cause of a helium leak and examine how it could affect crucial parts of the mission, the agency said Wednesday. The helium leak on Starliner's propulsion system has held up the spacecraft's first mission to space carrying humans, initially planned for May 7 but successively delayed as NASA and Boeing attempt to fix the issue and run new tests on the spacecraft.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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