Week in Science (18 – 24 Apr 2021)

Science News related to Stone Skipping – Space Vehicles, Rotating Infant Galaxy, Dense and Spinning Dead Star, Record Breaking Flare from The Sun’s Neighbor, Mars Rover Extracting First Oxygen from Red Planet, Contagious Solar Panels, Design Truly Compostable Plastic, Microbial Life Beneath Mars’ Surface, Fighting Harmful Bacteria with Nanoparticles, New Load-Bearing Material, First Ever Image of An Electron’s Orbit, Radar Satellites – Bushfires and Floods


Note: None of the news bits (and cover picture) given here are written/owned by NewAnced's authors. The links on each of the news bits will redirect to the news source. Content given under each headline is a basic gist and not the full story.


*Cover Picture Credit: NASA*

1. Stone Skipping Techniques Can Improve Re-entry of Space Vehicles


Source: American Institute of Physics 20 Apr 2021


Skipping stones on a body of water is an age-old game, but developing a better understanding of the physics involved is crucial for more serious matters, such as water landings upon reentry of spaceflight vehicles or aircrafts. Scientists from several universities in China revealed several key factors that influence the number of bounces a skipping stone or landing aircraft will undergo when hitting the water.

2. ALMA Discovers Rotating Infant Galaxy with Help of Natural Cosmic Telescope


Source: National Institutes of Natural Sciences 20 Apr 2021


Using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), astronomers found a rotating baby galaxy 1/100th the size of the Milky Way at a time when the Universe was only seven percent of its present age. Thanks to assistance by the gravitational lens effect, the team was able to explore for the first time the nature of small and dark "normal galaxies" in the early Universe, representative of the main population of the first galaxies, which greatly advances our understanding of the initial phase of galaxy evolution.

3. Outback Radio Telescope Discovers Dense, Spinning, Dead Star


Source: International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research 21 Apr 2021


Astronomers have discovered a pulsar—a dense and rapidly spinning neutron star sending radio waves into the cosmos—using a low-frequency radio telescope in outback Australia. The pulsar was detected with the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) telescope, in Western Australia’s remote Mid West region. It’s the first time scientists have discovered a pulsar with the MWA but they believe it will be the first of many.

4. Humongous Flare from Sun’s Nearest Neighbor Breaks Records


Source: University of Colorado at Boulder 21 Apr 2021


In a new study, researchers observed Proxima Centauri for 40 hours using nine telescopes on the ground and in space. In doing so, the researchers spotted the largest flare ever recorded from the sun’s nearest neighbor, the star Proxima Centauri. The research could help to shape the hunt for life beyond Earth’s solar system.


Original written by: Daniel Strain

5. NASA’s Perseverance Mars Rover Extracts First Oxygen from Red Planet


Source: NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory 21 Apr 2021


The growing list of “firsts” for Perseverance, NASA’s newest six-wheeled robot on the Martian surface, includes converting some of the Red Planet’s thin, carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere into oxygen. A toaster-size, experimental instrument aboard Perseverance called the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE) accomplished the task. The test took place April 20, the 60th Martian day, or sol, since the mission landed Feb. 18.

6. Solar Panels Are Contagious - But in A Good Way


Source: Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) 21 Apr 2021


The number of solar panels within shortest distance from a house is the most important factor in determining the likelihood of that house having a solar panel, when compared with a host of socio-economic and demographic variables. This is shown in a new study by scientists using satellite and census data of the city of Fresno in the US, and employing machine learning.

7. To Design Truly Compostable Plastic, Scientists Take Cues from Nature


Source: DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory 21 Apr 2021


Scientists have designed an enzyme-activated compostable plastic that could diminish microplastics pollution, and holds great promise for plastics upcycling. The material can be broken down to its building blocks – small individual molecules called monomers – and then reformed into a new compostable plastic product.

8. Mars Has Right Ingredients for Present-Day Microbial Life Beneath Its Surface, Study Finds


Source: Brown University 22 Apr 2021


As NASA’s Perseverance rover begins its search for ancient life on the surface of Mars, a new study suggests that the Martian subsurface might be a good place to look for possible present-day life on the Red Planet. The research suggests that rocks in the Martian crust could produce the same kind of chemical energy that supports microbial life deep beneath Earth’s surface.

9. Fighting Harmful Bacteria with Nanoparticles


Source: Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA) 22 Apr 2021


Multi-resistant pathogens are a serious and increasing problem in today's medicine. Where antibiotics are ineffective, these bacteria can cause life-threatening infections. Researchers are currently developing nanoparticles that can be used to detect and kill multi-resistant pathogens that hide inside our body cells.


Original written by: Andrea Six

10. Inspired By Nature, The Research To Develop A New Load-Bearing Material


Source: University of Leeds 22 Apr 2021


Engineers have developed a material that mimics human cartilage – the body’s shock absorbing and lubrication system, and it could herald the development of a new generation of lightweight bearings. The research team believes a cartilage-like material would have a wide-range of uses across engineering.

11. Scientists Capture First Ever Image of An Electron’s Orbit Within an Exciton


Source: Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) Graduate University 22 Apr 2021


Excitons are excited particles that form when negatively charged electrons bind to positively charged holes. Researchers have now used cutting-edge technology to capture the first ever image of the electron inside of an exciton. The technique uses extreme ultraviolet light to break excitons apart and kick the electrons into the vacuum of an electron microscope. By measuring the angle at which the electrons are ejected from the material, the research team determined how the electrons and holes orbit each other in an exciton.


Original written by: Dani Ellenby

12. Radar Satellites Can Better Protect Against Bushfires and Floods


Source: Curtin University 23 Apr 2021


New research has revealed how radar satellites can improve the ability to detect, monitor, prepare for and withstand natural disasters in Australia including bushfires, floods and earthquakes. The research used Synthetic Aperture Radar data obtained by the European Space Agency Sentinel-1 satellite, amongst others, to evaluate Australia-specific case studies.


Original written by: Lucien Wilkinson


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