Top Science Stories This Week

Posted: May 14 2016, 12:48pm CDT | by , Updated: May 14 2016, 12:51pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News


Top Science Stories This Week
Space debris cracks ISS window. Credit: ESA/NASA

1 in 5 Plant Species are Facing Extinction 

In the first report of its kind, Britain’s Royal Botanic Gardens warns that world’s plant kingdom is facing severe threats. More than 391,000 plant species have been registered around the world and out of these species almost one-third are under threat of extinction. Report says that agriculture, house building, diseases and pesticides are top killers while climate change has a relatively minimal effect on plants.

According to the report, every year around 2,000 species of plants are discovered all across the world. More than 17,000 plants are used for medical purposes, over 5,000 for food and around 3,000 for feeding animals.

NASA’s Kepler Discovers Record-Breaking 1284 New Planets

NASA’s Kepler space telescope has discovered biggest ever collection of planets in one instance.  Kepler identified 4,302 potential planets. Of those 1,284 fit in the criteria of being planet, 1,327 do not meet the threshold while remaining 707 are more likely to some other astrophysical phenomena. 

Kelper was launched in 2009 and it has been searching Earth-like planets in the habitable zone of their stars. To verify whether a candidate is a planet, scientists made an in-depth analysis of each one and used ground based telescopes to determine their mass. Nearly 5,000 planet candidates have been found to date. More than 3,000 now have been verified and more than 2000 of them were detected by Kepler.

Canadian Teen May have Discovered Lost Mayan City 

A 15-year old Canadian boy believes that he has discovered a lost Mayan city in Mexico. Using Google maps and a star chart, William Gadoury had figured out the pattern in which Maya people used to build their cities and communities. The boy theorizes that Maya cities are aligned with major constellations. When he looked around the Google Map and Google Earth images, he found all 117 known cities were matching with 22 constellations except one potentially located in the remote jungle of Yucatan Peninsula. However, further researchers are needed to confirm the discovery.

Ingestible Origami Robot can Retrieve Swallowed Objects from Stomach 

MIT researchers have created an origami robot that can get inside a body, crawl across the stomach, remove objects that were accidently swallowed and can even patch a wound. The tiny robot consists of two layers of structural material which are covering a material that shrinks when head. The robot is steered by external magnetic field and it can help retrieve swallowed button batteries and other objects in future.

Space Debris Cracks International Space Station’s Window

Slamming a space junk on the glass of ISS may not be a thing astronomers were imagining while on board space station. But that’s exactly what happened last month in space station. Astronomer Tim Peake shared a picture which shows a 7mm crack in the station’s Cupola window and it was almost certainly caused by a piece of debris.

Space junk is a growing concern for scientists. According to NASA, more than 500,000 pieces of debris are floating in the space and they could pose a threat to spacecraft orbiting around the celestial objects.

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The Author

Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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