Top Science Stories This Week

Posted: Jun 25 2016, 4:02pm CDT | by , Updated: Jun 25 2016, 4:08pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News


Top Science Stories This Week
Credit: NASA

Electric Wind Stripped All Water from Venus’s Atmosphere 

New evidence suggests that all water on Venus’s atmosphere is likely removed by electric wind blowing over the upper atmosphere of the planet. This electric wind is so strong that it can carry away oxygen right out of the planet’s atmosphere and does not allow it to bond to hydrogen ions to form water.

Venus is similar to Earth in terms of both size and gravity and it once water oceans on its surface. But the water reservoirs would have long boiled away to steam, leaving the planet without any liquid.  Strong electric wind is likely a major factor that has made Venus’s atmosphere inhospitable and impossible to live in.

Chameleon’s Use Super-Sticky Saliva to Catch their Prey

Chameleon’s catch their prey by extending their tongues. They snag their prey and zip their tongues back into the mouth in a lightning speed. But the method is not as simple as that. 

Chameleons don’t wrap their tongues around the prey but still the food remains stuck to the tongue and never falls. The question is how the prey stays attached to the tongue. 

The answer lies in chameleon’s tongue. Chameleons produce extremely sticky saliva on the tip of their tongues. That is why when they catch their prey, it stays glued to the tongue and does not drop. 

Pluto could Still have a Liquid Ocean Underneath its Surface

When the NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft made a close flyby of Pluto last year, it found astonishing evidences of liquid ocean under the dwarf planet’s icy crust. And a new research suggests that an ocean of liquid water still exists. 

Combing thermal evolution model with data from NASA’s New Horizons, researchers suspect that Pluto most likely has a subsurface ocean today. The telltale sign of the presence of ocean is the expansion of dwarf planet instead of contraction because a subsurface ocean that was slowly freezing over would develop extensional tectonic features and cause expansion on planet.

Snow Algae is Accelerating Arctic’s Melting 

Pinkish snow, referred as watermelon snow, looks quite beautiful but in reality it is damaging the Arctic ice. A new research suggests that pink snow algae are accelerating the melting of Arctic’s glaciers. 

The pink snow phenomenon occurs mainly in warm months and when it blooms on ice, it darkens the surface which in turn leads to less reflection of sunlight and a higher uptake of heat.

The blooming creates a vicious circle. The more glaciers and snow thaw the more algae bloom and again accelerate melting.

Hubble Confirms Dark Spot on Neptune 

Scientists using Hubble Space Telescope has spotted a dark vortex in the atmosphere of Neptune. Though similar features were seen during the Voyager 2 flyby of Neptune in 1989 and by the Hubble Space Telescope in 1994, this vortex on planet's atmosphere was not observed until now. 

A dark spot on Neptune is a high-pressure system that usually is accompanied by bright companion clouds and these companion clouds are similar to so-called organic clouds that appear as pancake-shaped features lingering over mountains on Earth.

Dark vortex on Neptune indicates how diverse the planet is.


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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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