Top Science Stories: Goodbye Philae, Orangutan That Mimics Human Sounds And Dragon Ants From 'Game Of Thrones'

Posted: Jul 30 2016, 3:07pm CDT | by , Updated: Jul 30 2016, 3:10pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News


Top Science Stories: Goodbye Philae, Orangutan that Mimics Human Sounds and Dragon Ants from 'Game of Thrones'
Credit: ESA

Scientists Cut Communication Links with Philae Comet Lander

European Space Agency (ESA) has finally shut down the communication systems between the Rosetta spacecraft and Philae - the first ever robotic lander to touch a comet’s surface this week. And with that a remarkable chapter in space history has been closed. 

The decision was tough but has to be made because Philae lander was silent since July 2015. It was also expected to lose significant energy after getting 520 million kilometers away from the Sun by end of this month.  To save energy for future scientific experiments, it was necessary to switch off the lander forever. Rest in peace, Philae. 

Scientists are Getting Closer to Solve the Mystery of Ceres’ Missing Craters

When Dawn spacecraft arrived at Ceres last year, scientists were expecting to find several large craters on dwarf planet. But it turned out it has not even a single large impact crater on its surface. It appeared that something had removed Ceres’ large basins that should have been formed over its 4.5 billion year history. 

Now a new research suggests that Ceres may have lost its all giant craters due to significant geological evolution, leaving only few small ones scattered on the surface of dwarf planet. Researchers speculate that there could be certain geological forces behind erasing those craters and they can be icy crust mixed with salt, internal heat or even cryovolcanism or icy volcanism which is evident in the bright spots placed over Ceres.

Orangutan Gives Clues to the Evolution of Human Speech

It has been long thought that great apes, our closet evolutionary relatives, could not learn to produce new sounds so, human’s ability to speak could not have stemmed from them. But an orangutan living at Indianapolis Zoo makes us feel that the theory could be wrong.

The young orangutan, named Rocky, can mimic human sounds varying his pitch and tone and these sounds are different from those found in large database of orangutan sounds, reflecting that this particular orangutan has the ability to learn new sounds and even control them and it can lead to more clues into the origin of human speech. 

Two New Ant Species Look Like Dragons from ‘Game of Thrones’

Scientists have discovered two new species of ants in New Guinea with reptile-like spine. And this feature makes them look similar to the dragons from popular series “Game of Thrones.” Even their names Pheidole viserion and Pheidole drogon are inspired by two dragons from the series.

Both ant species belong to genus Pheidole which is one of the most diverse genuses of ants. Using cutting edge technology known as micro-CT, researchers have also identified the function of the reptile-like spine. Researchers suggest that spiny structures are there to support the massive heads of the ants.

Jupiter’s Red Spot is Heating Up the Planet’s Upper Atmosphere

Researchers have found that Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, is heating up the planet’s upper atmosphere and is likely the reason for the scorching temperatures of Jupiter from the top. To arrive at the conclusion, researchers mapped the heat distribution over the entire planet and identified temperature anomalies to get clues to where the energy is coming from.

Atmospheric temperatures on Jupiter can be up to 1,330 degrees Celsius which is greater than the temperature of molten lava and would cause things to boil and turn to gas. 

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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