Top Science Stories This Week

Posted: Aug 27 2016, 3:30pm CDT | by , Updated: Aug 27 2016, 3:37pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News


Top Science Stories This Week
China's Mars lander and rover concept design. Credit: Xinhua

A Huge Crack is Threatening to Cause an Entire Antarctic Ice Shelf to Collapse

For almost two years now, a team of researchers has been tracking a huge crack on one of biggest Antarctic ice shelves. Now, they have found that the crack is spreading across the ice shelf at an alarming rate and could dislodge entire ice shelf. Removal of a massive chuck of ice could destabilize a large area on Antarctica. 

Satellite imagery shows that the crack was more than 600 feet wide last year and now it is around 1100 feet wide. If the same trend continues, Antarctic will likely lose its fourth largest ice shelf known as Larsen C in near future. It means Larsen C is heading for a similar fate as nearby ice shelves Larsen A and Larsen B, which collapsed and disintegrated in 1995 and 2002 respectively. 

China Unveils its 2020 Mars Rover and Probe Design 

China has revealed the first ever images of its Mars probe and rover which are aimed to be sent to the Red Planet in late 2020. The design has been released but the probe has yet to be named.

The mission will be launched on a carrier rocket from Hainan province in Southern China and it will take nearly seven months to reach Martian surface. Upon arrival, lander will separate from the orbiter and explore Mars’ surface using an array of equipments including a remote sensing camera and ground-penetrating radar to study the Martian soil.

The six-wheeled rover will weigh 441 lbs and will be powered by four solar panels. The probe will be designed for a 92-day stay on Martian surface. 

A Potentially Habitable Planet Close to our Solar System Discovered 

Scientists have been looking for Earth-like planets for a while. And they have discovered quite a few over the years as well.

Recently, researchers have discovered a potentially habitable planet near our solar system, which is orbiting a red dwarf called Proxima Centauri. The planet is in its sun’s habitable zone, meaning that the object is circling its sun at just the right distance for thriving life.

The discovery was made by the European Southern Observatory (ESO) using an observatory in Chile. Coincidentally, it was this same observatory that announced the discovery of triple star system called Alpha Centauri in 2012. The star system consists of red dwarf Promixa Centauri and pair Alpha Centuari A and B and it’s the closest star system to our solar system at just 4.25 light years away.

World’s Largest Aircraft Crashes on Second Test Flight 

World’s largest aircraft sustains damage after making a rough landing on its second test flight. The aircraft, named Airlander 10, stayed in the air for 100 minutes and everything was going well for the 302-foot long airship until its landing. The aircraft crashed into the ground while landing on surface and damaged its cockpit.

Nicknamed the “flying bum,” is a helium-filled aircraft and is created by a British company, Hybrid Air Vehicles. The aircraft is 50 feet longer than the biggest passenger plane today.

According to the company, both pilots and the ground crew are safe and uninjured while the aircraft has been dispatched to its mooring location and is deemed stable and secured.

Astronaut Jeff Williams Break US Record for Most Days in Space

Veteran astronaut Jeff Williams sets new record for most time spent in space. The astronaut, who is also serving as the commander of the International Space Station, completed his 521st day in the orbit this week, which is the most by any U.S. astronaut. He has surpassed the previous record of 520 days set by another veteran astronaut Scott Kelly earlier this year.

58-year Jeff Williams accumulated these numbers over four missions and by the time he returns to Earth on September 6, he will have logged 534 days aboard ISS.


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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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