Top Science Stories This Week

Posted: Dec 3 2016, 10:23pm CST | by , Updated: Dec 4 2016, 9:05am CST, in News | Latest Science News

 

Top Science Stories This Week
A 25 km-wide image strip over a Martian structure called Arsia Chasmata. Credit: ESA
 

Mars New Orbiter Sends First Close-Up Images

European Space Agency’s ExoMars orbiter has beamed back its first ever images from the Martian surface.

The Trace Gas Orbiter, or TGO arrived at Mars on October 19 and tested its instruments for the first time during the last two orbits between 22 and 28 October. The orbiter captured a dozen of high-resolution images of Martian surface, revealing some of most prominent surface features of the planet. 

ExoMars mission is a joint venture between ESA and Russian state corporation Roscosmos and its prime objective is to find the evidences of methane and other atmospheric gases that could be an indicative of biological activity on Mars.

Low-Mass Supernova Triggered the Formation of Our Solar System

The shockwaves of a low-mass supernova may have triggered the formation of our solar system, a new research suggests.

According to current understanding, our solar system formed about 4.5 billion years ago with a collapsing cloud of gas and dust. The cloud was collapsed possibly due to the shockwaves from a nearby exploding star or supernova. Until now, most previous researches have focused on a high-mass supernova as a trigger but meteoric record did not show the nuclear fingerprints of any such supernova.

Using new models and evidences from meteorites, researchers have now found that a low-mass supernova, about 10 times heavier than our sun, led to the formation of our solar system.

Periodic Table Officially has Four New Members

Four new elements have officially become a part of periodic table.

After a five-month period of public review, International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) has approved the earlier proposed names for four superheavy elements, which were formally known by their atomic numbers 113, 115, 117 and 118. Their new names and symbols are Nihonium (Nh), Moscovium (Mc), Oganesson (Og) and Tennessine (Ts).

Keeping with tradition, the newly discovered elements have been named after a mineral, a place, a property or a scientist. Nihonium is the only element discovered in Japan, Asia. The rest are discovered in the West. The addition of four new element means that the seventh row of the periodic table is finally complete.

Private Mission to Revisit Apollo 17 Landing Site

A German-based private mission is aiming to send its two rovers to lunar surface and inspect Apollo 17 landing site. The site has been abandoned since 1972 when NASA’s astronauts completed their scientific research. 

The German group is competing to win Google’s Lunar X Prize. There are currently 16 teams in the running. Whoever puts a privately funded rover on the surface of the moon first, will be declared the winner and receives $20 million. If this happens, Apollo 17 site will get its first visitors in 44 years.

The pair of the rover is expected to launch by late 2017 on SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

New Evidence Suggests Human Ancestor Lucy was a Tree Climber 

Lucy that lived 3 million years ago is perhaps the most famous early human ancestor. The fossil of this ancient human has been a subject of intense research since its discovery 42 years ago.

According to a latest analysis, Lucy was a tree climber who used to spend a lot more time on trees swinging between branches than initially thought. Scanning of long bone in Lucy’s arm reveals that her upper body was well adapted to a life on tree despite having the ability to walk on feet. 

Another recent study suggests that the pre-human Lucy died from a fall out of tree 3.2 million years ago and the new evidence also adds weight to the theory.

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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