Top Science Stories This Week

Posted: Feb 26 2017, 5:31am CST | by , Updated: Feb 26 2017, 5:37am CST, in News | Latest Science News

 

Top Science Stories This Week
an artist's conception of TRAPPIST-1 and its 7 planets. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
 

7 Earth-Size Planets Orbiting a Nearby Star Discovered

NASA astronomers have discovered seven Earth-size planets orbiting around a star in nearby universe and these new worlds could potentially be habitable.

The seven planets orbit around a tiny, dim star called Trappist-1, which is almost the size of the Jupiter and lies some 40 light-years away from Earth in the constellation Aquarius. All the planets are tightly circling the single star and take less than two week to complete an orbit. Researchers want to extensively study the atmosphere of these rocky planets before determining whether they could support some sort of life on their surfaces.

Pluto could become a Planet Again with new Definition 

NASA researches have proposed a new definition of what constitutes as a planet and this revision could make Pluto a planet again.

Pluto was first classified as a planet in 1930 but had to lose its planetary status under the definition of the planet adopted in 2006. The current definition states that planet is a round body orbiting around the sun with a cleared neighborhood. Because of these criteria, Pluto was no longer considered a planet and demoted to a dwarf planet. The new definition could possibly open the door for Pluto to return to its former position. 

Hunting is Driving African Elephants to Extinction 

Africa country Gabon is one of the largest and most important natural reserves for elephant population with nearly half of Central Africa's estimated 100,000 forest elephants thought to live in the region. But a new research suggests that around 25,000 elephants in Gabon's Minkébé National Park have been killed between 2004 and 2014, representing a more than 80 percent decline in elephant population in Central Africa’s most important preserve. Losing such an amount of animals from a presumably well protected area is a huge setback for the preservation of the animal.

Conservationists had long that large, isolated landscapes are a safe haven for elephants. New research, however, proves it wrong and calls for a better approach to protect the animal.

NASA’s Europa Flyby Mission Enters the Design Phase

Earlier this month, NASA had detailed the plans for sending a robot lander to Jupiter’s moon Europa and to assess the habitability of this icy world. After the completion of the major NASA review, Europa mission is now heading into the next phase: the design of the spacecraft. The preliminary design phase, known as "Phase B,” will begin on February 27.

The new phase is expected to continue through September 2018 and will result in the completion of a preliminary design for the mission's systems and subsystems. NASA’s Europa mission itself is being planned for launch in 2020s in which the spacecraft will arrive Jupiter’s orbit after several years of journey and will analyze the samples from its moon.

20 Percent of World’s Food Lost to Overeating and Waste

More food is wasted or thrown away than we thought. 

Using data collected primarily by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization, researchers have found that world population consumes around 10 percent more food than it needs, while almost nine percent is wasted or left to spoil. Reducing the billions of tons of lost food either through overeating or thrown away could help overcome the scarcity of food and ensure everyone has access to a safe, affordable, nutritious diet.

 

 

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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