Best Science Stories Of The Week

Posted: May 28 2017, 5:24pm CDT | by , Updated: May 28 2017, 5:33pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News

 
Best Science Stories of the Week
Artist's impression of the European Extremely Large Telescope. Credit: ESO

Whales Only Recently Evolved into Giants

Blue whales are the largest animals that have ever existed on Earth. But they were not always as big as they are today. By analyzing several skulls from both ancient and modern species of blue whales stored in museum, researchers have tracked the shift in whale’s body size over the years and found that the large whales that exist today were not present in the early history. Whales evolved to their massive size in just 2 to 3 million years ago.The evolutionary shift took place at the beginning of the Ice Age and is attributed to abundance of food in oceans as a result of climate change.

Europe’s Schiaparelli Lander Crashed into Mars due to Computer Error

The investigations into Europe’s Mars lander Schiaparelli have been completed and the report reveals Schiaparelli crashed into Mars’ atmosphere due to onboard computer’s glitch.

Last October, European Space Agency lost contact with its Schiaparelli lander just seconds before its planned landing on Mars. A preliminary investigation discovered that the onboard computer assigned to measure the rotation of Schiaparelli mistakenly thought that the lander had touched down the surface - when in fact it was still flying miles above Mars. The new report confirms those findings and also adds that “unexpected high rotation rates” contributed to the conflicting information in onboard computer. Schiaparelli lander was the part of ESA’s ExoMars mission which is aiming to send a rover to the Red Planet in 2020.

NASA’s June Mission Beams Back Surprising Data from Jupiter

NASA’s Juno mission, which reached Jupiter after a five-year journey, has started to return data from Jupiter atmosphere and it is forcing scientists to reevaluate what they originally thought about the giant planet. With Juno’s remarkable ability to peer through the planet’s clouds, researchers have found that Jupiter core is fuzzy and much larger than anticipated. Data also shows that the poles of giant planet do not appear the same as they did in previous images. Its hexagonal pattern is much different from the usual and instead of one cyclone, its poles are surrounded by many cyclones. Scientists were expecting to find auroras similar to Earth but Jupiter’s auroras are fundamentally different from ours.

Snakes can Hunt in Packs

While many animals like wolves, lions and dolphin work together to hunt their prey, this kind of sophistication has not been reported in snakes before. However, a new study says that some snakes also coordinate their hunts to improve their chances of catching prey. When researchers observed Cuban boa, they were surprised to find that the animal not only hunts alone but also in packs. Cuban boas hang down from the ceiling of the cave entrance and grab bats in midair. But if more than one boa was present in cave, the snakes tend to form a kind of wall across the entrance. The boas that hunt in groups were more successful in catching bats than the solitary hunters.

Construction begins on World's Largest Optical/infrared Telescope

Europe has started construction on its Extremely Large Telescope’s main structure and the dome that will house it. The telescope will have 39 meter-wide main mirror which will make it the largest Optical/infrared Telescope in the world. ELT will gather 13 times more light than any other optical telescopes existing today and allow astronomers to look further back into the history of universe when first stars and galaxies were formed.

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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