Category: science

East Antarctica is losing ice faster than anyone thought

By Alexandra Witze East Antarctica was supposed to be the stable side of the icy continent, whose western flank is losing ice fast1. But glaciologists are finding that the closer they look at East Antarctica, the more change they see. Four small glaciers in a region known as Vincennes Bay are thinning at surprisingly fast rates, researchers …

‘Miracle’ Excavation of ‘Little Foot’ Skeleton Reveals Mysterious Human Relative

By Laura Geggel Following an epic 20-year-long excavation in South Africa, researchers have finally recovered and cleaned the nearly-complete skeleton of an ancient human relative: an approximately 3.67-million-year-old hominin nicknamed Little Foot. Little Foot is likely a previously unknown species, the researchers said. In four newly posted studies — all available on bioRxiv, meaning they …

Florida GOP Gov.-Elect Appoints Anti-Science Members to Education Committee

By Hemant Mehta With Florida’s next governor, Republican Ron DeSantis, ready to take the helm, you can bet science education isn’t on the list of priorities. We saw the first sign of that recently when DeSantis “announced his 41-person team to develop a plan aimed at implementing his education goals.” On that list? Two people who are connected …

What does Martian wind sound like? Now we know

By Soo Youn and David Kerley For the first time, humans can hear wind from Mars. InSight, or NASA’s Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport lander, provided the first “sounds” of Martian winds to human ears on Friday. The spacecraft’s sensors captured a “haunting low rumble caused by vibrations from the wind,” a …

China Preps for Launch of Historic Mission to Moon’s Far Side on Friday

By Leonard David China is getting set to launch the first-ever surface mission to the moon’s far side. The robotic Chang’e 4 mission is scheduled to launch atop a Long March 3B rocket on Friday (Dec. 7) at around 1:30 p.m. EST (1830 GMT; 2:30 a.m. on Dec. 8 local China time). If all goes according to …

These dusty young stars are changing the rules of planet-building

By Rebecca Boyle Some 100,000 years ago, when Neanderthals still occupied the caves of southern Europe, a star was born. It appeared when a ball of gas collapsed and ignited within a stellar factory known as the Taurus Molecular Cloud. Then, leftover material began to cool and coalesce around it, forming dust grains and a hazy …

A hectic week of orbital flights continues with a SpaceX launch Wednesday

By Eric Berger This is an extraordinary week for orbital launches. On Monday, alone, a Soyuz rocket carried three humans into space, en route to the International Space Station. Then, a Falcon 9 rocket launched 64 smallsats into orbit about 500km above the planet. On Tuesday, the flurry of activity continued when an Ariane 5 rocket lofted two …

What’s New, and What’s Not, in the Reported Birth of the CRISPR Babies

By Lila Thulin The announcement from Chinese researcher He Jiankui claiming to have created the world’s first gene-edited babies—twins whose genomes were altered, as embryos, using CRISPR technology—shook the scientific world and prompted a maelstrom of ethical controversy. The experiment, if its outcome is verified by peer review, would certainly take CRISPR use in humans further than it’s gone …

A congressman’s loss clouds the future of two demanding missions to Europa

By Eric Berger The political attack ad lunged straight for the jugular. In seeking to unseat Republican incumbent John Culberson from the House of Representatives, a pro-Democratic political action committee advertisement sneered at his enthusiasm for science and passion for finding life on another world for the first time. “He wanted NASA to search for …

Five myths about climate change

By Katharine Hayhoe The Fourth National Climate Assessment — the work of 13 federal agencies and more than 350 scientists, including me — is clear: The Earth is warming faster than at any time in human history, and we’re the ones causing it. Climate change is already affecting people, and the more carbon we produce, the more …