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NASA's next Mars rover to improve on Curiosity

NASA's next Mars rover to improve on Curiosity

Science
Nov. 28 (UPI) -- NASA's Curiosity rover has been a tremendous success, providing scientists streams of valuable data. But there's always room for improvement, and NASA engineers expect the next rover to improve on Curiosity's technological legacy.At present iteration, the Mars 2020 rover features greater autonomy, seven new instruments and updated wheels.Despite design improvements, the new rover looks a lot like the old rover. And that's because the Mars 2020 rover utilizes much of the same hardware. In fact, so-called "legacy hardware" accounts for 85 percent of the mass of the new six-legged craft."The fact that so much of the hardware has already been designed -- or even already exists -- is a major advantage for this mission," Jim Watzin, director of NASA's Mars Exploration Program, s...
Horse remains belong to unrecognized genus from last ice age

Horse remains belong to unrecognized genus from last ice age

Science
Nov. 28 (UPI) -- A new analysis of ancient horse fossils suggests the New World stilt-legged horse warrants a new genus.The thin-limbed horse roamed North America during the last ice age, but is now extinct. Until now, scientists thought the horse species was a member of the genus Equus -- possible a close relative of the Asiatic wild ass, also known as an onager, Equus hemionus.Remains of the enigmatic species have been discovered in Wyoming's Natural Trap Cave, Nevada's Gypsum Cave and among the Klondike goldfields of Canada's Yukon Territory.Genomic analysis of stilt-legged horse remains suggest the species, now named Haringtonhippus francisci, isn't closely related to any living equine population. The genus Haringtonhippus likely diverged from the main branch of the horse family tree s...
Bird pulled from brink of extinction facing poisoning threat

Bird pulled from brink of extinction facing poisoning threat

Science
The red kite has become more common in the UK in the past 30 years, thanks to conservation schemes.But, while numbers of the birds of prey are on the rise, scientists say human factors threaten to derail progress.Post-mortem tests on wild red kites found many had been poisoned by lead shot, rat poison or pesticides.The study, published in the European Journal of Wildlife Research, suggests poisoning of red kites may be slowing their rate of recovery in England.Dr Jenny Jaffe of the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), who worked on the study, said birds of prey, and especially scavengers, would eat animals that contained lead shot, leading to lead poisoning.''That can be changed by changing the shot gun cartridges to non lead, which a lot of countries do,'' she told BBC News. ''And, there i...
Clean air target 'could be met more quickly'

Clean air target 'could be met more quickly'

Science
Targets for reducing illegal levels of NO2 pollution from vehicles will be achieved more quickly than the government expects, a study says.Researchers say government projections of future NO2 are too pessimistic, because they ignore the latest real world data.They say cities may achieve roadside emissions standards several years earlier than ministers expect.The research is published in the journal Nature Geoscience.The authors at the University of York warn that despite the adjustment, the government is still lagging badly on NO2 targets.And they say the air in the UK's big cities remains dangerously polluted from many different compounds. But how did the government miscalculate NO2?The authors say it's because they relied on projections of future emissions, rather than on real world road...
Deep fat fryers may help form cooling clouds

Deep fat fryers may help form cooling clouds

Science
Media playback is unsupported on your deviceFatty acids released into the air from cooking may contribute to the formation of clouds that cool the climate, say scientists.Fatty acid molecules comprise about 10% of fine particulates over London, and such particles help seed clouds.But researchers dismiss the idea that cooking fats could be used as a geo-engineering tool to reduce warming.Instead, the research is designed to help reduce uncertainties about the role of cooking fats on climate.Researchers believe the fatty molecules arrange themselves into complex 3-D structures in atmospheric droplets.These aerosols persist for longer than normal and can seed the formation of clouds which experts say can have a cooling effect on the climate.The authors say the study will shed new light on the...