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TRAPPIST-1 twice as old as our solar system

TRAPPIST-1 twice as old as our solar system

Science
Aug. 11 (UPI) -- Astronomers have narrowed in on a more precise estimate of the TRAPPIST-1 system.Scientists believe the star and its exoplanets are between 5.4 and 9.8 billion years old -- as much as twice as old as our solar system. The sun was born 4.5 billion years ago.In February, NASA announced the discovery of seven Earth-sized planets orbiting TRAPPIST-1, an ultra-cool dwarf located 40 light-years away. Three of the seven planets are located within the star's habitable zone.The habitable zone, however, doesn't guarantee habitability, it simply defines a range of orbital distances at which water could in theory exist as a liquid.Because all seven of the TRAPPIST-1 exoplanets are bunched close to their host star, some astronomers have suggested solar flares could burn away any liquid...
Fish sauced? Goldfish turn to alcohol to survive icy winters

Fish sauced? Goldfish turn to alcohol to survive icy winters

Science
Scientists have decoded the secrets behind a goldfish's ability to survive in ice-covered lakes. They've worked out how and why the fish turn lactic acid in their bodies into alcohol, as a means of staying alive.Some goldfish were found to have levels well above legal drink-driving limits in many countries.The researchers say the work may help with the study of some alcohol impacts in humans.Scientists have known about the peculiar survival abilities of goldfish and their wild relatives, crucian carp, since the 1980s. While humans and most vertebrates die in a few minutes without oxygen, these fish are able to survive for months in icy conditions in ponds and lakes in northern Europe. Researchers have now uncovered the molecular mechanism behind this ability. In most animals there is a sin...
Perseid meteor shower set to peak at weekend

Perseid meteor shower set to peak at weekend

Science
The Perseid meteor shower will peak over the weekend, giving stargazers the opportunity to spot scores of shooting stars in the sky.Astronomers say hundreds of meteors will streak across the sky in a display that may be visible around the world.The Perseid meteor shower occurs every July and August as the Earth passes debris from the Swift-Tuttle comet.The BBC Weather centre said it would peak from 23:00 BST on Saturday and could be seen in most parts of the UK.However, experts say the Perseids could be harder to see this year as the Moon will be three-quarters full.Robin Scagell, vice president of the Society for Popular Astronomy, said he was still hopeful of a good display. "We can look forward to a decent display, even though they aren't going to be raining down from the sky."The Perse...
NASA TV to broadcast six-hour space walk outside ISS

NASA TV to broadcast six-hour space walk outside ISS

Science
Aug. 11 (UPI) -- NASA's own TV channel is scheduled to broadcast a six-hour spacewalk outside the International Space Station. The walk will take place on August 17, and coverage will begin at 10 a.m. EDT.The spacewalk will be carried out by a pair Russian cosmonauts, Expedition 52 Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin and Flight Engineer Sergey Ryazanskiy. While outside the space station, the duo will manually launch five nanosatellites, each with a different purpose -- not all of them scientific.One of the miniature satellites is encased in paneling created by 3D printers. The cubed satellite will help researchers test the effects of low-Earth orbit on 3D printed materials.Another mini satellite is being launched in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Sputnik 1 launch, the world's first a...
Climate change has shifted the timing of European floods

Climate change has shifted the timing of European floods

Science
Climate change has had a significant impact on the timing of river floods across Europe over the past 50 years, according to a new study. In some regions, such as southern England, floods are now occurring 15 days earlier than they did half a century ago.But the changes aren't uniform, with rivers around the North Sea seeing floods delayed by around eight days.The study has been published in the journal Science.Floods caused by rivers impact more people than any other natural hazard, and the estimated global damages run to over a $ 100bn a year. Researchers have long predicted that a warming world would have direct impacts on these events but until now the evidence has been hard to establish. Floods are affected by many different factors in addition to rainfall, such as the amount of moist...