News That Matters

Science

Rocket rumbles give volcanic insights

Rocket rumbles give volcanic insights

Science
What do volcanoes and rockets have in common? "Volcanoes have a nozzle aimed at the sky, and rockets have a nozzle aimed at the ground," explains Steve McNutt, a geosciences professor at the University of South Florida in Tampa. It explains why he and colleague Dr Glenn Thompson have installed the tools normally used to study eruptions at the famous Kennedy Space Center. Comparing the different types of rumblings could yield new insights. In the case of rockets, the team thinks their seismometers and infrasound (low-frequency acoustic waves) detectors might potentially be used by the space companies as a different type of diagnostic tool, to better understand the performance of their vehicles; or perhaps as a way to identify missiles in flight. In the case of volcanoes, the idea is to take...
SpaceX launches, lands previously used rocket booster, cargo ship

SpaceX launches, lands previously used rocket booster, cargo ship

Science
Dec. 15 (UPI) -- SpaceX for the first time reused a rocket booster today when it launched and then landed a Falcon-9 rocket as part of a resupply mission for the International Space Station.While the company has previously reflown rocket boosters four times, today's launch was the first time that a previously used rocket booster powered a previously used vessel, the Dragon, on a mission to the ISS. It is also the first time a booster was reused for a NASA mission.The Dragon, which is expected to reach the ISS on Sunday, is carrying about 4,800 pounds of scientific hardware and supplies."That marks the second successful visit to and from space for this particular booster," said a SpaceX commentator on the SpaceX webcast of the launch.The vessel lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Fla., this mor...
Star system has record eight exoplanets

Star system has record eight exoplanets

Science
Nasa has found a distant star circled by eight planets, equal to the complement in our own Solar System.It's the largest number of worlds ever discovered in a planetary system outside our own.The star known as Kepler-90, is just a bit hotter and larger than the Sun; astronomers already knew of seven planets around it.The newly discovered world is small enough to be rocky, according to scientists."This makes Kepler-90 the first star to host as many planets as our own Solar System," said Christopher Shallue, a software engineer at Google, which contributed to the discovery.Star's seven Earth-sized worlds set recordEngineers from Google used a type of artificial intelligence called machine learning to find planets that were missed by previous searches. The discovery was based on observations ...
Sumatran rhino 'hanging on by a thread'

Sumatran rhino 'hanging on by a thread'

Science
Scientists have decoded the genome of the Sumatran rhinoceros - one of the most threatened mammals on Earth.Its genetic blueprint shows that populations have been in decline for a very long time.The rhino's troubles began during the last Ice Age, when its habitat shrunk, says a US team.Since then, human pressures have caused numbers to dwindle further. There are now thought to be fewer than 250 individuals left in the wild."This species has been well on its way to extinction for a very long time," said study researcher, Terri Roth at the Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden.The genome sequence data revealed the Pleistocene "was a roller-coaster ride for Sumatran rhinoceros populations," added lead researcher, Dr Herman Mays ...
Australian lizards are eating the eggs of endangered loggerhead turtles

Australian lizards are eating the eggs of endangered loggerhead turtles

Science
Dec. 14 (UPI) -- Feral foxes are no longer the archenemies of would-be loggerhead turtle moms at the second biggest nesting beach in northeast Australia. The title now belongs to the yellow-spotted goanna.Over the last few decades, scientists have observed the Australia lizard develop a taste for the eggs of the endangered loggerhead turtle. Goannas now frequently raid turtle nests on the Queensland nesting beach.To better understand the threat of Australia's monitor lizards to sea turtles, scientists at the University of Queensland set up camera traps near turtle nests. They watched for a year. The footage showed as many as 400 turtle nests disturbed by reptilian predators."We discovered that only large male yellow-spotted goannas dug open sea turtle nests, but once the nest was opened, o...