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Europe’s Cheops telescope will profile distant planets

Europe’s Cheops telescope will profile distant planets

Science
Media playback is unsupported on your device Europe will launch a space telescope to study far-off worlds this week.Called Cheops, it's a different kind of mission to previous efforts in that it won't be trying to find new planets.Rather, it's going to follow up the discoveries of others, to see if it can reveal new insights - such as whether these distant objects are likely to be rocky or gas-rich.The telescope will ride to orbit on a Russian Soyuz rocket from French Guiana. The mission was scheduled for an early morning lift-off on Tuesday, but a late technical glitch related to the rocket's upper-stage Fregat booster stopped the countdown. A launch attempt on Wednesday may be possible if the issue can be resolved. Cheops (short for CHaract...
Nobel physics prize: ‘Ground-breaking’ win for planets and Big Bang

Nobel physics prize: ‘Ground-breaking’ win for planets and Big Bang

Science
Media playback is unsupported on your device Three scientists have been awarded the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physics for "ground-breaking" discoveries about the Universe.James Peebles, Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz were announced as this year's winners at a ceremony in Stockholm.Peebles was honoured for work on the evolution of the Universe, while Mayor and Queloz won for their discovery of a planet around a Sun-like star.The winners will share the prize money of nine million kronor (£738,000).Reacting to the news, Prof Queloz told BBC News: "It's unbelievable," adding: "Since the discovery 25 years ago, everyone kept telling me: 'It's a Nobel Prize discovery'. And I say: 'Oh yeah, yeah, maybe, whatever.'"But in the intervening years, he more-or-l
Largest-of-its-kind coral study offers plan to save the planet’s reefs

Largest-of-its-kind coral study offers plan to save the planet’s reefs

Science
Aug. 12 (UPI) -- A new survey of coral communities -- the largest of its kind, according to the research team -- has offered a roadmap for protecting Earth's reefs. The international team of scientists, including researchers with conservation groups, government agencies, and universities, identified three main strategies that can be quickly enacted to save reefs from climate change and human impacts. To identify where and how to save reefs, researchers measured coral abundance on more than 2,500 reefs along the coasts of 44 countries in the Indian and Pacific oceans. Their analysis proved a majority of reefs host functioning coral communities with a diverse and architecturally complex cover of species. After the El Niño event that lasted from 2014 to 2017, which triggered the largest cor
Commercial fishing to blame for planet’s declining shark numbers

Commercial fishing to blame for planet’s declining shark numbers

Science
Aug. 6 (UPI) -- Shark populations are shrinking across the globe and new research suggests commercial fishing is to blame. Scientists with the Zoological Society of London analyzed shark population dynamics in ecosystems throughout the world's oceans. The data suggests shark numbers are lowest in areas closest to population centers and large fish markets. Sharks aren't just less abundant in places featuring significant commercial fishing activity, they're also smaller. The data showed marine predators are smaller and less abundant within 750 miles of populations with more than 10,000 people. The new analysis -- detailed this week in the journal PLOS One Biology -- showed sharks are also smaller in warmer waters. "Human activity is now the biggest influence on sharks' distribution, overt...
Astronomers identify 121 giant planets likely to host habitable moons

Astronomers identify 121 giant planets likely to host habitable moons

Science
June 14 (UPI) -- Astronomers have identified 121 giant planets that potentially host habitable moons. Scientists believe the next generation of telescopes will be able to target alien moons in search of signs of life. Scientists identified the candidates among exoplanet data collected by NASA's Kepler telescope. Kepler's main goal is to help astronomers locate habitable planets outside the solar system. Exoplanets are said to exist in the habitable zone when they orbit their host star at a distance that allows water to persist in solid, liquid and gas forms. Earth-like rocky planets are the first choice for astronomers searching for potentially habitable alien worlds, but as recent studies inside the solar system have revealed, moons surrounding gas giants also possess the potential for ...