Astronauts replaced space station batteries during spacewalk
Two NASA astronauts, Christina Koch and Jessica Meir, conducted the first all-women spacewalk outside the International Space Station (ISS) Friday. The over 5-hour event was conducted to replace a battery component on the station’s external body, which charges solar-powered batteries. The spacewalk was met with a lot of enthusiasm, but President Donald Trump came under fire for not taking responsibility for equipping women well for such events. Earlier this year, a scheduled all-female spacewalk was canceled as ISS didn’t have enough correctly-sized spacesuits for women. Read more on The Atlantic and Slate.
Deep-sea creatures devour rare whale carcass, video goes viral
The United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Ocean Exploration Trust, which has been documenting coral reefs and hydrothermal vents in the Pacific Ocean, live-streamed their discovery of a whale carcass lying on the sea floor over 3,000 metres below sea level. The carcass was being consumed by creatures like unusual-looking deep-sea octopus, crabs, grenadier, and polychaetes. Such ‘whale falls’ are rare. Read more on Science Alert.
SpaceX raises concerns about regulation
Elon Musk’s company, SpaceX, has filed a request for adding 30,000 more satellites to their existing plan of 12,000 under project Starlink. All of these would be present in low earth orbit (LEO) between 328 km and 580 km above Earth. The company has already been accused of adding to space junk as well as impacting astronomy through crowding lower orbits. Now other companies and countries are concerned that the new satellites will cause interference with theirs, which would flout international regulations. More on Forbes.
Ancient trilobites’ queuing in fossils finally explained
Trilobites were ancient creatures that lived 480 million years ago on the seafloor. Many trilobite fossils show the creatures lined up one behind the other. Their queuing up has long been a mystery, with theories like water currents proposed to explain the lines. Now, we finally know the reason, after a new fossil showed a line of them physically linked to one another: trilobites were blind and they formed their own linked queue by touch to migrate or move to breeding grounds. More on The New York Times.
Robot trains itself to solve Rubik’s cube
OpenAI has released videos and a paper, showing that its robotic hand, Dactyl, has learned how to solve a Rubik’s cube with one hand. The algorithm has also trained itself through reinforcement learning, optimising its knowledge of moves to figure out which permutations can lead to a better-solving algorithm. The simulator also tweaks its own parameters to make training conditions harder, thus making the algorithm a lot more robust. More on MIT Technology Review.