Monday, 28 November, 2022
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Mystery gel-like substance on Moon that puzzled scientists solved. It’s not what you’d expect

ScientiFix, our weekly feature, offers you a summary of the top global science stories of the week, with links to their sources.

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New Delhi: Chinese scientists have solved the mystery behind an unusual substance that was spotted on the far side of the Moon last year.

China’s Chang’e-4 lunar lander mission has spotted what appeared to be a gel-like substance on the lunar surface, puzzling scientists.

By analysing images sent by the Yutu-2 rover, scientists have determined that it is actually nothing more than a glistening rock. The rock had possibly melted in the aftermath of a meteorite impact, researchers believe. More on Inverse.

NASA’s Mars rover gets rocket ready

In preparation of its launch later this month, NASA’s Mars rover Perseverance has been attached to the top of the rocket that will ferry it to the Red Planet. Encased in the nose cone that will protect it during launch, the rover and the rest of the Mars 2020 spacecraft were affixed to a United Launch Alliance Atlas V booster this week in the US.

The rover’s, which is planned to make a landing on Mars in February next year, will search for signs of ancient microbial life.

It will also send back data about the planet’s climate and geology, paving the way for human exploration of the Red Planet. It will also be the first planetary mission to collect and store Martian rock and dust samples.

In a later mission, NASA plans to send a spacecraft to Mars to collect these samples and return them to Earth for further analysis. More on BBC.

Also read: Moon’s surface more rich in metal than believed, sheds new light on its formation

‘Watermelon snow’ spotted in northern Italy

Scientists have spotted a glacier in Italy that is turning pink because of algae, a development that does not bode well for the health of our planet.

Also called ‘watermelon snow’, these algal blooms make the ice in the region melt faster.

The pink snow has appeared at the Presena glacier in northern Italy. While the phenomenon is fairly common in the Alps in spring and summer, it has been more marked this year.

Scientists believe an alga named Chlamydomonas nivalis is responsible for the change in colour. Due to low snowfall and high atmospheric temperatures this year, the region had the perfect environment for the algae to grow

Algal blooms are bad for glaciers as darker snow absorbs more energy from the sun, causing the ice to melt faster. More on CNN.

European Hamster now one category away from extinction

The Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), a catalogue of species that are endangered and at risk of becoming extinct, has surpassed 1.20 lakh.

Almost a third of all lemur species in Madagascar are now considered critically endangered, just a step away from extinction.

The latest update in the list, which completes a revision of all African primate assessments, shows that over half of all primate species in the rest of Africa are under threat.

The North Atlantic Right Whale and the European Hamster are now both in the ‘critically endangered’ category.

The world’s most expensive fungus, Caterpillar Fungus (Ophiocordyceps sinensis), has also entered the IUCN Red List as ‘vulnerable’. This fungus is highly valued in Traditional Chinese Medicine, where it has been used for over 2,000 years to treat many diseases, including those related to the kidneys and lungs. More on BBC.

Also read: 70-million-year-old fossils of one of world’s last megaraptors discovered in Argentina


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