Category: LATEST SCIENCE NEWS

Fish invasions follow Panama and Suez canal expansions

Fish invasions follow Panama and Suez canal expansions
Panama Canal locks are periodically emptied to perform routine maintenance. Credit: Gustavo Castellanos, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

World maritime trade grows each year, aided by canal waterways that connect oceans and reduce shipping time, energy consumption and carbon emissions. Following recent expansions of the Panama and Suez canals, non-native fish species are invading new habitats according to a new report in Nature Ecology and Evolution by researchers at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama and the Leibnitz Center for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT) in Germany.


“We’re seeing a shift from predominantly freshwater fishes to marine fishes in the Panama Canal (Lake Gatun) in a short period of time,” said Mark Torchin, STRI marine ecologist. “The concern is that if fish invasions continue there is a good chance of some of those fishes moving into the other ocean, with unknown environmental consequences.”

Larger locks to allow transit of NeoPanamax

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NASA space technology faces potential budget pressure

WASHINGTON — Uncertain overall funding and congressional direction to increase funding on specific projects could create pressure on NASA’s space technology program, an agency official warned Sept. 1.

Speaking at a meeting of the Technology, Innovation and Engineering Committee of the NASA Advisory Council, Jim Reuter, associate administrator for space technology at NASA, said his directorate was preparing for two different budget scenarios for fiscal year 2021, which begins Oct. 1. One is that the directorate receives the $1.58 billion included in the agency’s budget request published in February.

The other scenario is that space technology receives $1.1 billion, the funding it received in fiscal year 2020. That would be the case if Congress passes a yearlong continuing resolution, funding NASA and other agencies at 2020 levels for fiscal year 2021, or if the space technology section of the House version of a 2021 spending bill, which kept the program

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Why This Monstrous Crater Suddenly Appeared in Russia

Photo credit: Vesti Yamal
Photo credit: Vesti Yamal

From Popular Mechanics

  • A 164-foot crater appeared along the Yamal Peninsula in Russia.

  • A team of journalists from Vesti Yamal spotted the crater—caused by an explosive pocket of methane—and alerted scientists.

  • Russia’s northern latitudes have seen record temperatures this year, a harbinger of doom for thawing permafrost in the region.

A 164-foot crater burst open in a desolate region of the Siberian tundra, according to the Russian news agency Vesti Yamal. Journalists from the publication spotted the crater during an assignment on the Yamal Peninsula in July and released their footage this week.

This is the 17th such feature, called a hydrolaccolith, that scientists have found across the thawing Siberian tundra, according to The Siberian Times. Researchers discovered the first one in 2014. They believe pockets of methane gases trapped beneath Earth’s surface bulge and eventually explode as carbon-rich permafrost in the region begins

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First Solar-Powered Free Fall – Electric Solar Airplane Updates

  • A new, all-solar electric airplane is saving kerosene over Switzerland.
  • Airplanes burn primarily kerosene, and the industry accounts for 2 percent of global emissions.
  • The SolarStratos team wants to fly its solar plane all the way to the stratosphere.

    A team of Swiss aeronauts has flown an all-solar airplane to 5,000 feet before making a freefall jump. The aeronauts say it’s the first jump of its kind from a solar craft, and just one step on their journey to reach the Karman line in a solar-powered vehicle.

    The SolarStratos team bills itself as flying to the “edge of space,” which means into the stratosphere. The Karman line, named for legendary astronautical engineer Theodore von Karman, marks the end of Earth’s atmosphere and the true beginning of space in a way that supports legal findings, for example. As the atmosphere thins and disappears, it’s not a rigid and uniform shell.

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    The Andromeda galaxy’s halo is even more massive than scientists expected, Hubble telescope reveals

    Galactic halos are both more massive and more complicated than scientists realized, according to new observations from the Hubble Space Telescope.

    The venerable telescope turned its sights on the neighboring Andromeda galaxy using dozens of different quasars to map the galactic halo. Andromeda, more formally known as M31, is a spiral-shaped galaxy about the same size of the Milky Way galaxy we live in, with about 1 trillion stars. Cosmically, it’s right next door, just 2.5 million light-years away, which means that Hubble can study its halo in unprecedented detail.

    “This is truly a unique experiment because only with Andromeda do we have information on its halo along not only one or two sightlines, but over 40,” lead researcher Nicolas Lehner, an astrophysicist at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, said in a NASA statement. “This is groundbreaking for capturing the complexity of a galaxy halo beyond

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    Earth’s ice sheets tracking worst-case climate scenarios

    The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, which hold enough frozen water to lift oceans 65 metres, are tracking the UN’s worst-case scenarios for sea level rise, researchers said Monday, highlighting flaws in current climate change models.

    Mass loss from 2007 to 2017 due to melt-water and crumbling ice aligned almost perfectly with the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change’s (IPCC) most extreme forecasts, which see the two ice sheets adding up to 40 centimetres (nearly 16 inches) to global oceans by 2100, they reported in Nature Climate Change.

    Such an increase would have a devastating impact worldwide, increasing the destructive power of storm surges and exposing coastal regions home to hundreds of millions of people to repeated and severe flooding.

    That is nearly three times more than mid-range projections from the IPCC’s last major Assessment Report in 2014, which predicts a 70-centimetre rise in sea level from all sources, including mountain

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    A Cable Snapped, and the Arecibo Observatory Went Dark. Here’s Why That Matters | Smart News

    Since it was installed in 1963, the gargantuan Arecibo Observatory has played a key role in the study of the universe. Formally known as the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center, the radio telescope consists of a huge saucer-like construction, suspended by cables 500 feet above a 1,000-foot-wide dish, all overlooking a panoramic view of the Puerto Rican rainforest.

    At 2:45 a.m. in the morning on August 10, one of those supporting cables snapped. The three-inch-wide cable flailed around wildly, damaging the telescope’s Gregorian dome and slashing a 100-foot-long gash through the dish below, reports Dennis Overbye for the New York Times.

    Luckily, no one was hurt, reports Daniel Clery for Science magazine. However, the observatory will be shut down temporarily for repairs, scientists announced in a statement from the University of Central Florida (UCF), which manages the observatory for the National Science Foundation.






    The cable damaged the reflector dish,
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    PLD Space completes critical testing of its Teprel-B rocket engine

    VALLETTA, Malta — Spanish launch startup PLD Space has completed critical testing of the company’s Teprel-B rocket engine. The engine is expected to power the single-stage suborbital Mirua 1 launch vehicle.

    In an Aug. 28 statement, PLD Space said it had successfully completed a series of thrust vector control tests on the kerosene-fueled Teprel-B rocket engine. According to a video posted to the company’s YouTube channel, the testing series included three hot-fire tests. Each test focused on a different element of the thrust vector control system in order to validate the “actuation, command and dynamic response.”

    In a statement on Twitter, PLD Space co-founder and CEO Raúl Torres said that the engine had performed well with “excellent response in Pitch, Yaw and coupled domains.” He added that the company was now “a step closer to qualifying the engine for flight.” 

    The thrust vector control testing was completed at the PLD

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    NASA’s Retired Spitzer Space Telescope Shows Us Where Stars Are Born

    NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope retired earlier this year, but for astronomers, the mission isn’t over yet. They’re still studying a wealth of astronomical data, which the telescope collected and sent home faster than a full staff of humans and computers could analyze it. Researchers working through the data Spitzer left behind recently unearthed a detailed image of a nebula where some of the most massive stars in the galaxy are spawned.

    If you could see the nebula W51, it would stretch across a patch of night sky about as wide as the full Moon – despite being 17,000 light years away. The Moon looms so large in our night sky because it’s so close: about 1.25 light seconds. W51, if it were visible

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