Sci/Tech Briefs

NASA discovers glaciers on Mars

In a breakthrough discovery, NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft has discovered hidden glaciers in Mars buried under approximately 30 feet of soil and other materials. The glaciers are estimated to be around 200 million years old.

Scientists had predicted the presence of water on Mars, given unusual erosion patterns in some of the rocky hills.
This discovery could make a mission to Mars more likely, but scientists are still unsure of how to access the glaciers. The glaciers were probably covered up by climate changes in Mars’ atmosphere due to the unstable rotation of its axis. Unlike earth, Mars does not have a large enough moon to stabilize its axis of rotation, hence the axis is unstable.

Source: Los Angeles Times

DNA of woolly mammoth mapped

A group of scientists at Penn State University have mapped out a large portion of the genetic code of the extinct woolly mammoth. The results, published in the journal Nature, can bring insights into why the mammoth became extinct.

Using DNA from two frozen mammoths, the scientists compared the mammoth DNA to that of a modern day elephant. They were able to determine that its low genetic diversity could have been one of the causes of its extinction. Now there is the possibility of bringing the woolly mammoth back to life by inserting the DNA sequences of the woolly mammoth into the genetic sequence of today’s elephant.


China denies increased espionage

China has denied a report submitted by the U.S. Congressional panel stating that China’s aggressive space programs and military mobilization have become an increased security threat to the U.S and other neighboring countries.
In response to the report, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said, “[Such findings are] not worthy of rebuttal.”

The U.S. panel commented on China’s fast-paced growth in the fields of space and computer warfare and claimed that China had increased its computer espionage attacks on the American government. The report recommended the monitoring and protection of U.S. computer networks.

The panel has also called attention to China’s use of prison labor and unregulated fishing industry, as well as infringing on trade laws.

Source: Associated Press

Spiders join astronauts in space

Spiders launched into space as part of an educational project have quickly become adapted to life in space. The spiders in the International Space Station have quickly become the biggest form of entertainment for the astronauts living there.

Floating around in a tank with only fruit flies and a video camera, these spiders have quickly adjusted to the weightlessness of space.

Their major accomplishment is that they have begun forming symmetric webs. The spiders were sent to space more than a week ago and are part of a 15-day mission.

Source: Reuters