Apollo 17 astronauts:The Moon, our planet’s eternal celestial companion, darkens about once a month when its orbit crosses the Earth and the Sun.
Earth’s largest moon has long been a source of awe and wonder, inspiring the imaginations of artists and writers for thousands of years. The moon’s gravity is also the force behind ocean waters and is part of the reason Earth has a 24-hour day.
Be sure to look up this Saturday night as the full moon shines in the night sky. Lucky observers in Europe, Africa, much of Asia and western Australia will also see a partial lunar eclipse, when the Earth’s shadow appears to take a bite out of the Moon.
Even though the Moon is Earth’s closest neighbor, it still holds many mysteries – mysteries that can be solved by visiting the lunar surface.
Lunar Calendar Update
When Apollo 17 astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt scooped up rocks and dust from the lunar surface in 1972, they inadvertently brought knowledge about the moon with them. The answer to one of the biggest questions: its age.
More than 50 years after collecting samples, scientists have discovered crystals in lunar dust that show the moon is 40 million years older than previously thought. The Moon was formed when a Mars-sized object crashed into the Earth, throwing a huge fragment of rock into space around the Earth. Zircon crystals formed as the Moon cooled 4.46 billion years ago, and new analysis has traced them back to Apollo 17 samples. “It’s amazing that you can show that the rock you’re holding in your hand is the oldest lunar fragment we’ve found so far,” said Janika Greer, a geosciences researcher at the University of Glasgow.
The origin of human life remains largely a mystery to scientists. When the sperm fuses with the egg, a complex process creates tiny cells that divide and multiply, eventually forming the human body with more than 30 trillion cells.
But the early development of human embryos, especially in the first month, raises a big question mark that scientists want to answer. Advances in stem cells are used to create embryo-like structures, or cells that mimic an embryo but do not produce a fetus. But these advances raise ethical questions about how embryos are used in the name of science and women’s health.
Long time ago
Engineers investigating ways to reduce coastal erosion and flooding have discovered 125 million-year-old dinosaur tracks next to a seaside cafe on the Isle of Wight.
The three-toed footprints may have been made by Mantelisaurus, a herbivorous dinosaur that lived in the early Cretaceous period. Nick Gray, regional flood and coastal risk manager at the UK Environment Agency, said: “Dinosaurs are right where our teams are at work, bringing together the old and the new – tackling the challenges of today’s climate change in a time frame we can only imagine in the US.”
Separately, the remains of a 5,000-year-old Neolithic tomb have been excavated in Scotland’s Orkney Islands. The site contains more than a dozen skeletons of men, women and children, including a couple who appear to have embraced.
Across the Universe
Several telescopes witnessed a massive cosmic explosion that released light brighter than the entire Milky Way. The explosion, known as a kilonova, occurs when two neutron stars collide and emit a burst of high-energy light.
The James Webb Space Telescope also detected signs of rare chemical elements after the explosion, such as tellurium, which is used to paint glass, and iodine, which is essential for most life on Earth.
Once upon a time there was a planet
Ice-penetrating radar has revealed ancient landscapes beneath the East Antarctic ice sheet.
The area, roughly the size of Belgium, was shaped by rivers and is likely to resemble the hills and valleys of North Wales before it was covered by ice 14 million years ago. “The land beneath the East Antarctic ice sheet is not as well known as the surface of Mars,” said Stuart Jamieson, a professor in the Department of Geography at Durham University in the UK.
Understanding hidden, preserved landscapes can help scientists predict how the ice sheet will evolve and how it will evolve as temperatures rise during the climate crisis. Meanwhile, declassified Cold War images taken by US spy satellites show hundreds of previously unknown Roman fortresses in Iraq and Syria, but many of the structures may have been destroyed.
These new findings may surprise you:
— The Webb Telescope has discovered a never-before-seen high-speed jet stream swirling around Jupiter’s equator. — A bittersweet tune may be just what doctors use to ease the sensation of pain, according to new research.
— Volcanic rocks on one of the world’s largest islands contain evidence that millions of years of helium may have leaked from the Earth’s core.