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Astronomers discover distant dwarf planet beyond Neptune

LONDON: A dwarf planet half the size of Britain has been found tumbling through space in the most distant reaches of the solar system. The giant ball of rock and ice lies nine billion kilometres away on an orbit that swings far beyond the realm of Neptune, the most remote of the fully-fledged planets in our cosmic vicinity. Astronomers first ... Read More »

Nasa’s Juno successfully begins orbit of Jupiter

MIAMI: Nasa’s unmanned Juno spacecraft has begun orbiting Jupiter, a key triumph for a $1.1 billion mission that aims to uncover the origins of the biggest planet in the solar system. “Welcome to Jupiter,” said a commentator at mission control at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The room erupted in cheers as the solar observatory successfully entered its ... Read More »

Coal dust kills 23,000 per year in European countries

PARIS: Lung-penetrating dust from coal-fired power plants in the European Union claims some 23,000 lives a year and racks up tens of billions of euros in health costs, an NGO report said Tuesday. Even as the bloc shifts towards renewable sources like wind and Sun energy, coal still accounted for 18 percent of the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2014 ... Read More »

Helium shortage could be solved by new life-saving discovery

LONDON: Scientists might finally have overcome a global shortage of helium – potentially saving millions of lives in the process. Helium might be best known as the gas that keeps party balloons in the air and makes people’s voices squeaky. But the gas’s extremely low boiling point allows it to serve a range of other important purposes – being key ... Read More »

Scientists ‘discover life after death’ through groundbreaking ZOMBIE gene

LONDON: New research shows that certain genes spring back to life following death. Experts have been analysing them and hope to use them to more accurately state the time of death, as well as the cause. Throughout our lifetimes, our DNA is monitored by a compound called mRNA which essentially translates genetic information to how proteins are coded. It had ... Read More »

NASA discovers unexpected mineral on Mars

NEW YORK: Scientists at the US space agency NASA have discovered tridymite — an unexpected silica mineral in a rock sample at Gale Crater on Mars that may alter our understanding of how the Red Planet evolved. NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity, has been exploring sedimentary rocks within Gale Crater since landing on Mars surface in August 2012. On ... Read More »

You can eat vegetables from Mars, say scientists after crop experiment

GELDERLAND: Crops of four vegetables and cereals grown in soil similar to that on Mars have been found safe to eat by Dutch scientists. Radishes, peas, rye and tomatoes grown on dirt mixed on Earth to copy that of the red planet were found to contain “no dangerous levels” of heavy metals, said the team from Wageningen University in the ... Read More »

‘Hot Jupiter’ planet orbiting newborn star surprises scientists

WASHINGTON: For the first time, scientists have found a giant planet snuggled up against a baby star, a rare discovery offering a new glimpse at how such planets develop. The “hot Jupiter” planet was found orbiting the star V830 Tau, located about 430 light years from Earth in a star-forming region of the constellation Taurus, says an international team of ... Read More »

Kepler detects newborn ‘Super-Neptune’ orbiting young star

LONDON: K2-33 b, shown in this illustration, is one of the youngest exoplanets detected to date and makes a complete orbit around its star in about five days. These two characteristics combined provide exciting new directions for planet-formation theories. K2-33 b could have formed on a farther out orbit and quickly migrated inward. Alternatively, it could have formed in situ, ... Read More »

Solar panels to power wearable technology revolution

SEOUL: Solar panels so flexible and thin that they can be wrapped around the frame of a pair of glasses have been developed by scientists in a potential breakthrough for wearable electronics. The panels, developed by a team of researchers in South Korea, are just a single micrometre across much thinner than the average human hair or a coat of ... Read More »

93% of mammals were likely killed off with the dinosaurs

LONDON: A new study suggests that a whopping 93 percent of mammals died alongside the dinosaurs 66 million years ago, when a colossal asteroid struck Earth. Contrary to the popular assumption that mammals fared way better than the dinosaurs during this cataclysmic event – which is supported by the fact that they’re so prevalent in the fossil record shortly after ... Read More »

Newly discovered ‘baby’ planets could unlock mysteries of planetary evolution

WASHINGTON: Astronomers scanning the sky for distant worlds have discovered two of the youngest exoplanets ever found. The two worlds, born around separate stars, are each just a few million years old – mere infants compared to the planets in our roughly 4.6-billion-year-old solar system. The findings, described in two papers by different teams in the journal Nature, could offer ... Read More »

World’s fastest supercomputer: China surpasses US with homegrown chips

BEIJING: In 2001, China had no presence on the list of the top 500 supercomputers in the world. Today, the world’s most populous country has the most supercomputers on the list, including the world’s fastest — and for the first time ever it no longer relies on chips made by U.S. companies. The Sunway TaihuLight supercomputer based at the state-funded ... Read More »

Ancient DNA shows perfect storm felled Ice Age giants

SYDNEY: Giant Ice Age species including elephant-sized sloths and powerful sabre-toothed cats that once roamed the windswept plains of Patagonia, southern South America, were finally felled by a perfect storm of a rapidly warming climate and humans, a new study has shown. Research led by the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA (ACAD) at the University of Adelaide, published in Science ... Read More »

Climate change melting 5,000 GB glaciers rapidly

WASHINGTON: Around 5,000 glaciers in Northern Areas of Chitral district and Gilgit-Baltistan region are melting at a much faster rate due to increase in average temperatures in the mountainous valleys. “Presently, glacial melting is among major global warming-induced risk Pakistan is grappled with. Other risks include sea-level rise, floods, higher than average temperature, a higher frequency of droughts and expanding ... Read More »

3 International Space Station astronauts return safely to earth

MOSCOW: An International Space Station crew including an American, a Briton and a Russian landed safely Saturday in the sun-drenched steppes of Kazakhstan. The Soyuz TMA-19M capsule carrying NASA’s Tim Kopra, Tim Peake of the European Space Agency and the Russian agency Roscosmos’ Yuri Malenchenko touched down as scheduled at 3:15 p.m. local time (0915 GMT) about 90 miles (145 ... Read More »

Three astronauts land back after 6 months in space

MOSCOW: A three-man crew, including British astronaut Tim Peake, landed in the Kazakh steppe on Saturday after completing a six-month mission at the International Space Station (ISS). Peake, the first British astronaut on the ISS, Russia’s Yury Malenchenko and NASA’s Tim Kopra parachuted down to Earth in their Soyuz capsule at 0915 GMT after spending 186 days in orbit.Video footage ... Read More »

NASA’s Juno spacecraft is almost at Jupiter

WASHINGTON: NASA’s basketball court-sized Juno spacecraft will finally arrive at Jupiter, completing its 13.8 million-kilometre (8.6 million-mile) trip through the Solar System. While there, Juno hopes to perform 37 close approaches, collecting valuable data for researchers back here on Earth. If all goes well, Juno will explore the gas giant closer than any other spacecraft in history, including 1974’s Pioneer ... Read More »

Antarctic observatories register 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide for the first time

LONDON: One by one, the observatories sounded the alarm in the past few years—from the peak of Mauna Loa in Hawaii, and the top of the Greenland ice sheet—as the amount of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere crept above 400 parts per million (ppm). The last alarm bells went off this week, when scientists announced that the Halley Research ... Read More »

Coral reef census will help scientists protect fragile underwater habitats

LONDON: Despite pressures from overfishing and changing ocean conditions, some coral reefs around the world manage to defy expectations. In a survey of more than 2,500 reefs around the world, scientists identified 15 that were surprisingly healthy, considering their proximity to large human populations or unfavorable environmental conditions, according to a new report in Nature. These so-called bright spots had ... Read More »