Science This Week | NASA names astronauts for Artemis II mission, new isotope of uranium found and more

Find the latest news and updates from the world of science

April 09, 2023 06:15 pm | Updated 07:59 pm IST

NASA’s next-generation moon rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the Orion crew capsule, lifts off from launch complex 39-B on the unmanned Artemis I mission to the moon at Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S. November 16, 2022.

NASA’s next-generation moon rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the Orion crew capsule, lifts off from launch complex 39-B on the unmanned Artemis I mission to the moon at Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S. November 16, 2022. | Photo Credit: Reuters

From NASA announcing the astronauts for the upcoming Artemis II Mission to Dr C. R. Rao winning the 2023 International Prize in Statistics, a lot has happened in the field of science this week.

Who will fly around the Moon in the Artemis II Mission?

On April 3, NASA named the first woman and the first African-American ever assigned as astronauts to a lunar mission, introducing them as part of the four-member team chosen to fly as early as next year around the moon. Christina Koch, an engineer who already holds the record for the longest continuous spaceflight by a woman, was named as a mission specialist, along with Victor Glover, a U.S. Navy aviator, who was selected as the Artemis II pilot. Mr. Glover, who was part of the second crewed flight of a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, would become the first astronaut of colour ever to be sent on a lunar mission.

Dr C.R. Rao wins top statistics award

The Indian-American statistician Calyampudi Radhakrishna Rao has been awarded the 2023 International Prize in Statistics, which is statistics’ equivalent of the Nobel Prize. The citation for his new award reads: “C.R. Rao, a professor whose work more than 75 years ago continues to exert a profound influence on science, has been awarded the 2023 International Prize in Statistics. Rao’s groundbreaking paper, ‘Information and accuracy attainable in the estimation of statistical parameters’, was published in 1945 in the Bulletin of the Calcutta Mathematical Society,

Scientists in Japan find a new isotope of Uranium

While studying the atoms of heavy elements, physicists in Japan discovered a previously unknown isotope of uranium, with atomic number 92 and mass number 241, i.e. uranium-241. The finding refines our understanding of nuclear physics. What shapes the large nuclei of heavy elements take and how often (or rarely) defines the boundaries of models that physicists use to design nuclear power plants and models of exploding stars.

CSIR scientists identify rare-earth element deposit in Anantapur

Scientists at the National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI), a Council of Scientific and Industrial Research facility in Hyderabad, have reported the presence of lucrative rare-earth elements (REEs) in Anantapur district in Andhra Pradesh. These elements are key components in many electronic devices and whose industrial applications span sectors like imaging, aerospace, and defence. The REEs are lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium, neodymium, yttrium, hafnium, tantalum, niobium, zirconium, and scandium.

Study estimates amount of lucrative metals in Odisha bauxite waste

Scientists from the Institute of Minerals and Materials Technology (IMMT), Bhubaneswar, have estimated the quantity of rare earth elements that can be recovered from a toxic byproduct of aluminium extraction that India produces in copious amounts. Rare earth elements (REEs) are crucial components of electronic and electric systems, from the devices used to produce ‘green hydrogen’ to electric vehicles.

Can plant emit sounds?

Plants can emit sounds that are beyond the hearing range of humans, new research has shown. These sounds, recorded and analysed by researchers at Tel Aviv University, can provide a plethora of information, particularly when it is stressed or injured. The ultrasonic sound recorded by the researchers is a click-like sound (like the popping of popcorn) at a volume similar to human speech but at much higher frequencies of 40-80 kilohertz.

Small ears, frizzy hair and dry ear wax - the genetics of mammoths

The largest-ever genetic assessment of the woolly mammoth has yielded new insight including about its fluffy hair, small ears, cold tolerance, fat storage and even dry ear wax. Researchers analysed the genomes of 23 woolly mammoths - including 16 newly sequenced ones - based on remains preserved in Siberian permafrost. The genomes included a mammoth from 700,000 years ago - near the origination time of this species on the Siberian steppes - and others that lived later in their history, thus showing how genetic adaptations evolved.

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