Science This Week | Success of NASA’s DART mission, Asian megacities at risk from sea level rise and more

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March 05, 2023 12:50 pm | Updated 12:50 pm IST

The last image to contain a complete view of asteroid Didymos (top left) and its moonlet, Dimorphos, about 2.5 minutes before the impact of NASA’s DART spacecraft, taken by the on board DRACO imager from a distance of 920 kilometers, and released September 26, 2022.

The last image to contain a complete view of asteroid Didymos (top left) and its moonlet, Dimorphos, about 2.5 minutes before the impact of NASA’s DART spacecraft, taken by the on board DRACO imager from a distance of 920 kilometers, and released September 26, 2022. | Photo Credit: Reuters

This week has been filled with the most interesting discoveries. From finding 500-year-old spices in a Baltic shipwreck to studying the impact of NASA’s DART mission to knock an asteroid off its course, here are the most riveting discoveries and findings in the field of science.

The success of NASA’s asteroid smashing mission

NASA’s DART spacecraft slammed into the asteroid Dimorphos at a spot between two boulders during last September’s first test of a planetary defence system, sending debris hurtling into space and changing the rocky oblong-shaped object’s path a bit more than previously calculated. Those were among the findings revealed by scientists in the most detailed account of the U.S. space agency’s proof-of-principle mission on using a spacecraft to change a celestial object’s trajectory - employing sheer kinetic force to nudge it off course just enough to keep Earth safe.

Scientists develop comprehensive 3D thermophysical model for the Moon

Scientists from the Physical Research Laboratory, a unit of the Department of Space, have built a comprehensive three-dimensional thermophysical model for the Moon to derive its surface and sub-surface temperatures. This model will help understanding the local thermal environment of any location on the Moon which is an essential aspect for future human exploration and lunar habitat.

Chennai, Kolkata, in India, at particular risk due to sea level rise

A research team identified several Asian megacities that may face especially significant risks by 2100 if society continued to emit high levels of greenhouse gases: Chennai, Kolkata, Yangon, Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, and Manila. Studies have also indicated that sea level rise will vary regionally because shifts in ocean currents will likely direct more water to certain coastlines, including the northeastern United States.

Nations secure U.N. global high seas biodiversity pact

Negotiators from more than 100 countries completed a U.N. treaty to protect the high seas on Saturday, a long-awaited step that environmental groups say will help reverse marine biodiversity losses and ensure sustainable development. Economic interests were a major sticking point throughout the latest round of negotiations with developing countries calling for a greater share of the spoils from the “blue economy”, including the transfer of technology. An agreement to share the benefits of “marine genetic resources” used in industries like biotechnology also remained an area of contention until the end

Rising cases of cough and fever linked to Influenza subtype A H3N2, says ICMR

Rising cases of intense cough lasting for over a week coupled with fever, observed in most parts of the country, can be linked to Influenza A H3N2, a subtype of a virus that causes flu, said the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). At least 92% of the hospitalised severe acute respiratory infections patients detected with the virus were showing up with fever and upto 86% have cough. Additionally, 27% progressed to breathlessness and 16% showed wheezing symptoms. Also, 16% had signs of pneumonia and 6% presented with seizures.

Archaeologists find well-preserved 500-year-old spices on Baltic shipwreck

Archaeologists say they have uncovered a “unique” cache of well-preserved spices, from strands of saffron to peppercorns and ginger, on the wreck of a royal ship that sunk off Sweden’s Baltic coast more than 500 years ago. Rediscovered by sports divers in the 1960s, sporadic excavations of the ship have taken place in recent years. Previous dives recovered large items such as figureheads and timber. Now an excavation has found the spices buried in the silt of the boat.

First evidence for horseback riding dates back 5,000 years

Archaeologists have found the earliest direct evidence for horseback riding in 5,000 year old human skeletons in central Europe. While there have been previously found evidence of people consuming horse milk in dental remains and indications of horses controlled by harnesses and bits dating back more than 5,000 years, but that does not necessarily indicate the horses were ridden. The current study is the first concrete evidence of horseback riding with wear marks on the hip sockets, thigh bone and pelvis of the human skeletons.

Toothed whales use their nose to produce sounds

Dolphins, porpoises, killer whales, sperm whales and other toothed whales produce an array of sounds - to find prey employing a sonar-like system called echolocation. The exact mechanism they use had long remained puzzling - until now. Researchers offered a comprehensive explanation for sound production by toothed whales - loud clicks for echolocation, and softer burst pulses and whistles for communication. It is an air-driven system in the nose, analogous to the larynx, or voice box, in humans and other mammals and the comparable syrinx in birds.

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