Science Wrap: NASA's anti-asteroid satellite, the first cloned Arctic wolf

Ayaan PaulSeptember 24, 2022 | 08:00 IST

Apart from NASA's desperate attempts to get the Artemis-1 mission back on schedule; a cute Arctic wolf pup from China, a Don't Look Up- esque situation regarding an asteroid, as well as a disturbing new study that links nightmares and dementia, make up this weeks science updates that you might have missed.

1. DART: The Double Asteroid Redirection Test or DART is a first-of-its-kind spacecraft that has been designed to deflect an asteroid which has a high chance of impacting with Earth. The spacecraft will intentionally crash into the asteroid to change its motion in space through kinetic impact.

A size-scale for Dimorphos and DART. Photo: NASA

The target for the DART mission is the binary, near-Earth asteroid system Didymos, which at the moment, does not pose any threat to Earth. The system comprises two near-Earth objects, an asteroid about 780-meter wide and its moonlet, Dimorphos, about 160 metres in size.

Dart will collide with Dimorphos to slightly alter its orbit while travelling at a speed of roughly 24,000 kilometers per hour.

2. Arctic ice cover: The most recent crisis on the long list that climate change has brought forward is the thinning of the Arctic ice cover. The region has now experienced the 10th lowest summer ice in 2022 as it reached its annual minimum extent on September 18.

NASA reported that the summer ice extent in and around the Arctic Ocean has declined significantly. 

3. Artemis-1 launch: As NASA continues tests for its Artemis-1 mission to the moon, liquid hydrogen is making it difficult as more leaks were detected during the cryogenic test on Wednesday, September 21. While engineers managed to get the leaks fixed and to acceptable levels required for launch, there is still no assurance on whether the mission will be greenlit next week. 

NASA is aiming for a third attempt to launch the Artemis-1 on September 27, and Wednesday's test was aimed to establish the security of leaks that had been sealed after they popped up during the last two scrubbed attempts. NASA has confirmed that all objectives of the cryogenic demonstration test have been met.

4. Maya, the Arctic wolf: For the first time in history, a wild Arctic wolf was successfully cloned by a China-based gene firm. The firm, Sinogene Biotechnology, released images of Maya, the world's first cloned wild Arctic wolf, 100 days after her birth in a Beijing lab.

Maya the Arctic wolf pup. Photo: Sinogene Biotechnology via Global Times

Maya, the first ever cloned wild arctic wolf is in good health, according to reports from the Global Times. The pup’s donor cell came from the skin sample of a wild female arctic wolf. Her oocyte was reportedly from a female dog and its surrogate mother was a beagle.

5. Nightmares and dementia: Researchers have found that regular bad dreams in middle-aged people could be linked to an increased case of cognitive decline and they could be at a higher risk of developing dementia as they get older. The study investigated the association between self-reported distressing dream frequency and the risk of cognitive decline.

The Lancet Discovery Science study found that a higher frequency of distressing dreams was linearly and statistically significantly associated with a higher risk of cognitive decline amongst middle-aged adults.

Last updated: September 24, 2022 | 08:00
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