This week in science was marked by an expected delay of the Mars mission Artemis 1 given how Hurricane Ian is wreaking havoc in Florida, US. Meanwhile, in outer space, NASA's Juno has captured the clearest photos of Jupiter's moon Europa revealing a smooth, icy world.
Talking about ice, global warming’s real-world consequences can be felt in Germany as the country just lost one of its five glaciers. Down under in Australia, scientists have analysed the lunar samples brought by a Chinese spacecraft, concluding that the asteroid strike that killed the dinosaurs might not be an isolated incident, with simultaneous impact on Earth’s moon.
1. Artemis delayed... again. No launch till November
With every passing week, we get a new delay related to NASA’s uncrewed Moon-orbiter Artemis 1. After multiple launch delays, rough weather conditions caused by Hurricane Ian have led NASA to take the SLS rocket off the launchpad for now.
This is the third delay with the last launch date planned for September 27.
"After the storm has passed, teams will conduct inspections to determine impacts at the centre and establish a forward plan for the next launch attempt," NASA’s official statement read, with the next launch planned sometime after November 12.
2- Germany loses one of five glaciers; global warming the usual culprit
As the doomsday clock ticks closer to the end, Europe’s glaciers are expected to vanish at an even faster rate than before. The latest example comes from Germany, where the Alps’s Southern Schneeferner has now been reduced to just over 2 m in thickness.
Laying on top of Germany's highest peak, the Zugspitze, the glacier used to ideally glide downhill.
But now, the ice cover is lessened to such an extent that researchers from the Bavarian Academy of Sciences state that not only would the glacier not fall off the cliff anymore, but the remaining ice will melt away completely in a year or two.
3. Asteroid that killed the dinosaurs might have also attacked our moon
China’s Chang’e-5 brought back several lunar samples back in 2020 that continue to fascinate scientists with new revelations to this day.
The latest discovery is that some of the asteroid samples recovered from the Earth’s Moon are of the same age as the asteroid strike that might have wiped out the dinosaurs.
One of the major theories behind the extinction of the giant reptiles is the one connected to Chicxulub impact crater.
The exact process to arrive at this assumption included analysing certain glass beads from the Moon which might have belonged to a crater dated at 65 million years ago, the same estimate as the Chicxulub incident.
China has allowed the global scientist community to analyse Chang’e’s samples, and the scientists from Australia’s Curtis University came to this conclusion.
4. Ultra-processed foods more likely to cause colon cancer in men than women (unless if you eat yoghurt)
A study from the Health Sciences department of Tufts University, Masachussets, US has concluded that
consumption of ultra-processed foods (ready-to-eat meals, frozen meat, prepackaged soups, etc) among men can increase the risk of developing colon cancer up to 29%.
The study was actually conducted over the last 25 years with over 2,00,000 American participants to assess their dietary intake and preferences for processed foods.
Interestingly, the study didn’t find similar results among women, given that a large share of women consumed less harmful processed products such as frozen yoghurt and probiotic drinks.
5. Juno provides the clearest picture of Jupiter’s “watery moon”, Europa
NASA’s Juno has been orbiting Jupiter since 2011. The latest development involves Juno beaming back the clearest close-up view of Jupiter’s moon Europa, which is slightly smaller than Earth’s Moon.
One of the four Galilean moons (the four largest Jupiter moons discovered by Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei), Europa’s surface includes a smooth ice cover.
In fact, as the photos show and based on earlier hypotheses, Europa is also the smoothest solid object in all of our Solar System.
The JunoCam captures the rugged terrain features like tall blocks a little above the moon’s equator.
An oblong pit can also be seen, which might be an impact crater.
By next year, Juno is estimated to arrive closer to Io, another one of Jupiter’s Galilean moons and the most volcanic celestial body in this Solar System.