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Science Wrap: Artemis still on ground, cyborg cockroach, India's toxic relationship with azithromycin

Shaurya Thapa
Shaurya ThapaSep 10, 2022 | 08:00

Science Wrap: Artemis still on ground, cyborg cockroach, India's toxic relationship with azithromycin

This week in science: Exoplanet bigger than Jupiter discover, Artemis still in delay phase, cyborg cockroaches, and India's alarming dependency on antibiotics (photo-DailyO)

This week in science has been marked by yet another delay faced by the Artemis I moon mission while the James Webb space telescope continues making startling discoveries. This time, the telescope has discovered a planet outside the Solar System, a gas giant bigger than Jupiter. 

Closer home, Pakistan unfortunately continues to be battered by destructive floods, with the death toll going over 1,325. Meanwhile, in India, a study claims that the country is a leading consumer of antibiotic tablets, with Indians consuming over 500 crore tablets every year. 

1. Artemis I launch delayed... again 

A fault reading on a sensor is one of the causes behind the delay of the initial launch of the moon-orbitting mission Artemis 1. With the second launch proposed for last Saturday (September 3), a hydrogen fuel leak caused further problems. 

As of now, NASA is working on the SLS (Space Launch System) rocket and is awaiting a third launch attempt on September 23. If successful, this will be NASA's first flight of the SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft. 

2. New study claims Indians consumed 500 crore antibiotics in 2019

A study published in the journal Lancet Regional Health Southeast Asia claims that Indians consumed over 500 crore antibiotics tablets in 2019. Most of these pills were procured through unregulated over-the-counter sales at pharmacies, with Azithromycin-500 being the most consumed antibiotic. 

Azithromycin is an antibiotic used to treat certain bacterial infections (photo- PharmaBiz)
Azithromycin is an antibiotic used to treat certain bacterial infections (photo- Stay Happi Pharmacy)

The research was carried out by the Department of Epidemiology (Boston University School of Public Health) and Public Health Foundation of India by analysing data from PharmaTrac. The latter is a private-sector drug sales dataset gathered from a panel of 9,000 pharmacy stockists from all over India. The researchers add that this study shows that it is high time for India to improve its antibiotic surveillance and regulation. 

3. NASA’s Landsat captures Pakistan floods

As the floods in Pakistan continue raging leading to loss of human life and property, the aerial images from NASA’s Landsat satellite program (particularly satellites Landsat 8 and 9) show how the country’s largest freshwater lake Manchar has overflown in the past few months. The satellite images show the natural obstructions to the lake’s flow along with artificial breaches by Pakistani officials to prevent the water from entering densely populated areas. 

Lake Manchar as seen on July 25, Aug. 28 and Sept. 5, 2022, captured by NASA Landsat 8 and 9 satellites. (photo- NASA)
Lake Manchar as seen on July 25, Aug. 28 and Sept. 5, 2022, captured by NASA Landsat 8 and 9 satellites. (photo- NASA)

Climate change concerns are increasingly being raised with the record-breaking floods that followed an extreme heatwave and an overlong monsoon. As one-third of Pakistan continues being submerged, health officials in the country also worry for the spread of waterborne diseases. Such is the ongoing destruction that the Pakistan floods might wipe Mohenjo Daro off the world map

4. Scientists create a cyborg cockroach 

While creating a cybernetic human might be a dystopian nightmare for the future, a cyborg cockroach is now very much a reality. Japan’s scientific institution, RIKEN’s Cluster for Pioneering Research along with a team of international researchers have made it possible to develop insect-sized and solar-powered "backpacks" that can then be wired on to the body of insects like cockroaches. Tiny integrated circuits on their body would help control their movement. 

The cockoroaches would be used for surveillance and environment monitoring (photo- RIKEN)
The cockoroaches would be used for surveillance and environment monitoring (photo- RIKEN)

The intention behind this project is to develop cyborg insects that can help in surveillance for urban search and rescue missions, environment monitoring and inspection of areas that would otherwise be dangerous for humans. After all, many scientists claim that cockroaches even survived the asteroid strike that lead to the extinction of dinosaurs. A cyborg armour might just be the next stage of evolution for cockroaches. 

5. New exoplanet bigger than Jupiter found by James Webb telescope

After stunning new photos of Jupiter and detecting carbon dioxide in an exoplanet (a planet outside the Solar System), the James Webb Space Telescope has now discovered a large exoplanet that is even bigger than Jupiter. 

HIP 65426 b in different bands of infrared light, as seen from the James Webb Space Telescope. (photo- NASA)
HIP 65426 b in different bands of infrared light, as seen from the James Webb Space Telescope. (photo- NASA)

Identified as a gas giant, HIP 65426 b is uninhabitable as it has no rocky surfaces. In terms of mass, it is 12 times the size of Jupiter. The age of the planet is estimated to range between 15 and 20 million years. Earth is relatively very young, given that our planet is 4.5 billion years old.

Last updated: September 10, 2022 | 08:00
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