Science Wrap: Astronauts trapped in capsule, SpaceX’s final mission, and 351 new species discovered

Shaurya Thapa
Shaurya ThapaDec 31, 2022 | 08:00

Science Wrap: Astronauts trapped in capsule, SpaceX’s final mission, and 351 new species discovered

The science roundup of the last week of the year is as random as expected, from rainbow fish to "hair mats" (photo-DailyO)

This is the final science wrap of the year so the obvious needs to be stated, 2022 has been no good year for the ongoing destruction of the planet. Even as the glaciers melt and species get more and more endangered, scientists have interestingly discovered 351 new plant and animal species this year. 

As Elon Musk plans to colonise space for the future, SpaceX geared up for one last mission to end the year. And going by last week’s science wrap, the Russian astronauts trapped in the Soyuz capsule are still trapped as NASA tries to find a potential solution with SpaceX. 

1. NASA and SpaceX might help the astronauts trapped in Soyuz

Russia’s Soyuz M-22 space capsule currently accommodates three astronauts who are trapped following a leak in the coolant line. While the cause of the punctured leak is still being investigated, Russian space agency Roscomos had been considering sending another Soyuz capsule to rescue the two Russian cosmonauts and one American astronauts.

The Crew Dragon capsule (photo-SpaceX)
The Crew Dragon capsule (photo-SpaceX)

As the US is involved, NASA has also told Reuters that they are working on a solution with SpaceX. Still, what the American space agency exactly discussed with SpaceX is unknown. It is highly likely though that the Elon Musk-founded company would send an empty capsule or the Crew Dragon capsule to rescue the astronauts. 

The Crew Dragon which is currently parked in the International Space Station is a gumdrop-shaped pod with four astronaut seats. It has now become an integral part of NASA's human spaceflight efforts in low-Earth orbit. 

2. Belgian NGO recycles human hair to absorb polluting chemicals

Patrick Jenssen with one of his hair mats (photo-Reuters)
Patrick Jenssen with one of his hair mats (photo-Reuters)

Human hair has some astounding absorbing qualities and according to the Belgian website Dung Dung, one strand of hair can support upto 10 million times its own weight. Patrick Janssen, the co-founder of the NGO, encourages people to send their cut hair to them from where they can throw in the hair to a machine that turns the hair into mat-like squares. The purpose of these squares is to place them in drains to soak up pollutants in water before it reaches a river.

3. 351 new plant and animal species discovered this year

As the year draws to a close, it is worth going across the important stats regarding new flora and fauna. A majority of the species discovered in 2022 were invertebrates and 55 of the 351 new species were wasps!

Scientists also catalogued 12 new species of protists (single-celled species like protozoa and algae), 7 species of flies, and 2 bumblebees. 

4. SpaceX’s last mission of 2022 will linked to an Israeli spy satellite

In a landmark for privately-funded space exploration, SpaceX achieved its target for 60 flights this year. Musk’s company’s final mission after this target involved blasting off the ISI EROS C-3 mission to a low-earth orbit from Space Launch Complex 4 East (SLC-4E) at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. Manufactured in Israel, the EROS-C is a state-of-the-art earth observation satellite often used for stealth purposes. 

Within a 56-minute launch window, the mission took place on Thursday, December 29 at 11:38 pm. PT with the Falcon rocket successfully blasting off the spy satellite.

Last updated: December 31, 2022 | 08:00
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