On Thursday morning, an Atlas V rocket launched NASA’s latest rover, Perseverance, to Mars.
This marked the third of three launches to the red planet in 2020—following the UAE’s Hope and China’s Tianwen-1 missions—and it came near the closing of this year’s month-long “window” to the red planet. During such a window, which comes around about every 26 months, spacecraft can follow an elliptical orbit such that they will arrive at the location in space where Mars will be seven months from now—making the shortest possible journey to the red planet.
Even the smallest missions to Mars need a powerful rocket to launch, and this is especially true for a rover that will be the largest object NASA has ever tried to land on the red planet’s surface. Perseverance weighs a little more than a metric ton.
For this mission, NASA chose an Atlas V rocket with four solid rocket boosters. The rocket built by United Launch Alliance took flight under clear skies from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, and, well, we’ll stop writing because the photos of this epic launch speak for themselves. We’re not sure we’ve ever seen a more breathtaking Atlas V launch.
Listing image by NASA
New Carnivorous Dinosaur Unearthed on Isle of Wight | Paleontology – Sci-News.com
A new genus and species of theropod dinosaur from the Cretaceous period has been identified from bones found on the Isle of Wight, the United Kingdom.
The newly-discovered dinosaur roamed the Earth approximately 115 million years ago (Cretaceous period).
It belongs to Tetanurae, a group that includes most theropod dinosaurs, including megalosauroids, allosauroids, tyrannosauroids, ornithomimosaurs, maniraptorans, and birds.
Named Vectaerovenator inopinatus, the ancient creature is estimated to have been up to 4 m (13.1 feet) long.
The fossilized bones from the neck, back and tail of the new dinosaur were found over a period of weeks in 2019 in three separate discoveries, two by individuals and one by a family group, on the foreshore near Knock Cliff on the Isle of Wight.
“The joy of finding the bones we discovered was absolutely fantastic. I thought they were special and so took them along when we visited Dinosaur Isle Museum,” said Robin Ward, a fossil hunter who was with his family visiting the Isle of Wight when they made their discovery.
“They immediately knew these were something rare and asked if we could donate them to the museum to be fully researched.”
“It looked different from marine reptile vertebrae I have come across in the past,” said regular fossil hunter James Lockyer.
“I was walking along the beach, kicking stones and came across what looked like a bone from a dinosaur,” added regular fossil hunter Paul Farrell.
“I was really shocked to find out it could be a new species.”
Vectaerovenator inopinatus had large air spaces in some of the bones, one of the traits that helped the paleontologists identify its theropod origins.
These air sacs, also seen in modern birds, were extensions of the lung, and it is likely they helped fuel an efficient breathing system while also making the skeleton lighter.
“We were struck by just how hollow this animal was — it’s riddled with air spaces. Parts of its skeleton must have been rather delicate,” said lead author Chris Barker, a Ph.D. student at the University of Southampton.
“The record of theropod dinosaurs from the mid Cretaceous period in Europe isn’t that great, so it’s been really exciting to be able to increase our understanding of the diversity of dinosaur species from this time.”
“It is likely that Vectaerovenator inopinatus lived in an area just north of where its remains were found, with the carcass having washed out into the shallow sea nearby.”
The team’s paper will be published in the journal Papers in Palaeontology.
Chris Barker et al. 2020. A highly pneumatic ‘mid Cretaceous’ theropod from the British Lower Greensand. Papers in Palaeontology, in press
Broken cable damages giant radio telescope in Puerto Rico – CBC.ca
A broken cable caused severe damage at Puerto Rico’s Arecibo Observatory, causing a suspension of operations for one of the world’s largest single-dish radio telescopes, officials said Tuesday.
The University of Central Florida, which manages the National Science Foundation facility, said in a statement that a cable that helps support a metal platform broke and caused a 30-metre gash on a reflector dish. The university said eight panels in the dome also were damaged and the platform used to access the dome is now twisted.
The statement said it was unclear why the cable broke. The cost of the damage wasn’t immediately known.
Scientists worldwide use the telescope to detect radio emissions emitted by objects such as stars and galaxies. It was featured in the Jodie Foster film Contact and the James Bond movie GoldenEye.
British fossil hunters find bones of new dinosaur species, cousin to T.Rex – TheChronicleHerald.ca
LONDON (Reuters) – Four bones found on a beach on the Isle of Wight, off England’s south coast, belong to a new species of theropod dinosaur, the group that includes Tyrannosaurus rex, researchers at the University of Southampton said on Wednesday.
The new dinosaur, which has been named Vectaerovenator inopinatus, lived in the Cretaceous period 115 million years ago and was estimated to have been up to four metres long, the palaeontologists said.
The name refers to the large air spaces found in the bones, which were discovered on the foreshore at Shanklin, a seaside resort on the island, last year.
The air sacs, which are also seen in modern birds, were extensions of the lung, the researchers said, and it is likely they helped fuel an efficient breathing system while also making the skeleton lighter.
One of the finders, Robin Ward, a regular fossil hunter from Stratford-upon-Avon in central England, said: “The joy of finding the bones we discovered was absolutely fantastic.”
“I thought they were special and so took them along when we visited Dinosaur Isle Museum,” he said. “They immediately knew these were something rare and asked if we could donate them to the museum to be fully researched.”
James Lockyer, from Spalding, Lincolnshire, in east England, was also visiting the island when he found another of the bones.
“I was searching a spot at Shanklin and had been told and read that I wouldn’t find much there,” he said. “However, I always make sure I search the areas others do not, and on this occasion it paid off.”
Chris Barker, a doctoral student who led the study, said: “We were struck by just how hollow the animal was – it’s riddled with air spaces. Parts of its skeleton must have been rather delicate.”
It is likely that the Vectaerovenator lived in an area just north of where its remains were found, with the carcass having washed out into the shallow sea nearby, the researchers said.
(Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by Angus MacSwan)
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