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Science Illustrated Issue 83

Science Illustrated delivers natural science, break through discoveries and an understanding of the world for the entire family. Packed with stunning photography and in-depth editorial it’s a visually spectacular gateway to the world looking into the beginning of life to distant objects in the universe.

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8 Issues

in this issue

1 min
reception staff: antenna installed at 400km altitude

Astronaut Mike Hopkins needed to take a space walk with a colleague to install the International Space Station’s new antenna. Named ColKa, it is the size of a refrigerator, so the space station’s robotic arm carries it to the required location on the exterior of the Columbus lab module. Then NASA’s mission control in Houston guides the astronauts through the installation – from bolting it in place to connecting the wires. The antenna is providing the space station with its first direct high-speed link to Europe via satellites.…

1 min
tunnel vision: geologists venture into frozen cave

The chasm drops vertically into the glacier’s interior, the shaft produced by meltwater flowing down from the surface of a Swiss glacier. By day, water roars through the space within the ice, but at night it freezes, allowing geologists to study the glacier’s formation. The meltwater functions as a lubricant that influences the ice’s motion across the ground below. Many glaciers are retreating due to climate change, and studies of their interiors provide important information about deglaciation.…

3 min
exoplanet improves the chance of an unknown solar system planet

ASTRONOMY For decades, astronomers have been searching for an unknown planet in our Solar System: Planet 9. According to the theory, it is located 13-26 times further away from the Sun than the outermost known planet, Neptune. Planet 9 has never been observed, but the orbits of six small worlds on the outskirts of the Solar System indicate that they are influenced by the gravity of an unknown object which is about 10 times heavier than Earth. The weak point of the theory so far is that astronomers consider it unlikely that such a big planet could end up in a stable orbit so far away from the Sun. But now observations of an exoplanet 336 light years away from us show that this is possible. The exoplanet HD 106906 b…

2 min
dinosaurs sat and hatched their eggs

PALAEONTOLOGY Scientists may have answered one of the most debated questions concerning dinosaurs. It has never been clear whether dinosaurs took care of their eggs once they had been laid, or if they just left them. Now it has been definitively proven that at least some species hatched their eggs in a similar manner to modern birds. The evidence comes from a Chinese fossil of a dinosaur which died while lying on 24 eggs which are so well-preserved that they still include the bones of developed embryos. The scientists conclude that the dinosaur could not have died as it was laying the eggs, but must have died as it was hatching them. The scientists behind the discovery are from the US Indiana University of Pennsylvania and the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The…

1 min
intelligent robotic dog to explore mars’ underground

AEROSPACE The wheeled rovers that have so far roamed Mars have been limited by terrain. Four-legged robots could explore locations on Mars that are impossible for rovers to approach. So in cooperation with the Caltech research institute, NASA has developed a robotic dog, a new version of the four-legged Spot robot developed by Boston Dynamics. Named Au-Spot, its role will be to climb rocky slopes and explore caves and lava tunnels under the surface. The aim is both to search for life on the Red Planet and to find suitable potential locations for a permanent Mars base. The robot navigates by means of cameras, but also has LIDAR that uses laser to scan the surroundings. It is equipped with artificial intelligence, so that it learns how best to pass through impassable…

2 min
unusual behaviour of the ozone hole above the south pole

METEOROLOGY In December 2020, meteorologists monitoring the ozone layer became increasingly concerned as a large ozone hole above Antarctica apparently took hold. The hole covered 20+ million square kilometres, a similar size to one that originated in 2018, but it seemed to behave differently. Ozone holes above Antarctica typically emerge in August and September, peak in October, and then start to close again. But in December 2020, the hole was holding its size, still much bigger than any previous holes. Scientists from the European CAMS institute and elsewhere monitor the ozone layer closely, for good reason. Ozone protects against the Sun’s UV radiation, which is harmful to animals and humans. But ozone, located at an altitude of 30-50km, is quite vulnerable. At temperatures below -80°C it is easily broken down by…