Cosmos Magazine

Cosmos Magazine Issue 85

Global science, from a unique Australian perspective.

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The Royal Institution of Australia Inc
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in questo numero

1 min
testing mars 2020’s 20/20 vision

It’s 23 July 2019 – about a year from launch date for the Mars 2020 mission – and engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, are testing cameras on the rover’s mast and front chassis. The rover carries 23 cameras. Among them, its stereo Mastcam-Z equipment will record high-definition colour images and video, and give a 3D view similar to human eyes. The chassis-mounted Hazard Avoidance Cams help with navigation and in avoiding obstacles. For more about Mars 2020 see our NASA Pilbara story, page 26.…

1 min
about the royal institution of australia

The Royal Institution of Australia is an independent charity dedicated to connecting people with the world of science through news, videos, events and educational resources. Our mission is to find new ways for people to discover and understand science and how it shapes the world around us. Everything we do, from the stories we tell to the teachers we support and the events we run, is about connecting Australians – especially young Australians – with the wonders of science. We do this through Cosmos magazine and website, SCINEMA (our international science film festival), Australia’s Science Channel and STEM teaching resources. As we go to press, The Royal Institution of Australia is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its founding. We look forward to the next 10 years; we have bold goals to instil in younger Australians…

3 min
from the editors

WITH SUMMER upon us, we’ve decided to get some scientific sizzle into issue 85 of Cosmos magazine – to which welcome, and many thanks for joining us. We’re thrilled, and not a little overawed, to have taken on editing Cosmos. In years gone by, the magazine’s been graced by a range of science-communications luminaries – not the least of them benefactors Alan and Elizabeth Finkel – whose standards we aim to meet, and in doing so to reward the faith of the The Royal Institution of Australia, which has brought us on board. We hope above all to bring to you, Cosmos’ readers, the excitement we feel when talking to scientists and engineers about their work and aspirations – which we think is the best fun you can have this side of…

1 min
long ago and far far away…

Astronomers peering at the most distant parts of the Universe have found the earliest known cluster of galaxies, formed only 800 million years after the Big Bang. In astronomy, distant objects appear red, due to shifts in their light during the expansion of the Universe. The amount of “red shift” lets astronomers determine how far away they are, and thus how long their light has been travelling before reaching us. In this case, the galaxy cluster is 13 billion light years away, meaning its light has been travelling for 13 billion years. The ancient cluster was spotted by an international team of scientists using a trio of the world’s largest ground-based telescopes – Subaru, Keck and Gemini – all situated atop Hawaii’s 4200-metre Mauna Kea volcano. The finding is the “world record” for…

1 min
ape-like face of early human ancestor revealed

The ape-like face of one of our earliest known ancestors has been revealed for the first time, thanks to the discovery of a nearly complete skull in Ethiopia. The cranium (skull minus lower jaw) belongs to Australopithecus anamensis, and its owner lived in the Afar basin in Ethiopia around 3.8 million years ago. Australopiths are thought to be the direct ancestors of the early members of our own genus, Homo, which arose with Homo habilis roughly 2.4 million years ago. A. anamensis is the oldest member of the Australopiths, yet it is far less well known, in part because of its lacklustre fossil record, consisting of a smattering of limb bones, jaw bones and disembodied teeth. The new find, by Yohannes Haile-Selassie from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, US, and colleagues, and published…

1 min
a robot glider that takes off from water

Robotics is a challenging field. Constructing small ones makes it difficult to include all the necessary components; making large ones means encountering uncomfortable upswings in the force and fuel required to get things to work. Researchers led by Raphael Zufferey from the Aerial Robotics Lab of the Imperial College London, UK, have come up with a potentially elegant solution to one tricky problem – building a robotic glider than can take off from water. In a paper in the journal Science Robotics, they describe a prototype that can achieve practical aerial-aquatic mobility. Previous attempts to design robots capable of making the transition between water and air have been hampered by the fact that the process is so energy-intensive. The fuel load required for small machines to achieve enough thrust can be heavy enough…