Science News! Let’s take a look at some of the important developments in science this week…
First, on Sunday the 17th, SpaceX will attempt to launch a new ocean monitoring satellite into orbit using one of their rockets, and then land the rocket on a drone ship at sea. If successful, this will be the first time that a space craft has been landed on a ship. SpaceX’s mission is to create reusable rockets, that founder Elon Musk believes could cut the cost of spaceflight by a factor of 100 or more. The new satellite being placed in orbit, called Jason-3, will take precise measurements of sea level variation around the planet, helping us to understand ocean currents and climate change. Read more from Space.com here.
Second, this week NASA’s Juno spacecraft broke the record for the farthest distance a solar powered craft has traveled from Earth. Juno is now five times further from the sun than Earth, and since Jupiter gets 25 times less sunlight than Earth the craft had to be outfitted with massive solar panels. Juno is scheduled to arrive at Jupiter on July 4th, and eventually it will descend into the planet’s atmosphere and burn up in search of better data. Read more from the Smithsonian here.
Third, Japanese researchers have unthawed microscopic tardigrades from the Antarctic that were collected in 1983 and have remained frozen for over 30 years, and found that one of the animals was still able to live and reproduce. The longest recorded survival time for a tardigrade was previously 9 years. The tiny creatures, which are also known as water bears or moss piglets, can survive extreme heat, pressures, radiation, and even the vacuum of space. Read more from the BBC here.