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“It’s just a jump to the left, and then a step to the right.” The catchy song from “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” may as well have been our soundtrack for the last two years. Ever since the pandemic’s arrival, it has felt a bit like living in a time warp, where days disappear into months.
The advice that NASA astronaut Christina Koch recently shared with CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta in his Chasing Life podcast was this: Create milestones for yourself that help mark the passage of time. For Koch, who spent a record-breaking 328 days in space, that included spacewalks and celebrating Christmas among the stars.
This year has already been filled with memorable moments and surprising finds. In this week alone, the James Webb Space Telescope reached its final destination a million miles from Earth, and astronomers spotted an old SpaceX rocket stage on a collision course with the moon.
Here are some other new discoveries to ensure this week doesn’t slip your mind.
European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet believes that “if we can make a space station fly, then we can save the planet.”
Pesquet, who recently returned from his second trip to the International Space Station in November, had a unique perspective of our world as “the blue ball we call home.”
He said the effects of climate change on Earth were increasingly visible from space and showed a marked difference since his last visit to the space station in 2016: retreating glaciers, pollution and extreme weather events.
But Pesquet, a UN Food and Agriculture Organization Goodwill Ambassador, believes that lessons of resource conservation learned in the space environment could be applied on Earth.
A long time ago
While restoring a temple damaged by ISIS, archaeologists were excited to find evidence of ancient hybrid camels within a piece of artwork.
The Temple of Allat, which dates to the second century AD, is located in the city of Hatra, the once sprawling capital of a small kingdom in what is now northern Iraq.
There are 10 camels visible in the stone piece, but two of them looked different from the rest. Researchers determined they were a cross between two distinct camel breeds, thanks to some telling physical features.
This hybrid animal would have been stronger and more resilient – and even helped the king flex his power in the shadow of the massive Roman empire.
Across the universe
There is a strange, blinking object about 4,000 light-years away from Earth.
Astronomers happened upon the celestial lighthouse because it beamed out radio signals every 18 minutes.
It could be a remnant of a collapsed star – or it could be something else entirely.
The unknown object is just one of multiple recent cosmic mysteries, including nearly a thousand unusual magnetic strands found at the center of the Milky Way galaxy.
Force of nature
When an underwater volcano near Tonga erupted on January 15, the resulting blast was hundreds of times more powerful than the Hiroshima atomic bomb, according to experts at NASA.
The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano sent material up 25 miles (40 kilometers) into the atmosphere. It also created tsunami waves cresting up to 49 feet (15 meters) high that slammed into parts of the Pacific nation’s archipelago.
Photos taken before and after the eruption show a dark volcanic cloud hovering over the country’s 170 islands. The catastrophic event has impacted more than 100,000 people.
The massive blast also completely altered the land mass of the volcanic island.
An African clawed frog with an amputated leg was able to grow a new one, despite the fact that it’s not a creature known to regenerate entire limbs like some salamanders, lizards and newts.
Scientists applied a mixture of drugs to the frog’s stump and sealed it for 24 hours. About 18 months later, the frog had an almost fully functional leg and was able to swim and respond to touch.
The frog also grew a few toes, but they lacked a critical feature.
The researchers are encouraged by this result, however, because it suggests that some animals may have dormant regenerative capabilities – they just need a trigger to kick-start the transformation.
Here’s a little more to explore:
– Saturn’s icy moon Mimas, which looks remarkably like the Death Star from Star Wars, could harbor a hidden ocean.
– Say happy birthday to Jonathan, the world’s oldest-ever tortoise, born when Queen Victoria was just a teenager. He hangs out on a remote island.
– Waste not: This striking Japanese building was actually made from 700 donated windows.
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