Science News Roundup: Historic Mars Helicopter Test Flight Scheduled for Early April; Octopus research provides insights into how sleep evolves and more

Below is a summary of the latest scientific news.

Historic Mars helicopter test flight for early April

NASA engineers plan to send a miniature helicopter right over the surface of Mars next month in an interplanetary aviation experiment that, if successful, would mark the first powered, controlled flight of an aircraft on another celestial body. The US space agency compares the Mars debut of its 1.8 kg solar-powered Whirlybird, named Ingenuity, to the first continuous flight of a Wright Brothers motor-powered aircraft near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, in 1903.

OneWeb launches 36 satellites from Russia to expand Internet orbit

OneWeb launched 36 satellites from a cosmodrome in Russia’s Far East on Thursday as part of the satellite company’s plans to provide high-speed global internet access. The launch conducted by Arianespace from the Vostochny Cosmodrome brought the number of satellites in orbit to 146, which are part of a fleet designed to provide high-speed, low-latency global links, the satellite operator said.

The US should research solar geoengineering to combat climate change, but exercise caution, scientists say

The National Academies of Science on Thursday urged the United States to continue research into solar geoengineering to cool the Earth’s atmosphere, but cautioned caution as doing so could have risky unintended consequences. There is no international agreement that sets standards for geoengineering, large-scale interventions that scientists say could affect rainfall patterns, agricultural productivity and food supplies around the world.

Octopus research provides insights into how sleep evolves

The octopus is an extraordinary creature – and not just because of its eight limbs, three hearts, blue blood, splash of ink, camouflage capacity and the tragic fact that it dies after mating. A study by researchers in Brazil published on Thursday shows that this animal, already considered perhaps the smartest invertebrate, has two major alternating sleep states that are eerily similar to those in humans – and could even dream.

(With contributions from agencies.)

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