Science News Roundup: Historic Mars Helicopter Test Flight Scheduled for Early April; Russia started spacecraft project 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 Mayan ruins in Belize offer a glimpse into the inequality of ancient wealth
An examination of numerous houses excavated in two locations in southern Belize provides insight into the gaping inequality of wealth in ancient Mayan cities – an inequality that researchers believe was closely linked to despotic leadership. Archaeologists said Wednesday they had examined the remains of 180 houses in the medium-sized town of Uxbenká and 93 houses in the smaller nearby town of Ix Kuku’il, both of which flourished during the so-called classical Mayan period from around AD 250 to 900 .
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.
Russia has started a spacecraft project, says the Soviet shuttle designer
Russia is developing a reusable spaceplane, announced a subsidiary of the Kalashnikov conglomerate on Wednesday in Russia’s first such project since the late Soviet Union’s unfortunate Buran space shuttle. A full-size model of the aircraft was unveiled in an enclosed pavilion during a Russian military forum last year. The project is currently under development, said the general manager of the Molniya research and production facility.
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.)