Science News Summary: NASA Perseverance Rover Collects First Martian Rock Sample; A sea creature known as “the mothership” was a primeval scourge and more
Below is a summary of the latest scientific news.
US university, energy company hail test of energy fusion project
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Commonwealth Fusion Systems have successfully tested the world’s most powerful high-temperature superconducting magnet to take a step towards building a fusion power plant to produce carbon-free energy. Italian energy company Eni is a shareholder in CFS, a fusion energy research company spun off from MIT, after investing $ 50 million in 2018 and leading CFS’s Series A funding.
NASA rover Perseverance collects first rock samples from Mars
NASA’s Mars science rover Perseverance has collected and hidden the first of numerous mineral samples that the US space agency is hoping to bring from the surface of the Red Planet for analysis on Earth. Tools attached to Perseverance, operated by mission specialists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) near Los Angeles, drilled a rock core slightly thicker than a pencil from an old Martian bed, then hermetically sealed it in a titanium sample tube inside the rover.
Explainer – Beyond Delta, scientists are observing new coronavirus variants
The continued spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus has spawned a Greek alphabet of variants – a naming system used by the World Health Organization (WHO) to track new mutations in the virus that causes COVID-19. Some have provided the virus with better ways to infect people or evade vaccination protection. Scientists continue to focus on Delta, which is now the world’s dominant variant, but are tracking others to see what might one day take its place.
The sea creature known as “the mothership” was a primeval scourge
About 506 million years ago, a strange marine animal with a body so similar to a science fiction spaceship that it was dubbed “the mothership” thrived in tropical seas and threatened prey on the ocean floor in what is now Canada as one of the largest predators in the world Earth at this point. Scientists on Wednesday announced the discovery of fossils of a Cambrian-era arthropod called Titanokorys gainesi in Kootenay National Park in the Canadian Rockies within a giant rock formation called the Burgess Shale.
South Korean researchers create chameleon-like artificial “skin”
South Korean researchers say they developed an artificial skin-like material, inspired by natural biology, that can quickly adapt its hues to its surroundings, like a chameleon. The team, led by Ko Seung-hwan, a mechanical engineering professor at Seoul National University, created the “skin” with a special ink that changes color depending on the temperature and is controlled by tiny, flexible heating elements.
(With contributions from agencies.)