IN THE NEWS: AMAZING WONDERS

Otherworldly, Celestial Sights

Are you interested in outer space, other planets, and, possibly, extraterrestrial life? What about the stars, moon, and sun? There are lots of sights to behold this year, and new, exciting discoveries are arising every day! 

  • Ice volcanoes on Pluto; “Signs of cryovolcanic activity on the dwarf planet in the recent geological past must be driven by an underground body of water, a study suggests.” According to the New York Times and a NASA spacecraft that was sent to outer space, there are ice volcanoes on Pluto! Instead of molten lava, these mountains emit ice. Pluto may also be home to some sort of ocean; even though Pluto is basically a ball of ice, new evidence suggests that there may be wonders lurking beneath its surface that we’ve only begun to explore.
  • There are so many exciting celestial Wonders to see this year, so get your telescope and look to the sky for heavenly sights! Watch out for a total eclipse of the moon in mid-May, a possible meteor shower at the end of May (slow-moving so they’ll be quite visible to the naked eye), the alignment of five planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn) in June, an enormous full moon (the biggest of the year) in July, more meteor showers, a possible eclipse of the sun in October and a total lunar eclipse in November! 
  • “Otherworldly wreckage on Mars”: The “landing of the Perseverance rover on the surface of the red planet in February 2021” left a bit of a component behind, a wreckage that looked alien but is not. Don’t be disappointed, though, because, while this is not evidence of interplanetary life, it is a piece of impressive technology used to study rocks inside a crater. The rocks found are very different from each other in their composition, meaning that some are made from magma that probably came from a lava lake and the other rocks are comprised of something called basaltic lava flows. The Perseverance rover also captured images of a small moon on Mars called “Phobos.”

It’s Really, Really, Really Old!

Are you an aspiring paleontologist or simply into fossils and evolution? 

  • Flowers recently found petrified in amber are estimated to be 99 million years old! These ancient flowers were discovered in what is now Myanmar (formerly Burma). It is extremely rare for flowers to become fossilized and to remain virtually unchanged for such a vast period of time as they are so fragile. Most flowers wilt and die before they are preserved, so to find these plants intact is amazing.  The researchers studying the plants have called one of the persevered flowers “Eophylica priscatellata” and the other “Phylica piloburmensis,” the latter being a genus native to present-day South Africa. Finding these flowers is significant because it helps to “shed light on ancient mystery of evolution.”

Strange and Amazing Animals

Are you an animal lover?

  • A Wolverine was spotted at Yellow Stone National Park! “There are only seven documented wolverines in Yellowstone,” so actually spotting a wolverine is an extremely rare occurrence, and this was caught on camera! Such a sighting is beyond exciting as wolverines are an endangered species and are very rarely seen by humans. 
  • Sea anemones are incredible because, well, they’re absolutely beautiful and strange and, according to recent studies, share a genetic link with humans. “A gene linked to the development of hearing in humans has just been linked to sensory development in sea anemones, too.” The gene “pou-iv” “can be found in the tentacles of the starlet sea anemone (Nematostella vectensis), where it plays a crucial role in the animal’s sense of touch.” So, sea anemones can feel thanks to the same gene that helps us humans hear. How wild is that?!

For more information on the topics mentioned in this blog, check out the links below: 

(And for more information on all sorts of exciting and stimulating educational materials, games, puzzles, and travel-related paraphernalia galore, check out Spartan and the Green Egg.) 

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/29/science/pluto-ice-volcanoes.html

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/article/9-must-see-stargazing-events-to-watch-in-2022

https://greekreporter.com/2022/02/05/99-million-year-old-flowers-amber/

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/27/science/nasa-mars-wreckage-photo.html

https://www.travelandleisure.com/travel-news/wolverine-spotted-at-yellowstone#:~:text=A%20wolverine%20was%20spotted%20inside,%2C%20he%20told%20Travel%20%2B%20Leisure.

https://www.sciencealert.com/a-gene-linked-to-hearing-in-humans-helps-anemones-feel-the-world-around-them

Photo credits: 

  • Image via NASA/ JHUAPL/ SwRI/ Isaac Herrera/ Kelsi Singer.
  • Ancient flowers preserved in amber were found in present-day Myanmar, photo credit: Shuo Wang
  • MacNeil Lyons/Yellowstone Insight

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