Microscope

NASA's New Horizons spacecraft still has 100 million miles to go, but it has taken its first snapshot of the space rock (MU 69) that will be its date for New Year's Day 2019. 

By NYTNS
  • Published 10.09.18
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Glimpse of a space rock

• NASA's New Horizons spacecraft still has 100 million miles to go, but it has taken its first snapshot of the space rock (MU 69) that will be its date for New Year's Day 2019. Mission scientists said they were a bit surprised that the camera on New Horizons was able to make out the tiny object from so far away. This will be the first close-up observation of a small Kuiper-belt object, one of the clumps of ice and rock that lie beyond the orbit of Neptune.

Barnacle free

• When ships' hulls get coated with barnacles, they use more fuel and need to be scraped clean, at an estimated cost of billions of dollars. This is the reason seaman Captain Haddock in the Tintin comics by Herge cursed: Blistering Barnacles. To keep barnacles off hulls, boats are coated in an anti-fouling paint that kills barnacle larvae, but it also kills organisms like oysters. Researchers at Kiel University in Germany have innovated a texture with structures shaped like mushrooms that keep barnacles from getting a firm foothold on hulls.

Penguin game

• Researchers report in Zoo Biology that penguins in captivity, like some species in the wild, are not always monogamous. Of eight offspring they tested at Loveland Living Planet Aquarium in Utah, two had a biological father that was not their social father. In other words, two male penguins had been sneaking around. Another rogue female had been mating with two different males too - even though the males were in stable social pairs.

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