Photo credit: M. Weiss/Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian
Astronomers have discovered WASP-62b, a ‘hot Jupiter’ located 575 light years away and about half the mass of the planet found in our solar system. Unlike our Jupiter, which takes around 12 years to orbit the sun, WASP-62b completes a full rotation around its star in just 4.5-days and its proximity to the star makes it extremely hot. What makes this discovery even more special is its cloud-free atmosphere, since astronomers estimate that less than 7 percent of exoplanets have clear atmospheres. Read more for a video and additional information.
Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, could have a sea of liquid methane that is at least 1,000-feet deep. Called Kraken Mare, this massive sea is estimated to be nearly the size of all five Great Lakes combined, and represents a model environment of a possible atmosphere of early Earth. Titan uses solar light, which is approximately 100 times less intense than on Earth, to constantly convert methane in the atmosphere into ethane, thus completely depleting Titan’s surface stores. Read more for two videos and additional information.
Robert “Buz” Chmielewski has been a quadriplegic with minimal movement and feeling in his hands and fingers due to an accident in his teen years, but starting a few months ago, he was able to manipulate two prosthetic arms with his brain. This was made possibly after surgeons implanted six electrode arrays into both sides of his brain, enabling him to simultaneously control two advanced prosthetic limbs through a brain-machine interface developed by Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL). Read more for a video and additional information.
Sure, you could use a tool to press elevator buttons, but what if there was a touchless way to do so with your fingers? STUCK Labs created “Kinetic Touchless” technology that actually mirrors your finger movements from a distance, enabling you to press buttons without actually touching them. The firm states that these gestures can be adapted to other things as well, like having something be pushed inwards by moving your finger with a poking motion. Read more for a video demonstration and additional information.
Some already know that “Musou Black” can absorb 99.4% of visible light, but what happens when you cover an entire room in this paint? The Action Lab set to find out, and the results are dark to say the least. When using the same light as in the unpainted room, the “Musou Black” version makes it feel as if you’re stepping into outer space, mainly because the walls now absorb nearly all the visible light. Read more for the video and additional information.
A 78-year-old legally blind man regained his sight after receiving the CorNeat KPro implant. This is claimed to be the world’s first artificial cornea that completely integrates with the eye wall with no reliance on donor tissue. The surgery was performed at the Rabin Medical Center, Israel, by Professor Irit Bahar, and upon removal of bandages, the CorNeat KPro immediately enabled the patient to read text as well as recognize family members. Read more to see how the synthetic cornea works.
NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite has discovered TOI 561-b, which orbits the TOI-561 star system. This planet is approximately 50% larger than Earth, but takes half the time to orbit its star due to its close proximity. What kind of life could survive there? Well, the kind that can survive an estimated average surface temperature of over 2,000 degrees Kelvin, but it might have been a different story in the past. Read more for a video and additional information.
NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance is set to hit the surface of the Red Planet on Feb. 18, 2021, and in addition to collecting stunning images as well as rock samples, it will also record some sounds. This rover comes equipped with microphones, which will mainly consist of the rover at work, wind and other ambient noise. One thing to note is that the same sound on Earth would be slightly different on Mars because of its atmosphere, which is only 1% as dense as ours. Read more for a previous sound sample from Mars and additional information.
Photo credit: Self-organizing Systems Research Group
Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) researchers teamed up with the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering to develop aquatic robots capable of synchronizing their movements like real-life school of fish, without any external control. This is the first time that complex 3D collective behaviors with implicit coordination in underwater robots has been observed. Read more for a video and additional information.
Scientists from the Finnish Meteorological Institute envision a permanent “megasatellite settlement” orbiting Ceres, which is a large asteroid and dwarf planet in the asteroid belt located between Mars and Jupiter. When completed, it could not only function as a human habitat, but as a base for further exploration of the cosmos. Materials would be sourced directly from Ceres itself from mining operations, while its abundance of nitrogen may eventually lead to the creation of an Earth-like atmosphere. Read more for two videos and additional information.