Don’t even think of putting the mask away anytime soon.
Despite the expected arrival of COVID-19 vaccines in just a few weeks, it could take several months — probably well into 2021 — before things get back to something close to normal in the U.S. and Americans can once again go to the movies, cheer at an NBA game or give Grandma a hug.
China launched an ambitious mission on Tuesday to bring back rocks and debris from the moon’s surface for the first time in more than 40 years — an undertaking that could boost human understanding of the moon and of the solar system more generally.
The National Science Foundation announced Thursday that it will close the huge telescope at the renowned Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico in a blow to scientists worldwide who depend on it to search for planets, asteroids and extraterrestrial life. The independent, federally funded agency said it's too dangerous to keep operating the single dish radio telescope — one of the world's largest — given the significant damage it recently sustained.
An agreement announced Tuesday paves the way for the largest dam demolition in U.S. history, a project that promises to reopen hundreds of miles of waterway along the Oregon-California border to salmon that are critical to tribes but have dwindled to almost nothing in recent years. If approved, the deal would revive plans to remove four massive hydroelectric dams on the lower Klamath River, creating the foundation for the most ambitious salmon restoration effort in history.
Tristan da Cunha, an island with 245 permanent residents, is creating a marine protection zone to safeguard endangered rockhopper penguins, yellow-nosed albatross and other wildlife in an area of the South Atlantic three times the size of the United Kingdom. The government of the British overseas territory, which calls itself the most remote inhabited island on Earth, said Friday that fishing and other "extractive activities" will be banned from 627,247 square kilometers (242,181 square miles) of ocean around Tristan da Cunha and the archipelago's three other major islands.
SpaceX's newly launched capsule with four astronauts arrived Monday at the International Space Station, their new home until spring. The Dragon capsule pulled up and docked late Monday night, following a 27-hour, completely automated flight from NASA's Kennedy Space Center. The linkup occurred 262 miles above Idaho.
SpaceX launched four astronauts to the International Space Station on Sunday on the first full-fledged taxi flight for NASA by a private company. The Falcon rocket thundered into the night from Kennedy Space Center with three Americans and one Japanese, the second crew to be launched by SpaceX. The Dragon capsule on top — named Resilience by its crew in light of this year's many challenges, most notably COVID-19 — reached orbit nine minutes later. It is due to reach the space station late Monday and remain there until spring.
The giant, aging cables that support one of the world's largest single-dish radio telescopes are slowly unraveling in this U.S. territory, pushing an observatory renowned for its key role in astronomical discoveries to the brink of collapse. The Arecibo Observatory, which is tethered above a sinkhole in Puerto Rico's lush mountain region, boasts a 1,000-foot-wide dish featured in the Jodie Foster film "Contact" and the James Bond movie "GoldenEye." The dish and a dome suspended above it have been used to track asteroids headed toward Earth, conduct research that led to a Nobel Prize and helped scientists trying to determine if a planet is habitable.
Wolves preying on beavers profoundly affect northern Minnesota's wetland ecosystems because dams built by individual beavers — those not associated with beaver colonies — quickly fall apart. The new research doesn't show wolves reduced the total beaver population in Voyageurs National Park, but that they influenced where beavers were able to build and maintain dams and ponds.
NASA is underestimating the amount of time and money it will take to bring Mars rocks back to Earth in the coming decade, an independent panel said Tuesday. The review board suggested that NASA and the European Space Agency consider bumping the next launches in the sample-return effort from 2026 to 2028, given all the technological challenges. These delays will increase costs, pushing the planning budget to $4 billion or more — $1 billion more than currently envisioned by NASA, the panel noted.