Here’s a recap of what made news in the world of science and technology this week.
After its resounding success with the Osiris-Rex asteroid Bennu sample return mission, US space agency Nasa launched its next asteroid mission called Psyche on 13 October. The mission took off aboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket from Launch Pad 39A at Nasa’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It is now on a voyage to a metal-rich asteroid of the same name which, according to Nasa, could tell us more about the formation of rocky planets. Integrated onto the Psyche spacecraft is the agency’s Deep Space Optical Communications technology demonstration, a test of deep space laser communications that could support future exploration missions by providing more bandwidth to transmit data than traditional radio frequency communications, a Nasa press release said. “By August 2029, the spacecraft will begin to orbit the 173-mile-wide (279-kilometer-wide) asteroid – the only metal-class asteroid ever to be explored. Because of Psyche’s high iron-nickel metal content, scientists think it may be the partial core of a planetesimal, a building block of an early planet. The goal is a 26-month science investigation,” the release explained.
Skygazers in the western hemisphere were treated to an extraordinary ‘ring of fire’ solar eclipse on 14 October. A rare celestial event, the eclipse crossed into Mexico and Central America, then into South America through Colombia and northern Brazil before ending at sunset in the Atlantic Ocean, an AFP report said. At any given location, the eclipse was visible from between 30 seconds and five minutes -- but people were urged to take safety precautions and use solar viewing glasses, and never regular sunglasses, to preserve their vision, the report added. A total eclipse is set for April 2024.
Just when you thought we knew everything about the human brain, scientists have identified more than 3,300 type of cells that populate our brain. This has helped them create an atlas that may help pinpoint the cellular basis of neurological diseases and facilitate new therapeutics, a Reuters report said. Along with new knowledge about the brain cells, the researchers shared new insights about our nervous systems' cellular makeup across many regions of the brain and what makes the human brain distinctive, a Press Trust of India report explains. According to the Reuters report, the work, presented in 21 studies published in Science and two other journals, was backed by the US government's National Institutes of Health BRAIN Initiative Cell Census Network consortium.
(With inputs from news agencies)