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Historic mission – first spacecraft to touch the sun

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NASA’s Parker Solar Probe has officially become the first spacecraft to touch the sun

This achievement comes 60 years after the space agency set the goal… and three years after the Parker Solar Probe was launched.

The spacecraft flew through the sun’s corona… which is its upper atmosphere… in a bid to “sample particles and our star’s magnetic fields”.

NASA’s Science Mission Directorate says “not only does this milestone provide us with deeper insights into our Sun’s evolution and (its) impacts on our solar system, but everything we learn about our own star also teaches us more about stars in the rest of the universe.”

Natasha is an Associate Producer at ticker NEWS with a Bachelor of arts from Monash University. She has previously worked at Sky News Australia and Monash University as an Online Content Producer.

Climate

New report suggests ‘throwaway economy’ thwarting climate goals

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New research shows countries are neglecting the massive impact of the “throw-away” economy on planet-warming emissions

Scientists found that more than half a trillion tonnes of virgin materials have been consumed since the 2015 Paris climate deal.

The Circle Economy report found 70 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions are linked to the manufacturing and use of products.

But the report found that if economies were more circular, then the world could meet the Paris target of 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

A third of nations’ climate pledges mention the circular economy as part of their emissions goals, according to the report.

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Climate

Researchers discover why pandas gain weight on bamboo diet

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We’re always told to eat your greens, but this isn’t the case for pandas

A new Study finds exactly how pandas gain weight… even though they only eat bamboo

Pandas eat between 26 to 84 pounds of bamboo each day and It turns out the animals’ gut bacteria changes in the season when nutritious bamboo shoots become available.

“This is the first time we established a causal relationship between a panda’s gut microbiota and its phenotype,” says Guangping Huang, one of the study’s authors.

“We’ve known these pandas have a different set of gut microbiota during the shoot-eating season for a long time, and it’s very obvious that they are chubbier during this time of the year.”

Pandas only consume bamboo, which is a poor quality diet low in fat.

The authors believe the bacterium could lead the bears to store more fat.

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Climate

Scientists warn: Antarctica’s major ice shelf may shatter within five years

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‘Doomsday’ glacier would be left without an anchor, raising sea levels by about 25 metres

The effects of climate change are continuing to wreak havoc on the planet as one of Antarctica’s major ice shelves edges closer to a breaking point.

An integral ice shelf that holds a critical glacier is at risk of encountering numerous fractures within the next five years.

Scientists attending the American Geophysical Union meeting warned that the breakage will take a “zig-zag” route through the ice, fragmenting it into smaller pieces.

The Thwaites Glacier is larger than the size of England and contributes approximately four per cent to global sea level rise yearly.

If predictions come to fruition sea levels could rise by about 25 per cent as increasing ocean temperatures continue to dissolve the eastern ice shelf. 

Science reporter at The Washington Post Sarah Kaplan says the changes are a sign of climate change.

“There are several forces acting on the ice shelf… and a big one is that this warmer, relatively warm water by Antarctic standards is eroding underneath the bottom of the ice shelf and thinning it and weakening it,” Ms Kaplan says.

The ice shelf itself is not the contributor to rising sea levels

“And then you start to see other other forces at play, including incredible stress on the shelf that is leading to the creation or the emergence of these fractures that weaken it.”

She says the ice shelf itself will not contribute to sea level rise but if it no longer fulfils its role as a “brace” for the Thwaites Glacier then the river of ice may become unstable.

“Without the ice shelf scientists fear that this portion of weights is going to flow much more quickly into the sea and sort of catch up with the rest of the glacier, which is already moving at three times the rate of the eastern portion,” Ms Kaplan says.

What can be done to prevent further global warming?

Research conducted by the European Geosciences Union has shown that increased carbon dioxide largely due to the burning of fossil fuels is closely linked to changed in temperature. 

“Figuring out ways to transition our energy systems and our buildings and our transportation away from burning fossil fuels… that is going to be the thing that slows warming and ultimately slows this rapid transformation of Antarctica and will make the future less dangerous,” Ms Kaplan says.

NASA satellite data has predicted the global sea levels to rise by two to six feet by the end of this century steered by melting in Greenland and Antarctica.

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