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Science • Animals
Numbers of elephants in Kenya have doubled over the last three decades
Numbers of elephants in Kenya have doubled over the last three decades
Credit: Kenya Wildlife Service via Facebook

Kenya's Tourism Minister Najib Balala has announced that the authorities of the country have "managed to tame poaching" over the past decades which lead to the doubling of the elephant population in the country.

While in 1989 only 16,000 lived in the country the number has grown to over 34,000 in 2018 according to the Director of the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) John Waweru.

Science • Space
Dwarf Planet Ceres has a Salty Ocean Beneath it's Surface
Dwarf Planet Ceres has a Salty Ocean Beneath it's Surface
Credit: Justin Cowart (Public Domain)

Using infrared imaging from the Dawn orbiter scientist discovered the presence of hydrohalite, common in sea ice but never seen outside earth until now. Deposits built up as recently as 2 million years ago.

Science • Humans
Scientists rename human genes to avoid Microsoft Excel misreading them as dates
Scientists rename human genes to avoid Microsoft Excel misreading them as dates

Scientists have renamed some 27 human genes over the past year to avoid Microsoft Excel misinterpreting their alphanumeric codes as dates.

These codes are used as a shorthand method for researchers to identify the genes in the human genome. Sometimes, though, they end up reading as something else. For instance, the gene symbol for Septin 2, SEPT2, defaults to the date '2-Sep' when typed into Excel, while Membrane-Associated Ring Finger, aka MARCH1, becomes '1-Mar'.

The HUGO Gene Nomenclature Committee (HGNC) defined guidelines for naming protein-coding genes, RNA genes, and pseudogenes to avoid such mishaps. The instructions further say gene symbols should only contain Latin letters and Arabic numerals; should not contain common abbreviations; should not refer to any particular species; should not be offensive, and should be unique.

Science • Animals
New Emperor penguin breeding sites have been found by satellites
New Emperor penguin breeding sites have been found by satellites
Credit: contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2019), processed by ESA (Open Government Licence v3.0)

The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) - the national Antarctic operation of the United Kingdom - has discovered new breeding sides of Emperor penguins. Through satellite images from the Europan Union's Sentinel-2 the BAS was able to identify the poo of the Penguins giving information about the location.

This discovery lifts the known global population of Emperor penguins by 5-10% as possibly as many as 278,500 pairs are breeding there. The new images have increased the number of known breeding sites from 50 to 61.

Science • Space
Amazon gets approval to launch 3,236 satellites into orbit for internet services
Amazon gets approval to launch 3,236 satellites into orbit for internet services
Credit: unsplash.com / NASA

The United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has approved a request from Amazon to launch 3,236 communication sattelites into low earth orbit.

The company plans to provide a low-latency, high-speed satellite-based internet connections to United States households with it's Project Kuiper. Amazon has announced that it will invest over $10 billtion into the project and will build a supporting infrastructure on the ground in addition to launching the satellites.

With Project Kuiper Amazon goes into direct competition to the Starlink network by SpaceX that aims towards the same goals.

Science • Space
SpaceX Capsule splashdown successful, first water landing since 1975
SpaceX Capsule splashdown successful, first water landing since 1975
Credit: @NASA, via Twitter

Doug and Bob are back on planet Earth. The Crew Dragon capsule splashed down safely at 2:48 PM EDT in the Gulf of Mexico. Sunday's splashdown marked NASA's first water landing since 1975.

Science • Space
SpaceX Crew Dragon departed and headed home
SpaceX Crew Dragon departed and headed home
Credit: SpaceX (Creative Commons CC0 Waiver)

Bob and Doug are getting ready for splashdown. The SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule successfully undocked from the ISS on Saturday night at 7:35 PM EDT. NASA's astronauts Robert L. Behnken and Douglas G. Hurley had been in Space since May, joining NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and two Russian Russian astronauts, Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner.

If the weather and sea conditions in the Gulf of Mexico remain favorable, splashdown will be at 2:48 PM EDT on Sunday.

Science • Space
SpaceX Crew Dragon in preparation to return to Earth
Personnel from NASA, SpaceX and the U.S. Air Force practicing recovery operations for the SpaceX Crew Dragon.
Personnel from NASA, SpaceX and the U.S. Air Force practicing recovery operations for the SpaceX Crew Dragon. Credit: SpaceX / Public domain

Bob and Doug are coming home. SpaceX's Crew Dragon will undock from the ISS at 7:34 PM EDT on August 1. Splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Panama City is expected at around 2:42 PM EDT on August 2.

A final decision on whether to proceed with the mission will be made approximately six hours before undocking and will largely depend on weather conditions and Hurricane Isais, which is currently headed towards Florida.

Science • Medicine
Berlin: 30,000 passengers without face mask in public transportation
Berlin: 30,000 passengers without face mask in public transportation
Credit: unsplash.com/Soroush Karimi

After about a month into the enforcement of the mandated mask requirement, the Berlin Transport Authority (BVG) has counted 30,000 passengers who were travelling without a mask. In just 200 cases, contractual penalties of €50 were imposed and in 80 cases there were violent attacks on security personnel.

Science • Space
Nasa has launched the Mars rover Perseverance to detect life on the Red Planet
Nasa has launched the Mars rover Perseverance to detect life on the Red Planet
Credit: Twitter Reproduction (Public Domain)

NASA’s Mars rover Perseverance blasted off from Cape Canaveral on Thursday atop an Atlas 5 rocket on a mission to search for traces of potential past life on Earth’s planetary neighbour. Perseverance was the third of three Mars missions to launch in the space of just ten days, after the United Arab Emirates’ Mars Hope orbiter, and China’s Tianwen-1.

The six-wheeled rover is on a path to intercept Mars in February next year, and when it lands, the Nasa robot will also gather rock and soil samples to be sent home later this decade.

Science • Animals
Ecuador discovers fishing fleet of over 260 trawlers around 200 km from Galápagos Islands
Ecuador discovers fishing fleet of over 260 trawlers around 200 km from Galápagos Islands
Credit: amalavida.tv from Ecuador (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0)

Around 200 miles into off the coasts from the Galápagos Islands, about 260 vessels have been spotted. Most of them have Chinese flags and all of them are outside the protected economic zone of 188-miles around the island.

The former minister of environment and conservationist Yolanda Kakabadse has stated that "this fleet’s size and aggressiveness against marine species is a big threat to the balance of species in the Galápagos".

Science • Animals
India: Tiger population has almost doubled in last 12 years
India: Tiger population has almost doubled in last 12 years
Credit: unsplash.com / satya deep

The Indian Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar has announced that India is home to 70% of the world's tiger population. According to him: "in 1973, there were just nine tiger reserves which have now increased to 50" and added that all of the tiger reserves are in good quality.

The published report covering the status of Tigers in India states that 1,923 tigers live in all reserves combined which makes 65 percent of the Indian tiger population.

Science • Space
Virgin Galactic reveals the cabin of SpaceShipTwo
The interior cabin of Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo
The interior cabin of Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo Credit: Virgin Galactic

Virgin Galactic revealed the interior of its spaceplane on Tuesday. The cabin. a collaboration of Virgin Galactic with London design agency, Seymourpowell, has six tailored, teal-coloured seats and 12 cabin circular windows for astronauts to gaze at Earth from.

A ticket for the suborbital flight aboard the air-launched SpaceShipTwo costs $250,000.

Science • Animals
Owl rescued out of 40 metres deep airless well
Owl rescued out of 40 metres deep airless well
Credit: Freiwillige Feuerwehr der Stadt Bad Segeberg

After a citizen from the city of Bad Segeberg in northern Germany reported an animal in distress to the police, the Technical Relief Agency and fire brigade were able to rescue an owl from the bottom of an abandoned 40m deep well.

A special measuring device had been lowered on a long line to determine the ambient air in the weel which indicated poor oxygen levels after a few meters. With the help of binoculars and a spotlight, the owl could be spotted at the bottom of the well. The fire brigade then lowered an oxygen bottle into the well to provide the animal with oxygen and the Technical Relief Agency tried to lure it into a new. As this did not work, one of the emergency helpers was equipped with ropes and breathing protection and lowered into the well.

The owl could then be rescued out of the well and will now be looked after by the professionals from the Noctalis Bat Centre, who supported the rescue work the whole time.

Science • Animals
Orca whale, who carried her dead calf for 17 days, is pregnant again
The picture panel above shows her shape change between September 2019, when she was several months into pregnancy, and recently in July 2020 when her increased width at mid body clearly indicates she is in the late stages of pregnancy. Pregnancy in killer whales typically lasts 17-18 months. Photos by SR3 and NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center in 2019 and SR3 and SEA in 2020, collected under NMFS research permit 19091.
The picture panel above shows her shape change between September 2019, when she was several months into pregnancy, and recently in July 2020 when her increased width at mid body clearly indicates she is in the late stages of pregnancy. Pregnancy in killer whales typically lasts 17-18 months. Photos by SR3 and NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center in 2019 and SR3 and SEA in 2020, collected under NMFS research permit 19091. Credit: SR3 (Reproduction)

The orca whale known as Tahlequah, who carried her dead calf for 17 days and over 1,000 miles two years ago, is pregnant again. The pregnancy was discovered by John Durban, senior scientist of Southall Environmental Associates, and marine mammal research director Holly Fearnbach of the non-profit organisation SR3, who captured drone images of a community of 72 Southern Resident killer whales. The whale community, which is made up of three pods of whales, is frequently seen in the southern end of Vancouver Island and the marine waters of Washington state. Further pregnancies were spotted in all three pods.

Though pregnancies among orca whales are not unusual, Tahlequah's first pregnancy was believed to be the first in about three years among this whale community. Two of the Southern Resident whales have given birth since.

Science • Space
"Semper Supra" – Space Force unveils new logo and motto
The U.S Space Force released its logo and motto, Semper Supra (Always Above), July 22, 2020 at the Pentagon, D.C. The logo and motto honor the heritage and history of the U.S. Space Force.
The U.S Space Force released its logo and motto, Semper Supra (Always Above), July 22, 2020 at the Pentagon, D.C. The logo and motto honor the heritage and history of the U.S. Space Force. Credit: United States Space Force, Staff Sgt. James Richardson |

"Semper Supra", Latin for "Always Above", is the new motto of the United States Space Force, representing the agency's "role in establishing, maintaining, and preserving U.S. freedom of operations in the space domain."

The Delta shaped logo, not to be confused with Star Trek, was revealed Wednesday on Twitter and "signifies defense and protection from all adversaries." The symbol, first used in 1961, "honors the heritage of the USAF and Space Command."

Science • Animals
Vietnam bans import of wild animals
Monkey in Con Son Island, Vietnam
Monkey in Con Son Island, Vietnam Credit: Marek Michalsky

As one of the biggest Asian consumers of wildlife products, Vietnam has announced a suspension of all imports of wild animal species. The prime minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has signed a directive that bans the import of "dead or alive" wild animals and fathers contains a vow that all illegal markets across Vietnam will be "eliminated".

The order also covers parts of these animals, their eggs or derivatives. The chairman of the anti-animal-trafficking group Freeland, Steven Glaster, has stated that "Vietnam is to be congratulated for recognising that COVID-19 and other pandemics are linked to the wildlife trade".

Science • Space
China's Tianwen-1 Mars rover launched from Wenchang spaceport
China's Tianwen-1 Mars rover launched from Wenchang spaceport
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/ASU / Public domain

Mars is getting crowded. On July 23, China has launched its Tianwen-1 mission atop a Long March 5 rocket from Wenchang spaceport on Hainan Island. The Tianwen-1 Mars rover – or "Questions to Heaven" – is scheduled to arrive in Martian orbit in February and land on the surface of the Red Planet two or three months later.

"Specifically, the scientific objectives of Tianwen-1 include: (1) to map the morphology and geological structure, (2) to investigate the surface soil characteristics and water-ice distribution, (3) to analyze the surface material composition, (4) to measure the ionosphere and the characteristics of the Martian climate and environment at the surface, and (5) to perceive the physical fields (electromagnetic, gravitational) and internal structure of Mars," members of a recent Nature Astronomy paper wrote.

Science • Animals
Rare yellow turtle discovered by farmer in India
Rare yellow turtle discovered by farmer in India
Credit: @susantananda3 via Twitter (Reproduction)

A rare yellow turtle that has been found by a farmer in eastern India has been handed over to forest conservation experts. The turtle shows features that indicate albinism, mainly its yellow card and pink eyes. Siddhartha Pati, executive director at the Association for Biodiversity Conservation, reported that it had been released back into the wild in Balasore.

Science • Medicine
Pfizer and US reach $1.95 billion deal for Covid-19 vaccine
Pfizer and US reach $1.95 billion deal for Covid-19 vaccine
Credit: Rhoda Baer (Photographer) / Public domain

The US government has agreed to pay $1.95 billion for 100 million Covid-19 vaccine doses to American pharmaceutical company Pfizer and German biotechnology company. The vaccine called BNT162 is currently still in development and early clinical trials. The agreement further states that the US could buy another 500 million doses, provided that the vaccine is both safe and effective as well as approved b the US Food and Drug Administration.

Science • Space
SpaceX launches South Korea satellite, recovers booster and two fairings
SpaceX launches South Korea satellite, recovers booster and two fairings
Credit: Twitter Reproduction

The SpaceX Falcon 9 launch on Monday delivered the ANASIS-II, a South Korean military communications satellite, to orbit and set a new record for the fastest turnaround time for reusing a rocket. The first stage booster successfully landed on the "Just Read the Instructions" droneship.

The company also set a new milestone by catching both halves of the nosecone fairing. Catching the $6-million fairing spares it from suffering any saltwater damage and so allows it to be used again with minimal maintenance, reducing costs.

Science • Space
SpaceX going to launch a South Korean satellite Monday
Falcon 9 booster
Falcon 9 booster Credit: Official SpaceX Photos (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

SpaceX scheduled the launch of a Falcon 9 carrying ANASIS-II, a South Korean military communications satellite, Monday, with a window from 21:00(UTC) to 00:55(UTC).

The Falcon 9 booster is the same one that catapulted astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken toward the International Space Station in May, which would be a record for the quickest turnaround time between flights of an orbital-class rocket stage.

Science • Space
UAE launched its first mission to Mars successfully
"We have lift-off. H2A, the rocket carrying the Hope Probe to space, has launched from the Tanegashima Space Centre in Japan."
"We have lift-off. H2A, the rocket carrying the Hope Probe to space, has launched from the Tanegashima Space Centre in Japan." Credit: @HopeMarsMission via Twitter

UAE's Mars Hope lift-off was a success. On Sunday the United Arab Emirates launched its Hope probe, a probe designed to orbit Mars to gather data from the Red Planet, from the Tanegashima Space Centre in Japan. The probe, which should reach March sometime in February 2021, will track day-to-night cycles of the planet's weather over the period of a Martian year which equals 687 days on Earth.

Science • Space
Crew Dragon set to return on August 1
NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission will return U.S human spaceflight to the International Space Station from U.S. soil with astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley on an American rocket and spacecraft for the first time since 2011.
NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission will return U.S human spaceflight to the International Space Station from U.S. soil with astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley on an American rocket and spacecraft for the first time since 2011. Credit: SpaceX (Creative Commons CC0 Waiver)

Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are coming home. SpaceX's Crew Dragon is set to return home to Earth on August 1 and splashdown is targeted for August 2. The actual date though is depending on the weather.

Science • Space
NASA's JWST launch date postponed to Oct. 31
In a recent test, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope fully deployed its primary mirror into the same configuration it will have when in space.
In a recent test, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope fully deployed its primary mirror into the same configuration it will have when in space. Credit: NASA/Chris Gunn

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope has a new official launch date: October 31, 2021. NASA announced a delay of JWST in early June but hadn't given a new date then. The delay is due to technical difficulties and the impact of COVID-19.

In a statement released by NASA, Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate, described Webb as the "world's most complex space observatory", adding NASA had "worked hard to keep progress moving during the pandemic."

Zurbuchen reassured that "the team continues to be focused on reaching milestones and arriving at the technical solutions that will see us through to this new launch date next year."

Science • Medicine
UK, US & Canada warn of Russian spies trying to steal Covid-19 vaccine research
UK, US & Canada warn of Russian spies trying to steal Covid-19 vaccine research
Credit: unsplash.com/Louis Reed

American, British and Canadian governments have warned of Russian hackers trying to steal Covid-19 vaccine research by exploiting software flaws to access computer systems. While the UK's National Cyber Security Centre is "almost certain" that the attack came from a "part of Russian intelligence services", Russia has denied these claims.

"We do not have information about who may have hacked into pharmaceutical companies and research centres in Great Britain. We can say one thing - Russia has nothing at all to do with these attempts," so Dmitry Peskov, spokesperson of President Putin.

Science • Space
The Mars 2020 Perseverance rover is scheduled for July 30th launch date
The Mars 2020 Perseverance rover's astrobiology mission will search for signs of ancient microbial life.
The Mars 2020 Perseverance rover's astrobiology mission will search for signs of ancient microbial life. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech (Public Domain)

Soon it will be "go for launch" for Mars 2020 Perseverance rover. On July 30, NASA's new Mars rover will go on its seven-month-long journey to the Red Planet. The launch had been postponed a couple of times because of technical difficulties and setbacks related to COVID-19.

Perseverance will land in Jezero Crater where it will search for "signs that microbes might have lived on Mars long ago, collect soil samples to be returned to Earth on a future mission and pave the way for human exploration beyond the Moon."

Science • Medicine
Study: Brain inflamation, psychoses and stroke linked to Covid-19 also with mild symptoms
Brain images from patients on the study
Brain images from patients on the study Credit: Reproduction

Scientist from UCL (University College London) published that mild Covid-19 disease can have serious consequences. Also for young patients who can hope for a milder course of the disease. A Covid-19 disease can cause consequential damages like nerve damage, brain infections, delirium, psychoses and strokes. Damage was also found in those who had already been cured. The study is published in the medical journal "Brain".

Science • Medicine
Gilead announces start of clinical testing for an inhaled solution of Remdesivir
Gilead announces start of clinical testing for an inhaled solution of Remdesivir
Credit: unsplash.com/CDC

Biopharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences Inc. announced that trials for its inhaled solution of Remdesivir have begun. The randomised, placebo-controlled trial will be tested on 60 healthy patients between the ages of 18-45 to determine the safety, tolerability and pharmacokinetics of the drug.

"With promising data emerging from the randomized, clinical trials of intravenous remdesivir administered to hospitalized patients, it became clear that efforts were needed to investigate the drug’s potential in the outpatient setting. Significant research efforts have been undertaken to deliver remdesivir in an inhaled, nebulized format," so Chief Medical Officer Dr. Merdad Parsey.

Science • Animals
Uganda: Wildlife poaching doubled as tourism income dwindles
Rafiki, a silverback gorilla, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in South Western Uganda was killed in a poaching incident recently
Rafiki, a silverback gorilla, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in South Western Uganda was killed in a poaching incident recently Credit: unsplash.com/Mike Arney

The Uganda Wildlife Authority recorded 367 wildlife poaching cases between February and June, twice as much as during the same period last year. This is due to many people who rely on income from tourism now have turned to poaching to make money or obtain food.

“They set snares for other animals that they want to eat. Like, the small antelope. Or a bushpig," Gladys Kalema Zikusoka, founder and chief of non-profit wildlife group Conservation Through Public Health, said. "They’ll go for those to eat them. And when they set these snares, gorillas can accidentally get caught in the snare. But worse still, we’ve had cases of people spearing gorillas. Yet they were not going for gorillas, they were going for diker and bush pig.”