Meet a robot that could explore caves on other planets

Meet a robot that could explore caves on other planets

These twisting underground caverns can harbor mysteries and tall tales and lead to a pirate’s treasure or a vampire nest – if you’ve ever watched 1980s films such as ‘The Goonies’ or ‘The Lost Boys’.

In reality, the caves were home to our ancestors, who left examples of their artwork and stories along shaded walls. But early humans were not alone in these dwellings. A wide range of microorganisms live inside caves around the world.

Many of these hidden natural networks and the wonders they contain remain unexplored, however, as they are dangerous and sometimes inaccessible.

Advances in technology could help scientists overcome the challenges of studying these subterranean systems — and beyond. In our quest to find life outside Earth, alien caves may well hold the evidence we hope to find.

Other worlds

An artist's concept shows ReachBot exploring a Martian cave.

A robot named ReachBot could become the first explorer to crawl inside Martian caves to search for microbes.

ReachBot is a concept for a toaster oven-sized machine with multiple extendable arms that could help it crawl through treacherous Martian caves much like Spider-Man swings through a city.

The bot would connect to a surface rover that could supply power, analyze cave samples and relay photos back to Earth.

The ReachBot team received funding to build and test a prototype in caves on Earth similar to what might be encountered on Mars.

Meanwhile, China’s Tianwen-1 probe has shared images from more than a year of photographing the Red Planet.

secrets of the ocean

The Mesoamerican reef, the second largest barrier reef in the world, is a bit of a highway for sharks, turtles and rays living in the Caribbean.

The reef, which stretches over 600 miles (965.6 kilometers) from Mexico to Honduras, provides food and a rich habitat for marine life. But the endangered creatures that use this reef to navigate north and south can swim right into danger and fall prey to illegal fishing practices.

Now sharks using this route have unlikely new allies in local communities along the reef, fishermen determined to protect the vital ecosystem.

Meanwhile, researchers recently stumbled upon a different threat to great white sharks living off the coast of South Africa: a pair of shark-killing orcas.

We are a family

These are four different Australopithecine skulls found in the Sterkfontein Caves in South Africa.

Fossils of early human ancestors found in the Sterkfontein Caves in South Africa are 1 million years older than previously suspected.

The fossils belong to the genus Australopithecus, an ancient hominid originally thought to have lived 2 to 2.6 million years ago. Now researchers believe these ancient ancestors were around 3.4 to 3.6 million years ago.

This new date makes the cave fossils older than the famous fossil Lucy, a member of the Australopithecus afarensis species that was found in Ethiopia and lived 3.2 million years ago.
Australopithecines in South Africa were initially thought to have evolved from those living in East Africa, such as Lucy, but the new dates overturn this theory. Now researchers hope to find out who the oldest common ancestor of these two ancient populations was.

across the universe

Soon we will be able to see the universe in an entirely new way.

On July 12, astronomers will share the first high-resolution color images taken by the James Webb Space Telescope. One “is the deepest image of our universe that has ever been taken,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said.

The images are expected to show how galaxies interact and grow, give insight into the violent life cycle of stars, and even a colorful glimpse of an exoplanet’s spectrum – or how light wavelengths reveal features of other worlds.

fantastic creatures

Pandas have six fingers to help them grip bamboo.

Giant pandas love bamboo, but that hasn’t always been the case. The ancestors of rare bears had a much more diverse diet that even included meat.

If you’ve ever looked closely at a panda’s paw, you’ll notice that it has an extra finger. According to a new study, analysis of the fossilized “false thumb” of a panda ancestor dating back to 6 million years ago, found in Yunnan province in China, has identified the beginning of this preference for the panda. bamboo.

Pandas have evolved the cipher to help them cling to the woody stems of the plant.

The fossil also revealed a mystery on the go, which turned out to be an evolutionary compromise for giant pandas.


You should see these:

— A carnivorous plant that captures subterranean creatures has been discovered in Borneo. It is the first known pitcher plant to go underground in search of prey.
— Miners were panning for gold in Canada’s Klondike when they unearthed a “nearly complete” baby mummified woolly mammoth that died more than 30,000 years ago.
— A NASA orbiter has spotted a startling new double crater on the moon. The cavity formed when a mysterious rocket crashed into the lunar surface on March 4.
Do you like what you read? Oh, but there’s more. register here to get the next edition of Wonder Theory, brought to you by the CNN Space and Science writer, delivered to your inbox Ashley Stricklandwho marvels at the planets beyond our solar system and the discoveries of the ancient world.

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