The NASA Perseverance rover's 293 million mile (472 million km) journey to Mars ended successfully on February 18, 2021, with a picture-perfect landing inside the Jezero Crater. The car-sized, six-wheeled rover, nicknamed Percy, is the US space agency's biggest and most advanced explorer to date. Its primary mission is to search for signs of ancient microbial life on Mars.
Madagascar, an island off the coast of Africa, is home to some of the world's most exciting and unique animal species — about 75 percent of which cannot be found anywhere else on the planet. These include the long-necked giraffe weevil, the colorful, cat-sized panther chameleon, and the bright orange-red tomato frog! The latest to join this impressive list of exotic creatures is a new reptile species small enough to perch on the tip of a finger!
Located in California's Sierra Nevada mountains, Yosemite National Park is famous for its giant, ancient sequoia trees and impressive rock formations, like El Capitan and Half Dome. However, from mid-to-late February each year, the pristine preserve's main attraction is Horsetail Fall — a temporary waterfall that flows over the eastern edge of El Capitan every winter. During the brief two-week-period, the 1,500-foot-tall waterfall frequently transforms into a spectacular natural Firefall.
Those hoping for some respite from the powerful nor'easter that is currently pummeling the US East Coast and Mid-Atlantic with heavy snow and near-blizzard conditions are in for a disappointment. On February 2, 2021, aka Groundhog Day, legendary woodchuck Punxsutawney Phil observed his shadow. This — according to folklore — means that the frosty weather will remain with us for an additional six weeks.
The invention of plastic has been a double-edged sword for humanity. While the cheap, versatile material has made life convenient, it is virtually indestructible and takes centuries to decompose. Since avoiding plastic is impossible, companies worldwide are coming up with innovative ways to repurpose the millions of tons of polymer waste that end up in our landfills annually. Among the latest is California-based TechniSoil Industrial, which has devised an ingenious way to reuse plastic waste to repave roads.
With a series of storms unleashing their fury across the United States this week — all the way from California to New York — many Americans are experiencing the full wrath of the winter season. Freezing as the temperatures may seem, they are balmy compared to those in Yakutsk, the capital of Yakutia, or the Sakha Republic, in Russia. The residents of this remote Siberian city have been enduring average temperatures of below -30°F (-34°C) since December 8, 2020, with the mercury dipping as low as -59° F (-50.6 °C) on January 19, 2021.
Mars is famous for its orangish-red hue caused by the iron oxide in its soil. However, the Red Planet's surface, which has been drastically altered by volcanoes, impact craters, crustal movement, and atmospheric conditions such as dust storms, is also home to a wide range of fascinating topographical features. High among the list is Valles Marineris — the Solar System's longest and deepest-known canyon.
If you think all penguins look alike, you are not the only one. A hilarious video, captured by Andrea Barlow, director of the Falkland Islands Museum and National Trust, reveals that the aquatic, flightless birds sometimes also have a hard time distinguishing between one another.