The East African country of Kenya has been at the forefront of the global war on plastic since 2017, when officials outlawed plastic bags. In June 2020, the government upped the ante with a ban on single-use plastics in protected areas. Unfortunately, the preemptive measures have barely made a dent. Hundreds of tons of industrial and consumer polymer waste continue to get dumped into landfills daily. However, if 29-year-old Nzambi Matee has her way, the unsightly plastic heaps will soon be transformed into colorful bricks.
In the early hours of June 5, 2021, astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) welcomed some unusual visitors: 128 baby bobtail squids and 5,000 tardigrades. The micro-animals were part of SpaceX's 22nd cargo resupply mission that delivered over 7,300 pounds of equipment and supplies — including treats like fresh apples and oranges — to the station. NASA researchers hope that the tiny critters will enable them to better understand the impacts of space travel on the human body.
On the heels of the spectacular May 26, 2021, total lunar eclipse comes another celestial spectacle. On June 10, 2021, some lucky stargazers will witness this year's first of two solar eclipses. Since it is an annular, not a total, eclipse, the Sun's edges will be visible around the Moon, transforming the star into a stunning "ring of fire."
Antarctica is surrounded by icebergs. However, the finger-shaped chunk of ice that recently broke loose from the western side of the Ronne Ice Shelf — one of the world's most extensive ice platforms — is worthy of a mention. Measuring approximately 105 miles (170 km) long and 15 miles (25 km) wide, it boasts a surface area of 1,660 sq miles (4,300 sq km) and is currently the world's largest iceberg.
While scientists have managed to recover and examine thousands of meteorites, finding their origin or even whether they are from icy comets or rocky asteroids has proved elusive. Now, for the first time, a team of international researchers has traced the source of a boulder-sized rock that landed in Botswana to an asteroid named Vesta. Boasting a diameter of about 326 miles, it is one of the largest and brightest rocks in the asteroid belt that circles the Sun between Jupiter and Mars.
While total lunar eclipses are always spectacular, the one on May 26, 2021, promises to be particularly memorable given that it coincides with a supermoon. This means that the Moon — which will be at perigee, or its closest distance to Earth — will appear about 7 percent larger and 15 percent brighter than a standard full Moon. The eclipse will be most visible from the western parts of the Americas, Australia and New Zealand, and Eastern Asia. In the US, the best views will be reserved for Hawaii, Alaska, and the western states.
Given that white was one of the first colors used in art in the 15th century, one would think that there is little room left to improve its "whiteness." It turns out that is far from the case. A team of researchers led by Xiulin Ruan, a professor of mechanical engineering at Indiana's Purdue University, recently revealed an "ultra-white" paint that they believe could even help combat climate change.
Since landing on Mars on February 18, 2021, NASA's Perseverance rover has achieved numerous "firsts," including beaming audio sounds from the Red Planet's surface. It also made history as the first spacecraft to record sounds from another spacecraft — the Ingenuity helicopter — on another planet.