NASA's OSIRIS-REx (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer) probe made history on October 20, 2020, when it landed on Bennu, a 1,640-foot (500 meters) tall asteroid that lies 200 million miles away from Earth. The brief, six-second touchdown was planned to retrieve samples of the ancient space rock's surface and bring them back to Earth for analysis.
Oregon firefighters battling wildfires across the state have a new "force" on their team: a plush Baby Yoda doll. The adorable alien tyke, from Disney's popular Star Wars series The Mandalorian, has become a symbol of hope and joy among the first responders who have been tirelessly fighting the historic blazes that have wiped out communities and killed at least nine people since early September.
When 22-year-old giant panda Mei Xiang gave birth to a healthy cub on August 21, 2020, Smithsonian's National Zoo officials were both excited and anxious. That's because giant panda cubs, which weigh about 100 grams — the equivalent of a stick of butter — when born, are challenging to keep alive. Unable to see, hear, or crawl, the helpless infants are completely reliant on their mothers for food and protection. As it turns out, they had little to worry about. The newborn, who celebrated his eight-week birthday on October 16, 2020, is thriving under Mei Xiang's care and showing signs of becoming a feisty toddler.
Zipping across the solar system in an electric car may seem like something straight out of a science fiction movie. However, that is exactly what Starman — a mannequin dressed in an astronaut's suit and seated inside a red Tesla Roadster — has been doing since being blasted into space aboard SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket on November 5, 2018.
The remains of German World War II steamer Karlsruhe, found in the seabed off the coast of Poland by Baltictech divers in late September 2020, may house more than the typical Nazi artifacts. It could contain the jewel-encrusted panels of Russia's legendary Amber Room. Often called the "Eighth Wonder of the World," the chamber was last seen in Königsberg, Germany — present-day Kaliningrad, Russia — before it vanished into thin air in 1945.
On October 6, 2020, an anonymous buyer paid an astounding $27.5 million ($31.8 million with fees and costs) to own Stan, one of the world's largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex (T. rex) skeletons. The price far surpasses the previous record holder, Sue — the largest and most complete T. rex skeleton — which was auctioned to Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History for $8.36 million in 1997.
It's been only a week since October began, and skywatchers have already been treated to a gorgeous, full Harvest Moon and the opportunity to observe Mars at its brightest since 2003. As it turns out, the two events were only a precursor to the other thrilling celestial treats in store for us for the rest of the month. They include two meteor showers, a rare chance to see the Red Planet in opposition, and a "Blue Moon."
A rat may seem like an unlikely candidate to receive a gold medal for bravery and devotion to duty. However, six-year-old African giant pouched rat Magawa, who was honored with British Veterinary Charity PDSA's highest animal award on September 25, 2020, is no ordinary rodent. Over the past five years, the "HeroRAT" has saved hundreds of lives by detecting 39 landmines and 28 unexploded items in Cambodia.