Planetary Sciences News

How Star Wars Won the Space Race and Other Things We’re Reading

What Earth and space science stories are we recommending this week?

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Trust in Scientists Is Rising, Poll Finds. The good news: Trust in scientists appears to be rising. The bad news: Scientists aren’t necessarily trusted to act in the public interest, and the partisan divide on topics like climate change is alive and well.
—Tshawna Byerly, Copy Editor

 

A Crashed Israeli Lunar Lander Spilled Tardigrades on the Moon.

Microscopic image of a tardigrade
Dehydrated tardigrades now occupy the Moon. Credit: Frank Fox, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE

You know tardigrades, those lovable “water bears” that can survive for a decade freeze-dried? They’re now on the Moon! The Israeli spacecraft that crashed onto the Moon’s surface earlier this year was carting a small population of dehydrated tardigrades in its payload. Because the mission unfortunately crashed, the tardigrades went down with the ship. There’s no way to know whether they’re still alive. But don’t worry—the Moon is so barren, the tardigrades aren’t going anywhere. They’d need moisture to rehydrate.
Jenessa Duncombe, Staff Writer

 

Amid Protests in Hawaii Against Giant Telescope, Astronomers Look to “Plan B.”

Protesters block a road.
At the groundbreaking ceremony for the Thirty Meter Telescope in 2014, Hawaiian cultural practitioners, environmentalists, and activists gathered to stand in solidarity against the new observatory on Mauna Kea. Credit: Occupy Hilo, CC BY-SA-2.0

The saga of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), approved by officials for construction on Hawaii’s Mauna Kea, has seen many scientists, engineers, and other proponents of the TMT pitted against native Hawaiians who hold Mauna Kea as sacred in an uncomfortable and as yet intractable dispute for the past decade or so. Perhaps it’s time for a “plan B” that might be acceptable to all parties involved.
Timothy Oleson, Science Editor

 

Write On.

For all our writer friends, Washington Post health and science editor Laura Helmuth began an enlightening Twitter thread this week on the little word usage mistakes writers commonly make. There are hundreds of replies. Enjoy!
Heather Goss, Editor in Chief

 

Drought Reveals Lost Temple in Thailand Submerged by Dam.


A nationwide drought doesn’t often have a silver lining, and this one is fleeting. This is a “bitter choice between water and worship” and an example of the hard choices we will have to make as the world’s climate continues to change.
Kimberly Cartier, Staff Writer

 

Climate Change Could Threaten Your Cuppa.

As a devout tea drinker, I find this article on climate change’s impact on tea farming in Sri Lanka incredibly troubling. Climate change is bad enough—why does it have to come for our caffeine too?
Jenessa Duncombe, Staff Writer

 

#Nature2019.

Check out some of the entries to the Agora Images #Nature2019 photo contest. Especially beautiful are the White Cliffs of Dover and, speaking of tea, the Sun rising over a tea garden in Indonesia.
—Don Hendrickson, Copy Editor

 

Decades of Dumping Acid Suggest Acid Rain May Make Trees Thirstier.

A creek runs through a thick forest.
A stretch of Fernow Experimental Forest in West Virginia has been doused with ammonium sulfate fertilizer (a proxy for acid rain) since 1989. Credit: Daniel Rubenstein, CC BY-SA-2.0

Great explainer of a fascinating finding coming out of a decades-long study: Forests more impacted by acid rain appear to be “thirstier,” taking up more water from the soil than forests less impacted.
Timothy Oleson, Science Editor

 

First Men and Original Sins.

Star Wars inadvertently blasted the Apollo program and won the space race by giving “outer space back to the general population as excitement and wonder—a mere simulacrum of space, of course, but it turned out people didn’t mind that.”
Caryl-Sue, Managing Editor

Citation: AGU (2019), How Star Wars won the space race and other things we’re reading, Eos, 100, https://doi.org/10.1029/. Published on 08 August 2019.
Text © 2019. AGU. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
Except where otherwise noted, images are subject to copyright. Any reuse without express permission from the copyright owner is prohibited.