Herd of Fuzzy Green ‘Glacier Mice’ Baffles Scientists. Okay, this made me smile: Moss balls live on glaciers, and scientists have found that they roll around in synch. Nicknamed “glacier mice,” the green balls of puffy moss aren’t attached to anything, but live perched on glaciers. Scientists figured they must move around to keep their rounded shape, so they tagged 30 moss balls and monitored them for a few months. They found that the colony of moss balls moved at the same speed and in the same directions, almost as though they were a herd. Moss balls travel, on average, an inch a day, and scientists still don’t know why. Winds, downhill slopes, and solar radiation couldn’t explain their movements. Picturing moss herds marching along a glacier is just too delightful!
—Jenessa Duncombe, Staff Writer
Green glacier mice? It seems a bit of a mossy, fluffy story, but it turns out to be a fascinating puzzle: How do these globs of moss move across glaciers, sometimes an inch a day? I’m reminded of the Racetrack at Death Valley.
—Naomi Lubick, International Editor
Demo-2, Here We Go!
The sun has risen on the dawn of a new era in human spaceflight.
At 4:33 p.m. ET @AstroBehnken & @Astro_Doug will liftoff atop a @SpaceX rocket on their way to the @Space_Station. This will be the first time humans have launched from U.S. soil since 2011: https://t.co/p6zJ3XlwdR pic.twitter.com/UJhfftslal
— NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (@NASAKennedy) May 27, 2020
If you’re like me, you’ve been watching with anticipation as the United States prepares to launch astronauts from our home turf for the first time since 2011. I have my issues with the Artemis program, but I can’t deny that it’s exciting to see my country launch astronauts again—whenever it may happen. As I write this, on Wednesday morning, 27 May, there’s a “will they/won’t they” going on as Tropical Storm Bertha heads toward the East Coast. Everyone is crossing their fingers for a smooth and safe launch.
—Kimberly Cartier, Staff Writer
The First Footprints on Mars Could Belong to This Geologist. If you’re looking for an inspiring and uplifting quick read, check out this fun interview with a member of NASA’s latest class of new astronauts, who also happens to be a planetary geologist and who could one day set foot on Mars.
—Timothy Oleson, Science Editor
I loved this sparkling riff on Japan’s millennia-long history of celebrating sakura (cherry blossoms). It’s geoscience as social history, art, commerce, identity, and the nature of melancholy.
—Caryl-Sue, Managing Editor