NASA’s Public Design Challenge For Venus Exploration

Supported by an internal grant, a new creative challenge posed by NASA asks the general public to submit ideas for an “innovative obstacle avoidance  sensor” that will be featured on a future Venus Rover Concept. The planet’s notoriously rough surface will prove quite difficult to maneuver around and weather and pressure conditions are extreme. Officially titled “Exploring Hell: Avoiding Obstacles on a Clockwork Rover,” the …

2019 Plant Discoveries Include a Cancer-Fighting Fungus and More

102 plants and eight fungi were officially named by experts at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in 2019 (roughly 2,000 new species are named worldwide every year). Among the roster of the recently identified are a few additions with remarkable attributes, including a bamboo fungus from Yunnan that can fight cancer; a “miracle” berry, from the Chimanimani Mountains, that tricks tastebuds; and a rubbery shrub, …

Pursuing Life on a Planet That’s 1,000 Years Away

Earth will not be hospitable to humans forever, and if we wish to prolong our existence we need to consider the idea of relocating. Mars, while conveniently close, likely cannot host life without extensive adaptation. Proxima b (which orbits the star Proxima Centauri) proves more possible, as its surface temperatures could accommodate water and thus life. But the journey in a ship big enough to …