SoT 156: Rubber Duckie Comet

July 31, 2014

Download_greenHosts: Ed Brown, Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday, Lucas Randall and Steve Nerlich.

Steve Nerlich from the Cheap Astronomy podcast gives us an update on the roller-coaster life of the ISEE-3 space probe. It was alive, then it died, then it was resurrected then it seemed dead but now it may be still alive again!

Paleontologists have discovered the fossilised remains of one of the world’s first known predators that lived in the sea around 520 million years ago. The fossils were detailed enough to show some of the brain structures.

Researchers at UCLA have found eight types of electric bacteria – bacteria that eat and excrete electrons.

The Rosetta spacecraft is approaching its target, comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, and its latest photos reveal the comet to be, well, rubber-duckie shaped. The comet could be two bodies joined together, and this could make the planned deployment of a lander a bit complicated.

A well-preserved, complete fossil skeleton of the largest known microraptorine – a flying non-avian dinosaur – has been found in China. Called Changyuraptor yangi, the dinosaur was about 1.3 metres long and weighed 4kg. And it had four wings!

Scientists at Dartmouth College are looking at a parasite commonly found in cat poo, Toxoplasma gondii, in an attempt to develop a cancer vaccine. When infected by ‘Toxo’, the human body produces cytotoxic T cells that cancer would normally shut down.

And what happens when you put snakes in microgravity? In the ultimate Snakes On A Plane experiment, scientists found snakes either attack themselves or tie themselves in knots.

Steve Nerlich is the host of the Cheap Astronomy podcast and an occasional volunteer at CSIRO’s Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex.

Download here. Duration: [0:35:21]