Science News Roundup: Burning space rocket debris lights up Iberian skies; Biden nominates Arati Prabhakar as his top science advisor and more

Following is a summary of current science news briefs.

Burning space rocket debris lights up Iberian skis

Remnants of a Chinese space rocket reentering the atmosphere left long shiny trails in the night sky over Spain after midnight on Tuesday, leaving many onlookers amazed and puzzled. “I think it was the most spectacular thing I’ve ever seen in the sky,” said Miguel J. Cruz, who shot a video, obtained by Reuters, of several bright objects crossing the sky over the southern province of Granada and multiplying as they burned up.

Biden nominates Arati Prabhakar as his top science advisor

US President Joe Biden on Tuesday nominated Arati Prabhakar as the new White House science advisor, who would be the first woman of color and first immigrant to hold such a role if confirmed by the Senate. Prabhakar would head The Office of Science and Technology Policy at the White House. Her predecessor Eric Lander resigned from the post in February after violating the Biden administration’s workplace policy.

European Space Agency expects NASA’s backing for the suspended Mars mission

The European Space Agency expects strong support from its US counterpart NASA after the agency’s plans to cooperate with Russia on a Mars research mission were suspended due to the Ukraine war. ESA said in March it was suspending cooperation with Russia’s Roscosmos space agency on their joint ExoMars rover mission to search for signs of life on the surface of Mars in the wake of the Ukraine war and sanctions imposed on Moscow. ]The project was the agency’s largest cooperation project with Roscosmos.

ESA expects strong NASA support after the Mars mission suspended due to the Ukraine war

The European Space Agency (ESA) said on Wednesday that it expects strong support from its US counterpart NASA after the European agency’s plans to cooperate with Russia on a Mars research mission were suspended due to the Ukraine war. ESA said in March that it was suspending cooperation with Russia’s Roscosmos space agency on their joint ExoMars rover mission to search for signs of life on the surface of Mars in the wake of the Ukraine war and sanctions imposed on Moscow.

Swimming-Trans athlete Ivy slams FINA policy as ‘unscientific’

Transgender cyclist Veronica Ivy questioned the move by swimming’s governing body FINA to restrict the participation of trans athletes in elite women’s competitions, telling Reuters that there had not been enough research to guide such decisions.

Ivy also criticized FINA’s plans to explore an “open” category as part of its policy that was passed following a vote at its extraordinary general congress on Sunday, saying such a move does not show respect to trans athletes.

S.Korea’s second space rocket launch successfully puts satellites in orbit

South Korea’s second test launch of its domestically produced Nuri rocket successfully placed several satellites in orbit on Tuesday, officials said, taking a major step in efforts to jumpstart its space program after a first test failed last year. The rocket lifted off from Naro Space Center on the southern coast of South Korea at 4 pm (0700 GMT). A 162.5-kg (358 lb)satellite designed to verify the rocket’s performance successfully made contact with a base station in Antarctica after entering orbit, officials said.

Ancient Inca tomb discovered under the home in Peru capital

Scientists have unearthed an Inca-era tomb in the heart of Peru’s capital Lima, archaeologists said on Wednesday, a burial dug up under a working-class home and believed to hold noble remains wrapped in cloth alongside ceramics and fine ornaments. Lead archeologist Julio Abanto told Reuters the 500-year-old tomb contains “multiple funerary bundles” tightly wrapped in cloth.

Scientists probe the link between ‘snow blood’ and climate change

Standing on a snowy mountainside about 2,500 meters above sea level, Eric Marechal holds up a crimson test tube. Inside is an algae sample is known as “snow blood,” a phenomenon that accelerates Alpine thaw and that scientists worry is spreading. “These algae are green. But when it’s in the snow, it accumulates a little pigment like sunscreen to protect itself,” said Marechal, research director at Grenoble’s Scientific Research National Center, who was collecting laboratory samples on Le Brevent mountain with teammates.

Chilean beachgoers become guardians of Elasmosaurus fossils

While strolling along Los Tubos beach on the central Chilean coast, a group of neighbors found strange remains which turned out to be fossils of an ancient marine reptile that lived in the surrounding sea millions of years ago. Several fossils belonging to the long-necked sea creature from the Upper Cretaceous period, known as Elasmosaurus, were found by Andrea Galvez and other residents of the town of Algarrobo, some 95 kms (60 miles) east of Santiago, the country’s capital.

(With inputs from agencies.)

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