Cassini skims Saturn's atmosphere

Cassini skims Saturn's atmosphere

Image copyrightNASA/JPL-Caltech Image caption Cassini will “dip its toes” into the atmosphere during the final passesThe Cassini probe has begun the final phase of its mission to Saturn. The satellite has executed the first of five ultra-close passes of the giant world, dipping down far enough to brush through the top of the atmosphere. It promises unprecedented data on the chemical composition of Saturn. It also sets the stage for the probe’s dramatic end-manoeuvre next month when it will plunge to destruction in the planet’s atmosphere. Cassini is currently flying…

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Fish sauced? Goldfish turn to alcohol to survive icy winters

Fish sauced? Goldfish turn to alcohol to survive icy winters

Image copyrightMary Evans Picture Library Image caption Goldfish and their relatives have the ability to turn lactic acid into alcoholScientists have decoded the secrets behind a goldfish’s ability to survive in ice-covered lakes. They’ve worked out how and why the fish turn lactic acid in their bodies into alcohol, as a means of staying alive. Some goldfish were found to have levels well above legal drink-driving limits in many countries. The researchers say the work may help with the study of some alcohol impacts in humans. Scientists have known about…

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Perseid meteor shower set to peak at weekend

Perseid meteor shower set to peak at weekend

Image copyrightGetty Images Image caption A Perseid meteor flashes across the night sky above Corfe Castle, in Dorset, in 2016The Perseid meteor shower will peak over the weekend, giving stargazers the opportunity to spot scores of shooting stars in the sky. Astronomers say hundreds of meteors will streak across the sky in a display that may be visible around the world. The Perseid meteor shower occurs every July and August as the Earth passes debris from the Swift-Tuttle comet. The BBC Weather centre said it would peak from 23:00 BST…

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Climate change has shifted the timing of European floods

Climate change has shifted the timing of European floods

Image copyrightASI/Land Tirol/BH Landeck Image caption A summertime flood in the Austrian Tyrol in 2005Climate change has had a significant impact on the timing of river floods across Europe over the past 50 years, according to a new study. In some regions, such as southern England, floods are now occurring 15 days earlier than they did half a century ago. But the changes aren’t uniform, with rivers around the North Sea seeing floods delayed by around eight days. The study has been published in the journal Science. Floods caused by…

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First 'winged' mammals flew over dinosaurs

First 'winged' mammals flew over dinosaurs

Image copyrightApril I. Neander/UChicago Image caption The new species of winged-mammal Maiopatagium in a Jurassic forestFossils of the first “winged” mammals, from 160 million years ago, have been discovered in China. They reveal that mammal ancestors evolved to glide between trees in a similar way to some mammals today. This adds to evidence that mammals were more diverse during the age of dinosaurs than previously realised. The work is published by an international team of scientists in this week’s Nature. The two new fossil species exhibit highly specialised characteristics, including…

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