Artist’s impression of tubular plasma structures (CAASTRO/Mats Bjorkland)
“First ever” astronomy discoveries can come from new instruments, like the James Webb Space Telescope or the European Extremely Large Telescope (both still under construction).
They can also come from novel uses of existing instruments.
A team of astronomers has recently detected the existence oftubular plasma structures in Earth’s magnetosphere. And, through clever use of a radio telescope, they imaged these tube structures in 3D, verifying a 60-year-old theory.
Excavation of the Kuukpak sod house
Climate change doesn’t offer much that’s positive, but a small gift to science may be the archaeological artifacts that are exposed when ice melts. Dwellings, tools, and human remains, undisturbed for thousands of years, are suddenly accessible to study. Ötzi the Iceman was a prime example, found after 5,300 years when hikers stumbled on his body in a glacial gully of the Ötztal Alps. Such finds are valuable glimpses into ancient worlds.
Sites that are discovered because of a warming earth, however, come with a scientific expiration date. Once exposed to the elements, these finds can deteriorate or scatter, pushing archaeologists to work fast to study and preserve them before they’re gone.