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A NASA study has discovered that Europa, one of Jupiter's moons, may be able to support life. This new study has found that the salty oceans of Europa can produce key elements for life, namely hydrogen and oxygen. The study also revealed that Earth and Europa actually have the same chemical composition and produce oxygen at the same rate relative to hydrogen. Scientists are planning to send a space craft to Europa by the year 2020 in order to learn even more about this moon.
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In 2013, a sea star epidemic began sweeping through the intertidal zone along the west coast of America. Sea stars affected by a disease (known as the sea star wasting disease) would appear to "melt", losing their grips on rocks and then losing their arms. The cause of the epidemic is a complete mystery. While the disease has wiped out a vast majority of the sea star population along the west coast, an unprecedented amount of juvenile sea stars were found to have survived the summer and winter of 2015. The number of juveniles found was almost 300 times the normal amount. This is great news for sea star populations. Hopefully these babies survive competition for food, predation and the sea star wasting disease itself!
Researchers have discovered four new species of weevils on an island near Papua New Guinea. They have decided to name one of them after the famous Star Wars character Chewbacca. Trigonopterus chewbacca is a tiny black, flightless beetle. It's definitely not as big as Chewbacca, but scientists observed that this beetle has dense, hairlike scales covering it heads and legs, which look just like Chewbacca's fur!
Did you know there are other animals named after Star Wars characters? There is a moth named after Wookies, a wasp named after Yoda, and even a slime mold beetle named after Darth Vader!
-Science Educator, Malia Cannan
There has been recent debate whether the Yellowstone grizzly bear should be removed from the endangered species list. These creatures were listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 1975, when only about 100 to 200 of them existed in the park's area.
While their numbers have slowly increased over the past 35 years (to about 700 bears today), the grizzly bear is still at risk with slow reproduction rates and declining food sources. If these bears are delisted, hunting of these large mammals will surely return.
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