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Scientists have developed a new system to monitor pollution from space.

The American, South Korea, and the European Space Agency have worked together on space-based instruments to measure global air quality.

For the first time, scientists will be able to track pollution from space on an hourly basis.

The first instrument was launched on February 18th, which flew into space mounted on a Korean satellite.

NASA plans to send a nearly identical instrument to space aboard a commercial communications satellite in 2022.

They’ll be followed by the European Space Agency’s two instruments that will join its existing air quality monitoring satellites, with the first taking off in 2023.

The data they collect will boost efforts to reign in pollutants including nitrogen dioxide, smog, formaldehyde, and aerosols.

The satellite-mounted instruments will also be able to see whether pollution within a certain region was generated there or whether it wafted over from another country.

Older space-based instruments are limited. They have only been able to measure air pollution once a day. They pass over any given point on Earth at the same time each day.

The fossil of a 43-million-year-old whale with four legs, webbed feet and hooves has been discovered in Peru.

Palaeontologists believe the marine mammal’s four-metre-long body was adapted to swim and walk on land.

The semi-aquatic whale has been compared to an otter or a beaver….. just larger!

It was found in marine sediments 1km inland from Peru’s Pacific coast, at Playa Media Luna.

The scientists that found it have named it Peregocetus pacificus, meaning “the travelling whale that reached the Pacific”.C

A new image from Japan’s Hayabusa-2 spacecraft reveals a dark splodge where it touched down on the surface of an asteroid Ryugu last week.

The discolouration could have been caused by grit being blown upwards by the spacecraft’s thrusters, or by the bullet it fired into the ground.

The purpose of the touchdown on the asteroid was to collect samples of rock to hopefully bring back to Earth.

On touchdown, a 5g “bullet” made of the metal tantalum was fired into the rocky surface at 300m/s.

The particles kicked up by the impact should have been be caught by the sampler horn.

Hayabusa-2 arrived at Ryugu in June 2018 after a 3.2 billion km journey. Since then it has been hovering above the asteroid at about 20km distance from the asteroid’s surface.

A Japanese billionaire will make history as the first private passenger to take a trip around the moon.

Yusaku Maezawa will be the first SpaceX passenger to the moon.

The 42-year-old is the founder of Japan’s largest online fashion retailer, Zozotown. In his sparetime he is an art enthusiast.

As part of the trip he is inviting up to eight artists to go with him, planning to turn the entire ride into an art project.

The entrepreneur bought all the available seats that were for sale. The passengers will spend about a week in space. When they return they will create an art creation entitled “dearMoon“.

The trip is planned for 2023. It will be the first time someone has travelled to the moon since the Apollo Mission in 1972.

But this trip won’t involve a lunar landing. The first prototype spacecraft is currently under construction, and Mr Musk hopes to begin test flights in 2019.

You may recognise the voice of Sir David Attenborough from shows such as Blue Planet. Yesterday that world famous voice spoke at a big conference about climate change.

He was speaking at the opening ceremony of United Nations-sponsored climate talks in Katowice, Poland.

The meeting is the most critical on climate change since the 2015 Paris agreement.

Sir David said: “Right now, we are facing a man-made disaster of global scale. Our greatest threat in thousands of years. Climate change.

“If we don’t take action, the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.”.

The conference is called COP24 – which stands for Conference of Parties.

It is a meeting where lots of governments are coming together to discuss what to do after a climate change report came out in October saying global temperature rises should be limited to 1.5°C.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said that this could only be achieved if greenhouse gases are cut by 45% by 2030 – which is a big change!

US space agency Nasa has landed a new robot on Mars after a dramatic seven-minute plunge to the surface of the Red Planet.

The robot is called the InSight probe and it aims to study the deep interior of Mars.

This will make it the only planet – apart from Earth – that has been examined in this way.

Nasa’s mission control in California erupted with delight when it became clear InSight was safe on the ground.

The probe landed safely on a flat plain known as Elysium Planitia, close to the Red Planet’s equator.

Engineers are currently awaiting a health report and a picture from the probe that shows its surroundings.

What is different about this mission?
This will be the first probe to dedicate its investigations to understanding Mars’ interior.

Scientists want to know how the world is constructed – from its core to its crust. InSight has three principal experiments to achieve this goal.

The first is a package of Franco-British seismometers that will be lifted on to the surface to listen for “Marsquakes”. These vibrations will reveal where the rock layers are and what they are made of.

A German “mole” will burrow up to 5m into the ground to take the planet’s temperature. This will give a sense of how active Mars still is.

And the third experiment will use radio transmissions to very precisely determine how the planet is wobbling on its axis.

A dead sperm whale that washed ashore in a national park in Indonesia had nearly 6kg of plastic waste in its stomach.

Items found included 115 drinking cups, four plastic bottles, 25 plastic bags and two flip-flops.

The measured 9.5m long.

The discovery has caused concern among environmentalists.

It was not possible to say whether the plastic had caused the whale’s death.

The use of throwaway plastic is a particular problem in some South East Asian countries, including Indonesia.

Five Asian nations – China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand – account for up to 60% of the plastic waste that ends up in oceans, according to a 2015 report.

Astronomers have discovered a planet around one of the closest stars to our Sun.

It orbits Barnard’s star, which sits six light-years away.

The planet’s mass is thought to be more than three times that of our own, placing it in a category of world know as “super-Earths”.

“We think that this is what we call a Super-Earth – that would be possibly a mostly rocky planet with a massive atmosphere. It’s probably very rich in volatiles like water, hydrogen, carbon dioxide – things like this. Many of them are frozen on the surface,” Guillem Anglada Escudé, an astronomer from Queen Mary University of London said.

Astronomers have called this new planet Barnard’s Star b. It is about as far away from its star as Mercury is from the Sun.

Barnard’s Star b is known as an exoplanet. It’s the second closest exoplanet to Earth after Proxima Centauri b, whose discovery was announced in 2016.

On distance alone, it’s estimated that temperatures would be about -150C on the planet’s surface. However, a massive atmosphere could potentially warm the planet, making conditions more hospitable to life.

When the next generation of telescopes come online, scientists will be able to characterise the planet’s properties. This will likely include a search for gases like oxygen and methane in the planet’s atmosphere, which might be markers for biology.

“The James Webb Space Telescope might not help in this case, because it was not designed for what’s called high contrast imaging. But in the US, they are also developing WFirst – a small telescope that’s also used for cosmology,” said Dr Anglada Escudé.

What is an exoplanet?
Exoplanets are planets that obit a different star than our Sun – in a different solar system to the one we are in.

The world’s largest postcard was displayed on the shrinking Aletsch Glacier in the Swiss Alps on Friday.

Organisers set the challenge to raise awareness of climate change.

The huge mosaic postcard is actually made from 125,000 drawings and messages about climate change.

They measure 2,500 sq m and were created by children from all over the world.

Seen from above, the whole picture read: “STOP GLOBAL WARMING #1.5 DEGREES C” – echoing scientists’ calls to limit the rise in Earth’s temperature.

The Aletsch Glacier is visible from space, but is shrinking by up to 12m a year. It is the largest in Western Europe at 23km, but experts have warned that it could disappear altogether by 2100.

Palau is set to become the first country in the world to ban sunscreen.

The move has been enforced to protect its vulnerable coral reefs.

The government has signed a law that restricts the sale and use of sunscreen and skincare products that contain a list of ten different chemicals.

Researchers believe that these ingredients are highly toxic to marine life. On top of that, they can make coral more susceptible to bleaching.

The ban comes into force in 2020 and people could be fined around $1500NZD.

Scientists are particularly worried over the role of two ingredients called oxybenzone and octinoxate. These are used as sun protection factors as they absorb ultraviolet light.

Research published in 2015 showed that the oxybenzone could stunt the growth of baby corals and was toxic to several different coral species in laboratory tests.