Science Saturday: Lambda variant, Yunnan elephants, space 3D printer


This week of Science Saturday we round up some of the latest science and tech news, ranging from another variant of COVID to 3D printing lunar habitat.

COVID variant

The lambda variant of COVID-19 could be vaccine resistant. However, scientists admit that more studies need to be done. The mutation, which first appeared in Peru about a year ago, is highly contagious. It has spread to about 30 other countries in the world, including the UK, Japan, and the Philippines. It made headlines this summer after the World Health Organization noted its rapid spread in South American countries.

Wandering elephants

A herd of wandering elephants finally makes its way to Yunnan in southern China. The 14 Asian elephants were led across the Yuanjiang River on Sunday evening. A path was created for them to return to the nature reserve in Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture. The herd set out on their 500-kilometer hiking trip in March of last year. Why they decided to move is still unclear. But their epic 17 month trip made international headlines and won the hearts of many!

Space exploration

NASA is sending a 3D printer to the International Space Station to test the use of lunar regolith for construction. It’s called the Redwire Print Project. It is part of an experiment by the ISS to test whether the loose soil and rock on the lunar surface can be used as 3D printing material. Scientists believe that this can pave the way for construction and production on other planets without the need to transport raw materials from Earth. NASA also plans to explore possible 3D printing habitats on Mars.

Climate change

July 2021 will be the hottest month on earth on record! The global data estimate that the combined temperature of the land and ocean surfaces was 0.93 degrees Celsius above the 20th century average. July was already marked by extreme weather conditions, from drought and fires in southern Europe and North America to severe floods in western Europe. Scientists say this new record carries the worrying and disruptive path that climate change has set for the world.

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