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The Sun

This month on Newsdesk: a NASA probe reaches the sun, a sea dragon is unearthed, and scientists scan an ancient dinosaur egg.

A NASA Probe Reaches The Sun

The sun is a 4.5 billion year old star. Situated in the centre of the solar system, the sun releases huge amounts of energy, which enables life on Earth to flourish. For centuries astronomers have studied the sun, but recently a NASA probe has travelled closer to the sun than ever before.

Launched in 2018, the probe has travelled 93 million miles through space before entering the sun's fiery atmosphere. The probe has been designed to investigate how the sun works, and observe phenomena that other spacecraft are too far away to see. One phenomenon the probe will investigate is known as “solar wind.” Solar wind is made up of particles that are released from the sun's atmosphere. These particles speed across the solar system, and can impact life on Earth by disrupting satellites and communication networks. Studying the sun at close range, the probe aims to improve our understanding of it, and how its immense energy impacts the entire solar system.

Scientists Scan an Ancient Dinosaur Egg

Between 250 and 66 million years ago, dinosaurs roamed the Earth. One group of bird-like dinosaurs were known as Oviraptorids. Living in what is now China, adult Oviraptorids measured around 2 meters long, and may have looked similar to modern-day ostriches.

Recently, scientists have examined a fossilised Oviraptorid egg, dating from around 70 million years ago. Their examinations reveal a complete, well-preserved skeleton of a baby Oviraptorid. Curled up tightly, the position of the baby dinosaur is similar to the position baby birds move into as they prepare to hatch from their eggs. Scientists have never recorded such behaviour in dinosaur eggs before, because the skeletons they have studied have always been too broken up. The baby dinosaur skeleton therefore allows scientists to work out how dinosaurs would likely have hatched from their eggs, and highlights the close links between ancient dinosaurs and modern birds!

A Sea Dragon is Unearthed

Recently, palaeontologists have unearthed another ichthyosaur in the UK. Using small chisels and brushes to carefully dig around the buried remains, the palaeontologists slowly revealed their incredible discovery!

Measuring 10 meters long, the huge ichthyosaur is one of the largest fossils of its kind ever discovered. It is also one the most complete fossils of its type, with almost every bone preserved, from its tip to its tail. The palaeontologists were particularly impressed by the size of the giant skull, which weighs one ton! The fossil is currently being removed for further examinations, but it's finders hope it will soon go on display so the public can view the ichthyosaur up close!

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