March 12, 2019, 10:07 a.m.View more articles
On this week’s news desk: Komodo a no-no for tourists, space junk speared in a clean-up test, and hunting meteorites in Antarctica.
Do you know what makes the island of Komodo in Indonesia so special?
Here be dragons!
Komodo dragons are the largest lizards on Earth. They’re famous for their strength and venomous bite. They also bring a lot of tourists to Komodo. But now some people are worried that all these visitors are making the dragons weak and lazy! Instead of hunting their natural prey, wild animals such as buffalo, the local government claims the dragons have got too used to eating food left behind by tourists!
Now, the local government are thinking of banning tourists from Komodo for a whole year to encourage the dragons to get back into shape!
We all know about the problems caused by litter here on Earth. But did you know that space needs to be cleaned up too?!
So-called “space junk” includes broken satellites and equipment dropped by astronauts. And it can cause serious damage if it hits spacecraft or satellites. Now, a project called RemoveDEBRIS has successfully tested a new method of litter-picking: spearing space junk with a harpoon! In testing, the harpoon is shot from a satellite into a piece of space junk, then slowly reeled back in.
One day, a method like this could help clean up the mess we’ve made in space.
Dr Katherine Joy and Julie Baum have just spent four weeks in Antarctica. They were looking for meteorites – pieces of rock or metal that have fallen to Earth from outer space.
Meteorites look black, because they burn up as they pass through Earth’s atmosphere and that makes them easy to spot against the snow and ice. In fact, two thirds of all meteorites ever discovered were found here, in Antarctica! Katherine and Julie collected 36 meteorites on their expedition. Meteorites are really valuable to scientists because they can contain dust that was produced by stars before our solar system formed.
So this dust may hold clues about how our solar system was formed.
Komodo’s measures to save their dragons might be seen as extreme, but often such steps are necessary to conserve endangered animals. Discover more about protective measures with our Twig film on Conservation.