This Week In IFLScience! – October 19-24

 Feast Your Eyes On The Incredible Footage Of OSIRIS-REx Touching Asteroid Bennu


On Tuesday, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx performed the crucial goal of its mission around asteroid Bennu. It flew down to the surface of the space rock, briefly touched the soil, and grabbed a sample to eventually bring back home to Earth. The team is still analyzing the data to confirm that the sample collection went as expected.

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OSIRIS-REx's TAGSAM in the soil of asteroid Bennu. Credit: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona



Giant 2,000-Year-Old Cat Is Newly Discovered Addition To Peru’s Nazca Lines


A new Nazca line etching has been discovered just as it was on the brink of disappearing due to its location on a particularly steep slope, which made it more vulnerable to erosion than most of the geoglyphs. The enormous feline-inspired etching had lain in secret until a recent project to erect a new path leading to an observation platform was launched.

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A travel marker? Signal to the gods? Or did the Nazca just love cats? Image courtesy of the Peru Ministry of Culture



Higher Airborne Radioactivity Detected Near Fracking Sites In The US

A new report has revealed that in the continental United States, fracking generates an increase in the level of radioactive elements in the air nearby. In particular, the levels for those who lived downwind from fracking sites were significantly higher than normal radiation background levels.

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Three hydro-fracking derricks sitting on a plain. Jens Lambert/



2020's Ozone Hole Over Antarctica Is Largest It's Been In Years

The size of 2020's ozone hole over Antarctica is the largest it has been in years, with an area of about 25 million square kilometers (9.7 million square miles) – nearly the same size as that of 2015's ozone hole. That’s the size of Russia and Australia combined.

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Observation of the ozone hole in Antarctica at this year's maximum size. ESA



Cold Water Swimming Could Help Protect Against Dementia, Suggests New Research

According to research conducted by a team of scientists, people who regularly swim outdoors during the winter have elevated levels of a protein that plays a key role in the formation of brain connections, and the protein in question has been found to help protect the brain against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.

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Becoming hypothermic is highly dangerous, but it could also bring certain benefits. Image: Dudarev Mikhail/



14-Year-Old Girl Wins America's Top Young Scientist For Finding A Molecule That Could Stop Coronavirus


The 3M Young Scientist Challenge is an annual event for students in grades 5-8 to submit a short video explaining their solution to an everyday problem. Anika takes home $25,000, a prestigious award, and the incredible achievement of contributing to the global effort to fight against coronavirus.

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Anika Chebrolu in front of her winning presentation. Credit: 3M



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