Imagine being just an inch and a half long and flapping your wings all the way across the ocean.
A new study said the itty bitty dragonfly Pantala flavescens could take longer flights than any other known insect, putting it in the ballpark of larger migratory animals such as birds and whales. The estimated 4,400 miles or more traveled by members of this tiny species smashes the previous record for insect migration of 2,500 miles, held by monarch butterflies.
But crossing an ocean when you’re the size of a paper clip — even if you’ve evolved to do just that — isn’t exactly a walk in the park: It’s good for the survival of the species, because the insects have to move from place to place to make sure they have fresh water to mate and lay eggs in no matter what the season. But many individuals will die during the trek. Senior author Jessica Ware, an assistant professor of biology at Rutgers, said the trip is “kind of suicide mission.”
NASA salvages Mars lander mission
Instead of scrapping the grounded Mars InSight spacecraft, the space agency said it’s shooting for a 2018 launch. The robotic lander was supposed to lift off this month, but ended up sidelined by a leak in a key French instrument. Project managers said the device should be redesigned in time.
May 2018 represents the next available launch window. Opportunities to launch to Mars arise just every two years, based on the alignment of Earth and its neighbor.
Climate heat linked back to 1930s
The world endured a warm year as President Roosevelt wrangled with crippling drought during the first year of his second term. Scientists now say global temperatures that year, in 1937, were record-breaking for the time. More records were set in 1940, 1941 and 1944.
For the first time, climate scientists have identified greenhouse gas pollution’s role in global temperatures measured back to 1937, as industrialized cities and nations continued burning coal to power factories and trains. “What we found was that we could actually detect human influence on extreme events a lot earlier than we’d thought,” said Daniel Mitchell, an Oxford University physicist. The most recent global record, set in 2015, surpassed a record set just one year earlier.