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Earth’s earliest mobile organisms lived 2.1 billion years ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Scientists have discovered in 2.1-billion-year-old black shale from a quarry in Gabon the earliest evidence of a revolutionary development in the history of life on Earth, the ability of organisms to move from one place to another on their own. Tubular structures found in black shale from a quarry in Gabon dating from 2.1 billion years ago – providing evidence of the earliest-known mobile organisms on Earth – are shown in Poitiers, France in this undated handout photo obtained February 11, 2019. Abderrazak Albani/IC2MP/CNRS/Universite de Poitiers/Handout via…

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America colonisation ‘cooled Earth’s climate’

Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionMark Maslin and Chris Brierley: “A genocide-generated drop in carbon dioxide” Colonisation of the Americas at the end of the 15th Century killed so many people, it disturbed Earth’s climate. That’s the conclusion of scientists from University College London, UK. The team says the disruption that followed European settlement led to a huge swathe of abandoned agricultural land being reclaimed by fast-growing trees and other vegetation. This pulled down enough carbon dioxide (CO₂) from the atmosphere to eventually chill the planet. It’s…

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German satellites sense Earth’s lumps and bumps

Image copyright DLR Image caption The map traces the variations in height across the Earth’s land surfaces The German space agency (DLR) has released a spectacular 3D map of Earth. Built from images acquired by two radar satellites, it traces the variations in height across all land surfaces – an area totalling more than 148 million sq km. DLR is making the map free and open, enabling any scientist to download and use it. There will be myriad applications from forecasting where flood waters flow to planning big infrastructure projects.…

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ICESat: Space laser to get unprecedented view of Earth’s ice

Image copyright NASA Image caption ICESat-2 fires 10,000 shots a second as it moves around the Earth The American space agency is about to put a laser in orbit to measure the condition of Earth’s ice cover. The satellite mission, called ICESat-2, should provide more precise information on how these frozen surfaces are being affected by global warming. Antarctica, Greenland and the ice floating on the Arctic Ocean have all lost volume in recent decades. ICESat-2 will track ongoing change in unprecedented detail from its vantage point some 500km above…

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Robots ahoy! Mapping Earth’s surface

Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionSEA-KIT and its submersible work in tandem to map the sea floor One of the big favourites to win the ocean-mapping XPRIZE has formally confirmed its presence in the final. The GEBCO-Nippon Foundation Alumni Team has just completed 24-hour trials of its technology and is ready for the competition’s ultimate challenge. This requires a mapping system inside a day to survey a section of seabed that is 500-sq-km in area and 4,000m-deep. GEBCO-NF will use a state-of-the-art underwater vehicle launched from the…

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Aeolus space laser set to map Earth’s winds

Image copyright PA Image caption Aeolus data should mean there are fewer surprises in the forecasts A new, British-assembled satellite goes into orbit later to make the first truly global maps of wind behaviour. The Aeolus spacecraft will get its data by firing a powerful laser down into the atmosphere to trace the movement of air particles. Meteorologists are hopeful the mission will have a big impact on the quality of medium-range weather forecasts. Aeolus is due to launch on a Vega rocket from French Guiana at 18:20 local time…

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Rare blue diamonds may be Earth’s deepest secret

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Hope Diamond, a rare blue diamond that is one of the world’s most famous jewels, has had a complicated history, passing through the hands of monarchs and bankers and heiresses and thieves before landing for all to see at a Washington museum. FILE PHOTO – The 45.42 carat Hope Diamond is pictured on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, January 29, 2010. REUTERS/Jason Reed The geological history of blue diamonds is even more complex, according to research published on Wednesday examining…

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Grace mission launches to weigh Earth’s water

Image copyright NASA Image caption SpaceX rocket: Climbing above California before heading south towards Antarctica A joint US-German mission has gone into orbit to weigh the water on Earth. The Grace satellites are replacing a pair of highly successful spacecraft that stopped working last year. Like their predecessors, the new duo will circle the globe and sense tiny variations in the pull of gravity that result from movements in mass. These could be a signal of the land swelling after prolonged rains, or of ice draining from the poles as…

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Grace mission launches to weigh Earth’s water

Image copyright SpaceX A joint US-German mission has gone into orbit to weigh the water on Earth. The Grace satellites are replacing a pair of highly successful spacecraft that stopped working last year. Like their predecessors, the new duo will circle the globe and sense tiny variations in the pull of gravity that result from movements in mass. These could be a signal of the land swelling after prolonged rains, or of ice draining from the poles as they melt in a warming climate. The satellites were launched on Tuesday…

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