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China Spacecraft Lands On Planet Mars

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China is officially an untouchable space champion and now Joins the ranks of only two other world powers in the same league, Russia and United States of America.

The China National Space Administration (CNSA) confirmed on Saturday morning that the lander carrying China’s first Mars rover touched down on the red planet.

It is the first time China has landed a probe on a planet other than Earth. This success coincides with the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party a sole governing political party of the People’s Republic of China.

Dmitry Rogozin, head of Russia’s state space corporation Roscosmos, on Saturday commended China’s advancement in space technology.

“Roscosmos welcomes the resumption of exploration of the planets of the solar system by the leading space powers,” Rogozin said in a statement.

China plans to conduct its latest manned spaceflight in June, sending three astronauts to enter the recently launched core module of the nation’s space station and work there for three months, according to a senior space official.

In 2022, two large space labs will be launched to connect with the core module. Moreover, two manned missions and two robotic cargo flights will be made that year to continue construction of the Chinese space station, which is scheduled to become complete and start formal operation around the end of next year.

China’s most adventurous space endeavor, the multimodule space station, named Tiangong, or Heavenly Palace, will consist of three main components-a core module attached to two space labs-with a combined weight of nearly 70 metric tons. The entire station is set to work for about 15 years, mission planners have said.

The core module, named Tianhe, or Harmony of Heavens, was lifted by a Long March 5B heavy-lift carrier rocket at the Wenchang launch center on April 29.

The biggest and heaviest spacecraft China has ever constructed, the module is 16.6 meters long and has a diameter of 4.2 meters.

The craft’s weight, at 22.5 tons, is equal to the combined weight of 15 standard-size automobiles. It has three parts-a connecting section, a life-support and control section and a resources section.

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Science

LEDs Combined With Copper May Help Develop New medicines, Electronics

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Hokkaido University researchers have found a way to use light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in combination with a copper-based molecular catalyst to develop a more sustainable way to make key chemical sub-units that have potential uses in pharmaceutical and photo-electronic development.

In a paper published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, the scientists explain that the technique they came up with allows them to perform what is known as a cross-coupling reaction, in which two molecules are joined via a carbon-carbon bond.

This is one of the most widely used types of reactions and is essential for creating most of the chemical products used today.

The researchers say that the use of copper—a cheaper and more commonly available metal—as a catalyst for a cross-coupling reaction is a breakthrough in sustainability since this reaction typically relies on the use of precious metals such as palladium.

The new method is also considered advantageous because the copper metal in the molecular catalyst itself absorbs the blue light, rather than needing a separate light-absorbing compound in addition to the catalyst.

This makes the synthesis not only cheaper and simpler to perform, but also easier to control since there are fewer moving parts.

The blue light plays a key role in activating the copper-based catalyst. Theoretical calculations showed that this light exposure causes electrons to move from the metal copper atom to a connected subunit of the molecular catalyst.

This excited state has separated electrical charges, making the catalyst much more reactive and, thus, the researchers were able to use it to carry out a cross-coupling reaction that creates an acyl group, which is useful for the synthesis of pharmaceuticals and photo-electronic materials.

A key aspect of this method is that the formation of the acyl group occurs asymmetrically.

This means one of the two possible mirror-image versions of the product molecule is selectively produced, a feature highly desired for the development of new medicines.

The scientists tested their new method with multiple starting materials, notably including a material derived from probenecid, a medicine for gout.

They say the product they obtained from this starting material has potential applications in the pharmaceutical industry.

Implementation of this new method is expected to both provide cost savings and increase the sustainability of the production of a wide variety of chemical compounds with potential uses in medicine and electronics.

“This synthetic method is a breakthrough because it combines two easily obtainable items, blue LED light and copper, to achieve a coupling reaction that did not exist before,” Yusuke Masuda, lead author of the study, said in a media statement.

“Technology that produces useful compounds from resources which are abundantly available on earth is critical for the sustainable development of humanity. I expect this advance will become a milestone in the development of sustainable molecular synthetic methods.”

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Cattle in Tanzania Die After Vaccination Against Bovine Pleuropneumonia

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Tanzania’s Livestock and Fisheries Minister Mashimba Ndaki on Thursday ordered the veterinary council to investigate and hold accountable veterinarians who caused some livestock to die or get effects after vaccination in Dodoma region.

He issued a directive when he toured the Mlazo Village and received a report on the aftermath of the cattle vaccination against contagious Bovine Pleuropneumonia (CBPP).

“The Vaccination led to the death of over 25 cattle, 33 abortions, 58 got swellings on injected parts of skin,”Minister Mashimba noted.

He argued that the on-going countrywide vaccination exercise has good intentions, wondering how such an incident happened in Mlazo village.

“I am disappointed with how they executed it in Mlazo village. They did not follow the laid procedures and guidelines,” he stated.

The Minister also suspended Agristeps Limited, a company that entered a contract with Chamwino district council to oversee the immunization exercise, and also referred it to the Veterinary Council of Tanzania for further investigation.

“Thorough investigation must be conducted against the veterinarians who administered vaccination and measures taken against them. This company should also pay the costs for the menace it has caused,” he said.

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Another Human Species Discovered

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Scientists have found a large skull at the bottom of a well in northeastern China. The researchers have said this skull may belong to a new species of early human they have called “dragon man.”

The well-preserved skullcap, found in the Chinese city of Harbin, is between 138,000 and 309,000 years old, according to geochemical analysis, and it combines primitive features, such as a broad nose and low brow and braincase, with those that are more similar to Homo sapiens, including flat and delicate cheekbones.

The ancient hominin — which researchers said was “probably” a 50-year-old man — would have had an “extremely wide” face, deep eyes with large eye sockets, big teeth and a brain similar in size to modern humans.

Three papers detailing the find were published in the journal The Innovation on Friday.

“The Harbin skull is the most important fossil I’ve seen in 50 years. It shows how important East Asia and China is in telling the human story,” said Chris Stringer, research leader in human origins at The Natural History Museum in London and coauthor of the research.

Researchers named the new hominin Homo longi, which is derived from Heilongjiang, or Black Dragon River, the province where the cranium was found.

The team plans to see if it’s possible to extract ancient proteins or DNA from the cranium, which included one tooth, and will begin a more detailed study of the skull’s interior, looking at sinuses and both ear and brain shape, using CT scans.

With these discoveries overtime, it means we weren’t the only humans on the block.

In the millennia since Homo sapiens first emerged in Africa about 300,000 years ago, we have shared the planet with Neanderthals, the enigmatic Denisovans, the “hobbit” Homo floresiensis, Homo luzonensis and Homo naledi, as well as several other ancient hominins.

This also means we had sex with some of them and produced babies. Some of these ancestors are well represented in the fossil record, but most of what we know about Denisovans comes from genetic information in our DNA.

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