RemoveDEBRIS

Scientists have sent an experimental satellite called RemoveDEBRIS to the International Space Station (ISS). This is to test out some ways to clean up garbage orbiting around Earth. We keep hearing that humans have generated a lot of trash on Earth. Well, humans have also generated a lot of space junk around our planet. Over half a million pieces of junk, such as nuts, bolts, and other debris left over from space missions and old satellites, are zipping around Earth at very high speeds.

Very small things are difficult to track, but if they hit a spacecraft, the ISS, or other satellites, they can cause damage because of their high speeds. Astronauts have had to move the ISS out of the path of a piece of junk headed towards it multiple times in order to avoid getting hit.

 

 

The ISS is a large research facility in space. It is approximately 220 miles (350 km) above Earth’s surface. It goes around our planet once every 90 minutes at a speed of about 17,500 mph (28,000 kmph). Work started on it in 1998, and since 2000, humans have been continuously living in it.

Here is a video about RemoveDEBRIS.

Did you know?

On April 12, 1961, Yuri Gagarin, a Russian astronaut, became the first human being to travel into space.

Did you know?

1961 is an interesting year as it reads the same when it’s turned upside down. The next time we encounter a year that reads the same when it’s upside down is 6009.

Image Credits: https://www.surrey.ac.uk for the image of RemoveDEBRIS, https://www.nasa.gov for International Space Station’s  image and the space debris image
Sources: https://www.surrey.ac.uk, NASA

’Tis the season for foot races

The world’s “coolest” marathon took place at the North Pole on April 16. Argyrios Papathanasopoulos (Greece) won the men’s competition with a time of 4:34:36. Guoping Xie (China) won the women’s competition with a time of 6:43:20. About 60 participants flew to the North Pole for this race. There is no land at the North Pole. People run on a frozen ice sheet (about 6 to 12 feet thick) floating on top of 12,000 feet of water (the Arctic Ocean). With temperatures around -33 degrees Celsius (-27 degrees Fahrenheit), it was a very difficult race to run.

On April 7, about 55,000 people took part in the Paris Marathon held in Paris, the capital of France. Paul Lonyangata (Kenya) won the men’s race with a time of 2:06:25. Besty Saina (Kenya) won the women’s race with a time of 2:22:56.

 

The Boston Marathon was held in Boston, USA on April 16. Almost 30,000 runners took part in the race. Yuki Kawauchi (Japan) won the men’s race with a time of 2:15:58, and Desiree Linden (USA) won the women’s race with a time of 2:39:54. The Boston Marathon is the world’s oldest annual city marathon and started in 1897.

The running distance of the North Pole, Paris, and Boston marathons was 42.195 kilometers (26.2 miles).

One of the “hottest” running races in the world is the Marathon des Sables, and it was held from April 6 to 14 in the Sahara Desert in Morocco. It is also labeled as the “toughest foot race on Earth”. It was a six day race that covered a distance of about 250 kilometers (150 miles).  Rachid El Morabity (Morocco) won the men’s event, and Magdalena Boulet (USA) won the women’s. Over 1,000 runners from all over the globe competed in the race.

 

Image Credits: https://www.facebook.com/npmarathon for the North Pole marathon image, http://www.schneiderelectricparismarathon.com for the Paris marathon image, http://www.baa.org for the Boston marathon image, http://www.marathondessables.com for the Marathon des Sables image
Sources: https://www.facebook.com/npmarathon, http://www.npmarathon.com, http://www.schneiderelectricparismarathon.com, http://www.baa.org, http://www.marathondessables.com, Fox News

Elections in Azerbaijan

Presidential elections were held in Azerbaijan, and the nation’s current president won a fourth term. Ilham Aliyev has been the president since 2003, and his father was the president before him. Many of his opponents have complained that the elections were not fair.

 

 

In the past, a president could serve for only two 5-year terms. However, in the last decade, the constitution has been changed where a president can serve any number of terms. Also, each term is now 7 years long. Changes were also made to the constitution to create a Vice President position. Last year, Aliyev named his wife as the nation’s first Vice President.

Azerbaijan was part of the Soviet Union until 1991. Baku is the country’s capital and Azerbaijani is the official language. The famous world chess champion Garry Kasparov (image) was born in Baku. About half of the world’s mud volcanoes are in Azerbaijan. A mud volcano pushes out mud and gases through cracks in the ground.

Here is a video about mud volcanoes.

Image Credits: https://www.president.az for Aliyev’s image, http://www.kasparov.com for Kaparov’s image
Sources: https://www.president.az, Washington Post, https://www.kyivpost.com, CNN, Vimeo, https://www.basicplanet.com, http://www.kasparov.com

Presidential elections in Egypt

Presidential elections were held in Egypt and the current President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi won another term. He won 97% of the vote. However, out of all the registered voters, only 41% voted. There was just one other candidate who took part in the elections.

 

 

In 2011, there was unrest in Egypt and the people forced the country’s president, Hosni Mubarak, to step down. He had been Egypt’s leader for nearly 30 years. Egyptians had been dissatisfied with Mubarak’s government. There weren’t enough jobs for people. Food and housing prices were very high.

The military took over and a new president was elected in 2012. He was in power for just a year, when the military forced him to step down. In 2014, presidential elections were held and the Egyptian military commander, Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, was elected. He has been the president since.

The Ancient Egyptian civilization started over 5,000 years ago. It was a very advanced society and they invented many things that we use today – the 365-day calendar, paper (which was made from the Papyrus plant which is how ‘paper’ got its name), ink, clocks, some of the earliest medicines, the lock and key, sails for boats, and even make-up!

Ancient Egyptians believed that life exists after death. So when their Kings and Queens died, they preserved their bodies by a process called mummification, where they would take out some of the internal organs, dry the bodies, and wrap them with cloth. They built pyramids which were tombs. Along with the bodies, they kept things that their Kings and Queens might need in their life after death – gold, food, furniture, clay pots, and more.

Some of Egypt’s famous sites are the Pyramids of Giza (image), the Sphinx, Valley of the Kings, Hatshepsut Temple, Ibn Tulun Mosque, Luxor Temple, and the Nile River.

Image Credits: Kremlin for Sisi’s image, Nina for the pyramid’s image, http://www.britishmuseum.org for the papyrus painting image
Sources: CNN, BBC, https://discoveringegypt.com, http://www.ancientegypt.co.uk, http://traveltips.usatoday.com

Arctic sea ice coverage

On March 17, the Arctic sea ice coverage appeared to have hit its maximum for the year. This was the second lowest maximum on record. The lowest was in 2017.

The Arctic sea ice floats in the water body around the North Pole region. The size of the coverage has been recorded by scientists since 1979. The ice cover melts and decreases in the summer months, and it refreezes and increases in the winter months. Usually, the largest sea ice cover over the Arctic is in the month of March, and the lowest is in the month of September.

 

The Arctic sea ice is very important. It acts like our planet’s air conditioner and helps control Earth’s climate. The sea ice reflects a large percentage of sunlight that reaches the ice back into space. The ocean surface without the ice cover would absorb a lot of the sunlight, which in turn would make the water warmer, and melt more ice.

Here is a video about this news story.

 

Did you know?

The four lowest maximum Arctic sea ice extents on record have all occurred during the last four years.

Image Credits: National Snow and Ice Data Center for the images of the Arctic sea ice in March and the graph of the Arctic sea ice extent
Sources: National Snow and Ice Data Center, https://www.nasa.gov

Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games

The Commonwealth Games started with a bang in the Gold Coast, Australia, on April 4. The Games will be held over 11 days. More than 6,600 athletes and team officials are taking part in the events. Eighteen sports and seven para-sports will be played, including squash, badminton, beach volleyball, and para-triathlon.

 

 

The Commonwealth is a group of countries most of which were part of the British Empire in the past. There are 53 nations in the group. The Commonwealth nations encourage economic development and trade amongst themselves, and also promote democracy, human rights, and peace. The head of the Commonwealth is Queen Elizabeth II, the Queen of the United Kingdom.

 

The Commonwealth group came into existence in the form that it is today in 1949. The combined population of the Commonwealth countries is 2.4 billion, which is approximately a third of our planet’s population. A Commonwealth Day is annually celebrated on the second Monday of March. The group also holds a sports event for all the member countries called the Commonwealth Games, which are held every 4 years.

You can see a list of all the Commonwealth countries here. Here is a video about the Commonwealth.


Image Credits: http://thecommonwealth.org for the image of Queen Elizabeth II, https://www.gc2018.com for the image of the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games
Sources: http://thecommonwealth.org, https://www.gc2018.com

The Boat Races

On March 24, men’s and women’s rowing boat races were held on the River Thames in London, United Kingdom, between the country’s two famous universities, Oxford and Cambridge. The boat races between the two are an annual tradition and are referred to simply as “The Boat Races”. The distance of the races is 6.8 km (4.2 miles). This year, Cambridge won both the women’s race and the men’s. The Boat Race started in 1829 when two friends who went to the two universities challenged each other to a race. For the men’s race, Cambridge has won 83 times. Oxford is close behind with 80 wins. For the women’s race, Oxford has won 30 times, and Cambridge 43 times.

Image Credits: http://www.theboatrace.org for the map of the boat race image
Sources: http://www.theboatrace.org

April Fools Day 2018

Many celebrated April Fools’ Day on April 1. It is a day when many people around the globe play pranks and have fun fooling their friends. Why do people celebrate this day? Well, nobody knows for sure. However, one popular belief takes us back about 435 years, when the Catholic countries of Europe started following the Gregorian calendar, the calendar which most of us around the world follow today. It was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582. Before this, these Catholic countries followed the Julian calendar. When the Gregorian calendar was adopted, the start of the New Year was moved from April 1 to January 1. However, some people continued to celebrate the start of the New Year on April 1. They were considered foolish and people played pranks on them.

This year, many companies played pranks. Amazon announced a new service where it will deliver your favorite authors to your front door. Roku put out an advertisement for its socks that have built-in motion sensors to work as a remote control. Google Japan created a keyboard that allows you to swipe over it to form letters. T-Mobile is introducing the world’s first smart shoe phone. Jabra is also selling shoes, not with smartphones, but with speakers.

Burger King is launching a special edition of its Whopper sandwich made with chocolate and candied ingredients. Chegg, the online textbook rental company, is selling a pillow which helps you improve your memory as you sleep. If you draw food items on Adobe’s Illustrator CC, you can go order similar food items in case you get hungry while drawing. PetCo has started a new beauty salon where a stylist will make you look like your pet.

Here are 3 videos with some of the pranks. Hope you had fun tricking somebody or being tricked!

Did you know?

A famous April Fool’s joke was played on British television in 1957. A news story was presented about spaghetti growing on trees.

Image Credits: https://twitter.com/BurgerKing for Burger King’s chocolate burger image, Google.com for the keyboard image
Sources: http://www.beautifulbondsalon.com, https://twitter.com/BurgerKing, google.com, https://www.history.com

2018 Formula One begins

The 2018 Formula One (F1) World Championship, one of the most prestigious open-wheeled car races in the world, started on March 25 with the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne, Australia. Sebastian Vettel of Germany won the race. He is with the Ferrari racing team.

 

 

Formula One consists of a series of races called Grand Prix. The number of Grand Prix races held in a year can change. The results of all the Grand Prix races are combined to determine the overall winner of the F1 Championship. The length of each race is around 300 km (200 miles). F1 started in Europe in 1950. Its roots are from Grand Prix motor racing which started in the early 1900s in France.

 

This year, there are going to be 21 Grand Prix races. The last race will be held on November 25 in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. Fifteen drivers from ten teams are participating.

 

Image Credits: https://www.formula1.com for the Australian Grand Prix images, Morio for Vettel’s image
Sources: https://www.formula1.com

A bit more news

Symphony of the Seas, the world’s largest cruise ship, set sail on its first voyage with passengers from Spain to Italy. It is owned by the Royal Caribbean, and measures 238 feet tall and spans 1,188 feet long. It can accommodate over 8,000 people onboard.

 

 

Be ready on April 7th with a pillow. There will be feathers flying in parts of cities all over the globe. It is the International Pillow Fight Day and thousands of people gather in cities all over the world attacking each other with their pillows.

 

Scientists have identified a new star and have named it Icarus, with an official name of MACS J1149+2223 Lensed Star 1. Icarus is special because it is the farthest individual star ever seen. It is so far away that it has taken its light 9 billion years to reach us here on Earth. Our universe is approximately 13.8 billion years old, so this light is from a time when our universe was about 30 percent of its current age. That’s way before Earth existed, since the age of Earth is about 4.5 billion years.

 

On March 31, Botswana’s president stepped down as his term ended. A new president, Mokgweetsi Masisi, was sworn in. Gaborone is the capital of Botswana. The country is one of the world’s largest diamond producers. A citizen of Botswana is called Motswana.

 

 

Presidential elections were held in Costa Rica. It was Alvarado against Alvarado. There were two candidates with the same last name. Carlos Alvarado won with 60% of the vote. He is 38 years old and has been a rock singer, novelist, journalist, and a labour minister. Costa Rica’s capital is San Jose. The country’s government puts in a large effort to protect the land and keep the country “green”. Costa Rica is a country without an army – it has been without one for 70 years. Costa Ricans call themselves “ticos” (male) and “ticas” (female).

On March 31, Thunder Snow won the 2018 Dubai World Cup, a horse race held annually in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The Dubai World Cup was started in 1996, and is known as the “richest” horse race since it gives out the largest prize money in horse racing (US$10 million). You can watch part of the race here.

Image Credits: https://www.royalcaribbean.com for the image of Symphony of the Seas, pillowfightday.com for the image of the pillow fight, NASA, ESA, and P. Kelly (University of Minnesota) for the image of Icarus, http://www.dubaiworldcup.com for Thunder Snow’s image, John Chibona for Masisi’s image, https://www.nacion.com for Alvarado’s image
Sources: https://www.royalcaribbean.com, pillowfightday.com, NASA.gov, https://twin-cities.umn.edu, http://www.dubaiworldcup.com, CIA World Factbook, CNN, http://www.dailymail.co.uk, https://www.usatoday.com, http://www.alautentico.com