The science behind Blood Falls, the genetics of corgis’ weird body shapes, and other amazing images of the week
Newsworthy eye candy
Scientists like to have fun, too. In case you forgot this fact, NASA researchers recently calculated the odds that Luke Skywalker’s home planet Tatooine could actually exist. In Star Wars, the planet is a giant desert with two suns in its sky. NASA calculated that not only could an Earth-sized planet exist between two giant balls of fire, but if the planet was situated at just the right angle between its suns and was home to a sizable body of water, it would also actually be pretty paradisal. But hey kid, don’t get cocky—this image only shows what the totally hypothetical trifecta might look like.
Antarctica’s Blood Falls
Antarctica’s Blood Falls are a horrifying cascade of terror that just keeps on giving. As Popular Science‘s resident spooky science expert Rachel Feltman wrote last week, researchers suggested in 2015 that the falls were probably formed by a combination of salty water, a vibrant microbial community and a heckuva lot of rust. Last week, the proof was found in the blood-colored pudding, thanks to a paper in the Journal of Glaciology that traced the source of the Blood Falls and explained how all of these otherwise average elements come together to form this godawful geyser.
This image from NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover shows 360-degrees of a dune. But not just any dune. This dune is one of the first line-shaped dunes the rover has traversed. So far, it’s mostly crossed crescent-shaped dunes, which are cool, but have way less complicated wind patterns than their straight counterparts. As a result, these images of the linear dune reveal the subtle ripples in the dusty Martian surface that weren’t seen in earlier photos.
Denali National Park is celebrating its 100th birthday this year, which Popular Science‘s Mallory Johns commemorated in a stunning birthday photo gallery. Established as a national park 45 years before Alaska became a state (it was a United States territory at the time), it’s original goal was to preserve native Dall sheep from over eager hunters. Today, it continues to serve as a giant, windy, and beautiful nature preserve and sits atop many a mountaineer’s bucket list.
There’s a lot to corgi genetics, as it turns out. But this is mostly here because you made it through another week and deserve to look at these little guys doing their thing. TGIF.