Artist’s rendering of ‘Proxima B’

The planet is thought to be a rocky analog of Earth, though it’s unknown whether it has an atmosphere.

Obama Gets Natural

In his first foray into virtual reality, President Obama chats with Yosemite National Park Superintendent Don Neubacher for a newly-released video that was filmed in June. You can now take a virtual reality tour of Yosemite narrated by President Obama. The film meanders through forests, rivers and mountains, highlighting El Capitan, the Merced River, Yosemite Falls and the sequoias of Mariposa Grove.

Trading Faces

Patrick Hardison’s face transplant surgery was the most extensive of the dozens attempted worldwide during the past decade. Nearly a year after his transplant, Hardison is still on a diet of immunosuppressant drugs to stop his body from rejecting the new face. He has yet to suffer a rejection—a first in this pioneering field.

The Octobot

Soft robots is the field of squishier machines, and this week a team of Harvard University researchers announced its latest floppy creation: an autonomous, 3D printed octopus-shaped robot nicknamed “octobot.” The fuel, circuits, and motors are all printed within the octobot’s body. Right now, the autonomy consists of the machine deciding when to flex its little robot limbs.

A Puzzling Mega-Storm

Here’s what Invest 99L looked over the Leeward Islands on the afternoon of August 24, 2016, from the point-of-view of a weather satellite. Some weather models initially showed the disturbance developing into a major hurricane or tropical storm. And while the latest forecasts are tamer, it could still causing major flooding in South Florida and the Bahamas.

Migration in Motion

As climate change warps the preferred habitats of mammals, birds and amphibians, these animals will be forced to flee. A beautiful but troubling new map predicts what this massive migration might look like for North and South America. Ecologist Dan Majka and other researchers from the Nature Conservancy and the University of Washington plotted the likely routes of 2,954 species as they travel from their current habitats to areas that will better suit their needs.

Saturn’s Trippy Rings

Saturn’s moon Daphnis is only five miles in diameter, but its orbit can still make some waves. The tiny moon travels within the Keeler Gap, a space about 26 miles wide in Saturn’s A ring, keeping it clear. It also causes the edges of the gap to ripple as it swings past. Two new visualizations by NASA software engineer Kevin Gill illustrate how this interaction might look.

Tyrannosaurus rex Skull

Paleontologists work to remove the massive skull of a T. rex from a fossil site in Montana. The skull is encased in plaster to ensure its safety. The recently-discovered skull of the teenage Tyrannosaurus rex was 4 feet long when it died, around 66 million years ago.

Really Big Nest Egg

A fisherman from the Philippines discovered a giant pearl a decade ago, and kept it under his bed as a good luck charm until this year. Now some estimates put its value at as much as $100 million. The giant pearl supposedly formed inside a giant clam — like this Tridacna giant clam in Komodo National Park, Indonesia — which in and of itself is unusual, as clams rarely make pearls.

China’s Mars Rover

This week, China unveiled illustrations of its Mars probe and rover, following earlier announcements of its plan to land on the trendiest planet for bots. The craft will include an orbiter, a landing capsule, and a rover. China is aiming for a summer of 2020 launch on a Long March 5 carrier rocket from the Wenchang space launch center in south China’s Hainan province, according to state media.
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