Apollo moon flags are still standing

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The American flags planted on the moon’s surface by Apollo astronauts are still standing, images taken from a NASA spacecraft have revealed.

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Photographs taken by a Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) show that the flags are all still casting shadows, except the one planted by the Apollo 11 team. Buzz Aldrin had previously stated that the Apollo 11 flag was blown over when the ‘Eagle’ blasted off from the moon’s surface.

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter is currently helping to create the most detailed maps yet of the lunar surface.

“Personally I was a bit surprised that the flags survived the harsh ultraviolet light and temperatures of the lunar surface, but they did. What they look like is another question (badly faded?)” said Professor Mark Robinson, the chief scientist for the spacecraft’s camera instrument, in a blog entry.

Palm trees once grew in Antarctica


Analysis of pollen, spores and the remains of tiny creatures has convinced scientists drilling in Antarctica that palm trees once grew in the region.

A climatic picture of the early Eucene period – some 53 million years ago – has been created by the study, which suggests Antarctic winter temperatures exceeded 10C, while summers may have reached 25C.

The Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) dropped a drilling rig through 4km of water off Wilkes Land on Antarctica’s eastern coast. The rig then drilled through 1km of sediment to return samples from the Eocene.

The ‘Eocene greenhouse’ period has been the subject of much interest in recent years as a possible ‘warm analogue’ of the current climate of the Earth.

 

Ned Kelly’s remains to be returned to family

The headless remains of infamous Australian outlaw Ned Kelly are to be returned to his descendants 130 years after he was hanged for murder.

Kelly, whose whereabouts had previously been a mystery, had his remains identified by DNA last November after being found in a mass grave outside the former Pentridge Prison in Victoria.

Kelly and his infamous gang killed three policemen before being captured in Victoria in 1880. He was seen by some as a cold-hearted murderer and by others as a folk hero fighting colonial injustice. He was hanged for murder at Old Melbourne Jail later the same year.

Ellen Hollow, a great-granddaughter of Kelly’s sister, said in a statement that the family will now make final arrangements for Kelly’s burial and would appeal for the return of his skull “so that when the time comes for Ned to be laid to rest his remains can be complete.”

Earliest evidence of modern human behaviour discovered

Unambiguous evidence for modern human behaviour has been discovered in a South African cave dating from 44,000 years ago, over 20,000 years before other findings.

75,000-year-old evidence for human innovation has previously been found in southern Africa, but the artefacts in question have been difficult to interpret. But the new artefacts discovered are near identical to the modern tools of the African San Bush people, to the point where they remove any ambiguity as to their possible use.

“You can hold [one of the] ancient artefacts in your left hand and a modern artefact in your right and they’re exactly the same. It’s incredible… the functions are very, very clear,” Dr Lucinda Backwell of the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa told the BBC.

The research was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

Second World War plane found in St Lawrence river, USA

The remains of a US army amphibious plane, a PBY-5A Catalina, and its crew have been discovered in the Eastern St Lawrence river, near Quebec, Canada.

Despite being upside down and in 40 metres of water the fuselage is largely intact and Parks Canada divers have found remains of the missing crew-members along with sunglasses, film negatives and an operations log.

“The paper is still readable, you can see the typewritten print. It’s a list of procedures for the radio. It’s quite phenomenal,” said Marc-Andre Bernier, chief underwater archaeologist for Parks Canada.

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It is believed that the aircraft capsized in rough water on its way back to Maine on 2 November 1942. According to reports, the plane failed to take off during a storm due to high waves. On the second attempt, the plane hit a large wave and began taking on water. Four of the nine people on board were pulled to safety before the plane sank.