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NASA’s Mars rover Perseverance is in the home stretch of its journey to Red Planet

The long deep-space journey of NASA’s next Mars rover is nearly over.

The car-size Perseverance rover, which launched on July 30 of last year, is scheduled to land inside the 28-mile-wide (45 kilometers) Jezero Crater on Feb. 18.

“I am thrilled to be here today as our countdown to Mars winds down from months to just weeks,” Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division, said during a news conference on Wednesday (Jan. 27). “Perseverance is closing in on the Red Planet, and our team is preparing for her to touch down in Jezero Crater.”

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‘Flatliners’ still have heartbeats left. But death comes within 5 minutes.

During the death process, the heartbeat often stops and starts.

Death is not a linear process.

New research finds that it’s fairly common for the heart to restart — usually just for a beat or two — after a person initially flatlines. No one in the study, which took place in intensive care units (ICUs) in three countries, survived or even regained consciousness. The longest gap between someone’s heart stopping and restarting again was 4 minutes and 20 seconds.

That’s an important number, according to study leader Dr. Sonny Dhanani, chief of the pediatric intensive care unit at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Canada. Most organ transplant programs require doctors to wait 5 minutes before beginning to remove organs from a deceased donor, though protocols differ from country to country, province to province and state to state. There are cases where programs wait only 2 minutes, or stretch the waiting period up to 10 minutes.

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Why do wombats have cube-shaped poop?

It’s not due to the shape of their “backdoor.”

When nature calls, wombats poop out a masterpiece — a pile of cubed-shaped BMs, the only animal known to do so. And now, scientists may finally know how wombats pull off this feat, according to a new study published online Thursday (Jan. 28) in the aptly named journal Soft Matter.

The wombat, a small, tunneling marsupial that lives Down Under, has block-like poops because of the shape of its intestines, the international team of researchers found.

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South African coronavirus variant: All your questions answered

A worrisome new coronavirus variant first detected in South Africa, known as B.1.351, has already spread to more than 30 countries.

A worrisome new coronavirus variant first detected in South Africa, known as B.1.351, has already spread to more than 30 countries. Experts are particularly alarmed by this variant because of its potential to “escape” protection from current vaccines, meaning vaccines might not stop people from getting infected with COVID-19. Here’s what you need to know about the new variant.

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What if temperature determined a baby’s sex?

Would one sex be favored over another?

The sex of humans is largely controlled by the X and Y sex chromosomes. However, in many reptiles and fish, sex is instead influenced by how warm or cool eggs are before hatching. What might life be like for humans if sex was likewise under the sway of temperature?

The fact it was even possible to control the sex of animals using heat or cold was first uncovered in the rainbow agama lizard in 1966 by French zoologist Madeline Charnier at the University of Dakar in Senegal. She found hatchlings from eggs incubated at lower temperatures were female, while those that developed at higher temperatures were male.

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635 million-year-old fossil is the oldest known land fungus

Its tiny tendrils are 1/10 the width of a human hair.

The oldest evidence of land fungus may be a wee microfossil that’s 635 million years old, found in a cave in southern China.

Too small to be seen with the naked eye, this remarkable find pushes back the appearance of terrestrial fungus by about 240 million years to a period known as “snowball Earth” when the planet was locked in ice from 750 million to 580 million years ago.

The presence of land fungus at this critical point may have helped Earth to transition from a frozen ice ball to a planet with a variety of ecosystems that could host diverse life-forms, scientists wrote in a new study. By breaking down minerals and organic matter and recycling nutrients into the atmosphere and ocean, ancient fungus could have played an important part in reshaping Earth’s geochemistry, creating more hospitable conditions that paved the way for terrestrial plants and animals to eventually emerge and thrive.

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Can people be allergic to exercise?

Some people break out in hives.

Imagine a woman has a few drinks one night, pops some ibuprofen in the morning for her hangover, and goes for a run. She’s never had an issue with alcohol, ibuprofen or exercise before. But this time, some combination of the three triggers a life-threatening allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis.

This is a real case that happened to a patient of Dr. Andrew Murphy, an allergist at Suburban Allergy Consultants in Pennsylvania. So, is it possible to be allergic to exercise?

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World’s smallest reptile fits on your fingertip

The Madagascar chameleon Brookesia nana measures half an inch long, and may be critically endangered.

The world’s smallest male reptile can fit right on your fingertip — if its massive genitals don’t get in its way.

Meet Brookesia nana, an extremely tiny species of chameleon from the rainforests of northern Madagascar. Researchers recently described one male and one female of the species in a study published Jan. 28 in the journal Scientific Reports, and they were stunned by the male’s particularly wee dimensions. Measuring just half an inch (13.5 millimeters) from snout to cloaca (that’s the multipurpose hole reptiles use for both excretion and reproduction), the fully grown male is the smallest adult reptile ever described.

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Can moms pass COVID-19 immunity to their newborns?

If a woman catches COVID-19 during pregnancy, can her baby pick up any immunity to the virus in the womb? Early data hint that the answer is yes, but many questions still remain.

In a new study, published Jan. 29 in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, scientists analyzed blood samples from more than 1,470 pregnant women, 83 of whom tested positive for antibodies for SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, at the time of delivery. Umbilical cord blood samples from the majority of babies born to these women also tested positive for antibodies, suggesting the babies picked up this passive immunity.

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Stunning eagle sculpture uncovered at sacred Aztec temple in Mexico

It is around 600 years old.

A striking 600-year-old Aztec sculpture depicting a golden eagle has been uncovered in an ancient temple in Mexico, archaeologists with Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) announced Monday (Jan. 25).

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