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NASA announces water on Mars

AstronomyOn Monday, NASA announced that signs of liquid water have been found on Mars. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft found evidence of the liquid on the Martian surface, in long dark spots on the Red Planet thought to be formed because of water flow.

In a news conference, NASA's planetary science director, Jim Green said, "We now know Mars was once a planet very much like Earth with warm salty seas and fresh water lakes [...] but something has happened to Mars, it lost its water."

Study estimates Earth has over three trillion trees

BiologyA study published yesterday by Nature estimates the global tree population at just over three trillion. Previous work estimated the total at 400 billion.

The international research, led by Yale University in the US, used satellite images to examine over 400,000 plots of land for estimated tree density. Subarctic regions of Scandinavia, Russia, and North America had the highest densities but the largest forested areas were tropical. The study puts 43% of trees in the tropics, where deforestation is particularly common.

Biologist Nick Bos tells Wikinews about 'self-medicating' ants

Biologist Nick Bos tells Wikinews about 'self-medicating' antsNick Bos, of the University of Helsinki, studies "the amazing adaptations social insects have evolved in order to fight the extreme parasite pressure they experience". In a recently-accepted Evolution paper Bos and colleagues describe ants appearing to self-medicate.

The team used Formica fusca, an ant species that can form thousand-strong colonies. This common black ant eats other insects, and also aphid honeydew. It often nests in tree stumps or under rocks and foraging workers can sometimes be spotted climbing trees.

Some ants were infected with Beauveria bassiana, a fungus. Infected ants chose food laced with toxic hydrogen peroxide, whereas healthy ants avoided it. Hydrogen peroxide reduced infected ant fatalities by 15%, and the ants varied their intake depending upon how high the peroxide concentration was.

In the wild, Formica fusca can encounter similar chemicals in aphids and dead ants. The Independent reported self-medicating ants a first among insects.

Scientists create micro-battery using 3D printing

Engineering and TechnologyScientists have successfully created a Lithium ion micro-battery the size of a grain of sand. A team of researchers from Harvard University and the University of Illinois were able to create the tiny battery using 3D printing technology.

In order to achieve this feat, the separate parts of the battery were printed layer-by-layer using materials thinner than a human hair. This resulted in two separate comb-like structures which, when interlocked, act as the anode and cathode. These were then immersed in an electrolyte solution which created a working battery.

Soyuz TMA-08M launches to International Space Station, arrives in record time

AstronomySoyuz TMA-08M, a Russian spacecraft with a crew of three aboard, launched from Kazakhstan to the International Space Station (ISS) Thursday at 20:43 UTC (2:43 AM Friday, local time) and docked with the orbital outpost at 2:28 UTC on Friday after following a flight plan enabling a docking in record time.
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