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The Spill: Koalas Go Home

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Burned Koalas Get Released into the Wild

With much of the world locked down because of the Coronavirus, other events taking place can get lost in the mix. Amid all the talk of illness and a straining economy, it’s always nice to hear a bit of positive news. This uplifting story comes from the land down under and revolves around the koalas who were injured during the massive bush fires in Australia last year. Now, these little cuties have been mended back to health and re-released into their habitat.

In October 2019, Anwen, a female koala who had 90% of her body covered in burns, was admitted to the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital along with several other injured marsupials. Luckily, Anwen survived and has been released at the Lake Innes Nature Reserve in New South Wales.

Twelve of the furry little creatures were rescued during the fires, and five of them have been released, including Anwen, four other adults, and a joey (baby). Others were resettled earlier this month as well, and the remaining ones will also be returning to the wild soon. Besides taking care of their injuries and making sure the koalas were healthy enough to survive, the humans taking care of the animals needed to make sure the land had mended well enough to support them in terms of food and shelter.

Koalas live in eucalyptus trees, where they eat the leaves and branches. The fires destroyed much of their habitat, so if they went home too early they wouldn’t have had enough trees to support them. Recent rains helped to encourage new growth, and the time was right to return the little guys to their homes.

Government Declassifies Footage of a UFO?

Are we alone? Are there aliens flying around in our airspace? These are questions Earthlings have been asking for hundreds of years, and recently the Department of Defense released three videos from the U.S. Navy depicting “unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP),” or as we like to term them, UFOs. The footage may provide us with some answers … and possibly more questions.

The Navy videos were actually released between December 2017 and March of 2018, but the Pentagon only acknowledged them in September of last year. Now, they have published the videos “in order to clear up any misconceptions by the public on whether or not the footage that has been circulating was real, or whether or not there is more to the videos,” said Sue Gough, Pentagon spokesperson. “After a thorough review, the department has determined that the authorized release of these unclassified videos does not reveal any sensitive capabilities or systems and does not impinge on any subsequent investigations of military air space incursions by unidentified aerial phenomena.”

In the videos, it appears that unidentified objects are flying and rapidly moving. The images were captured and recorded by infrared cameras. Service personnel can be heard in the footage expressing surprise at the objects’ speed and maneuvers.

David Fravor, one of the U.S. Navy pilots who witnessed the encounter in 2017, said, “As I got close to it … it rapidly-accelerated to the south, and disappeared in less than two seconds. This was extremely abrupt, like a ping pong ball, bouncing off a wall. It would hit and go the other way.”

Of course, this isn’t the first time pilots have reported UFOs. In fact, for several years, from 2007 to 2012, a program existed that studied aerial encounters, but it was shut down so the Defense Department could put more money towards other projects. Not everyone agreed with that decision. Luis Elizondo, the former head of the program, said in 2017 that he believes “there is very compelling evidence that we may not be alone. These aircraft – we’ll call them aircraft – are displaying characteristics that are not currently within the US inventory nor in any foreign inventory that we are aware of.” Elizondo was so upset about the program being closed that he resigned from the Defense Department and joined the To the Stars Academy, an organization that promotes information on UAPs.

Hubble Celebrates 30th Anniversary

What we know about the Final Frontier wouldn’t even fit into the tip of a pen point, but much of the knowledge we have on space and other galaxies we’ve learned through the Hubble Telescope. This April, the telescope celebrated 30 years of duty.

On April 24, 1990, the Hubble Telescope was launched into space, catching a ride in a bay of the space shuttle Discovery. The mission had been delayed for four years after the 1986 Challenger accident, which broke apart only 73 seconds into its flight and killed all seven crew members, including a schoolteacher.

Finally, the observatory made it into orbit, but it wasn’t all smooth sailing. In fact, scientists were dismayed to discover the telescope had a major flaw: its mirror didn’t work correctly and showed stars as blurred images instead of the sharp pictures they had expected – the entire reason for sending it to space in the first place.

Ground-based telescopes have a tendency to blur stars’ images because on Earth the sky never gets completely dark like it does in space. There is an “airglow” in the Earth’s atmosphere that interferes with taking pictures of other planets and long-exposure photographs. The Hubble was sent high above the atmosphere, where it is completely dark and allows for better picture-taking.

But, the mirror wasn’t working so scientists scrambled to get a crew in space to fix the legendary telescope. In December 1993, the space shuttle Endeavour set out to perform the first servicing flight. After several spacewalks, the astronauts were able to replace the main camera and fix the optics.

All these years later, one of the scientists on the project, Garth Illingworth, praised the telescope’s success so far: “Before Hubble, we knew essentially nothing about galaxies in the first half of the life of the universe. That’s the first 7 billion years of the universe’s 13.8-billion-year life. Now Hubble, through remarkable surveys like HXDF, has probed into the era of the first galaxies.”

For 30 years, the Hubble has been recording images of space and providing valuable information to humans on Earth. Hopefully, it will continue to do so for generations to come.

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