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Sonar image shows anomaly that could be Amelia Earhart’s plane

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One of the greatest enduring mysteries is the fate of beloved pilot Amelia Earhart.

Nearly 87 years after the famed aviator and her navigator, Fred Noonan, disappeared over the Pacific Ocean during an attempt to fly around the world, underwater archaeologists and other marine experts are still trying to unravel what happened.

The US government maintains that the aviation pioneer and Noonan crashed into the ocean after running out of fuel, but some believe the duo became castaways on an island or that Earhart was a spy whom the Japanese captured.

The record-breaking Earhart disappeared at the top of her game, becoming a trailblazing icon for women pilots.

And a recent find may add a new chapter to Earhart’s unfinished story.

Ocean secrets

Amelia Earhart is shown standing under the nose of her Lockheed Model 10-E Electra plane in 1937. - Underwood & Underwood/Alamy Stock Photo
Amelia Earhart is shown standing under the nose of her Lockheed Model 10-E Electra plane in 1937. - Underwood & Underwood/Alamy Stock Photo

A research team believes it has found Earhart’s twin-engine plane deep beneath the waves.

Ocean exploration company Deep Sea Vision sent an expedition to the Pacific Ocean between September and December. While using sonar imaging to map the seafloor with sound waves, a small aircraft-shaped anomaly appeared more than 16,000 feet (4,877 meters) down.

The researchers made the discovery about 100 miles (161 kilometers) away from Howland Island, the next planned stop on Earhart and Noonan’s itinerary after taking off from Papua New Guinea.

Deep Sea Vision needs to return to the site to confirm whether the find is a plane. If it is, the aircraft is likely well-preserved due to the ocean’s cold depths.

Lunar update

The moon is shrinking, and hours-long “moonquakes” and landslides could make the lunar south pole a risky place for astronauts to touch down in the future.

Multiple missions are targeting the region with the aim of potentially using its ice deposits for a sustained human presence on the moon. But as the lunar core cools and shrinks, the south pole is one area where moonquakes tend to rumble, according to a new study.

Seismometers placed by Apollo astronauts decades ago recorded a lunar quake that reached the equivalent of a magnitude 5 quake on Earth.

Given the moon’s low gravity, such a quake could “pop you off your feet,” said Thomas R. Watters, a senior scientist emeritus in the National Air and Space Museum’s Center for Earth and Planetary Studies.

Meanwhile, Japan’s “Moon Sniper” lander received enough solar power to wake up and take new images of the lunar surface.

Fantastic creatures

A great white shark with a white film covering its body was observed off the coast of Southern California. - Carlos Gauna/The Malibu Artist
A great white shark with a white film covering its body was observed off the coast of Southern California. - Carlos Gauna/The Malibu Artist

New drone footage appears to show the first time a newborn great white shark has been spotted in the wild.

While shooting aerial video and images off the coast of Southern California, wildlife filmmaker Carlos Gauna and University of California, Riverside, doctoral student Phillip Sternes saw a pale shark measuring about 5 feet (1.5 meters) long.

A closer look revealed a thin, white film being shed from its body as the shark swam. Sternes said he believes the shark was shedding a layer of nutritious fluid that sustained it while in the uterus.

Scientists have long searched for but haven’t uncovered where great white sharks give birth — an event that has never been witnessed. Some experts believe the footage could help pinpoint a shark nursery.

Dig this

About 350 million years ago, trees were buried alive by an earthquake-induced landslide in what’s now Canada.

When researchers unearthed the first fossils in a quarry in 2017, they made the rare discovery of a tree with the branches and crown leaves still attached to the trunk, according to a new report describing the species.

Complete tree fossils are harder to find than dinosaur skeletons, but they are critical to understanding what ancient landscapes and ecosystems were like, the researchers said. The trees, called Sanfordiacaulis, were reminiscent of palms.

“It’s a very Dr. Seuss-looking tree. It’s a weird and wonderful idea of what this thing could look like,” said Olivia King, a research associate at the New Brunswick Museum who found the fossils.

Across the universe

The Webb telescope observed 19 spiral galaxies including NGC 628 (above), located 32 million light-years away in the constellation Pisces. - NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, J. Lee (STScI), T. Williams (Oxford), PHANGS Team
The Webb telescope observed 19 spiral galaxies including NGC 628 (above), located 32 million light-years away in the constellation Pisces. - NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, J. Lee (STScI), T. Williams (Oxford), PHANGS Team

Millions of stars dance along the spiral arms of 19 galaxies in new images captured by the James Webb Space Telescope.

Webb’s mid-infrared and near-infrared cameras spied sparkling blue stars and glowing red and orange gas that showcase the iconic spiral structure of the galaxies.

Details within the awe-inspiring images provide new puzzle pieces that could help astronomers answer key questions about star formation and galactic evolution.

Discoveries

Grab a cup of coffee and settle in with these intriguing new reads:

— Ancient DNA from bones found in a German cave has revealed that humans likely created distinctive leaf-shaped stone tools and coexisted with Neanderthals 45,000 years ago in an unlikely place.

— Astronomers peering into the heart of the Milky Way stumbled upon a new type of aging star called an “old smoker,” which can remain invisible for decades before releasing giant puffs of smoke and dust.

— Want to know your dog’s life span? Their body size, sex and even the length of their nose can determine how long your fuzzy buddy will be by your side, according to new research.

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