What is an Earthquake?

This month on Newsdesk: Training High-Tech Rescue Rats, NASA tests a heat shield, and melting ice threatens penguins.

Training High-Tech Rescue Rats

Natural disasters like earthquakes can trap people in collapsed buildings. Now, researchers are training rats to help rescue people in disaster zones. Because rats have an excellent sense of smell, and can easily squeeze through small gaps, they can quickly find people trapped under rubble.

The trainee rats have been equipped with special equipment to help with their rescue missions—small high-tech backpacks! When the rats reach their target, they pull a small trigger—which sets off a beacon in their backpack. The beacon pinpoints the location of the trapped individual, allowing rescuers to start their rescue mission.

By combining rats’ natural abilities with the power of technology, researchers hope that rescue rats will soon be helping disaster victims escape to safety!

NASA Tests a Heat Shield

NASA is planning to send humans to Mars. But for astronauts to arrive safely, they will have to pass through the Earth’s atmosphere, which will cause the spacecraft to heat up to 1,648 degrees Celsius. To protect astronauts, NASA engineers are developing a heat shield to attach to spacecraft landing on Mars.

A mission was launched recently to test the heat shield in Earth’s atmosphere. The inflatable, air-filled shield was released from a section of the rocket. As it hurtled through the Earth’s atmosphere, the shield heated up to 1,482 degrees Celsius, and sensors transmitted data to update engineers on its progress.

The giant shield survived the extreme heat of the atmosphere. A parachute then opened, allowing the craft to land safely in the sea. Following the successful test, NASA aims to prepare the technology for a mission to Mars!

Melting Ice Threatens Penguins

Emperor penguins live across Antarctica. They are the largest species of penguin, with fully grown adults standing over one meter tall.

Over half a million live along the Antarctic coastline. But the penguins are threatened by habitat loss, with much of the ice they live on melting into the sea.

Rising temperatures, caused by climate change, are causing the ice to melt faster than ever. As the ice melts, penguins have less space to breed. If temperatures continue to rise, and the ice continues to melt, the penguins could become extinct by 2100.

However, if we successfully tackle climate change, we can reduce the amount of ice melting into the sea, helping emperor penguins to survive far into the future!

Learn more about Earthquakes by watching Twig Film What is an Earthquake?

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