News In Focus: A Look At This Week’s Most Interesting Stories
Science: In a high-profile press conference held on Monday, scientists at the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) declared that water was present on Mars.
NASA scientists claimed to have found evidence that the wet stuff was responsible for the dark streaks seen on slopes of craters, canyons, and mountains on the Red Planet.
The water, however, is in modest quantities and carries possibly toxic perchlorate salts. But its presence encourages those looking for possible life on Mars.
Here’s NASA’s press conference in full:
The Moon: On Sunday, amateur and professional astronomers, casual stargazers, and billions of curious people around the world witnessed a rare celestial phenomenon.
On that day, the Moon was seen to be bigger and brighter than other full moons, and was red in color.
This “super blood moon” appears when a lunar eclipse coincides with a “supermoon” (when the moon is closest to Earth in its orbit) and leaves the Moon in Earth’s shadow, giving it a reddish hue.
The last super blood moon happened in 1982. Scientists predict that people missing the event this time will have to wait another 18 years to see it.
If you missed the SBM, no worries. SpaceRip filmed it for you.
Spain: On Sunday, Catalan voters backed pro-secessionists, who want to break off from Spain and form an independent Mediterranean nation.
In a regional election, also billed as the de facto referendum for Catalonia independence, the nationalist coalition Junts pel Sí (“Together for Yes”) won a landslide victory and snatched 62 out of Catalonia’s 135-seat regional government.
The election reflects Catalans’ displeasure with the central government. Catalonia boasts a distinct language and culture from the rest of the country, and many there believe they bear a high proportion of tax burden and receive less than a fair share of government investment — even though the region contributes nearly a fifth of Spain’s economic output.
Independence in Catalonia is not a done deal, especially if Spain’s prime minister has anything to say about it:
Middle East: Russia joined the campaign against the Islamic State (ISIS) by launching a series of air strikes in Syria on Wednesday.
The Russian defense ministry said its planes hit 12 ISIS targets, including a command center and two arms depots.
Fifty Russian aircraft began a second round of air attacks on Thursday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the military campaigns were launched “preventively, to fight and destroy militants and terrorists on the territories that they already occupied, not wait for them to come to our house,” the New York Times reports.
But anti-Syrian government rebel groups, some backed by the U.S., reported they had been hit by Russian air strikes, and they claimed that Russian bombers had attacked areas that were not controlled by ISIS forces.
The bombing of Syrian rebel forces have sparked new disputes between Russia and the U.S. that the former’s military motive was to use the strike on ISIS as a pretext to weaken the rebels’ threat against the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.
For more we go to Russia Today, a Russian-funded media outlet. Could be an interesting watch, let’s see:
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