December 04, 2011

Cloning a Mammoth?

A recent report states that scientist might be able to clone a mammoth after finding well-preserved bone marrow in Siberia. Russian and Japanese scientist are stating that they will launch a joint research project next year with the scope of cloning the gigantic mammal.

This was all possible because with the increase in temperature because of global warming, there have been parts of Russia that have thawed which lead to the discoveries of a few mammoth skeletons.

The cloning will be possible by replacing the nuclei of an elephants egg cell with the ones that were taken from the mammoths marrow. As with almost all cloning, after that is done the embryo will be placed in the womb of an elephant, since the mammoth and elephant are close relatives.

Now, my question is if this would be an ethical thing to do. While it's not cloning humans, cloning in general is a very controversial subject. I'm all for it, but some people still resent the day Molly the sheep was successfully cloned. And even if the scientist will be able to find enough intact DNA, a lot of things can still go wrong in the process, so the chances of reviving a species that has been gone 10,000 years are still very, very slim.

December 02, 2011

Efforts to save Russian probe Phobos Grunt ceased!

Russia's space probe that was headed for one of Mars' moons named Phobos Grunt malfunctioned on November 8 shortly after launch. The problem was with one of the probe's engine thrusters. This caused it to be stuck in Earths orbit since then. 

Last week, a signal from Phobos-Grunt was picked up by an European tracking station in Australia and since then the European Space Agency has been trying to help Russia in salvaging the lost probe.

Now, the probe wont be able to reach Mars at all, because the window of opportunity which requires the Earth and the Red Planet to be aligned in a specific way is gone, but that doesn't mean that we can just leave a $165 million piece of metal floating in our orbit. While the ESA had been sending the probe signals to boost its atmosphere, no response was given.

Today, the ESA stated that in an agreement with the probe's mission managers, the ESA will stop trying to contact the probe. Now, the ESA stated that all efforts have not been lost and that if conditions seem to change they will offer their full support once again. What seems to be extremely interesting is that since 1960, Russia has launched 18 spacecrafts towards Mars, and Phobos Grunt was supposed to be the 19th one. Out of all those missions, none have been 100% successful. Definitely something the Russians should look into in my opinion.