NEWS DIGEST 06.12.2020: This weekend’s happenings in space, and more

Yesterday saw the closest approach of the asteroid 16 Psyche to the planet Earth, with the space rock appearing a distance of 1.6 astronomical units (1.6 times the distance from the Earth to the Sun) from our home world. The asteroid, which measures 226 km. (147 miles) in width, originates from the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, and orbits the Sun just as the planets do. The sixteenth asteroid to be discovered by astronomers (1852), Psyche is believed to be composed almost entirely of metals, chiefly iron and nickel, and its metal content could be worth up to a trillion US dollars – A ‘Bizarre’ Trillion-Dollar Asteroid Worth More Than Our Planet Is Now Aligned With The Earth And Sun (Forbes)

Still in space, a spacecraft managed by American agency NASA has discovered what has been described as a ‘mysterious light’ with no obvious source, around four billion miles from the Earth, in the dark depths of interstellar space. The New Horizons probe, launched in January 2006, was initially sent on a mission to study the former planet Pluto, but has now passed that world and ploughed further into space. The probe spotted the unexplainable light from a distance and took some photographs of it. Astronomers spotted a very faint glow, but are stumped as to what exactly this phenomenon is – NASA Spacecraft Finds Mysterious Light With No Obvious Source Coming From Beyond Our Galaxy (Unilad)

Police in Clayhall, a district of Ilford town near London, have reunited the owner of a luxury Range Rover vehicle just ten minutes after it was reported stolen. Police officers from the Metropolitan Police Service’s Clayhall station tweeted that a slate grey coloured Rover was found abandoned in Keswick Gardens in the same part of town. The thieves were believed to have used a device that overrode the car’s keyless entry system, a common tactic used by criminals targeting high-end vehicles with modern technology – On Thursday, officers from Clayhall SNT found a stolen high value Range Rover within 10 minutes of the owner reporting it stolen. (Clayhall Police/Twitter)

Argentina’s parliament has passed a law which will permit authorities to levy a one-off ‘millionaire’s tax’ on rich Argentines to help fund health supplies and virus support measures during the international coronavirus pandemic. Senators in the capital Buenos Aires passed the one-off levy by 42 votes to 26 on Friday. The law will affect around 12,000 citizens, with assets more than 200 million pesos ($2.5m; £1.8m). Argentina has recorded close to 1.5 million infections and almost 40,000 deaths from the coronavirus – Covid: Argentina passes tax on wealthy to pay for virus measures (BBC News World Latin America)

The world’s first fully autonomous drone, which does not require a human operator to fly it, has been launched, Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper reported. The Ravn X drone, developed by US space technology startup Aevum, measures a staggering 80 feet (24.3 metres) in length, making it one of the largest drones in existence. Resembling more an fighter jet than a normal drone, the Ravn X will be used to launch satellites into space, at a rate of one satellite every two hours. The drone is expected to enter official service as early as next year – World’s largest fully-autonomous DRONE unveiled by US space startup will launch satellites into orbit in as little as 180 minutes (Mail Online Science & Tech)

The Himalayan country of Nepal, once the world’s only Hindu kingdom, until a Communist-led insurgency saw it become a republic in 2008, has seen massive street protests demanding a return to royal rule, it has emerged. Thousands of royalists marched through the streets of capital Kathmandu yesterday, with other protests happening countrywide since the past week. Leader of the Rashtriya Shakti Nepal movement, Keshar Bahadur Bista, said that since the fall of the ruling Shah dynasty that formerly governed Nepal, the state has gone from ‘having one king to having many kings’. Protesters have accused the current government of being corrupt and of plundering the country – ‘King, please come back and save the country!’: Massive protests in Nepal demand the restoration of Hindu Monarchy (OpIndia)

A professor has become a sort of a Jamie Oliver of ancient civilisations after recreating a 3,700-year-old recipe detailed on a Mesopotamian stone cuneiform tablet, with surprising results. Bill Sutherland, a lecturer with the UK’s Cambridge University, prepared a course of meals including a Babylonian lamb stew and cakes made with barley flour, crushed leeks and garlic. There was also an Elamite broth, or zukanda, which required sheep’s blood in the preparation, but unable to find such a strange ingredient, Prof. Sutherland substituted it with tomato sauce. The professor roadtested the recipes and reported back saying the foods he recreated were simple, but looked good and tasted just as good – Professor Cooks 3,770-Year-Old Recipes From Mesopotamia and Shares Surprising Results (My Modern Met)

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