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19. Curiosity rover_RM.3163

Curiosity Rover Arrives on Mars to Begin Mission

On Exhibit posts

The 2,000-lb. Curiosity, NASA's most advanced rover yet, arrived safely on Mars this morning after a complex entry, descent, and landing sequence that had been described as "seven minutes of terror." 

Curiosity, a mobile laboratory that carries 10 scientific instruments, has been en route from Earth for 36 weeks. Now, it begins its two-year mission to find out whether Mars has ever supported microbial life. It sent its initial image of Mars shortly after touchdown.

Don't miss a life-sized model of Curiosity in the Museum’s exhibition Beyond Planet Earth: The Future of Space Exploration, open through Sunday, August 12.

Tags: Hayden Planetarium

18. Vampire squid_DF.3759.jpg

A Brilliant Defense

On Exhibit posts

Humans marvel at the beauty of glowing organisms, but usually, nature’s light displays serve a much more practical purpose.

When pushed to the limit by a predator, the vampire squid envelops its adversary in a smokescreen of glowing particles. After ejecting luminescent mucus from the tips of its eight tentacles, this master of disguise makes its escape, “flying” through water with its fins rather than jet-propelling like most other cephalopods. The sticky mucus, which glows for up to 10 minutes, may even coat the predator and make it more vulnerable to attack.

Tags: Members

Museum Releases Free Companion iPad App for Creatures of Light Exhibition

On Exhibit posts

The Museum’s free companion iPad app for the popular new exhibition Creatures of Light: Nature’s Bioluminescence offers a close look at some of the extraordinary organisms that produce light. The app, which has been featured in the New and Noteworthy section of the iPad app store, reveals the beauty of bioluminescence through interactive animations, photo galleries, and videos. Each chapter of the app, which is adapted from the iPad content featured throughout the exhibition gallery, is set to a symphonic soundtrack composed exclusively for Creatures of Light.

Tags: Bioluminescence

Fireflies

As Firefly Numbers Seem to Slide, Researchers Ponder Effects on Ecosystems

On Exhibit posts

Firefly larvae are voracious predators, feeding on snails, slugs, and earthworms and keeping ecosystems in delicate balance. Many are stocking up on food for their whole adulthood, throughout which they will never eat. Some climb trees in pursuit of arboreal snails. Others have gills like fish that allow them to dive for aquatic snails, whose shells they then use for protection like hermit crabs. In parts of Asia, a large mollusk called an apple snail has ravaged important crops such as rice, and firefly larvae are being explored as a potential form of biocontrol to protect those nations’ food supply.

Tags: Bioluminescence

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