China’s Taklamakan Desert

COVERT CARBON  Desert aquifers, fed by rain, surface and irrigation waters, hoard hundreds of billions of metric tons of carbon pulled from the atmosphere, new research suggests. The irrigation water flushes the carbon deep underground, report researchers who studied China’s Taklamakan Desert (shown).

Philae

TAKE TWO   Philae’s intended landing spot (left, imaged from 40 meters above the comet’s surface) was soft and sandy. A two-hour-long bounce dropped it in a craggy pit (right, with lander leg at bottom) where the ground is as hard as pumice.

salamanders

DON’T LET THE FUNGUS GET ME  North America’s extreme diversity of salamanders (lungless Ensatina eschscholtzii from the West Coast shown) could face catastrophic losses if the deadly Bsal fungus invades via the international live-animal trade. 

water strider

FLOATING  Like a real water strider (left), new robotic insects can rest on water and jump off it. 



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