Deep-diving drones, Mars’ watery past and a volcanic shock

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Nahshon Almandmoss / U.S. Coast Guard

Surprise eruption

An Alaskan volcano on the lowest alert status abruptly erupted early this week, sending an ash cloud 6,000 metres high.

The Pavlof Volcano is a snow- and ice-covered strato volcano located on the southwestern end of the Alaska Peninsula about 953 kilometres southwest of Anchorage. The volcano is about seven kilometres wide with active vents on the north and east sides close to the summit. With more than 40 historic eruptions, it is one of the most consistently active volcanoes in the Aleutian arc. This current eruption marks the first since November 2014.

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Suhaimi Abdullah / Getty Images

A fully immersive digital universe

Singapore’s largest digital playground Future World opened at the ArtScience Museum this month. Spanning 1,500 square metres, the new permanent interactive exhibition features 15 digital installations that take visitors on a journey of discovery through four key narratives – Nature, Town, Park and Space.

The “Crystal Universe” installation pictured above lets visitors experience astrophysical phenomena such as planets, stars, galaxies and even the very recently detected gravitational waves. This stunning artwork utilises Japanese art collective teamLab’s Interactive 4-D Vision technology, which allows users to control more than 170,000 LED lights, which give the illusion of stars moving in space. Visitors become an intrinsic part of the artworks on display, as the installations dynamically evolve through their presence and participation.

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VCG / Getty Images

New underwater unmanned vehicles

Now one can explore the underwater world ten times deeper with the help of new underwater drones.

The White Shark Max, developed by Chinese company Deepfar, can dive up to 100 metres, with a battery life exceeding two hours. Other gadgets can be attached, such as 3-D cameras, GPS and sonar, used to detect underwater objects by sending and receiving sound waves. Filmmakers and photographers can get high-definition images of the beautiful marine world without getting their feet wet.

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NASA / JPL-Caltech / University of Arizona

Mars’ alluvial fans

This shot, captured by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, covers two impact craters that expose the stratigraphy of alluvial fans on Mars.

Alluvial fans are gently sloping wedges of sediment deposited by flowing water. Some of the best-preserved fans are found in Saheki Crater on Mars, giving NASA a closer look at the layers as well as a chance to measure the depth of the fans and describe their depositional history.

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NASA / Chris Gunn

Major milestone for the James Webb Space Telescope

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope just got a little closer to launch with the installation of its final flight mirrors. The telescope is now officially optically complete.

Pictured here in the cleanroom at the Goddard Space Flight Centre is the completed Webb Telescope’s primary mirror, and supported over it on the tripod is its secondary mirror.

Once launched into space, the Webb telescope, the most powerful space telescope ever built, will capture faint light from the very first objects that illuminated the Universe after the Big Bang. To see galaxies and stars that far away, the telescope has a unique set of mirrors: a 25-square-metre primary mirror consisting of 18 hexagonal concave segments, a secondary rounded, convex mirror, a tertiary concave mirror and a moveable turning flat mirror called the fine steering mirror.

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