Following is a summary of current science news briefs.
Japanese researchers build robotic tail to keep elderly upright
Millions of years after the ancestors of humans evolved to lose their tails, a research team at Japan’s Keio University have built a robotic one they say could help unsteady elderly people keep their balance. Dubbed Arque, the grey one-meter device mimics tails such as those of cheetahs and other animals used to keep their balance while running and climbing, according to the Keio team.
Genetic study implicates humans in demise of prehistoric cave bear
Genetic research that reconstructed the past population dynamics of the cave bear, a prominent prehistoric denizen of Europe, implicates Homo sapiens rather than climate cooling in the Ice Age extinction of these brawny plant-loving beasts. Scientists said on Thursday they obtained genome data from 59 cave bears from bones unearthed at 14 sites in France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Serbia, Spain and Switzerland.
NASA picks Alabama site as HQ for human moon lander program: sources
The head of NASA is set to announce plans on Friday to name the U.S. space agency's Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama as headquarters for its human lunar lander program, signaling progress in its drive to put astronauts back on the moon by 2024, three people familiar with the plan said. NASA also will designate its Johnson Space Center in Houston to oversee development of a spacecraft to launch astronauts off the moon's surface to a platform in lunar orbit dubbed Gateway, the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Planet 10 times Earth's mass may have smacked Jupiter long ago
Jupiter, the solar system's largest planet, may have been smacked head-on by an embryonic planet 10 times Earth's mass not long after being formed, a monumental crash with apparent lasting effects on the Jovian core, scientists said on Thursday. The violent collision, hypothesized by astronomers to explain data collected by NASA's Juno spacecraft, may have occurred just several million years after the birth of the sun roughly 4.5 billion years ago following the dispersal of the primordial disk of dust and gas that gave rise to solar system.