What We’re Reading: Spotting Venus, Lunar-Like Sub Dive, and Hitchhiking in Duck Guts

BY Jenny Marder  March 26, 2012 at 12:17 PM EDT

Cameron’s Historic Dive Cut Short by Leak; Few Signs of Life Seen

National Geographic.jpgA hydraulic fuel leak cut filmmaker James Cameron’s dive to the deepest part of the ocean short, but he still plunged to nearly seven miles underwater. And as for what he saw: “It was bleak. It looked like the moon,” he said, according to this National Geographic story, but no fish in the deepest depths, just “shrimplike amphipods.” The fuel leak coated the window of the research vessel, obscuring his view. (Ker Than, National Geographic News)

Planet Venus Visible in Daytime Sky Today: How to See It

Space.jpgIn 1865, Abraham Lincoln famously spotted Venus in the daytime, shortly after his second inauguration speech. Now it’s back, piercing through the afternoon sky, ” a tiny brilliant pinpoint of light,” visible — if you know where to look. This article tells you how to spot it. “What makes today’s Venus appearance special is that the waxing crescent moon will be right next to Venus in the sky, showing you exactly where to look, and giving your eyes something to focus on.” (Geoff Gaherty, Space.com)

Space Station Crew Scrambles as Debris Passes Nearby

“Crew members aboard the International Space Station temporarily scrambled into a spacecraft capable of returning them to Earth early on Saturday as remnants of a discarded Russian satellite passed nearby, the latest episode spotlighting the growing amount of space debris encircling the planet.” The debris passed within nine miles of the ISS, a near sideswipe. (Kevin Drew, New York Times)

Snails Hitch a Ride in Duck Guts

Wired.jpgSome snails can survive inside bird guts for hours at a time, traveling nearly 200 miles before popping out the other end. Most snails die in the digestive tract. Only one species studied – a marine snail species called hydrobia ulvae – had the tough shell and other hardy traits necessary to sometimes survive the long journey. The study was released earlier this month in the journal PLoS One. (Brian Switek, Wired)