Historical Events

The Coronavirus Crisis (Part 3): One Year Later

Last August, I wrote two articles on the coronavirus pandemic – one explaining how the virus passed from animals to humans, probably via a wildlife market in China, and another exploring how the subsequent lockdowns impacted wildlife and the environment across the world. They were meant to be brief, exploratory articles rather than comprehensive studies and, barring any future major events that directly affected the natural world, I had no plans to write any follow-ups.

Animals in Space

On this day – February 20 – in 1947, the United States loaded several fruit flies onto a captured German V-2 rocket and launched it from White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. The purpose was to explore the effects of radiation exposure on living things at very high altitudes. In just over three minutes, the rocket reached 100 km above sea level, the imaginary line commonly used to demarcate the point where the Earth’s atmosphere meets outer space. These flies therefore became the first living animals to leave our planet.

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