Science Saturday 20201226
By Gao Yiming, Tian Run

In this week's Science Saturday, we look at science news, ranging from new COVID-19 strains to a Red Planet Dog.

UK reports new and highly contagious virus variants 

A second "more transmissible" COVID-19 strain has been found in the UK. It's thought to be from South Africa. Two cases have been identified so far. This comes after an earlier mutation, called "b.1.1.7", which scientists say could be 70-percent more transmissible than the dominant strain. It has also been found in Denmark, Iceland, Italy, the Netherlands, and Australia. Dozens of nations have already cut off travel with the UK.  

NASA plans to send 'Mars Dog' to the Red Planet 

An AI dog will soon explore the buried caves and tunnels of Mars in the latest Red Planet breakthrough. The four-legged "Mars Dog" is actually a modified Boston Dynamics dog robot that can move faster than the usual rovers that have been sent to explore Mars. Part of its mission is to look for possible locations to create human habitats. NASA hasn't revealed the exact date of the launch. But scientists say it'll be a "revolutionary" mission that will prepare NASA for exploring other rocky planets.  

Scientists achieve new progress toward quantum internet  

Scientists have reported a milestone breakthrough in achieving quantum internet. They have built a 27-mile long prototype quantum internet in the United States. They have successfully used quantum entanglement to teleport signals instantly. This phenomenon sees qubits, the quantum equivalent of computer bits, pair up and respond instantly. The team is the first in the world to beam quantum data across such a great distance. Researchers say this could transform data storage and computing, while ushering in a new era of communication.  

Soyuz rocket launches 36 satellites to low Earth orbit  

British company One Web has launched 36 satellites into space. This was its first lift-off since it emerged from bankruptcy this year. A Soyuz-2.1b rocket lifted the satellites off from a spaceport in Russia last week. The spacecraft will join the 74 already in orbit. Fifteen more launches of satellites will follow the deployment to provide enhanced broadband services as soon as next October. The aim is to have a full satellite network in place in 2022.  

"Science Saturday" is part of CGTN's science and technology series "Tech It Out." The segment brings you the latest news about innovations and technological breakthroughs in the past two weeks from across the world. 

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