SciTech Roundup Sept. 25

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx to return asteroid material to Earth

Early in the morning of Sept. 24, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft passed approximately 63,000 miles from Earth and released its sample payload for retrieval. The payload, which contains samples from the asteroid Bennu collected by the spacecraft in late 2020, touched down in Northwest Utah about four hours later, whereupon the samples were transported to the Johnson Space Center in Houston for analysis. The sample return marks the culmination of a seven year mission and was the first U.S. spacecraft to return asteroid material to Earth.

Google antitrust suit enters second week

Arguments continued this week in the Justice Department’s antitrust litigation against Google. The lawsuit, which was filed in the Eastern District of Virginia earlier this year, alleges that Google engaged in anticompetitive behavior to unfairly reduce competition for its digital advertising technologies. This week top executives from DuckDuckGo and Apple took the stand to testify regarding efforts Google has made to become the default search action on various tech platforms. The case is the first such one brought by the Justice department in two decades, and is likely to have wide ranging impact among large tech companies.

Massive leaks reveal Xbox upgrades and more

On Tuesday, a large number of internal Microsoft documents relating to the company’s ongoing trial against the FTC were leaked. Among them included plans for upcoming mid-cycle improvements to the Xbox Series S and X, details on next generation consoles, and conversations showing interest in acquisitions of both Nintendo and Valve. For Microsoft’s part, Xbox chief Phil Spencer maintained that many of the documents were out of date and that the company’s plans have changed substantially.

Scientists successfully extract RNA from extinct marsupial

Scientists in Sweden and Norway were for the first time able to successfully extract RNA from a member of an extinct species, according to a paper recently published in the journal Genome Research. The team was able to recover RNA strands using muscle and skin samples from an animal called a thylacine, or better known as the Tasmanian tiger. The species was driven to extinction in the early 20th century — the last individual died in captivity in 1936. With this discovery, though, researchers hope they will uncover further knowledge about other extinct species in the future.