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Hank brings us news from planets all around the solar system: Mars, Mercury, and even planet Earth have been in the news lately. A retraction from NASA about the Curiosity mission; the discovery of water and organic material in craters on Mercury; bad news for Earth's climate and good news about mRNA flu vaccines for the future.

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Oops! We goofed: see our correction about Mercury being the hottest planet here: starting at 5:30

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Hello, I'm Hank Green, welcome to SciShow news. 

So on Wednesday I mentioned that some big news was coming out of the Mars Curiosity Rover. Big news for the history books, Mars shattering, if you will.

But since then, it's become clear that the world's collective imagination, and yes, including mine to some extent, got a little over stimulated.

It started last week when MSL Principal Investigator, John Grotzinger, told NPR that data collected by the Curiosity was quote "Earth-shaking". And yes, when you say something's earth-shaking, we're all gonna want to know what it is. But he couldn't tell us, cause they haven't confirmed the data yet, and Curiosity is what the thing is called so, yeah, we've got it!

At the time, Grotzinger was talking about an instrument on the rover called SAM, or Sample Analysis at Mars, which is the primary instrument to designed to detect organic compounds. Compounds like amino acids, the building blocks of proteins.

So the speculation soon became that SAM had found some of these telltale compounds, perhaps suggesting signs of past, or even present, life on mars. But low, the buzz became so deafening in the media that yesterday NASA issued a release saying quote "Rumours and speculation that there are major new findings from the mission, at this early stage, are incorrect."

Now researchers, including Grotzinger, will be giving us an update on Monday about what Curiosity has been up to in Gale crater, but NASA stresses in it's statement that the instruments on the rover have not detected any definitive evidence of Martian organics.

Which is funny because you know where NASA did just find organics for the first time? Mercury. Not only that but ice, water ice, on the hottest planet in the Solar System. 

Yesterday NASA said the Messenger space craft, which has been orbiting Mercury for the last year, has detected multiple signs of large amounts of water ice at or near the surface of Mercury's poles.

Since the tilt of Mercury's rotational axis is practically zero, there are lots of little pockets at the poles, particularly in craters, that never see the sunlight and much of this ice seems to be buried under dark layers of organic deposit, though exactly what it is, isn't clear. 

So no organics on Mars yet, eh, but lots of ice and some organics on Mercury.(ermagerd!) So it just goes to show you when you're being trolled by NASA, some thrilling new science comes out of there that reminds us how awesome the universe really is.

So now it's time for a bit of bad news. You may have heard recent data that this month was the 332nd month of above average global temperatures. That meaning, as put it, that if you are 27 years old you have never experienced a colder than average year on Earth, and that adds up to, you guessed it, more bad news for our old friend the freakin' planet.

Unfortunately, warming is only one consequence of an increased concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere. Another is an increased concentration of CO2 in the ocean which results in more carbonic acid and thus, more acidic oceans. The ocean's acidity, as you might imagine, is pretty tough to mess with. I mean it's a big ocean, you can dump a lot of junk in it before it starts to notice, but with the dramatic increase of CO2 concentrations, acidity has increased and has begun to affect aquatic ecosystems. This news, coming from the British Antarctic survey in Cambridge, England these effects have long been theorized as it's well documented that the PH of the ocean is dropping faster now than at any time in the last 300 million years, but this is the first time it's been directly observed.

Some animals like snails, corals, and clams build their shells out of calcium carbonate that they pull from the ocean. As the acidity of the ocean increases, less calcium carbonate is available. At the moment the polluted areas of the ocean are fairly few, but in these areas, shells of these animals can be seen with unusual deformities. Scientists estimate that by 2050 significant portions of the ocean's calcium carbonate supply will be depleted and as these small animals make up the base of many ocean ecosystems that could actually be the most significant near-term ecological impact of carbon emissions.  

And now for a bit more good news because we really haven't had enough of that lately. I firmly believe the world would be better off if we all got our flu shots every year, but let's be honest, it's a pain in the arm and it only lasts a single flu season anyway if you're lucky. But what if you could get a lifelong vaccine from the flu. You'd do that, right? You'd probably pay a pretty penny for it too, and so would insurance companies since it would mean that they wouldn't have to pay hospital bills for all those people made sick by the disease. Well, that may be on the way, and the trick is messenger RNA. (I didn't mean to rhyme). When you get a vaccine, basically you're being injected with the proteins that a virus has on the outside of its shell. These proteins, without their virus counterpart trick your body to keep a lookout for intruders with those markers. But there are a number of problems with this. First, proteins change a lot from season to season, second, they take forever to mass produce, and third, you have to keep them refrigerated or they breakdown and are useless. For a while now, scientists have been trying to get around this by enlisting the body to create the proteins from DNA which is much easier to create in the lab and to transport. The idea here is that you inject the DNA that codes for the protein and the body makes the protein and trains the immune system the exact same way. The problem is that injecting foreign DNA into a host occasionally results in that DNA working its way into the organism's genome and that's a recipe for a disaster. So scientists started looking at mRNA, which basically makes up the intermediary step between DNA and proteins. The result is, it could still be coded into the protein but it can't be incorporated into the genome. The bad new is, RNA is a lot less stable than DNA so it wasn't very useful because it kept breaking down in the bloodstream before any coding got done. Until now. A company in Germany called CureVac has found a protein that it can bind to the mRNA to keep it intact. The results have been fantastic. It's cheap and fast to produce,  it ships as a powder that doesn't need to be refrigerated, and it has created high levels of antibodies in the all important ferret analogues. No one knows why but ferrets have immune systems very similar to humans.

As a final bit of 'too good to be true' news, it looks like the mRNA vaccines elicit another sort of immunity that may make it powerful through multiple flu seasons. Instead of just activating antibodies to label the outside of flu cells, its also turned on active attack immune cells to go after the flu cells, a more powerful and active group that's not seen in traditional vaccination. The result, they were able to build a vaccine for an internal protein that the flu virus generally hides from the immune system. This protein doesn't change a lot from season to season, resulting in immunity not only from this season's flu, but from all flus including the generally deadly bird flu. mRNA vaccines could potentially result in treatments for everything from fungal infections to cancer.

And if you want to learn more about how DNA translation and transcription works, or about the human immune system you can check out our CrashCourse Biology episodes on those very topics. Trust me, it's fun to understand how scientists are saving your life. 

Glad you could be with us for this week for some possibly amazing news, some terrible news and some very good news. If you want to keep up to date with all that's brand new in science you can go to and subscribe.