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Dead Russian satellite and discarded Chinese rocket avoid ‘very high risk’ collision

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dead russian satellite and discarded chinese rocket avoid very high risk collision

There is no indication of an out-of-commission Russian satellite and a discarded Chinese rocket colliding in orbit.

LeoLabs, a firm that tracks space debris, identified the two craft this week, which had just a 10 percent chance of smashing into each other.

Russian Kosmos-2004 was seen moving towards the southern poles and the Chinese Change Zheng 4C headed north over the Falklands – both moving at 32,882 miles per hour.

However, the Chinese Chang Zheng rocket passed over LeoLans Kiwi Space Radar 10 minutes after the pair’s closest approach, which occurred at around 8:56pm ET.

The objects have a combined mass of 2.8 metric tons, and the impact would add thousands of pieces of space junk – anywhere from 10 percent to 20 percent more debris – to the 170 million currently floating in orbit. 

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There is no indication of an out-of-commission Russian satellite and a discarded Chinese rocket colliding into each other in orbit. The Chinese Chang Zheng rocket passed over LeoLans Kiwi Space Radar 10 minutes after the pair’s closest approach, which occurred at around 8:56pm ET.

There is no indication of an out-of-commission Russian satellite and a discarded Chinese rocket colliding into each other in orbit. The Chinese Chang Zheng rocket passed over LeoLans Kiwi Space Radar 10 minutes after the pair’s closest approach, which occurred at around 8:56pm ET.

‘CZ-4C R/B passed over LeoLabs Kiwi Space Radar 10 minutes after TCA. Our data shows only a single object as we’d hoped, with no signs of debris,’ LeoLabs shared in a tweet at 9:51 pm ET.

Although there is no threat to people on Earth, the man-made materials posed a significant risk to functioning satellites in orbit.

Shortly after LeoLabs made the announcement on Twitter, many users flocked to the social media site to share their excitement of the missed 'catastrophic' event. One users shared that it is a sigh of relief that the impact did not happen

Shortly after LeoLabs made the announcement on Twitter, many users flocked to the social media site to share their excitement of the missed ‘catastrophic’ event. One users shared that it is a sigh of relief that the impact did not happen

With all the events that have happened this year, many users said this was the best news of 2020

With all the events that have happened this year, many users said this was the best news of 2020

LeoLabs also shared that it will release more details about the risk assessment in the upcoming days. 

People from around the world were waiting on the edge of their seats for the news of whether or not the satellite and rocket had ‘kissed’ in orbit.

Shortly after LeoLabs made the announcement on Twitter, many users flocked to the social media site to share their excitement of the missed ‘catastrophic’ event.

People from around the world were waiting on the edge of their seats for the news of whether or not the satellite and rocket had 'kissed' in orbit. One Twitter users was so excited by the news, they jumped out of their chair

People from around the world were waiting on the edge of their seats for the news of whether or not the satellite and rocket had ‘kissed’ in orbit. One Twitter users was so excited by the news, they jumped out of their chair 

Although there is no threat to people on Earth, the man-made materials posed a significant risk to functioning satellites in orbit. The Space Update took this time to mention that this will be an ongoing problem, as SpaceX is building a mega constellation of Starlink satellites in low-Earth orbit.

Although there is no threat to people on Earth, the man-made materials posed a significant risk to functioning satellites in orbit. The Space Update took this time to mention that this will be an ongoing problem, as SpaceX is building a mega constellation of Starlink satellites in low-Earth orbit.

One users shared that it is a sigh of relief that the impact did not happen and another posted that they jumped out of their chair with glee after hearing the news.

The Space Update took this time to mention that this will be an ongoing problem, as SpaceX is building a mega constellation of Starlink satellites in low-Earth orbit.

LeoLabs spotted the rocket and satellite Tuesday, which they shared on Twitter. 

‘This event continues to be very high risk and will likely stay this way through the time of closest approach,’ LeoLabs said in a tweet.

Astronomer Jonathan McDowell weighed in on the event with a model prediction.

The image shows the Russian Kosmos-2004 moving towards the southern poles and the Chinese Chang Zheng 4C heading north over the Falklands.

The predicted paths also suggested the two could eventually meet head on over Antarctica – but luckily the predictions were wrong.

The image shows predictions from early in the day on Thursday, but more than six hours later the rocket and satellite did not collide in orbit.  LeoLabs is set to release more details about the risk assessment in the upcoming days

The image shows predictions from early in the day on Thursday, but more than six hours later the rocket and satellite did not collide in orbit.  LeoLabs is set to release more details about the risk assessment in the upcoming days

LeoLabs, a firm that tracks space debris, identified the two craft this week, which had just a 10 percent chance of smashing into each other. The team had predicted an impact time at 8:56 pm ET, but announced there is no indication of collision nearly an hour later

 LeoLabs, a firm that tracks space debris, identified the two craft this week, which had just a 10 percent chance of smashing into each other. The team had predicted an impact time at 8:56 pm ET, but announced there is no indication of collision nearly an hour later

Astronomer Jonathan McDowell weighed in on the event with a model prediction. The image shows the Russian Kosmos-2004 moving towards the southern poles above Earth and the Chinese Chang Zheng 4C is heading north over the Falklands

Astronomer Jonathan McDowell weighed in on the event with a model prediction. The image shows the Russian Kosmos-2004 moving towards the southern poles above Earth and the Chinese Chang Zheng 4C is heading north over the Falklands

LeoLabs , a firm that tracks space debris, created a model that shows the objects would pass less than 40 feet apart and just a 10 percent chance of the two smashing into each other

LeoLabs , a firm that tracks space debris, created a model that shows the objects would pass less than 40 feet apart and just a 10 percent chance of the two smashing into each other 

McDowell also notes that the two items breaking apart during impact would add 10 to 20 percent more space junk into orbit.  

However, the Aerospace Corporation, based in California, calculated a much lower chance of collision – one in 250,000 million.

‘I don’t mean to throw any shade whatsoever on [LeoLabs’] process or their sensors or anything else,’ Ted Muelhaupt at the Aerospace Corporation told Business Insider

‘But the sensors, the data we have access to says we’re pretty confident [the satellites] are not going to hit.’ 

A Chang Zheng 4C carrier rocket, like the one on the collision course, blasts off from the launch pad at the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in Taiyuan, capital of north China's Shanxi Province, in October 2014

A Chang Zheng 4C carrier rocket, like the one on the collision course, blasts off from the launch pad at the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in Taiyuan, capital of north China’s Shanxi Province, in October 2014

A report released in May shows Russia is responsible for the majority of space junk floating in orbit – accounting for some 14,403 pieces in total. 

These include the upper stage of a type of rocket known as a space tug, called Fregat-SB, which was used to launch a scientific radio telescope, called Spektr-R, into space in 2011.

Fregat-SB was left floating after it delivered Spektr-R, and broke apart on May 8 somewhere above the Indian Ocean after nine years in orbit, leaving dozens of pieces of debris around Earth, according to Roscosmos.

Spektr-R stopped responding to ground control last year and was declared dead in May 2019.  

An expert notes that the two breaking apart during impact would have add 10 to 20 percent more space junk into orbit. These pieces can destroy satellites, telescopes, spacecraft

An expert notes that the two breaking apart during impact would have add 10 to 20 percent more space junk into orbit. These pieces can destroy satellites, telescopes, spacecraft

These pieces can destroy satellites, telescopes and spacecraft, and one NASA scientist fears they could eventually create the ‘Kessler syndrome’.

This is a theoretical scenario, proposed by NASA scientist Donald Kessler in 1978, in which the density of objects in low-Earth orbit is high enough that collisions between objects cause a cascade, in which each collision generates space debris that increases the likelihood of further collisions

It could even reach the point that it is dangerous for humans to venture off the planet.

A recent study has proposed a way to limit the number of satellites in space to help decrease the growing space debris problem.

Researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder say an international agreement would be needed in order to charge operators ‘orbital use fees’ for every device launched into orbit.

The amount charged would increase each year to 2040 up to $235,000, according to the team, who say the orbit becomes clearer each year, reducing the risk costs.

WHAT IS SPACE JUNK? MORE THAN 170 MILLION PIECES OF DEAD SATELLITES, SPENT ROCKETS AND FLAKES OF PAINT POSE ‘THREAT’ TO SPACE INDUSTRY

There are an estimated 170 million pieces of so-called ‘space junk’ – left behind after missions that can be as big as spent rocket stages or as small as paint flakes – in orbit alongside some US$700 billion (£555bn) of space infrastructure.

But only 22,000 are tracked, and with the fragments able to travel at speeds above 16,777 mph (27,000kmh), even tiny pieces could seriously damage or destroy satellites.

However, traditional gripping methods don’t work in space, as suction cups do not function in a vacuum and temperatures are too cold for substances like tape and glue.

Grippers based around magnets are useless because most of the debris in orbit around Earth is not magnetic.

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Around 500,000 pieces of human-made debris (artist’s impression) currently orbit our planet, made up of disused satellites, bits of spacecraft and spent rockets

Most proposed solutions, including debris harpoons, either require or cause forceful interaction with the debris, which could push those objects in unintended, unpredictable directions.

Scientists point to two events that have badly worsened the problem of space junk.

The first was in February 2009, when an Iridium telecoms satellite and Kosmos-2251, a Russian military satellite, accidentally collided.

The second was in January 2007, when China tested an anti-satellite weapon on an old Fengyun weather satellite.

Experts also pointed to two sites that have become worryingly cluttered.

One is low Earth orbit which is used by satnav satellites, the ISS, China’s manned missions and the Hubble telescope, among others.

The other is in geostationary orbit, and is used by communications, weather and surveillance satellites that must maintain a fixed position relative to Earth. 

 

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‘Fireball’ meteorite that smashed into a frozen US lake in 2018 contains raw materials for life

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fireball meteorite that smashed into a frozen us lake in 2018 contains raw materials for life

A meteorite that stunned the world when it blazed through the sky and plummeted into a frozen Lake Michigan on January 16, 2018 has been analysed by scientists.

The six-foot wide rock fragmented and illuminated the sky while travelling at 30,00mph with the footage of the event going viral around the world.  

Fragments were rapidly tracked down and handed over to scientists who now know it contains some of the key ingredients for  the creation of life. 

So-called ‘organic compounds’ were found and these carbon-containing molecules are the backbone of amino acids, fats, DNA and other biological materials.

The discovery of these raw materials on a space rock means it is possible that billions of years ago a larger, but similar, meteorite landed on Earth and brought these organic compounds with it, which would eventually allow life to flourish.

Security camera footage of the fireball in the sky over Toledo, Ohio. The six-foot wide rock fragmented and illuminated the sky while travelling at 30,00mph

Security camera footage of the fireball in the sky over Toledo, Ohio. The six-foot wide rock fragmented and illuminated the sky while travelling at 30,00mph

Security camera footage of the fireball in the sky over Toledo, Ohio. The six-foot wide rock fragmented and illuminated the sky while travelling at 30,00mph

The meteorite fragment that fell on Strawberry Lake which contains pristine extraterrestrial organic compounds

The meteorite fragment that fell on Strawberry Lake which contains pristine extraterrestrial organic compounds

The meteorite fragment that fell on Strawberry Lake which contains pristine extraterrestrial organic compounds

Philipp Heck, a curator at the Field Museum in Chicago which led analysis on the rock says: ‘These kinds of organic compounds were likely delivered to the early Earth by meteorites and might have contributed to the ingredients of life.’

While scientists do know that carbon-based compounds were instrumental in the development of life on Earth, knowing where they came from remains a mystery. 

Some theories say they were belched out from deep inside the Earth while others contest they likely landed on our planet from another world via meteorites. 

Life itself was not found on the rock, but materials which, given the right conditions, could create life. 

Scientists benefitted from the public furore following the event as it meant the rock fragments were rapidly tracked down and retrieved. 

This ensured they remained relatively clean and unsullied by Earth’s microbe-rich dirt, allowing for a truer picture of the meteoritie’s contents. 

‘This meteorite is special because it fell onto a frozen lake and was recovered quickly. It was very pristine,’ says Dr Heck.

‘We could see the minerals weren’t much altered and later found that it contained a rich inventory of extraterrestrial organic compounds.’

Meteorite hunter Robert Ward with the meteorite on Strawberry Lake near Hamburg, Michigan

Meteorite hunter Robert Ward with the meteorite on Strawberry Lake near Hamburg, Michigan

Meteorite hunter Robert Ward with the meteorite on Strawberry Lake near Hamburg, Michigan

A piece of the meteorite sits on a display during a press conference, Friday, Jan. 19, 2018, at the Longway Planetarium in Flint, Michigan. Scientists now know it contains organic compounds

A piece of the meteorite sits on a display during a press conference, Friday, Jan. 19, 2018, at the Longway Planetarium in Flint, Michigan. Scientists now know it contains organic compounds

A piece of the meteorite sits on a display during a press conference, Friday, Jan. 19, 2018, at the Longway Planetarium in Flint, Michigan. Scientists now know it contains organic compounds 

Astronomer Todd Slisher unfolds tin-foil to reveal a piece of the meteorite during the 2018 press conference

Astronomer Todd Slisher unfolds tin-foil to reveal a piece of the meteorite during the 2018 press conference

Astronomer Todd Slisher unfolds tin-foil to reveal a piece of the meteorite during the 2018 press conference

WHAT WAS THE MASSIVE FIREBALL THAT SOARED OVER MICHIGAN?

The American Meteor Society says it received hundreds of reports of a fireball on the night of Tuesday January 16 over Michigan, including many in the Detroit area.

Footage of a meteorite falling from the sky was captured by a number of residents throughout Michigan and further afield that evening.

A bright light, understood to be the soaring fireball exploding above Michigan, was seen as far away as Chicago and even across the border in Canada.

The United States Geological Survey said the equivalent of a 2.0-magnitude earthquake struck the area at the same time..

This would suggest it came crashing down to earth, but there has been no official confirmation of this yet.

By the end of the week, meteorite hunters who flocked to Detroit from across the U.S. after a meteor exploded had begun to find the fragments.

The 6-foot-wide meteor broke apart Tuesday about 20 miles over Earth, NASA scientists said. Most of the fragments landed in Hamburg Township.

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The rock blazed bright as it burned up in Earth’s atmosphere and broke up, but it was large enough that many of its pieces remained in tact when they landed. 

Smaller meteors disintegrate completely until nothing is left by the time it approaches Earth’s surface. 

But the pieces of the 2018 rock were so large they could be tracked by weather systems normally used to predict and follow rain and hail.  

‘Weather radar helped show the position and velocity of the meteorite. That meant that we were able to find it very quickly,’ Dr Heck says. 

Within two days an eager meteorite hunter, Robert Ward, had tracked down the first piece on the frozen surface of Strawberry Lake, near Hamburg, Michigan and entrusted it to the Chicago Field Museum.   

The short period of time it took for the rock to be found provides an invaluable research opportunity. 

‘Because there was so much excitement surrounding it, everybody wanted to apply their own technique to it, so we have an unusually comprehensive set of data for a single meteorite,’ says Ms Jennika Greer, co-author of the research and a scientist at the University of Chicago.

The research found that, apart from the cacophony of organic compounds, the rock is a rare form of meteorite, called a H4 chondrite.  

The findings are published in the journal Meteoritics & Planetary Science.

Explained: The difference between an asteroid, meteorite and other space rocks

An asteroid is a large chunk of rock left over from collisions or the early solar system. Most are located between Mars and Jupiter in the Main Belt.

A comet is a rock covered in ice, methane and other compounds. Their orbits take them much further out of the solar system.

A meteor is what astronomers call a flash of light in the atmosphere when debris burns up.

This debris itself is known as a meteoroid. Most are so small they are vapourised in the atmosphere.

If any of this meteoroid makes it to Earth, it is called a meteorite.

Meteors, meteoroids and meteorites normally originate from asteroids and comets.

For example, if Earth passes through the tail of a comet, much of the debris burns up in the atmosphere, forming a meteor shower.

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Crash Bandicoot for iPhone and Android to ‘arrive in spring 2021’

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crash bandicoot for iphone and android to arrive in spring 2021

The hugely popular video game Crash Bandicoot, first released in 1996 for the original PlayStation, is set to launch for iOS and Android devices next spring. 

The new installment, Crash Bandicoot: On the Run!, which users will be able to download as an app on their smartphones, is being made by video game developers King, the company behind the hugely successful mobile game Candy Crush Saga.

Gamers will be able to simply tap the screen to control the Crash Bandicoot avatar through the fictional Wumpa Island in his quest to save the multiverse and avoid the clutches of the evil antagonist, Dr. Neo Cortex.

The free game is an endless runner, meaning players don’t have to control the mutant bandicoot’s forward momentum and instead focus on jumping over obstacles. 

King says the game will feature fan favourite characters from the series’ quarter-century history, including Dr. Cortex and Fake Crash, Crash Bandicoot’s dimwitted doppelganger. 

The game doesn’t have an officially confirmed launch date at the moment, although it’s listed on the Apple Store as being available from March 25. 

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Crash Bandicoot: On the Run! is set to launch on mobile in Spring 2021. Fans can look forward to classic Crash gameplay for mobile, according to developers King. Pictured from left, Crash Bandicoot, his sister Coco Bandicoot and Fake Crash

Crash Bandicoot: On the Run! is set to launch on mobile in Spring 2021. Fans can look forward to classic Crash gameplay for mobile, according to developers King. Pictured from left, Crash Bandicoot, his sister Coco Bandicoot and Fake Crash

Crash Bandicoot: On the Run! is set to launch on mobile in Spring 2021. Fans can look forward to classic Crash gameplay for mobile, according to developers King. Pictured from left, Crash Bandicoot, his sister Coco Bandicoot and Fake Crash

‘Crash Bandicoot is back, but this time he’s on the run and on mobile!’ reads the game’s official blurb on Google Play and Apple Store. 

‘That means high-speed battle runs across Wumpa Island to save the multiverse from the evil Dr. Neo Cortex, smash crates, avoid obstacles and run into your favourite characters.’

In Crash Bandicoot: On the Run!, players will have to avoid energy blasts and mutated blobs while smashing crates and collecting wumpa fruit – a cross between an apple and a mango – on the fictional archipelago near Tasmania, Australia. 

Crash Bandicoot

Crash Bandicoot

Crash Bandicoot: On the Run! is an endless runner, meaning players don’t have to control the mutant bandicoot’s forward momentum and have to tap the screen to make him jump

Crash inside the evil Dr Cortex's lab as he collects wumpa fruit - a colourful cross between an apple and a mango

Crash inside the evil Dr Cortex's lab as he collects wumpa fruit - a colourful cross between an apple and a mango

Crash inside the evil Dr Cortex’s lab as he collects wumpa fruit – a colourful cross between an apple and a mango

Hidden paths will lead players to exclusive challenge runs that are full of additional dangers, small enemies and Dr. Cortex’s minions, including mini-blobs, ant drones and giant oxide spiders. 

All the while, players will be battling their favourite bosses, earning rewards and building weapons and bases.  

Gamers will be able to play on one of the most infamous levels from the original Crash Bandicoot game and N. Sane Trilogy, which was released in 2017 for consoles. 

Dr. Neo Cortex (pictured here in the new game) originally created Crash Bandicoot in the lab, and after nearly 25 years still wants him dead

Dr. Neo Cortex (pictured here in the new game) originally created Crash Bandicoot in the lab, and after nearly 25 years still wants him dead

Dr. Neo Cortex (pictured here in the new game) originally created Crash Bandicoot in the lab, and after nearly 25 years still wants him dead

Shot of Fake Crash for the 2021 game, who has appeared as an unlockable playable character and boss through the history of the franchise

Shot of Fake Crash for the 2021 game, who has appeared as an unlockable playable character and boss through the history of the franchise

Shot of Fake Crash for the 2021 game, who has appeared as an unlockable playable character and boss through the history of the franchise

In ‘The Lab’, Crash Bandicoot will aim to defeat Dr. Cortex, who himself genetically engineered the mutant bandicoot before his escape. 

Players will also have to navigate Fake Crash – the protagonist’s clueless doppelganger who tends to show up unexpectedly during the series, usually without much explanation.  

As Crash, players will also get to team up with his highly intelligent younger sister Coco Bandicoot and spot enemies across the island. 

They’ll also get to customise the Crash avatar, join friends on multiplayer mode, building their own unique bandicoot crew. 

Crash Bandicoot: On the Run! is now available for pre-registration on Android and iOS-registration. 

Crash Bandicoot: On the Run! is available for pre-registration on Android and now on iOS. Any player that pre-registers will receive an exclusive mobile Blue Hyena Skin on launch day, which fans may remember from 2019's Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled

Crash Bandicoot: On the Run! is available for pre-registration on Android and now on iOS. Any player that pre-registers will receive an exclusive mobile Blue Hyena Skin on launch day, which fans may remember from 2019's Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled

Crash Bandicoot: On the Run! is available for pre-registration on Android and now on iOS. Any player that pre-registers will receive an exclusive mobile Blue Hyena Skin on launch day, which fans may remember from 2019’s Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled

Users who have pre-registered games will receive a push notification letting them know the app or game is available for their device. 

Eligible devices will have the app or game automatically downloaded and installed. 

All players who pre-register will receive a Blue Hyena Skin, from last year’s Crash Bandicoot racing game, Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled, which turns Crash blue. 

King said the game will be completely free to play but some optional in-game items will require payment. 

Cover of the original Crash Bandicoot game from 1996 - one of the original PlayStation's most successful games

Cover of the original Crash Bandicoot game from 1996 - one of the original PlayStation's most successful games

Cover of the original Crash Bandicoot game from 1996 – one of the original PlayStation’s most successful games

The first Crash Bandicoot computer game was originally developed by US firm Naughty Dog as an exclusive for Sony’s PlayStation console.

It went on to sell 6.8 million units and became the eighth-best selling game for the PlayStation, behind the likes of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Final Fantasy VII and top ranking seller, 1997’s Gran Turismo.  

Follow-ups were developed for the PlayStation 2, Nintendo’s GameCube and handheld DS and Microsoft’s Xbox until 2010, when the series went on a seven-year hiatus.

Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, which compiled reboots of the first three games in the series – Crash Bandicoot (1996), Cortex Strikes Back (1997), and Warped (1998) – marked the a reboot in 2017. 

A recent report said N. Sane Trilogy helped kicks-tart a ‘huge appetite for nostalgic gameplay’ in the UK, partly driven by adults who enjoyed the original as a kid in the 1990s. 

REMAKES ARE DRIVING THE UK’S GAMING ECONOMY: REPORT

Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy (pictured) was released for the PS$ in June 2017 and the Switch the following year. Reboots of old games are proving popular among those who spent their childhood in the 1990s playing games

Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy (pictured) was released for the PS$ in June 2017 and the Switch the following year. Reboots of old games are proving popular among those who spent their childhood in the 1990s playing games

Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy (pictured) was released for the PS$ in June 2017 and the Switch the following year. Reboots of old games are proving popular among those who spent their childhood in the 1990s playing games

The trend for remastered games is playing a significant role in the growth of the gaming industry in the UK, according to Mobiles.co.uk.

The new UKIE UK Top Selling Games List for 2019 revealed that remakes and remastered games including Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy, Resident Evil 2 and The Legend of Zelda Link’s Awakening were amongst the top 100 best selling boxed games sold in 2019.

While the more recent Final Fantasy VII remake quickly became one of the PS4’s best selling game to date.

Still remaining in the top 20 for the UK’s best-selling games of 2019 two years after its release, Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy receives around 6,600 unique searches every month.

Its continuing popularity indicates that British gamers are becoming increasingly nostalgic when it comes to their gaming choices. 

Crash Bandicoot also features at number 21 in the 2019 list. 

The remaster spiked the interest of gamers in the UK with a 49 per cent increase in search volume over the past 12 months alone. 

With an average of 27,100 monthly searches, the franchise’s decision to reboot this classic was certainly welcomed by the industry, indicating there is a huge appetite for nostalgic gameplay.

The final remaster included in the list of the top-selling games is The Legend of Zelda Link’s Awakening. 

Screenshoot from the update of The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, released September 2019

Screenshoot from the update of The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, released September 2019

Screenshoot from the update of The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, released September 2019

Originally launched on the Game Boy in 1993, the remake was designed for the Nintendo Switch. 

As of March 2020, the new Link’s Awakening had sold more than four million copies globally6, and it’s one of the best-selling games of all time for the Nintendo Switch.

90s teens are 69 per cent more likely than the national average to spend between 21 and 28 hours gaming every week, Mobiles.co.uk claims. 

In 2019, the entire UK video game industry generated a huge £5.35 billion in revenue, with £3.77 billion of that total generated from video game software sales. There are 37.3 million gamers in the UK alone.  

Lee Chambers, Psychologist and gaming expert, commented on the research: ‘Gaming and nostalgia are heavily interconnected, to the point where it fuels trends and shapes the industry direction. 

‘Video games are incredible triggers for nostalgia, anchoring us back to an often carefree time, when we had fewer responsibilities and gaming became a social construct as groups of children all sat around in a bedroom socialising while playing.’

‘The reality of the industry is that nostalgic gamers are now the ones with purchasing power to relive past glories fighting dragons of their youth, while being decision-makers for buying games as presents for their children.

‘Your average early millennial is approaching 40. They don’t have the time they did as a child to form an emotional bond to a game’s story with life’s distractions, but a remake removes that barrier, making it all the more attractive.’   

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COVID-19: lockdowns widen the ‘disadvantage gap’ between rich and poor children

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covid 19 lockdowns widen the disadvantage gap between rich and poor children

The ‘disadvantage gap’ felt between rich and poor children has been widened by COVID-19 lockdowns — and may harm life chances even before school age.

Experts from Oxford found that babies and toddlers from disadvantaged homes have been missing out on vital developmental activities compared with their peers.

In particular, highly-educated and well-paid parents were able to spend more time with their kids amid lockdown, while those of poorer children were neglected more.

Youngsters from less well-off households had less access to outdoor activities and books while COVID-19 restrictions were in effect — unlike before lockdown.

The team also found that lockdown increased TV and touchscreen time for three-quarters of babies and toddlers — and particularly within poorer households.

The 'disadvantage gap' felt between rich and poor children has been widened by COVID-19 lockdowns — and may harm life chances even before school age (stock image)

The 'disadvantage gap' felt between rich and poor children has been widened by COVID-19 lockdowns — and may harm life chances even before school age (stock image)

The ‘disadvantage gap’ felt between rich and poor children has been widened by COVID-19 lockdowns — and may harm life chances even before school age (stock image)

Experts from Oxford found that babies and toddlers from disadvantaged homes have been missing out on vital developmental activities compared with their peers

Experts from Oxford found that babies and toddlers from disadvantaged homes have been missing out on vital developmental activities compared with their peers

Experts from Oxford found that babies and toddlers from disadvantaged homes have been missing out on vital developmental activities compared with their peers

‘Children depend on high-quality interactions to support all aspects of their development,’ said paper author and experimental psychologist Alex Hendry of the University of Oxford.

‘It is heartening to see that most families have been managing to find time to talk, read and play with their babies during this critical time — even amongst everything else going on.’

‘But from what parents are telling us it is clear that during lockdown some babies have been missing out.’ 

The findings are the first results to come out of a new project investigating how the ongoing COVID-19 crisis is impacting both family life and early child development, with the aim of helping policy makers reduce any further impact on the very young.

The ‘Social Distancing and Development Study’ has polled more than 500 parents — of kids aged three and under — about how much time they have spent engaging their children in enriching activities both before and lockdown.

Enriching activities were defined as including arts and crafts, cooking, engaging in one-on-one conversations, exercise, gardening, playing, reading, singing and spending shared time outdoors. 

The adults were also asked to detail how much screen time their children had. 

'Children depend on high-quality interactions to support all aspects of their development,' said paper author and experimental psychologist Alex Hendry of the University of Oxford

'Children depend on high-quality interactions to support all aspects of their development,' said paper author and experimental psychologist Alex Hendry of the University of Oxford

‘Children depend on high-quality interactions to support all aspects of their development,’ said paper author and experimental psychologist Alex Hendry of the University of Oxford 

Highly-educated and well-paid parents were able to spend more time with their kids amid lockdown (as depicted), while those of poorer children were neglected more (stock image)

Highly-educated and well-paid parents were able to spend more time with their kids amid lockdown (as depicted), while those of poorer children were neglected more (stock image)

Highly-educated and well-paid parents were able to spend more time with their kids amid lockdown (as depicted), while those of poorer children were neglected more (stock image)

According to the researchers, 90 per cent of families reported an increase in the time they spent engaging their children in enriching activities during lockdown — but that this improvement was not spread equally among all the households.

Disadvantaged parents — those with lower incomes, education levels or occupational statuses and those living in more deprived neighbourhoods — were less likely to spend as much time enriching their children.

In particular, such families were found to be far less likely to spend time doing activities that require access to either books or outdoor spaces.

‘We know disadvantaged families often do not have access to the same opportunities for child development as their more well-off peers,’ explained Social Distancing and Development Study leader Nayeli Gonzalez-Gomez.

However, the Oxford Brookes University-based psychologist added, ‘these disadvantages were exacerbated by the UK lockdown.’

‘In particular, the closure of playgrounds and libraries has disproportionately impacted children from disadvantaged backgrounds.’

‘The crisis has been difficult for most people, but has had a particular impact on families without the resources to buffer its impacts for their babies,’ said the Parent-Infant Foundation’s head of policy and campaigning, Sally Hogg.

‘Sadly too many of our young children live in poverty, poor housing and without stimulating toys and books at home. These results show the impact that the closure of libraries, playgrounds and drop-in groups had for these children.’

‘National and local governments must hold these results in mind when making decisions about future lockdowns and families’ access to activities and support.’

‘Evidence shows us that what happens in the first 1001 days, from pregnancy, lays the foundations for later development,’ Ms Hogg continued.

‘Therefore the impact of inequitable experiences during the pandemic may have lasting effects without immediate action to support families. This is why we are calling for babies and young children to be central to the COVID-19 recovery efforts.’

‘We are calling for a one-off Baby Boost, a catch-up fund to enable local services to support families who have had a baby during or close to lockdown.’

‘There have been catch-up funds for school age children, but this research reinforces that young children need support too.’

The full findings of the study — which have not yet been peer reviewed — have been submitted for publication in the journal Development Psychology. 

HOW TODDLERS DEVELOP COMMUNICATION SKILLS

Language development explodes from between the ages of two and four according to Dr Amos Grunebaum,  an American obstetrician and gynaecologist.

A child’s vocabulary, understanding and communication skills flourish at around these ages, he says.

These skills are an essential foundation for how a child interacts with others and they significantly impact cognitive, social and emotional development and their future lives in school and beyond. 

By the time a child reaches its second birthday it should have mastered pointing to common objects; three body parts; labelling familiar objects such as cup, dog and shoe. 

Most two years olds can: follow a two step instruction; use more than 50 words – although half will be unintelligible; make phrases of two or more words; use simple plurals and personal pronouns; know the names of close friends and family.

Most three-year-olds will be able to follow two or three step commands and speak in three to four word sentences. 

They should now be much easier to understand and have a vocabulary of around 200 words. 

They should be inquisitive, asking many questions – why, what, who, where, when – and be able to say their name, age and gender. 

They may understand place words like ‘in’, ‘on’ and ‘under’ and be able to name a best friend. 

Their conversation will begin to become more interactive and two-way. 

As a child transitions to preschool, their understanding is becoming much more refined. 

They will begin to understand time words and order words – today, tomorrow, first, next. 

They will be getting better at following more complex instructions and she should be able to hear and understand speech in a variety of settings. 

Their pronunciation will be improving but she may still struggle with difficult consonant like sh, th and l. 

They may begin to name letters and numbers. They may be able to retell events and keep a simple conversation going. 

Their personality will begin to shine through as she chooses topics of conversation that interest her. 

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