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Showing posts from September 16, 2015

Boeing rejects Aerojet Rocketdyne bid for ULA launch venture

Boeing Co on Wednesday said it had rejected an unsolicited bid from Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings Inc for United Launch Alliance, a 50-50 rocket launch venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin Corp . "The unsolicited proposal for ULA is not something we seriously entertained," Boeing spokesman Todd Blecher said. Boeing said it remained committed "to ULA and its business, and to continued leadership in all aspects of space, as evidenced by the agreement announced last week with Blue Origin," a company owned by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos that is designing the engine for a new rocket being designed by ULA.


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Whoa! Sun-Watching Spacecraft Finds 3,000th Comet

A spacecraft that launched in 1995 to study the sun has discovered its 3,000th comet, further bolstering its credentials as history's greatest comet hunter. The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), a joint effort of NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), spotted comet number 3,000 on Sunday (Sept. 13). The landmark discovery was pulled out of SOHO's database by Worachate Boonplod of Thailand, NASA officials said.


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First manned test flight of new deep-space capsule likely delayed: NASA

By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - The first manned test flight of NASA's new deep-space Orion capsule faces a likely two-year-year delay until 2023 due to development and budget concerns, officials with the U.S. space agency said on Wednesday. The capsule, along with its multibillion-dollar heavy lift launcher, are the most expensive parts of a long-term U.S. human space exploration initiative leading toward a crew landing on Mars in the mid-2030s. NASA had been aiming for its first crew test flight of Orion in August 2021.


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Sugar beet waste product could be billion dollar 'wonder material'

A Scottish company which has developed a material made from sugar beet waste believes the sky is the limit - literally. Cellucomp says its Curran product is twice as strong as carbon fibre and could one day be used to make airplane wings. Curran was invented by Cellucomp co-founders Dr David Hepworth and Dr Eric Whale, a pair of Edinburgh-based scientists looking to create a composite to rival carbon fibre.

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NASA's Curiosity Rover Finds Petrified Sand Dunes on Mars (Photo)

A sweeping new panorama from NASA's Curiosity rover shows petrified sand dunes stretching across the jagged terrain of Mount Sharp on Mars. Curiosity's science team says the newly imaged dunes look similar to "crossbedding," structures formed by wind-deposited sand dunes such as those in the U.S. southwest. By looking at the sand dunes' geometry and orientation, scientists can get information about the winds that created the dunes.


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An Ocean Flows Under Saturn's Icy Moon Enceladus

Saturn's moon Enceladus is an active water world with a global body of water sloshing around deep below its icy crust, scientists have confirmed. The smoking gun is the very slight wobble that Enceladus displays as it orbits Saturn. Instead, the moon must contain a complete ocean layer, according to new research that relied on more than seven years of images taken by NASA's Cassini space probe.


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Air Pollution Kills More than 3 Million People Globally Every Year

Outdoor air pollution may lead to more than 3 million premature deaths globally per year, according to a new study. About 75 percent of those deaths occur in Asia, the study found. Air pollutants such as ozone and tiny particles of toxins are linked with heart disease, lung disease and other serious afflictions that have long-term impacts on human health.

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NASA's 1st Manned Flight of Orion Space Capsule May Slip to 2023

The first manned flight of NASA's Orion spacecraft, which is being built to help humanity explore Mars and other distant destinations, may be delayed by two years, until 2023, agency officials announced today. Orion's first crewed sojourn, known as Exploration Mission 2 (EM-2), is officially targeted for launch in August 2021. Engineers and technicians are still working toward the August 2021 goal, but hitting that target is unlikely, said NASA Associate Administrator Robert Lightfoot.


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Frozen Giant Virus Still Infectious After 30,000 Years

It's 30,000 years old and still ticking: A giant virus recently discovered deep in the Siberian permafrost reveals that huge ancient viruses are much more diverse than scientists had ever known. They're also potentially infectious if thawed from their Siberian deep freeze, though they pose no danger to humans, said Chantal Abergel, a scientist at the National Center for Scientific Research at Aix-Marseille University in France and co-author of a new study announcing the discovery of the new virus.


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Starving Polar Bear Photo: Don't Blame (Just) Climate Change

For tourists and wildlife photographers, the main reason to come to Svalbard is to see polar bears. Polar bears have become the fuzzy face of the impacts of climate change, with shrinking sea ice in the Arctic affecting how the bears normally roam and hunt. Now, after a photograph of an emaciated polar bear hobbling on ice went viral online, some people are wondering if global warming is causing these majestic creatures to starve.

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Why Diet Soda Could Sink Your Diet

Drinking diet soda may go hand in hand with indulging in extra helpings of sugar- and fat-laden foods like cookies or french fries, a new study suggests. Or, it could be that people feel less guilty about consuming more calories after drinking a diet beverage, and therefore they feel justified in eating muffins or chips, An added.

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In warming Arctic, mosquitoes may live long and prosper

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Rising temperatures at the top of the world may be bad news for Arctic denizens like polar bears, but good news for the local mosquitoes, pesky bloodsuckers that prosper with warmer weather. Researchers said on Tuesday that increasing temperatures were enabling Arctic mosquitoes to grow more quickly and emerge sooner from their pupal stage, greatly expanding their numbers and menacing the caribou whose blood they eat. Arctic mosquitoes develop in shallow springtime tundra ponds formed by melting snow.


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Launching 'The Mars Generation': Teen on Mission to Get People to Mars

Abigail Harrison wasn't alive to see the moon landings. For the past five years, under the social media identity "Astronaut Abby," Harrison has gone about not only advancing her own dream, but sharing her passion for space exploration with tens of thousands of students her age and younger. Now, as a college freshman, Harrison is launching "Astronaut Abby" on an even larger mission —getting people of all ages excited and educated about what it means to be a member of the generation that will land humans on Mars.


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Magma Oceans on Jupiter's Moon Io May Solve Volcano Mystery

Something strange is happening on Io: The Jupiter moon's vigorous volcanoes are mysteriously offset from where scientists expected, and its underground magma oceans may be the cause. A new model suggests that worlds caught in an intense push and pull of gravity, like the volcanic moon Io, are likely to have below-ground oceans of magma or water that stick around for a long time — in the water's case, providing a potential hotspot for the development of life. "This is the first time the amount and distribution of heat produced by fluid tides in a subterranean magma ocean on Io has been studied in detail," Robert Tyler, the lead author of the new research from the University of Maryland, College Park and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, said in a statement.

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Ancient Human-Size Fish Breathed with Lungs

Before the dinosaur age, the coelacanth — a hefty, mysterious fish that now breathes with its gills — sported a well-developed lung, a new study finds. During the Mesozoic era, more commonly known as the dinosaur age, it's likely that some species of coelacanth (see-leh-kanth) moved to deeper waters, stopped using their lungs and began relying exclusively on their gills to breathe, the researchers said. This adaptation to deep water likely helped coelacanths survive the asteroid that slammed into ancient Earth and killed the nonavian dinosaurs, the researchers said.


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Leaf-Eating Caterpillars Use Their Poop to Trick Plants

Caterpillars that munch on corn leaves have developed a clever way to get the most nutrients from their meals: They use their poop to trick the plants into lowering their defenses. Scientists at Pennsylvania State University recently discovered that fall armyworm caterpillars (Spodoptera frugiperda) can send chemical signals to plants through their poop, or frass. "It turns out that the caterpillar frass tricks the plant into sensing that it is being attacked by fungal pathogens," study co-author Dawn Luthe, a professor of plant stress biology at Pennsylvania State University, said in a statement.


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Critics question fossil find, but South Africa basks in scientific glory

By Ed Stoddard JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - A dramatic fossil find has given South Africa reason to celebrate amid economic gloom, but some experts question its scientific significance. By contrast, the political significance is not in doubt. "We are delighted that discoveries that we would never have imagined have been found here," said South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, who shared the stage with scientists last week during the televised announcement of "Homo naledi." The discovery, in a cave 50 kms (30 miles) northwest of Johannesburg, is Africa's largest collection of hominin (human and human-related) fossils - 15 individuals pieced together from over 1,500 fragments.


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