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Showing posts from October 1, 2015

Deadly piglet virus may have entered U.S. on 'reusable' feed bags: USDA

By P.J. Huffstutter and Danny Na CHICAGO (Reuters) - The deadly piglet virus that killed millions of U.S. pigs over the past two years may have entered the country on large bags typically used to transport feed and other bulk products, the Agriculture Department said. The report, released on Wednesday and dated Sept. 24, said the agency does not have definitive proof of how Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv) initially arrived in the United States. The most likely scenario was that the virus came from the use of Flexible Intermediate Bulk Containers - also known as FIBCs or "tote bags", according to the report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).

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Moon Express contracts Rocket Lab for launches to land spacecraft on the moon

Silicon Valley's Moon Express Inc said it has signed up Lockheed Martin-backed Rocket Lab to launch its robotic spacecraft as it seeks to become the first private venture to reach the moon. The deal increases its chances of winning a $30 million Google Inc prize for the first privately funded lunar landing. Moon Express was awarded $1 million by Google this year as the only team shooting for the moon to flight test a prototype of its lander.

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Double trouble: asteroid, volcanoes implicated in dinosaur doom

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - It was a combination of calamities - an asteroid strike followed by vast volcanic eruptions half a world away - that doomed the dinosaurs and many other creatures 66 million years ago. The two events roiled Earth by throwing dust, ash and harmful fumes like carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide into the air, altering the climate and killing off about 75 percent of all species in one of Earth's worst mass extinctions. The researchers said the asteroid strike occurred 66.04 million years ago, plus or minus about 30,000 years.


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Fly Through Pluto Moon Charon's Giant Canyon in Spectacular New Video

Amazing new images show the enormous canyon system on Pluto's big moon Charon in unprecedented detail. The photos were captured by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft during its historic flyby of Pluto on July 14. Mission team members combined some of the images into a new video that lets viewers fly over Charon's tortured surface.


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Russian Cargo Ship Arrives at Space Station

Russia's uncrewed Progress 61 freighter, also known as 61P, docked with the space station's Zvezda service module at 6:52 p.m. EDT (2252 GMT), while the two craft were zooming together over the North Atlantic Ocean. The cargo vessel, which is stocked with more than 3 tons of food and supplies for the astronauts aboard the orbiting lab, had launched atop a Russian Soyuz rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan just 6 hours earlier. Progress 61 will remain docked to the International Space Station (ISS) until December, when the ship will depart, full of trash, and burn up in Earth's atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean, NASA officials said.


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Substance found to curb fuel fireballs from air and vehicle crashes

By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Aiming to reduce dangerous explosions after plane crashes and truck accidents, scientists have developed a substance that can be added to fuel to curb formation of a fine mist that can erupt into a deadly fireball after a collision. Researchers said on Thursday they had created a synthetic polymer that can suppress post-crash fuel mist by making fuel droplets fall like rain rather than remain suspended in the air. As a fuel additive, it did not lessen engine power or efficiency, but lowered soot formation, they said.


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Satellites Watch Hurricane Joaquin Grow Into Category 4 Storm (Video, Images)

As Hurricane Joaquin barrels across the Atlantic Ocean, NASA satellites are tracking the storm to determine how it will affect residents along the East Coast of the United States. A new video of the hurricane taken by NASA's Global Precipitation Measurement satellite shows a 3D view of how the storm grew and changed on Tuesday (Sept. 29). Today (Oct. 1) Joaquin reached Category 4 status, with maximum sustained winds near 130 mph (210 km/hour), according to NASA.


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Lockheed-Boeing rocket firm poised for rare commercial launch

By Irene Klotz Cape Canaveral, Fla (Reuters) - A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas 5 rocket is being prepared for a commercial satellite launch on Friday, a market the Lockheed Martin and Boeing partnership has said it aims to grow to as its monopoly on U.S. military launches ends. ULA has four commercial launches on its 2016 schedule, including an Earth-imaging spacecraft for DigitalGlobe, a communications satellite for EchoStar Corp and a pair of space station cargo ships for Orbital ATK, the company said. The unmanned rocket scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida will carry a communications satellite for Mexico.


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Tanzanian engineer invents low-cost water filter

(Reuters) - It looks good enough to drink but just seconds before, this water was full of dirt and bacteria.     Dr. Askwar Hilonga is a Tanzanian scientist who has created a water filter that he says can remove 99.9 percent of bacteria, micro-organisms and viruses.     The invention uses nanotechnology to filter out contaminants and produce clean water.     The idea was inspired by a visit to his parents' village outside Arusha in Tanzania, where many people still risk their lives drinking dirty water and often suffer from water-borne diseases.     Catherine Nanyaro is a housewife and lives in Arusha.

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Making 'The Martian': Exclusive Interview with Director Sir Ridley Scott

In "The Martian," stranded astronaut Mark Watney must use his knowledge of science to survive for several years alone on the Red Planet, in a classic castaway scenario created by book author Andy Weir. The film of the same name is directed by Sir Ridley Scott, who began his screen career production-designing the BBC television series "Doctor Who" (1963) and directing the episodic police drama "Z Cars" (1965). Scott gained worldwide attention upon directing the movie "Alien" (1979), and solidified his sci-fi reputation with "Blade Runner" (1982).


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1st Private Moon Landing Set for 2017

The first private moon landing is just two years away, if everything goes according to plan. California-based company Moon Express, which aims to fly commercial missions to the moon and help unlock its resources, has signed a five-launch deal with Rocket Lab, with the first two robotic liftoffs scheduled to take place in 2017. These uncrewed launches — three of which are firmly on the books, with the other two optional at the moment — will blast Moon Express' MX-1 lander into space aboard Rocket Lab's 52.5-foot-tall (16 meters) Electron rocket.


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Russia Launches Progress Cargo Ship on Fast Trip to Space Station

Russia launched an unmanned cargo ship Thursday (Oct. 1) on a speedy mission to deliver tons of fresh supplies to a waiting crew on the International Space Station. The cargo ship, called Progress 61, blasted off atop a Russian Soyuz rocket at 12:49 p.m. EDT (1649 GMT) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, where it was late Thursday night local time. If all goes well, the spacecraft will spend six hours in flight, orbiting Earth four times as it chases the space station.


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'The Martian' Wants to Mail You a Potato: Movie Offers Stamped Spuds

It may seem strange at first, but by the time you get done watching "The Martian," the new movie from director Ridley Scott, you will understand why 20th Century Fox is offering to send you a potato. In the movie, which opens in theatres this Friday (Oct. 2), astronaut Mark Watney finds himself left for dead and alone on Mars. "This will come as quite a shock to my crewmates, and to NASA, and to the entire world, but I am still alive," states Watney, played by actor Matt Damon, commenting on his situation.


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'Moonspike' Kickstarter Project Aims to Crowdfund Rocket to the Moon

A team of rocketeers launched an out-of-this-world Kickstarter campaign today (Oct. 1) to raise $1 million for "Moonspike" – an ambitious project to launch the first crowdfunded rocket to the moon. While a science return from the mission would be desirable, the main goal is to see if a small group of engineers can create a moon rocket and payload for a reasonable amount of money, Chris Larmour, a co-founder of the project and serial space entrepreneur, told Space.com in an e-mail.


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Blast from the Past: 3 Civil War Cannons Pulled from River

A community in the southern United States reclaimed an important part of its history Tuesday (Sept. 29), when three Civil War-era cannons were pulled up from the Pee Dee River in Florence, South Carolina. The now-rusty relics once adorned the deck of a Confederate warship, the CSS Pedee, which was built in a shipyard just east of Florence, South Carolina. Heavy machinery was needed to lift the huge cast-iron cannons out of the water, according to WMBF News, which reported that the heaviest of the weapons weighed a whopping 15,000 lbs. (6,800 kilograms).


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Lush Oasis to Arid Desert: How Our View of Mars Has Changed

The finding, revealed Monday (Sept. 28) by NASA scientists, once again changes the way people view the bright-red planet, Mars experts told Live Science. In the 1600s and 1700s, astronomers tinkered with nascent telescopes and discovered that Mars, like Earth, was a planet and had a roughly 24-hour day-and-night cycle.


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King Crabs Arrive in Antarctic, with Claws Out for Biodiversity

The king crab could soon take over a whole new kingdom, and it has global warming to thank for the conquest. King crabs live on seafloors all over the world (perhaps most famously off the Alaskan coast), but scientists didn't know that these large crustaceans had ventured all the way down to the frigid waters off Antarctica until recently. Right now, king crabs inhabit the slope of Antarctica's continental shelf (the point where the shallow waters of the continental shelf give way to the deep sea).


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Mars H2O: How Scientists Discovered Salty Water on the Red Planet

This week's announcement that salty liquid water flows on Mars has reinvigorated debates about whether the Red Planet's environment could support life. Scientists announced yesterday (Sept. 28) that dark, narrow streaks that appear on Mars are caused by flowing water. The mysterious streaks were first spotted on the planet in 2011, but it was the chemical signature of the enigmatic lines that helped researchers make their discovery.


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Asteroid-Mining Plan Would Bake Water Out of Bagged-Up Space Rocks

A new way to harvest asteroid resources is being eyed as a possible game changer for space exploration. Development of the optical-mining idea has been funded by a NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) fellowship and grant, along with a small business contract. The concept — which is also known as the Asteroid Provided In-Situ Supplies plan, or Apis — was detailed here during a special NIAC session held on Sept. 2 during the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics' (AIAA) Space 2015 meeting.


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New Maps of Ceres Highlight Mysterious Bright Spots, Giant Mountain

New maps of Ceres show the dwarf planet's mysterious bright spots and huge, pyramid-shaped mountain in a new light. The new maps of Ceres come courtesy of NASA's Dawn spacecraft, which has been orbiting the heavily cratered dwarf planet since March. The maps highlight the compositional and elevation differences across Ceres, the largest object in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.


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Egypt's lost Queen Nefertiti may lie concealed in King Tut's tomb

By Lin Noueihed CAIRO(Reuters) - High-resolution scans suggest the tomb of Ancient Egypt's boy-king Tutankhamun contains passages to two hidden chambers, including what one British archaeologist believes is the last resting place of Queen Nefertiti. Nefertiti, whose chiseled cheek-bones and regal beauty were immortalized in a 3,300-year old bust now in a Berlin museum, died in the 14th century BC. British Egyptologist Nicholas Reeves told a news conference in Cairo on Thursday that he believes Tutankhamun's mausoleum was originally occupied by Nefertiti, thought by experts to have been his step-mother, and that she has lain undisturbed behind what he believes is a partition wall for over 3,000 years. "If it is true, we are facing a discovery that would overshadow the discovery of Tutankhamun himself," Egyptian Antiquities Minister Mamdouh al-Damaty told reporters.


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Berlin candy store offers 3D printed sweet treats

A German candy maker is hoping to tempt the taste-buds of Berliners with customized fruit gum sweets made with a 3D printer. CUT-yes) say they have developed a way to produce food from a 3D printer. A Katjes store in Berlin's trendy Mitte district showcases the Magic Candy Factory where sweet-lovers young and old can choose from 3D template designs that include individual fruit gum animals and shapes, as well as letters and words.

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1,500-Year-Old Mosaic Shows Map of Ancient Egyptian Settlement

A mosaic map of an ancient Egyptian settlement is going on display where it was found — in an industrial-park parking lot in Israel. The Israel Antiquities Authority announced today (Sept. 29) the first public display of the elaborate mosaic, which was discovered two years ago. This mosaic graced a church floor some 1,500 years ago, archaeologists said in a statement.


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Scientists find genes that protect African children from malaria

By Kate Kelland LONDON (Reuters) - Scientists have identified specific genetic variations that protect some African children from developing severe malaria and say their discovery will boost the fight against a disease that kills around half a million children a year. In the largest study of its kind, the researchers said identifying the variations in DNA at a specific location, or locus, on the genome helps explain why some children develop severe malaria and others don't in communities where people are constantly exposed to the mosquito-borne disease. In some cases, they said, having a specific genetic variation almost halves a child's risk of developing a life-threatening case of the disease.


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