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Showing posts from February 19, 2016

U.S. could still cancel Raytheon GPS ground system: general

By Andrea Shalal WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Pentagon and the U.S. Air Force could still cancel the ground control system Raytheon Co is developing to operate new GPS satellites, if the company does not improve its performance on the troubled system, a top U.S. general said. Lieutenant General Samuel Greaves, who heads the Air Force's Space and Missile Systems Center, said officials were keeping close tabs on Raytheon's GPS Operational Control System, or OCX, which he described as the Air Force's "No. 1 troubled program." "OCX has significant promise, but no system is a no-fail system," Greaves told a breakfast hosted by the Air Force Association's Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies.

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Shift in U.S. sanctions could ground Russian rocket engines: general

By Andrea Shalal WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Air Force would ground the Russian-built RD-180 engines that power its Atlas 5 rockets if a U.S. government review determines that several sanctioned Russian individuals have too close a relationship with the engine maker, a top U.S. general said on Friday. Lieutenant General Samuel Greaves, who heads the Air Force's Space and Missile Systems Center, said the Pentagon was reviewing responses about the sanctions issue and related matters in time to meet a Feb. 22 deadline set by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain. McCain last week asked the Air Force and Pentagon to explain why the U.S. government is continuing to use engines built by Russia's NPO Energomash given sanctions in place against Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin and other sanctioned individuals, who control the company after a big reorganization.


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Branson's Virgin Galactic unveils new passenger spaceship

By Irene Klotz MOJAVE, Calif. (Reuters) - Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic venture unveiled its new passenger spacecraft on Friday, nearly 16 months after a fatal accident destroyed its sister ship during a test flight over California's Mojave Desert. The rollout of the gleaming craft, dubbed Virgin Space Ship Unity, marks Branson’s return to a race among rival billionaire entrepreneurs to develop a vehicle that can take thrill-seekers, researchers and commercial customers on short hops into space. The tail itself was emblazoned with a blue image of a peering eye belonging to famed British physicist and Virgin Galactic supporter Stephen Hawking.


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U.S. could still cancel Raytheon GPS ground system: general

By Andrea Shalal WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Pentagon and the U.S. Air Force could still cancel the ground control system Raytheon Co is developing to operate new GPS satellites, if the company does not improve its performance on the troubled system, a top U.S. general said. Lieutenant General Samuel Greaves, who heads the Air Force's Space and Missile Systems Center, said officials were keeping close tabs on Raytheon's GPS Operational Control System, or OCX, which he described as the Air Force's "No. 1 troubled program." "OCX has significant promise, but no system is a no-fail system," Greaves told a breakfast hosted by the Air Force Association's Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies.

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Climate Change Gets Short Shrift in US Classrooms

Middle- and high-school students spend very little time learning about climate change in the classroom, and many students hear misinformation about the cause of rising global temperatures, new research finds. In the first nationally representative survey of public middle- and high-school teachers in the United States, only 30 percent of teachers said they emphasize that humans are causing climate change by burning fossil fuels. Another 12 percent said they don't mention human causes, and 31 percent said they "teach the controversy" by telling students that some scientists think climate change is human-caused, while others disagree.


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Deaths from 'Benzo' Sedatives Quietly Increasing

Prescription opioids have made headlines for skyrocketing rates of deaths from overdoses, but a new report shows that overdose deaths from another group of medications — sedatives called benzodiazepines — are also increasing. The researchers found that the death rate in the U.S. from overdoses on benzodiazepines has increased more than fivefold since 1996. Also known as "benzos," the class includes drugs such as Valium and Xanax.

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Zika Virus Can Enter the Womb, Tests Confirm

New tests now officially confirm what doctors have long suspected: The Zika virus can cross the placental barrier in a pregnant woman and enter the amniotic fluid, the protective fluid that surrounds a developing fetus within the womb. However, the findings do not show that the Zika virus causes microcephaly, a congenital condition in infants that causes them to be born with very small heads, the researchers cautioned. "Previous studies have identified Zika virus in the saliva, breast milk and urine of mothers and their newborn babies" after the mothers had given birth, lead study author Dr. Ana Maria de Filippis, of the Oswaldo Cruz Institute in Rio de Janeiro, said in a statement.

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Plume from Mumbai's Burning Landfill Seen from Space

The end of January had a smoky surprise for Mumbai, India, after the city's largest landfill caught fire and burned for four days. Mumbai's Deonar dumping ground extends across 0.5 square miles (1.3 square kilometers) near Thane Creek. Each day, the landfill receives more than 8.1 million pounds (3.7 million kilograms) of trash, according to NASA's Earth Observatory.


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Deadly Orangutan Attack: 2 Apes Team Up to Kill Another

A loud rumble, a scuffle and 33 long minutes of coordinated attacks by a female orangutan and her male partner led to the death of an older female orangutan in a Borneo forest, in what scientists say is the first incident of lethal aggression among orangutans ever observed by researchers. Immediately, Ekko also joined the fight, taking turns attacking the older female, the researchers reported.

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'See' What You Breathe with New Air-Quality Monitor

People typically think about clean or dirty air only when they're outside, but air quality can be a significant problem even indoors. AirVisual — a global team of scientists, engineers and others — is producing the gadget, called the AirVisual Node. The Node's bright and colorful screen can illuminate pollution, temperature, humidity and stuffiness, both indoors and outdoors.


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Swim Like a Butterfly? Sea Snail 'Flies' Through Water

But the sea butterfly, a tiny marine snail, has more in common with flying insects than you might expect, according to a new study. Also known as Limacina helicina, the sea butterfly navigates cold ocean waters in the northern Atlantic and Pacific. Many types of zooplankton, tiny ocean animals, have structures like the sea butterfly's, which they use as paddles to propel themselves through the water.


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Disney's 'Miles From Tomorrowland' Fuses Space Science and Fun

In an episode from "Miles From Tomorrowland" — a new Disney kid's TV show about a galactic-traveling family, whose first season finale will air in March — one of the characters sees Pluto out the spaceship's window and calls it a planet. "No, it's a dwarf planet," another character says, echoing the still hotly debated consensus from an International Astronomical Union decision in 2006. One of the show's advisers, Randii Wessen, has worked at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) since Voyager 2 flew by Saturn in 1980.


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93-Mile-Long Ancient Wall in Jordan Puzzles Archaeologists

A new map of an ancient wall that extended 93 miles (150 kilometers) in Jordan has left archaeologists with a series of mysteries, including questions over when the wall was built, who built it and what its purpose was. Known today as the "Khatt Shebib," the wall's existence was first reported in 1948, by Sir Alec Kirkbride, a British diplomat in Jordan. Archaeologists with the Aerial Archaeology in Jordan (AAJ) project have been investigating the remains of the wall using aerial photography.


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