By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) - An unmanned Falcon 9 rocket developed by Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, blasted off on Tuesday to put its first commercial satellite into orbit, staking a potentially game-changing claim in a global industry worth nearly $190 billion a year. The 22-story rocket lifted off from its seaside launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 5:41 p.m. EST/2241 GMT. Perched on top of the rocket was a 7,000-pound (3,175 kg) communications satellite owned by Luxembourg-based SES S.A., which operates a 54-satellite fleet, the world's second-largest. "I'd like to thank SES for taking a chance on SpaceX," company founder and chief executive Elon Musk posted on Twitter an hour before the launch.
China launched its first ever extraterrestrial landing craft into orbit en route for the moon in the small hours of Monday, in a major milestone for its space program. The Chang'e-3 lunar probe, which includes the Yutu or Jade Rabbit buggy, blasted off on board an enhanced Long March-3B carrier rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in China's southwestern Sichuan province at 1:30 a.m. (12.30 p.m. EDT). President Xi Jinping has said he wants China to establish itself as a space superpower, and the mission has inspired pride in China's growing technological prowess. If all goes smoothly, the rover will conduct geological surveys and search for natural resources after the probe touches down on the moon in mid-December as China's first spacecraft to make a soft landing beyond Earth.
By Shyamantha Asokan NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India's first mission to Mars left Earth's orbit early on Sunday, clearing a critical hurdle in its journey to the red planet and overtaking the efforts in space of rival Asian giant China. The success of the spacecraft, scheduled to orbit Mars by next September, would carry India into a small club, which includes the United States, Europe and Russia, whose probes have orbited or landed on Mars. India's venture, called Mangalyaan, faces more hurdles on its journey to Mars. "While Mangalyaan takes 1.2 billion dreams to Mars, we wish you sweet dreams!" India's space agency said in a tweet soon after the event, referring to the citizens of the world's second-most populous country.
By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) - The last vestiges of Comet ISON are fading from view after a sizzlingly close encounter with the sun, scientists said on Monday. "Comet ISON is now just a cloud of dust," astronomer Tony Phillips wrote on SpaceWeather.com, a NASA-backed website. "Experienced astrophotographers might be able to capture the comet's fading ‘ghost' in the pre-dawn sky of early December, but a naked-eye spectacle is out of the question," he wrote. Scientists believe the comet broke apart as it passed through the sun's corona on Thursday.
Reed Elsevier's Food and Chemical Toxicology (FCT)journal, which published the study by the French researcher Gilles-Eric Seralini in September 2012, said the retraction was because the study's small sample size meant no definitive conclusions could be reached. "Ultimately, the results presented - while not incorrect - are inconclusive, and therefore do not reach the threshold of publication for Food and Chemical Toxicology." At the time of its original publication, hundreds of scientists across the world questioned Seralini's research, which said rats fed Monsanto's GM corn had suffered tumors and multiple organ failure. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) issued a statement in November 2012 saying the study by Seralini, who was based at France's University of Caen, had serious defects in design and methodology and did not meet acceptable scientific standards. In its retraction statement, the FCT said that, in light of these concerns, it too had asked to view the raw data.
"We found that newborn sharks captured in the mid-1990s left the safety of the islands when they were between five and eight years old," biologist Kevin Feldheim, of The Field Museum in Chicago, explained in a statement. In 1995, the researchers captured, tagged and released more than 2,000 baby sharks in the lagoon in Bimini, a set of islands located 53 miles (81 kilometers) east of Miami. Samuel Gruber, president and director of the Bimini Biological Field Station Foundation, who started the project, explained that lagoon is "almost like a lake." Their slow growth rate is one of the reasons why overfishing can seriously damage shark populations.
Scientists now have an answer to a question you never knew you had: What happened to all the dinosaur dung? Cockroaches vacuumed it up, a new study suggests. One animal's waste is another animal's gourmet meal. Researchers from the Slovak Academy of Sciences in Slovakia stumbled on the finding by accident while researching the diet of ancient cockroaches in the now-extinct Blattulidae family. "Although appearing trivial, cockroaches, one of the dominant insect orders during the Mesozoic were never examined as representing top candidates for partial processors of dinosaur dung."
Some of Madagascar's ring-tailed lemurs head to bed in caves every night, new research finds. The study is the first evidence of modern wild primates sleeping regularly in caves. Early human remains in South Africa have been found in caves, suggesting that although lemurs and humans aren't particularly closely related as far as primates go, there is something in deep primate history that makes caves appealing — possibly protection from predators, said study researcher Michelle Sauther, an anthropologist at the University of Colorado, Boulder. "We think cave-sleeping is something ring-tailed lemurs have been doing for a long time," Sauther said in a statement.
A classified U.S. spy payload rocketed into orbit from California on an Atlas 5 launcher Thursday (Dec. 5), joining the nation's eyes and ears in the sky to supply intelligence to the government's national security agencies. The satellite is owned by the National Reconnaissance Office, but government officials do not disclose the identities of the NRO's spacecraft, only saying the payload will serve national security purposes. But independent satellite-watchers believe the spacecraft will join the NRO's fleet of spacecraft with radars to penetrate cloaks of clouds and darkness and reveal what adversaries are doing regardless of weather or time of day. The United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base at 11:14:30 p.m. PST Thursday (0714:30 GMT;
Less than five days after leaving Earth atop a blazing Long March launcher, China's Chang'e 3 spacecraft reached lunar orbit Friday to prepare for an historic rocket-assisted touchdown in the moon's Bay of Rainbows later this month. Outfitted with a six-wheeled robotic rover and smarts to avoid hazards in the landing zone, Chang'e 3 is China's boldest unmanned space mission to date, extending feats achieved by a pair of lunar orbiters launched in 2007 and 2010. The four-legged lander fired its propulsion system for six minutes and braked into orbit around the moon at 0953 GMT (4:53 a.m. EST) Friday, according to China's state-run Xinhua news agency.
To find extraterrestrial life, be it microbes or intelligent life, scientists need telescopes capable of detecting Earth-like planets in Earth's neighborhood and ways to detect biological signatures of life or signs of alien technology. "This is the first time in human history we have the technological reach to find life on other planets," Sara Seager, a planetary scientist at MIT, said at a House Committee on Science, Space and Technology hearing today. "Astrobiology has become a crosscutting theme of all NASA space science endeavors," and continued funding is important, said Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D., Texas). The Kepler mission has identified more than 3,500 potential planets outside Earth's solar system, including 10 that are Earth-size and lie within their star's habitable zone.
By Stephanie Nebehay GENEVA (Reuters) - A Swiss scientist who examined samples from the body of former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat said French experts had made weak arguments in concluding that he could not have died of poisoning in 2004. French forensic examiners commissioned by magistrates investigating Arafat's death in a Paris hospital assessed on Tuesday that he had not been killed with radioactive polonium found in abnormally high levels in his body and clothing. The Swiss approach resembled that of the French inquiry but dug deeper into the mystery, said Francois Bochud, director of the institute of radiation physics at University Hospital of Lausanne (CHUV) who helped exhume Arafat's remains a year ago. Arafat, who signed the 1993 Oslo interim peace accords with Israel but then led an uprising after subsequent talks broke down in 2000, died aged 75 in November 2004.
NEW YORK — Famed climate scientist and activist James Hansen has said it before, and he'll say it again: Two degrees of warming is too much. International climate negotiators agreed in the Copenhagen Accord, a global agreement on climate change that took place at the 2009 United Nations' Climate Change Conference, that warming this century shouldn't increase by more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. But in a new paper published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE, Hansen and a cadre of co-authors from a wide array of disciplines argue that even 2 degrees is too much, and would "subject young people, future generations and nature to irreparable harm," Hansen wrote in an accompanying essay distributed to reporters. The new study is a departure from the typical climate science paper, both for the wide variety of fields represented in the list of co-authors, which includes economist Jeffrey Sachs, as well as for the policy implications it raises, something climate scientists tend to shy away from.
The idea started as a joke at Columbia University, thrown around as a pun of climate scientists modeling themselves, not their data, in an effort to engage the public with climate change in a fresh way by humanizing the people behind the research. Science writers Francesco Fiondella of Columbia's International Research Institute for Climate and Society and Rebecca Fowler of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory began throwing around the idea in early 2013 and, after weeks of ongoing chuckles, decided to look for funding and get serious about the project. "There is so much out there in climate research, but we thought a new mechanism was needed for showing people what it all means," Fowler told LiveScience. Fowler and Fiondella hand-picked a group of 13 Columbia climate scientists who represented a balance of males and females and a range of climate-research fields, from hyrdology to physics to marine science.
STOCKHOLM (AP) — A comet that gained an earthly following because of its bright tail visible from space was initially declared dead after grazing the sun. Now, there is a sliver of hope that Comet ISON may have survived.
Physicists have come up with a new way to gaze longingly at some of the weirdest matter on Earth — the super-cold, super-calm gas called a Bose-Einstein condensate. While scientists have been able to steal quick glimpses of the unusual gas, until now, simply snapping a picture of a Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC) often destroyed it by adding extra energy from light. "The absorption of a single photon (the smallest packet of light) is enough to break one," lead study author Michael Hush, a physicist at the University of Nottingham, told LiveScience in an email interview. By creating a new computer model, detailed today (Nov. 28) in the New Journal of Physics, the researchers have figured out a way to re-route this heat and keep BECs chilled even during long imaging sessions.
A comet's 5.5-million-year journey to the inner solar system apparently ended during a suicidal trip around the sun, leaving no trace of its once-bright tail or even remnants of rock and dust, scientists said on Thursday. The comet, known as ISON, was discovered last year when it was still far beyond Jupiter, raising the prospect of a spectacular naked-eye object by the time it graced Earth's skies in December. Comet ISON passed just 730,000 miles (1.2 million km) from the surface of the sun at 1:37 p.m. EST/1837 GMT on Thursday. Astronomers used a fleet of solar telescopes to look for the comet after its slingshot around the sun, but to no avail.
The roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans is one of biology's most widely studied organisms, and it's the first to have the complete wiring diagram, or connectome, of its nervous system mapped out. Knowing the structure of the animal's connectome will help explain its behavior, and could lead to insights about the brains of other organisms, scientists say. "You can't understand the brain without understanding the connectome," Scott Emmons, a molecular geneticist at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University in New York, said in a talk earlier this month at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in San Diego. In 1963, South African biologist Sydney Brenner of the University of Cambridge decided to use C. elegans as a model organism for developmental biology.
Marc Bekoff, emeritus professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder, is one of the world's pioneering cognitive ethologists, a Guggenheim Fellow, and co-founder with Jane Goodall of Ethologists for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. He contributed this article to LiveScience's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights. I finally got around to reading a book with the catchy title, "Frankenstein's Cat: Cuddling Up to Biotech's Brave New Beasts" (Scientific American / Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013) by journalist Emily Anthes, and I'm sorry I let it sit on my cluttered desk for as long as I did. In an NPR interview about her fascinating book, Ms. Anthes talks about one example: "One lab in China is even tackling the human genome by way of the mouse genome.
"As if black holes weren’t extreme enough, this is a really extreme one that is shining as brightly as it possibly can," study co-author Joel Bregman of the University of Michigan said in a statement. The astronomers studied a system called ULX-1, which consists of a black hole and a companion star that orbit each other. As its name suggests — ULX is short for "ultraluminous X-ray source" — ULX-1 generates prodigious amounts of high-energy X-ray light, which is emitted by material spiraling down into the black hole's maw. This light is so intense, in fact, that astronomers had suspected that ULX-1 contains an intermediate-mass black hole — one that harbors between 100 and 1,000 times the mass of the sun.
The icy Comet ISON from the depths of deep space will either meet its doom or transform into a cosmic spectacle when it whips around the sun Thursday (Nov. 28) in a Thanksgiving Day treat for NASA and scientists around the world. "It's a wonderful holiday roast for all the scientists," NASA scientist Michelle Thaller said in an interview (Nov. 26) of the comet's timely arrival on the U.S. holiday. The much-anticipated Comet ISON will give the sun the closest of shaves on Thursday (Nov. 28) at 1:38 p.m. EST (1838 GMT) when it comes within 684,000 miles (1.1 million kilometers) of the solar surface, NASA officials said. "This comet has given us quite a ride," Carey Lisse, a senior research scientist at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, told reporters in a NASA teleconference Tuesday.
And with only days to go before turkeys hit dinner tables across the country, the Test Kitchen chefs have been busy, said Jack Bishop, chef, TV personality and editorial director of America's Test Kitchen. But the line between cooking a good turkey and awful turkey is relatively small. It's not hard to cook a turkey well, but it's pretty easy to cook one poorly." [Thanksgiving Gallery: 8 Fascinating Turkey Facts] To prepare a fresh turkey, Test Kitchen chefs recommend brining the bird overnight, which involves soaking the turkey in a container of salty water for at least 12 hours.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has warned 23andMe, a company backed by Google Inc, to halt sales of its genetic tests because they have not received regulatory clearance. 23andMe, which was founded in 2006 by Anne Wojcicki, sells a $99 DNA test that the company says can detect a range of genetic variants and provide information about a person's health risks. Wojcicki recently separated from her husband, Sergey Brin, a co-founder of Google. In a warning letter dated November 22 and released on Monday, the FDA said products that are designed to diagnose, mitigate or prevent disease are medical devices that require regulatory clearance or approval, "as FDA has explained to you on numerous occasions." The privately held company, which is based in Mountain View, California, acknowledged receipt of the letter and said in a statement that "we recognize that we have not met the FDA's expectations regarding timeline and communication regarding our submission." The FDA said some of the intended uses of the company's Saliva Collection Kit and Personal Genome Service (PGS) are particularly concerning, including risk assessments for certain cancers.
The promising Comet ISON's close pass by the sun this week has amateur astronomers on the edge of their seats, but professional scientists are anticipating the celestial encounter with perhaps even greater relish. "We're going to see primitive solar system material outgassing and sublimating when it's right close to the sun," said Karl Battams of the U.S. Naval Research Lab in Washington, D.C., who studies "sungrazing" comets like ISON. But Comet ISON is special, researchers say. For starters, Comet ISON is bigger than most other sungrazers, with a core estimated to be about 1,650 feet (500 meters) wide, Battams said.
The annual Geminid meteor shower peaks this year on Dec. 13th and 14th. Researchers don't fully understand the Geminids, and new measurements make it more mysterious than ever.
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NASA-supported researchers have discovered the first known microorganism on Earth able to thrive and reproduce using the toxic chemical arsenic. The microorganism, which lives in California's Mono Lake, substitutes arsenic for phosphorus in the backbone of its DNA.
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Some of the comets in our Solar System probably came from other stars, according to new research by NASA-supported scientists. Studying these 'alien' comets, they say, could reveal new information about stellar systems far, far away.
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NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has captured rare images of a suspected asteroid collision. The snapshots show a bizarre X-shaped object at the head of a comet-like trail of material. Their findings will be published in the Oct. 14th issue of Nature.
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