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NASA satellite to measure water in Earth's soil sent into orbit
By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - - An unmanned Delta 2 rocket lifted off from California on Saturday carrying a NASA satellite to measure moisture in the top layer of the Earth's soil, data to be used in weather-forecasting and tracking of global climate change. Soil moisture is a variable that binds together all of the planet's environmental systems, scientists say. "It's the metabolism of the system," said Dara Entekhabi, lead scientist of NASA's Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory. The 127-foot (39 meter) rocket, built and flown by United Launch Alliance (ULA), blasted off at 6:22 a.m. PST (9 a.m. ET) from Vandenberg Air Force Base, located on California's central coast, a live NASA Television broadcast showed.
Sat, 31 Jan 2015 15:02:43 -0500
U.S. proposes effort to analyze DNA from 1 million people
By Toni Clarke and Sharon Begley WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States has proposed analyzing genetic information from more than 1 million American volunteers as part of a new initiative to understand human disease and develop medicines targeted to an individual's genetic make-up. At the heart of the "precision medicine" initiative, announced on Friday by President Barack Obama, is the creation of a pool of people - healthy and ill, men and women, old and young - who would be studied to learn how genetic variants affect health and disease. "Precision medicine gives us one of the greatest opportunities for new medical breakthroughs we've ever seen," Obama said, promising that it would "lay a foundation for a new era of life-saving discoveries." The near-term goal is to create more and better treatments for cancer, Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), told reporters on a conference call on Thursday.
Fri, 30 Jan 2015 12:09:56 -0500
NASA satellite to map soil moisture poised for launch
An unmanned Delta 2 rocket is being prepared for launch on Saturday to put a NASA satellite into orbit that is expected to improve drought monitoring and flooding forecasts. The 127-foot-tall (39-metre) rocket, built and flown by United Launch Alliance, is scheduled to lift off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 6:20 a.m. PST (1420 GMT). Launch originally was planned for Thursday but was delayed 24 hours due to high winds, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration said. United Launch Alliance, a partnership of Lockheed Martin and Boeing, postponed the flight for one more day so that technicians could repair insulation on the rocket that had become detached during Thursday’s launch attempt.
Fri, 30 Jan 2015 16:58:33 -0500
Poll finds gaping chasm in views between U.S. public, scientists
By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - American scientists and the general public hold vastly different views on key scientific issues including the role of people in causing climate change, the safety of genetically modified food, and evolution, a poll released on Thursday showed. Eighty-seven percent of scientists questioned by the Pew Research Center said human activity was the main cause of global climate change, compared with 50 percent of the public. The issue has become increasing divisive, with some leading conservatives expressing doubt that human activity like the burning of fossils fuels that release greenhouse gases is driving a global warming trend. There was an even bigger chasm over genetically modified foods, with 88 percent of the scientists saying they were safe to eat, compared with 37 percent of the public.
Thu, 29 Jan 2015 16:50:35 -0500
Laser's co-inventor, Nobel laureate Charles Townes, dead at 99
Charles Townes, who shared the 1964 Nobel Prize in Physics for invention of the laser, a feat that revolutionized science, medicine, telecommunications and entertainment, has died at age 99, the University of California at Berkeley reported. A professor emeritus at Berkeley, he was a member of the university's physics department and Space Sciences Laboratory for nearly five decades.
Wed, 28 Jan 2015 21:57:15 -0500
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