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Key radar fails on $1 billion NASA environmental satellite
File photo of United Launch Alliance rocket launching from Vandenberg Air Force Base in CaliforniaBy Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - A key instrument on a $1 billion NASA satellite has failed, reducing scientists' ability to capture data to measure the moisture in Earth's soil in order to improve flood forecasting and monitor climate change, officials said on Thursday. A second instrument remains operational aboard the 2,100-pound (950-kg) Soil Moisture Active Passive satellite, though its level of detail is far more limited. The satellite's high-powered radar system, capable of collecting data in swaths of land as small as about 2 miles (3 km) across, failed in July after less than three months in operation, NASA said.
Thu, 03 Sep 2015 16:51:45 -0400
Explosive news: Plants can fight back against TNT pollution - researchers
University of York image shows plant with a mutation in a gene called MDHAR6 displays enhanced tolerance to TNT in the soil compared to a plant without the mutationBy Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Scientists have discovered why TNT is so toxic to plants and intend to use this knowledge to tackle the problem of cleaning up the many sites worldwide contaminated by the commonly used explosive. Researchers on Thursday said they have pinpointed an enzyme in plants that reacts with TNT, which is present in the soil at contaminated sites, and damages plant cells. TNT pollution can devastate vegetation and leave land desolate.
Thu, 03 Sep 2015 14:08:56 -0400
Scientists turn to aspirin to turbo-charge cancer immunotherapy
By Ben Hirschler LONDON (Reuters) - Giving cheap aspirin to cancer patients may turbo-charge the effectiveness of expensive new medicines that help their immune systems fight tumors, experiments on mice suggest. Immunotherapy promises to revolutionize cancer care by offering a better, longer-lasting response with fewer adverse side effects than conventional treatment, but the new drugs do not work well in all cases. One reason is that cancer cells often produce large amounts of the molecule prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), which turns down the immune system's normal attack response to tumor cells, according to scientists at London's new Francis Crick Institute. Thu, 03 Sep 2015 12:11:37 -0400
Robot mother builds and improves its own children
By Matthew and Stock Scientists from the University of Cambridge have built a mother robot that independently builds its own children and then tests their performance to inform the design of the next generation. By analyzing the data it collects from observing the child, the mother robot ensures that preferential traits are passed down to the next iteration, while letting weaknesses fall by the wayside.     "We developed a robot that creates robots. Thu, 03 Sep 2015 12:03:49 -0400
20 kilometer high space elevator tower planned
By Jim Drury Ambitious plans to build a twenty kilometer (12.4 miles) tall space elevator tower have been announced by a Canadian space technology firm. Although this distance is a mere fraction of that reached in space missions, Thoth Technology says its ThothX Tower will make a major cost reduction in space flights by helping navigate the difficult first 50 kilometers (31 miles) of travel that traditionally requires rockets. Despite first being proposed more than a century ago, the idea of a space elevator has always appeared fanciful. Thu, 03 Sep 2015 04:45:15 -0400
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