Amazon founder Bezos' space company loses challenge over NASA launch pad
A commercial space company owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has lost a challenge over NASA's plans to lease out one of the space shuttle's dormant launch pads in Florida, officials said on Thursday. The company, Blue Origin, had filed a protest with the U.S. General Accountability Office, which arbitrates federal contract disputes. The GAO said in a decision it denied the company's protest. Blue Origin is vying against another company owned by Elon Musk, co-founder of PayPal and chief executive of electric car company Tesla Motors, to lease Launch Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center.
Thu, 12 Dec 2013 19:13:59 -0500
Space station cooling system shuts down, but no emergency, says NASA
By Irene Klotz SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - NASA is assessing a problem with one of two cooling systems aboard the International Space Station, a potentially serious but not life-threatening situation, officials said on Wednesday. The system automatically shut itself down after detecting abnormal temperatures, said NASA spokesman Josh Byerly at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Repairs may require a spacewalk, Byerly said.
Wed, 11 Dec 2013 19:46:31 -0500
Scientists find water plumes shooting off Jupiter moon
By Irene Klotz SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - New observations from the Hubble Space Telescope show jets of water vapor blasting off the southern pole of Europa, an ice-covered moon of Jupiter that is believed to hold an underground ocean, scientists said on Thursday. If confirmed, the discovery could affect scientists' assessments of whether the moon has the right conditions for life, planetary scientist Kurt Retherford, with the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas, told reporters at the American Geophysical Union conference in San Francisco. Researchers using the Hubble Space Telescope found 125-mile-high (200-km-high) plumes of water vapor shooting off from Europa's south polar region in December 2012. The jets were not seen during Hubble observations of the same region in October 1999 and November 2012.
Thu, 12 Dec 2013 14:38:21 -0500
China-Brazil satellite launch fails, likely fell back to Earth
A Chinese-Brazilian satellite launched by China on Monday failed to reached its planned orbit and likely fell back to Earth, Brazil's Ministry of Science said. The satellite was the fourth in a series designed to monitor land use in Brazil, including forest cover in the Amazon basin. Brazil's space program is seeking to reduce the country's dependence on U.S. and European space equipment and launch vehicles and expand the domestic aerospace industry, already the world's No. 3 producer of commercial jet aircraft. The CBERS-3 satellite developed by China and Brazil was carried to space on Monday morning aboard a Long March 4B rocket from China's Taiyuan satellite launch center, the Brazilian ministry said in a statement.
Tue, 10 Dec 2013 13:15:37 -0500
NASA Mars rover finds evidence of life-friendly ancient lake
By Irene Klotz SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Scientists have found evidence of an ancient freshwater lake on Mars well suited to support microbial life, the researchers said Monday. The lake, located inside Gale Crater where the rover landed in August 2012, likely covered an area 31 miles long and 3 miles wide, though its size varied over time. Analysis of sedimentary deposits gathered by NASA's Mars rover Curiosity shows the lake existed for at least tens of thousands of years, and possibly longer, geologist John Grotzinger, with the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, told reporters at the American Geophysical Union conference in San Francisco. Analysis of clays drilled out from two rock samples in the area known as Yellowknife Bay show the freshwater lake existed at a time when other parts of Mars were dried up or dotted with shallow, acidic, salty pools ill-suited for life.
Mon, 09 Dec 2013 16:30:48 -0500
Newly Detected Greenhouse Gas Is 7,000 Times More Potent Than CO2
A greenhouse gas that is thought to have a potent impact on global warming was detected in trace amounts in the atmosphere for the first time, according to a new study. Researchers at the University of Toronto discovered very small amounts of an industrial chemical, known as perfluorotributylamine (PFTBA), in the atmosphere. While only traces of PFTBA were measured, the chemical has a much higher potential to affect climate change on a molecule-by-molecule basis than carbon dioxide (CO2), the most significant greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, and a major contributor to global warming, said study co-author Angela Hong, of the University of Toronto's department of chemistry. "We look at potency on a per-molecule basis, and what makes this molecule interesting is that, on a per-molecule basis, it's very high, relative to other compounds in the atmosphere," Hong told LiveScience.
Thu, 12 Dec 2013 19:21:17 -0500
Why James Bond Wanted Martinis 'Shaken, Not Stirred'
James Bond's famous catchphrase "shaken, not stirred" may have stemmed from his inability to stir his drinks due to an alcohol-induced tremor affecting his hands, researchers reveal in a new, tongue-in-cheek medical report. For their report, the researchers read all 14 books of the fictional British Secret Service agent, noting every alcoholic drink, and used standard alcohol unit levelsto calculate Bond's alcohol consumption all in an effort to determine whether 007 was a martini connoisseur or a chronic alcoholic.
Thu, 12 Dec 2013 18:33:39 -0500
Not So Funny: The Strange Risks of Laughter
Laughing appears to bring health benefits, but not always for some, a fit of giggles can have serious consequences, according to a new study that reviewed the effects of laughter. The researchers reviewed studies on laughter published between 1946 and 2013. For example, laughing has been shown to improve blood-vessel function and reduce stiffness of the arteries, which is a risk factor for heart problems such as heart attacks. One study found that people who laugh easily have a reduced risk of coronary heart disease.
Thu, 12 Dec 2013 18:33:35 -0500
Europe Launches Wake-Up Call Contest for Comet-bound Spacecraft
In the chilly reaches of deep space, the unmanned Rosetta probe will soon awaken from a years-long hibernation for a 2014 comet rendezvous, and the European scientists want you to help wake the slumbering spacecraft. The European Space Agency is asking comet fans around the world to create a special video message to rouse the Rosetta spacecraft under the new 'Wake Up Rosetta' campaign.
Thu, 12 Dec 2013 15:54:12 -0500
Element Essential for Life Found in Supernova Remains
Phosphorous one of the essential elements for life has been discovered in the cosmic leftovers from a star explosion for the first time, scientists say. The second discovery by a second team of scientists found traces of argon gas in a distant nebula. "These five elements are essential to life and can only be created in massive stars," said Dae-Sik Moon, a University of Toronto astronomer, in a statement. The research, led by Seoul National University astronomy Bon-Chul Koo, is detailed in the Dec. 12 edition of the journal Science along with the separate argon gas study.
Thu, 12 Dec 2013 14:20:58 -0500
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