18 December 2014

NASA's Kepler Spacecraft Finds 1st Alien Planet of New Mission

NASA's Kepler Spacecraft Finds 1st Alien Planet of New MissionNASA's Kepler space telescope is discovering alien planets again. "Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Kepler has been reborn and is continuing to make discoveries," study lead author Andrew Vanderburg, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), said in a statement. The spacecraft has been incredibly successful to date, finding nearly 1,000 confirmed planets — more than half of all known alien worlds — along with about 3,200 other "candidates," the vast majority of which should turn out to be the real deal. The spacecraft finds planets by the "transit method," watching for the telltale dimming caused when a world cross the face of, or transits, its parent star from Kepler's perspective.


18 December 2014

Strange Fossil Shows How Life Responded After Mass Extinction

A strange marine reptile from the age of dinosaurs that was recently unearthed in China may shed light on how life recovered after the greatest mass extinction in Earth's history, researchers say. The creatures were odd-looking predators that grew to about 6 feet (2 meters) in size, and have so far only been found in the province of Hubei in central China. "Hupehsuchia is a group of bizarre marine reptiles unlike anything living today," said study co-author Ryosuke Motani, a vertebrate paleontologist at the University of California, Davis.

18 December 2014

Ancient Farmhouse Found in Israel Reveals Agricultural Secrets

Ancient Farmhouse Found in Israel Reveals Agricultural SecretsOver the past few weeks, archaeologists have uncovered the sprawling stone house in Rosh Ha-'Ayin, in central Israel. Archaeologists found the farmhouse during an excavation that the government required be done before construction could begin to enlarge the modern city. The house, which measures 98 by 131 feet (30 by 40 meters), is "extraordinarily well preserved," Amit Shadman, excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, said in a statement. The farmhouse dates back to the time of the Assyrian conquest, when the Assyrians conquered Northern Israel, the researchers said.


18 December 2014

Parents: How to Help a Shy Kid

Shy babies and toddlers are at greater risk of developing anxiety later in life, compared with outgoing kids. In fact, shyness and withdrawal from new situations is linked to later anxiety only in babies and toddlers without a secure attachment to their caregivers, according to new research published today (Dec. 18) in the journal Child Development. A secure attachment is a warm, nurturing relationship in which kids feel confident to explore when their mom or dad is around, and also feel comfortable seeking reassurance from them when upset. "For those [kids] that do show inhibition across many years, having a secure attachment could be really protective," said study researcher Erin Lewis-Morrarty, a research associate in child development at the University of Maryland.

18 December 2014

SpaceX delays planned cargo run to space station to early January

Falcon 9 rocket is launched by Space Exploration Technologies on its fourth cargo resupply service mission to the International Space Station, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in FloridaCAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - Space Exploration Technologies is delaying the planned launch on Friday of an unmanned Falcon 9 rocket, which will carry a cargo ship to the International Space Station for NASA, to early January, officials said on Thursday. Liftoff from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida had been planned for 1:22 p.m. EST, but an undisclosed technical issue with the rocket prompted SpaceX, as the company is known, to postpone the flight until Jan 6. The problem surfaced during routine prelaunch test firing of the rocket’s engines, SpaceX spokesman John Taylor said. ...


18 December 2014

Meteor Over Morocco Captured in Stunning Photo

Meteor Over Morocco Captured in Stunning PhotoThis stunning skywatching image shows the night sky above the High Atlas mountains in sub-Saharan Morocco. 


17 December 2014

India tests its heaviest space launch vehicle, eyes global market

By Aditya Kalra NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India's space agency successfully tested on Thursday its most powerful satellite launch vehicle that can put heavier payloads into space, and, it hopes, win India a bigger slice of the $300 billion global space industry. The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) also checked the working of an unmanned crew module on the vehicle, which could give the agency the option of manned missions. ...

17 December 2014

U.S, China making progress on biotech crop talks: USDA's Vilsack

CHICAGO (Reuters) - The United States and China are making progress in talks over Beijing's acceptance of new biotechnology for crops, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said on Wednesday. The countries are "moving toward an understanding of how we might be able to establish a strategic dialogue on biotechnology," Vilsack told Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang in a bilateral meeting in Chicago. Biotech crops are a key trade issue between the countries because China has rejected more than 1 million tons of U.S. ...

17 December 2014

Voyager 1 Rides 'Tsunami Wave' in Interstellar Space

Voyager 1 Rides 'Tsunami Wave' in Interstellar SpaceIt turns out that sailing through interstellar space isn't so peaceful. NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft — the only object made by humans to reach interstellar space — might still be caught what scientists have described as a cosmic "tsunami wave," a shock wave that first hit the probe in February, according to new research. You can hear the eerie interstellar vibrations in a video, courtesy of NASA. "Most people would have thought the interstellar medium would have been smooth and quiet," study researcher Don Gurnett, professor of physics at the University of Iowa, and the principal investigator of Voyager 1's plasma wave instrument, said in a statement from NASA.


17 December 2014

SpaceX to attempt rocket landing at sea

Falcon 9 rocket is launched by Space Exploration Technologies on its fourth cargo resupply service mission to the International Space Station, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in FloridaBy Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - Space Exploration Technologies will attempt to land its Falcon 9 rocket on a sea platform following launch on Friday, company officials said, a vital step to prove its precision landing capabilities needed before it can gain a ground landing license. SpaceX, as the California-based firm is known, has been working on developing technology to return its rockets intact so they can be refurbished and reflown, dramatically cutting costs. ...


16 December 2014

NASA rover finds organic molecules, methane gas on Mars

NASA's Mars rover Curiosity drilled into this rock target, "Cumberland," during the 279th Martian day, or sol, of the rover's work on MarsBy IRENE KLOTZ Reuters - NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has found carbon-containing compounds in samples drilled out of an ancient rock, the first definitive detection of organics on the surface of Earth’s neighbor planet, scientists said on Tuesday. The rover also found spurts of methane gas in the atmosphere, a chemical that on Earth is strongly tied to life. Additional studies, which may be beyond the rover’s capabilities, are needed to determine if the organic compounds and/or the methane gas were produced by past or present life on Mars or if they stem from geochemical processes. ...


16 December 2014

Back to the future: Scientists want 'rewilded' crops to boost agriculture

By Chris Arsenault ROME (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Scientists should "re-wild" food crops by inserting lost genetic properties of ancient, edible plants in order to boost agricultural output for a growing population, a new study said. Important properties of wild plants, including varieties of wheat and rice, have been unintentionally lost during thousands of years of breeding. When humans first domesticated wheat around 7500 BC, farmers chose to use seeds based on a few selected traits, particularly their yields. ...

16 December 2014

NASA Probe Piecing Together How Mars' Atmosphere Escapes to Space

NASA Probe Piecing Together How Mars' Atmosphere Escapes to SpaceA NASA spacecraft that recently arrived in orbit around Mars is already helping to solve a Martian mystery. Scientists are using the space agency's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft to gather more data about how Mars' atmosphere bled molecules out into space over time. The agency released early results from the probe today (Dec. 15), showing how the continuous stream of particles emanating from the sun, called the solar wind, bury more deeply into the Martian atmosphere than scientists had previously thought. "Over the course of the full mission, we'll be able to fill in this picture and really understand the processes by which the atmosphere changed over time," Bruce Jakosky, MAVEN principal investigator with the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado, said in a statement.


12 December 2014

Why Birds Don't Have Teeth

Why Birds Don't Have TeethThe common ancestor of all living birds sported a set of pearly whites 116 million years ago, a new study finds. In the study, researchers looked at the mutated remains of tooth genes in modern birds to figure out when birds developed "edentulism" — an absence of teeth. Ancient birds have left only a fragmented fossil record, but studying the genes of modern birds can help clarify how the bird lineage has changed over time. "DNA from the crypt is a powerful tool for unlocking secrets of evolutionary history," Mark Springer, a professor of biology at the University of California, Riverside and one of the study's lead researchers, said in a statement.


11 December 2014

Actor Seth Green Designs Mission Patch for Space Station Science

Actor Seth Green Designs Mission Patch for Space Station ScienceLooking at the latest mission patch bound for the International Space Station, you would never know it was designed by actor Seth Green.


11 December 2014

Scientists work to conserve 2,500-year-old mummy

FILE- In this Dec. 5, 2014, photo, the mummified body of Minirdis, a 14-year-old Egyptian boy and his exposed toes lie in his opened coffin after J.P. Brown and his team of curators at the Field Museum opened the coffin for the first time in Chicago. The team opened the coffin of the 2,500-year-old mummy to perform conservation work before it becomes part of a traveling exhibition. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)CHICAGO (AP) — Conservation work has started at Chicago's Field Museum on the 2,500-year-old mummy of a 14-year-old Egyptian boy.


10 December 2014

Scientists create 'feel fuller' food ingredient

LONDON (Reuters) - British scientists have developed an ingredient that makes foods more filling, and say initial tests in overweight people showed that it helped prevent them gaining more weight. The ingredient, developed by researchers at London's Imperial College and at the University of Glasgow, contains propionate, a natural substance that stimulates the gut to release hormones that act on the brain to reduce hunger. ...

10 December 2014

U.N.'s Ban says no 'time for tinkering' on global warming action

Leaders pose for the media during the High Level Segment of the U.N. Climate Change Conference COP 20 in LimaBy Valerie Volcovici and Mitra Taj LIMA (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, expressing deep concern about slow action to combat climate change, told governments at U.N. talks in Lima on Tuesday there was no "time for tinkering" and urged a radical shift to greener economies. Ban said there was still a chance of limiting global warming to an internationally agreed ceiling of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times to help avert floods, droughts, desertification and rising sea levels. ...


10 December 2014

Guiding African Wildlife Through Global Warming

Guiding African Wildlife Through Global WarmingJessica Arriens is a public affairs specialist for the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) contributed this article to Live Science's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights. The Congo basin is an unruly ribbon of tropical forest, more than a million square miles spanning six countries in Central Africa, running inward along the equator from the continent's western coast. In Central Africa, those forces include deforestation, climate change, hunting and more. The region is "so enriched with life," says Mary "Katy" Gonder, a Drexel University biologist and one of the lead researchers on the Central African Biodiversity Alliance (CABA).


10 December 2014

Rhino species to die unless science can help

In this photo taken Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014, keeper Mohamed Doyo walks with female northern white rhino Fatu as she is let out of her pen to graze, at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. The keepers of three of the last six northern white rhinos on Earth said Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2014 that it is highly unlikely the three will ever reproduce naturally, with recent medical examinations of them showing the species is doomed to extinction, unless science can help. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)OL PEJETA, Kenya (AP) — The task was never going to be easy: Fly four highly endangered rhinos from a Czech Republic zoo to East Africa, drive them to the savannah grasses of Mount Kenya and hope that the natural environment helps produce a calf, staving off extinction.