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U.S. spacecraft reaches dwarf planet Ceres for 16-month study

The dwarf planet Ceres taken by NASA's Dawn spacecraftBy Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - A U.S. space probe slipped into orbit around Ceres, a miniature planet beyond Mars believed to be left over from the formation of the solar system, NASA said on Friday. Launched in 2007, the Dawn spacecraft made a 14-month tour of the asteroid Vesta before steering itself toward Ceres, the largest body in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Dawn shifted its path to allow itself to be captured by Ceres gravity at 7:39 a.m. EST, becoming the first spacecraft to orbit a dwarf planet.

Fri, 06 Mar 2015 11:15:41 -0500
Astronomers find star speeding out of the galaxy

The star, known as US 708, is traveling at about 746 miles (1,200 km) per second, fast enough to actually leave the Milky Way galaxy in about 25 million years, said astronomer Stephan Geier with Germany-based European Southern Observatory, which operates three telescopes in Chile. US 708 is not the first star astronomers have found that is moving fast enough to escape the galaxy, but it is the only one so far that appears to have been slingshot in a supernova explosion. Before it was sent streaming across the galaxy, US 708 was once a cool giant star, but it was stripped of nearly all of its hydrogen by a closely orbiting partner.

Thu, 05 Mar 2015 16:18:47 -0500
Hubble captures quadruple image of ancient exploding star

Hubble Space Telescope image shows multiple images of a single distant supernovaBy Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope and a naturally occurring cosmic magnifying lens captured surprising multiple images of the same exploded ancient star, research published on Thursday shows. The four images captured by Hubble were caused by light taking different paths around a massive galaxy cluster located between the exploded star and the Earth-orbiting telescope. By chance, the supernova, which exploded about 9 billion years ago, was aligned with the intervening galaxy cluster being used during a Hubble observation period in 2011. The supernova team was looking at these image and bam, up popped not one, not two, not three, but four images, said astronomer Jennifer Lotz, with the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland.

Thu, 05 Mar 2015 16:14:13 -0500
Fresh coat: scientists develop tough new self-cleaning paint

British and Chinese scientists say they have developed a new paint that can be applied to clothes, paper, glass and steel to make resilient surfaces that can self-clean even after being scratched or scuffed. In research published in the journal Science on Thursday, the scientists said the paint, made from coated titanium dioxide nanoparticles, is extremely repellent to water but, unlike other waterproof coatings, continues to work even when damaged or exposed to oil. "The biggest challenge for self-cleaning surfaces is finding a way to make them tough enough to withstand everyday damage," said Claire Carmalt, a professor of inorganic chemistry at University College London, who co-led the research.

Thu, 05 Mar 2015 14:17:29 -0500
Praying mantis looks long before it leaps

Slowed-down video footage of a series of praying mantises leaping towards a target has demonstrated the extraordinary precision of the insect while jumping. British scientists Malcolm Burrows and Gregory Sutton studied the insect's jump, which from take-off to landing lasts less than a tenth of a second - faster than the blink of a human eye.

Thu, 05 Mar 2015 12:34:22 -0500
Fewer Americans Say Vaccines Are Crucial

The percentage of Americans who consider vaccines crucial for children has declined slightly in the past decade, according to a new survey. And 30 percent of Americans now say they've heard "a great deal" about the disadvantages of vaccines, compared to 15 percent who said that in 2001. The percentage of Americans who say they consider vaccines to be worse than the diseases they prevent has not changed much in 14 years: 9 percent of Americans held this view in 2015, compared with 6 percent in 2001. Only 6 percent of Americans say they think vaccines cause autism, while 41 percent say that vaccines do not cause autism, and 52 percent said they were unsure.

Fri, 06 Mar 2015 13:53:28 -0500
'Chappie': How Realistic Is the Film's Artificial Intelligence?

'Chappie': How Realistic Is the Film's Artificial Intelligence?The new film "Chappie" features an artificially intelligent robot that becomes sentient and must learn to navigate the competing forces of kindness and corruption in a human world. Directed by Neill Blomkamp, whose previous work includes "District 9" and "Elysium," the film takes place in the South African city of Johannesburg. One of these robots, named "Chappie," receives an upgrade that makes him sentient. Yet, while today's technology isn't quite at the level of that in the film, "We definitely have had major aspects of systems like Chappie already in existence for quite a while," said Wolfgang Fink, a physicist and AI expert at Caltech and the University of Arizona, who did not advise on the film.

Fri, 06 Mar 2015 09:03:18 -0500
170-Year-Old Shipwreck Beer Smells Gross

170-Year-Old Shipwreck Beer Smells GrossIf hints of soured milk and burnt rubber, or a "goaty" taste sound delightful to you, then brews that were aged for 170 years at the bottom of the Baltic Sea might just be your thing. Scientists recently opened two bottles of beer from a shipwreck off the coast of Finland to get a profile of the 19th century brews. The bottles came from 165 feet (50 meters) below the surface of the Baltic, from the wreckage of a schooner that sank near Finland's Aland Islands in the 1840s. In 2010, divers found 150 bottles of champagne at the wreck, as well as five beer bottles, though one did not survive the journey back to land.

Fri, 06 Mar 2015 07:53:18 -0500
NASA Dawn Probe Enters Orbit Around Dwarf Planet Ceres, a Historic First

NASA Dawn Probe Enters Orbit Around Dwarf Planet Ceres, a Historic FirstThe year of the dwarf planet has begun. NASA's Dawn probe arrived at Ceres today (March 6) at about 7:39 a.m. EST (1239 GMT), becoming the first spacecraft ever to orbit adwarf planet. Dawn's observations over the next 16 months should lift the veil on Ceres, which has remained largely mysterious since its 1801 discovery, mission team members say. "It's really going to be exciting to see what this exotic, alien world looks like," Dawn mission director and chief engineer Marc Rayman, who's based at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, told in late January.

Fri, 06 Mar 2015 09:52:54 -0500
NASA Spacecraft Set for Historic Arrival at Dwarf Planet Ceres Today

NASA Spacecraft Set for Historic Arrival at Dwarf Planet Ceres TodayNASA's Dawn probe is just hours away from making spaceflight history. Dawn is scheduled to slip into orbit around Ceres the largest object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, and Ceres the closest dwarf planet to Earth at about 7:20 a.m. EST (1220 GMT) on Friday (March 6). If all goes according to plan, Dawn will become the first spacecraft ever to visit a dwarf planet, and the first to circle two different objects beyond the Earth-moon system.

Fri, 06 Mar 2015 00:19:26 -0500
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