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Physicists look for changes in Earth’s gravity through gnome

Physicists looking at anomalies in Earth’s gravity have turned to agarden gnome named Kern, which has been shipped around the globe to have himself weighed at locations ranging from Lima, Mumbai and Mexico to Sydney, New Caledonia and the South Pole. The experiment is a twist on the “travelling gnome” prank, in…

Asteroid the size of a bus slides by Earth in ‘near-miss’

WASHINGTON — An asteroid about the size of a bus shaved by Earth on Friday in what spacewatchers described as a “near-miss,” though experts were not concerned about the possibility of an impact. The asteroid, named 2012 BX34, measured between six and 19 meters in diameter (20 to 62 feet),…

Life possible on ‘large parts’ of Mars: study

Australian scientists who modelled conditions on Mars to examine how much of the red planet was habitable said that “large regions” could sustain life. Charley Lineweaver’s team, from the Australian National University, compared models of temperature and pressure conditions on Earth with those on Mars to estimate how much of…

U.S. officials deny ‘complicity’ with pipeline execs

WASHINGTON — The State Department on Monday denied claims of “complicity” with a firm building a $7 billion US-Canada oil pipeline, made by an environmentalist group that released emails it said showed bias. The State Department insisted it had behaved “transparently and evenhandedly” toward the Keystone XL project to bring…

Little threat to Earth from big asteroid: NASA

WASHINGTON — Fewer giant asteroids are out in space than once thought and most of the biggest near-Earth asteroids have been found, leaving little threat of one smashing into the planet, NASA said Thursday. The latest data from the US space agency’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE telescope, shows…

Ancient river-like volcanoes formed Mercury’s plains

WASHINGTON — The planet closest to the Sun had plenty of its own heat to release billions of years ago and erupted in vast river-like volcanoes that oozed around its northern pole, said a study out Thursday. For more than three decades, scientists have thought volcanoes may have helped craft…

Atlantis bids final farewell to space station

The crew of Atlantis on Tuesday bade a bittersweet farewell to the International Space Station, wrapping up the final visit by a space shuttle to the orbiting outpost. With a spectacular orbital sunrise illuminating a shuttle in the sunset of its career, Atlantis inched away from the ISS at 0628…

NASA reaches agreement with maker of Atlas V rocket

WASHINGTON — NASA said Monday that it had reached an agreement with United Launch Alliance (ULA) to try to adopt the Atlas V commercial rocket to send astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS). ULA is a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin designed to provide cost-efficient rockets to…

NASA spacecraft to enter orbit of large asteroid

WASHINGTON — After its nearly four-year trek, NASA engineers are expected to confirm this weekend that the US spacecraft Dawn has entered the orbit of Vesta, one of the largest asteroids in the solar system. Mission leaders estimate that Dawn was pulled into Vesta’s orbit around 0500 GMT Saturday and…

Oceans in distress foreshadow mass extinction

PARIS (AFP) – Pollution and global warming are pushing the world’s oceans to the brink of a mass extinction of marine life unseen for tens of millions of years, a consortium of scientists warned Monday. Dying coral reefs, biodiversity ravaged by invasive species, expanding open-water “dead zones,” toxic algae blooms,…

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