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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…

US shifts supply routes to Central Asia: report

The US military is expanding its Central Asian supply routes to the war in Afghanistan, fearing that the routes going through Pakistan could be endangered by deteriorating US-Pakistani relations, The Washington Post reported. Citing unnamed Pentagon officials, the newspaper said that in 2009, the United States moved 90 percent of…

Space sleuths solve riddle of missing sunspots

PARIS (AFP) – Space scientists on Thursday said they could explain why spots disappeared off the face of the Sun for two years, a mystery that had challenged a mainstream theory about our star. The years 2008 and 2009 were marked by a near-absence of sunspots, which reflected an unusually…

NASA spacecraft speeds toward comet encounter

WASHINGTON – A NASA spacecraft is just hours from its long-anticipated encounter with a comet, and skywatchers hope the flyby will shed light on how the comet’s surface has changed since it skimmed by the Sun in 2005. The US space agency’s Stardust-NExT mission spacecraft “is within a quarter-million miles…

China unveils photos of moon

China on Monday unveiled photos taken by its lunar probe of the moon’s Sinus Iridium, the area marked out for the nation’s first landing, highlighting the success of the mission so far. The photos of the moon’s surface, made public by Premier Wen Jiabao, were taken at the end of…

AP Enterprise: Scientists lower Gulf health grade

6 months after oil spill, scientists rate Gulf health worse, but not fatally so Six months after the rig explosion that led to the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history, damage to the Gulf of Mexico can be measured more in increments than extinctions, say scientists polled by The…

Major study charts long-lasting oil plume in Gulf

New study: Oil plume under Gulf surface is big – 22 miles long – and likely to survive awhile. A 22-mile-long invisible mist of oil is meandering far below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, where it will probably loiter for months or more, scientists reported Thursday in the…

Lawmakers focus on chemical used in Gulf cleanup

Lawmakers pressed government scientists Wednesday to explain what effects a chemical used to get rid of oil will have on the Gulf’s ecosystem, even as a new report by the Obama administration characterized the effort as remarkably successful. BP applied nearly 2 million gallons of a chemical dispersant to the…

BP, Coast Guard ignored order to stop using dispersants: report

BP continued spraying large amounts of a controversial dispersant onto the surface of the Gulf of Mexico even after an EPA order to stop doing so, the Washington Post reports. According to the Post, BP used a loophole in the EPA’s order that allowed the Coast Guard to rubber-stamp “exemptions”…

Climate data shows June 2010 to be Earth’s hottest month on record

Last month was the hottest June ever recorded on Earth, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Thursday, amid global climate warming worries. The combined global land and ocean surface temperature data also found the January-June and April-June periods were the warmest on record, according to NOAA’s National Climatic…

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