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Rosetta comet-chasing mission extended to September 2016

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The European Space Agency (ESA) announced Tuesday that its historic comet-chasing mission Rosetta had been extended until the end of September 2016.

“ESA’s Science Programme Committee has given formal approval to continue the mission for an additional nine months,” ESA said.

In a final flourish, the spacecraft may be “landed” on 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the comet it has been following, the agency said in a press release.

Launched in 2004, the mission has been applauded as a milestone in the exploration of space.

It comprises an orbiter, Rosetta, and a robot lab, Philae, which seek to unveil the secrets of comets — primordial clusters of ice and dust that may shed light on the formation of the Solar System and on how life developed on Earth.

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After a 10-year chase, the pair caught up with 67P last August.

In November, Philae was landed on the comet surface, and in a dramatic 60-hour episode carried out a range of experiments before its stored battery power gave out.

But the 100-kilo (220-pound) lab has now revived, thanks to sunlight bathing its solar panels as the comet hurtles towards the Sun.

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Both Rosetta and Philae will have a grandstand view when 67P reaches perihelion, its closest point to the Sun, on August 13, scientists hope.

The comet will then loop back into deep space, beginning another six-and-a-half-year trek around our star.

The mission had been nominally funded until the end of December 2015, and its extension was not a surprise.

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By the end of September 2016, “as the comet moves far away from the Sun again, there will no longer be enough solar power to run Rosetta’s set of scientific instrumentation efficiently,” ESA said.

“At (this) point, the spacecraft will most likely be landed on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.”


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Trump ‘pulled the ultimate BBQ Becky’: Joy Reid destroys the racist push to get critics to ‘self-deport’

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MSNBC anchor Joy Reid declared that Donald Trump "pulled the ultimate BBQ Becky" with his racist attack on young women of color in Congress.

In 2008, a woman became known as "BBQ Becky" after calling the police on a black family having a barbecue in an Oakland park. The 911 dispatcher who received the call wondered about BBQ Becky's mental health the ordeal was so surreal.

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Trump is a racist — but he is also ‘deeply mentally ill’: Trump biographer

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On Monday's edition of MSNBC's "Hardball," anchor Chris Matthews discussed President Donald Trump's racist outbursts against congresswomen of color with Pulitzer Prize-winning tax journalist and Trump biographer David Cay Johnston.

Johnston agreed that Trump has been deeply racist throughout his career — but added that another major problem is Trump's cognitive faculties are severely impaired.

"Is he the kind of guy, in a back room with other right-wing business guys, who would make slurs about people of color?" said Johnston. "Is he that kind of guy?"

"That's not Donald's style. Donald's actions are what matter here," said Johnston. "He once removed a black blackjack dealer because he thought it would curry favor with his biggest gambler, [alleged mobster] Bob Libutti. He's found to have discriminated in his casino business against blacks, Asians, women, Puerto Ricans. He has a long history of actions. We should be paying attention to his actions, and they're flat-out racist."

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Republicans in Congress are angry about Trump’s latest racist comments — but not because they’re racist

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There can be no denying that amid the firestorm from President Donald Trump tweeting that Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) should "go back where they came from," Republicans in Congress are upset.

However, as many of them make clear in conversation with reporters, the fact that these comments were racist is not the main reason they are angry at the president. Rather, they are frustrated that his comments are hogging the news cycle, which leaves them incapable of discussing their agenda — and of criticizing the agenda of the Democratic representatives he targeted.

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