By Aditya Kalra NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Indian scientists successfully tested the main engine of a spacecraft bound for Mars on Monday and performed a course correction that puts the low-cost project on track to enter the red planet's orbit. The $74-million mission will attempt to enter orbit around Mars early on Wednesday. If successful, it will be the first time a mission has entered Mars' orbit on its first attempt, enhancing India's position in the global space race. "Main liquid engine test firing successful ... ...
By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL Fla (Reuters) - An unmanned Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Sunday to deliver a cargo ship to the International Space Station for NASA. The 208-foot (63-meter) tall booster, built and launched by privately owned Space Exploration Technologies, bolted off its seaside launch pad at 1:52 a.m. EDT/0552 GMT, slicing the night-time sky with a bright plume of light as it headed into orbit. ...
By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL Fla (Reuters) - A NASA robotic spacecraft fired its braking rockets on Sunday, ending a 10-month journey to put itself into orbit around Mars and begin a hunt for the planet’s lost water. After traveling 442 million miles (71 million km), the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, or MAVEN, spacecraft fired its six rocket thrusters, trimming its speed from 12,800 mph (20,600 kph) to 10,000 mph (16,093 kph). ...
A new military-sponsored program aims to develop a tiny device that can be implanted in the body, where it will use electrical impulses to monitor the body's organs, healing these crucial parts when they become infected or injured. Known as Electrical Prescriptions, or ElectRx, the program could reduce dependence on pharmaceutical drugs and offer a new way to treat illnesses, according to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the branch of the U.S. "The technology DARPA plans to develop through the ElectRx program could fundamentally change the manner in which doctors diagnose, monitor and treat injury and illness," Doug Weber, program manager for DARPA's biological technologies office, said in a statement. The implant that DARPA hopes to develop is something akin to a tiny, intelligent pacemaker, Weber said.
A bright green aurora reflects off a glacial lake against the backdrop of a snow-covered mountain range in an incredible photo that took home first prize in an astrophotography competition. Representatives of the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England, have awarded James Woodend — the photographer behind the stunning aurora image — the overall prize in the observatory's Astronomy Photographer of the Year contest for 2014.
NASA's newest Mars spacecraft is safely in orbit around the Red Planet, and the probe's handlers couldn't be happier. The MAVEN spacecraft arrived at Mars late Sunday (Sept. 21) after a picture-perfect orbital insertion burn that slowed the probe down enough to be captured by the Red Planet's gravity in a feat that had mission team members cheering with excitement and relief. "Wow! What a night," MAVEN project manager David Mitchell, of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, said Sunday during a press briefing after the probe reached the Red Planet. "You get one shot with Mars orbit insertion, and MAVEN nailed it tonight." [See images from the MAVEN mission]
A particle detector floating 250 miles (400 kilometers) above Earth has analyzed 41 billion cosmic-ray particles, and the data have revealed new insights into the mysterious and invisible dark matter that physicists believe makes up 27 percent of the universe. The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) detector aboard the International Space Station already gathered evidence of dark matter last year, but the new results are the most precise measurements of cosmic-ray particles yet. They include 50 percent more data, and have revealed new insights into the origin of the particles found in cosmic rays, Samuel Ting, a professor of physics at MIT and an AMS spokesman, said during a live webcast at the CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) lab in Switzerland yesterday (Sept. 18). Physicists theorized the existence of invisible, and so far undetectable, dark matter as a way to explain why galaxies and celestial bodies don't just unravel and fly apart.
By Kate Kelland LONDON, Sept 19 (Reuters) - The Ebola virus raging through West Africa is mutating rapidly as it tears a deadly path through cities, towns and villages, but the genetic changes are for now not giving it the ability to spread more easily. Concern that the virus could gain capability to transmit through the air - creating a nightmare scenario of the disease being able to spread like a flu pandemic, killing millions - was fueled by a top infectious disease expert in the United States. ...
The brilliant minds behind research studies about how Earth's magnetic field affects pooping dogs and why people see Jesus in toast were honored tonight (Sept. 18) during one of the most purposefully ridiculous ceremonies in all of science: the Ig Nobel Prizes. Each year, the Ig Nobel Prizes (a parody of the somewhat more famous Nobel Prizes) are awarded to scientists whose research "makes people laugh and then think." Improbable Research, the organization that awards the prizes, runs the annual ceremony here at Harvard University's Sanders Theater. "The achievements speak for themselves all too eloquently," Master of Ceremonies Marc Abrahams said during tonight's Ig Nobel presentations. For example, this year's prize in Arctic science went to a group of researchers who dressed up like polar bears to see how reindeer in Norway would react compared with their reactions to humans.
You can see for yourself on Thursday (Sept. 18) at the 24th annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, an event that honors the hilarious (and sometimes ridiculous) side of scientific research and discovery. Much like its slightly more famous counterpart, the Nobel Prize, the Ig Nobel Prize is bestowed upon those who have recently made significant contributions in such fields as chemistry, physics and biology. "The Ig Nobel Prizes honor achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think," according to a statement from Improbable Research, the organization behind the award ceremony. Ten Ig Nobels are awarded each year at Harvard's Sanders Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and this year's ceremony will be webcast live on Live Science.
Sharks exposed to ocean water acidified by too much carbon dioxide alter their behavior, swimming in longer spurts than sharks in typical ocean water, particularly during their nighttime wanderings. The new findings, published today (Sept. 16) in the journal Biology Letters, are troubling, given that one effect of the human consumption of fossil fuels is to make ocean water more acidic. "Usually when you expose a fish to some kind of environmental stressor, they usually acclimate to that stressor, and that makes them less vulnerable to that stressor," said study researcher Fredrik Jutfelt, an animal physiologist at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. "But here, it seemed like this high CO2 [carbon dioxide] continued to be a stressor to these sharks for quite a long time." [On the Brink: A Gallery of Wild Sharks (Photos)]
Astronomical clues could pinpoint the day Claude Monet painted "Impression, Soleil Levant (Impression, Sunrise)," the art piece that lent its name to the Impressionist art movement. Based on the celestial detective work of Donald Olson, a Texas State University astronomer and physics professor, curators think they've identified the moment that Monet attempted to capture from his hotel room in the city of Le Havre, France: Nov. 13, 1872, 7:35 a.m.
One of Saturn's iconic rings looks much different today than it did just a few decades ago, and scientists aren't sure why. NASA's twin Voyager spacecraft spotted many bright clumps in Saturn's F ring when they flew by the gas giant in the early 1980s. "Saturn's F ring looks fundamentally different from the time of Voyager to the Cassini era," study lead author Robert French, of the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute in Mountain View, California, said in a statement. French and his team have a hypothesis that could explain what's going on, and it's tied to the number of Saturn "moonlets" found near the F ring over the decades.
Air Force and NASA have ironed out problems that prevented scientists from obtaining a steady stream of military tracking data on meteor explosions within Earth's atmosphere. Meteor detonations within Earth's atmosphere can be seen by U.S. Using this government data, in early 2013, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) launched a new website to share the details of meteor explosion events. Due to budget cuts and personnel reductions, NASA's military partner was no longer able to carry out the work.
NASA is staunchly defending the science plans for its flagship Mars rover Curiosity in the wake of a recent senior-level review that at times harshly criticized the mission's science operations. Curiosity had been driving toward the mountain since it landed on Mars in 2012. NASA officials lauded the success so far of Curiosity's $2.5 billion mission. Jim Green, NASA's director of planetary science, was quick to point out Curiosity's early success, citing the rover's discovery that Mars was once a habitable world in the ancient past — a key mission goal.
By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Gibbons - the small, long-armed tree swingers that inhabit the dense tropical forests of Southeast Asia - have become the last of the planet's apes to have their genetic secrets revealed. "We now have whole genome sequences for all the great apes and, with this work, also the small apes - gibbons," said Jeffrey Rogers, a primate genetics researcher at the Human Genome Sequencing Center at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. "This provides new information and insight into the history of the human genome, in evolutionary terms," added Rogers, who participated in the study published in the journal Nature. Among the great apes, the chimpanzee genome was published in 2005, followed by the orangutan in 2011 and the gorilla and the bonobo in 2012.
Instead, the microorganism is somehow able to recognize the brains of different ant species, and releases its mind-controlling chemical cocktail only when in its preferred host, new research shows. "Behavioral manipulation is such a complex [characteristic] that it only occurs when there's a very close coevolution between pathogen and host," said Charissa de Bekker, a molecular biologist at Pennsylvania State University and lead author of the new study, published in August in the journal BMC Evolutionary Biology. "The theory is that every species of ant has its own species of fungi that it gets infected by," de Bekker told Live Science.
A new ultra-precise particle detector is being developed to investigate the bizarre properties and behaviors of tiny elementary particles that seem to defy the laws of traditional physics. Department of Energy recently awarded $1.2 million to a team of physicists from Indiana University's Center for Exploration of Energy and Matter to build the new particle detector. The Standard Model is thought to be the golden rule of particle physics. In particular, physicists think the Belle II detector could reveal more about the uneven distribution of matter and antimatter in the universe.
Stephen Hawking bet Gordon Kane $100 that physicists would not discover the Higgs boson. After losing that bet when physicists detected the particle in 2012, Hawking lamented the discovery, saying it made physics less interesting. Now, in the preface to a new collection of essays and lectures called "Starmus," the famous theoretical physicist is warning that the particle could one day be responsible for the destruction of the known universe.
It's not every day that an ordinary fishing trip turns into an encounter with an oversized alien-like sea creature, but that's what happened recently to one Florida fisherman. Steve Bargeron was fishing off a dock in Fort Pierce, Florida, last week when a couple fishing nearby pulled up what Bargeron jokingly described as an "alien creature." The couple wasn't interested in keeping the strange, lobster-like animal, which was flopping its tail wildly, Bargeron told Live Science. But Bargeron's close encounter with this strange-looking specimen isn't really that strange after all, according to Roy Caldwell, a professor of integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley. Caldwell said he saw the photos online and instantly recognized the creature as a mantis shrimp, or stomatopod, a marine crustacean commonly found in the waters off Florida.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Emerging data on last month's 6.0 magnitude earthquake shows it directed most of its force north toward Napa and the Napa Valley, hitting hard enough to move one side of the West Napa Fault north by 18 inches, the head of the U.S. Geological Survey's Earthquake Science Center said Thursday.
By Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - If you prefer your genetic research to be rich, bold, flavorful, steaming hot and with a bit of a kick, try a mug full of this: Scientists have deciphered the coffee genome and found genetic secrets that may make your cup of joe even better in the future. An international team of researchers on Thursday unveiled the newly sequenced genome of the coffee plant. They pinpointed genetic attributes that could help in the development of new coffee varieties better able to endure drought, disease and pests, with the added benefit of enhancing flavor and caffeine levels. It accounts for about 30 percent of the world's coffee production and is common in instant coffee.