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Rocket Lab’s Virginia launch pad opens for business, with Air Force as first customerRocket Lab today celebrated the opening of a launch complex on the Virginia coast, half a world away from its first launch pad in New Zealand. The California-based company's New Zealand-born CEO, Peter Beck, announced that the first liftoff from Launch Complex 2 at Virginia's Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island would put an experimental satellite into orbit for the U.S. Air Force early next year. The Air Force's Monolith nanosatellite will test a miniaturized system that's designed to keep track of space weather. Over the past two and a half years, Rocket Lab has conducted 10 low-cost launches of… Read More



THURSDAY 12. DECEMBER 2019


It’s all systems go from NASA for uncrewed flight of Boeing’s Starliner to space stationAfter conducting a flight readiness review today, NASA gave its go-ahead for launching Boeing's CST-100 Starliner space taxi on an uncrewed demonstration flight to the International Space Station on Dec. 20. Starliner is due for liftoff atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket at 6:36 a.m. ET (3:36 a.m. PT) Dec. 20 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The capsule will deliver cargo to the station, including "presents for the crew," said John Mulholland, vice president and program manager for Boeing's commercial crew program. If all goes according to plan, Starliner would be sent back to a… Read More


Space agency commissions €100m ClearSpace project after competitive bid process

ClearSpace-1 is planned for launch in 2025 and will be the first mission to remove an item of space debris from orbit. After a competitive bid process, the European Space Agency has awarded a service contract to a consortium led by the Swiss startup company ClearSpace, which is staffed by space debris experts from the École polytechnique fedérale de Lausanne (EPFL) research institute.

The service contract model is a different way of working on missions for ESA. Usually the agency takes an active role in defining how a mission works. In this instance, however, it is paying ClearSpace to remove a piece of space junk but not specifying how that should be done. In this way, ESA is hoping to stimulate a commercial market for comparatively low-cost space debris removal.

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Since their invention more than 60 years ago, diamond anvil cells have made it possible for scientists to recreate extreme phenomena—such as the crushing pressures deep inside the Earth's mantle—or to enable chemical reactions that can only be triggered by intense pressure, all within the confines of a laboratory apparatus that you can safely hold in the palm of your hand.

Caribou, the North American cousin of reindeer, migrate farther than any terrestrial animal. They can cover thousands of miles as they move between winter feeding grounds and summer calving grounds. But many caribou herds are in decline as the warming climate changes much of the landscape they depend on. Inedible shrubs are rapidly encroaching on the tundra, and more frequent forest fires and disease are destroying the trees that provide caribou with lichen for food. The role of climate on their migration patterns has never been well understood, but knowing what drives caribou movements is crucial to predicting the future for the iconic species that plays a key roll the ecological and economic stability of the Arctic region.

New research suggests that, when two people must work together on a physical task despite conflicting goals, the amount of information available about each other's actions influences how quickly and optimally they learn to collaborate. Vinil Chackochan and Vittorio Sanguineti of the University of Genoa, Italy, present these findings in PLOS Computational Biology.

The normal way to study cassava roots is digging up the plant. Unfortunately, that tends to kill the plant, causing serious complications for researchers who are interested in learning more about how cassava grows. To solve this, scientists at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture grew cassava in the air—using a technique called aeroponics—and in doing so removed an obstacle for researchers interested in getting the most out of one of the world's hardiest staple crops.

When astronomers see something in the universe that at first glance seems like one-of-a-kind, it's bound to stir up a lot of excitement and attention. Enter comet 2I/Borisov. This mysterious visitor from the depths of space is the first identified comet to arrive here from another star. We don't know from where or when the comet started heading toward our Sun, but it won't hang around for long. The Sun's gravity is slightly deflecting its trajectory, but can't capture it because of the shape of its orbit and high velocity of about 100,000 miles per hour.

Biologists have discovered two unexpected drivers for migration timing that dispute long-held assumptions and provide insight into potential future effects of climate change on caribou. First, the start of migration is synchronized across North America and tied to large-scale, ocean-driven climate cycles. Second, warm, windless summers that favored insect pests lead to poorer maternal health and delayed arrivals at the calving grounds the following spring.