Jade Rabbit lunar rover declared lost

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Chinese state news today declared Jade Rabbit, China’s first moon rover, irreparably damaged.

The Chang’e 3 lander, the first lunar lander for 37 years and of the third nationality, touched down and launched Jade Rabbit in December. Jade Rabbit was designed to spend three months seeking out natural resources but has not functioned since a fault was discovered on January 25.

The probes have to shut down for two weeks each month to survive the “lunar night”, during which surface temperature drops to -180 °C or less. The first lunar night of the mission was weathered successfully but Chinese scientists suspected the rover had failed on the 25th when the second night rolled in. Communication could only be attempted when the night ended on Monday, but reactivation efforts failed and the rover is now confirmed derelict.

State-owned Xinhua news agency blamed the fault on “the complicated lunar surface environment”. Only the US and ex-USSR had previously landed rovers on the moon, with China and the States fueling renewed interest in Earth’s natural satellite as a possible source of minerals.

NASA: Signs of liquid water found on surface of Mars

Thursday, December 7, 2006

NASA scientists have announced that the Mars Global Surveyor has captured images of deposits in gullies on the surface of the planet Mars which have been created since the areas were photographed seven years ago. These deposits are believed to be the residue of liquid water breaking out of cliffs and crater walls, carrying sediment downhill through the gullies, and later evaporating. The gullies are located inside the Terra Sirenum crater and the Centauri Montes regions.

“These observations give the strongest evidence to date that water still flows occasionally on the surface of Mars,” said the head scientist for the Mars Exploration Program in Washington D.C., Michael Meyer.

The bright appearance of the deposits suggests that, at some recent period, the surface material in these gullies has either been heavily disturbed or covered over by new, different, material. Whilst it is not proven that this is the result of water activity—it could be frost, for example, or the result of localized landslides—it ties in with previous theories that suggest liquid water is locked below the surface of Mars, occasionally being released in short and violent local bursts.

“These fresh deposits suggest that at some places and times on present-day Mars, liquid water is emerging from beneath the ground and briefly flowing down the slopes. This possibility raises questions about how the water would stay melted below ground, how widespread it might be, and whether there’s a below-ground wet habitat conducive to life.” said Michael Malin of Malin Space Science Systems located in San Diego, California. Malin is the head investigator for the Mars Orbital Camera, the instrument which made these photographs, and is the author of the report about the discovery, published in the journal Science.

One factor suggesting water is the shape of the deposits, which are sinuous and appear to “flow” downhill. “The shapes of these deposits are what you would expect to see if the material were carried by flowing water. They have finger-like branches at the downhill end and easily diverted around small obstacles,” explained Malin. Scientists do not know how or why the water is making its way to the surface. “The big question is how does it happen, and does it point to a habitat for life?” said Meyer.

However, many in the scientific community stress possible alternative explanations for what has been seen, suggesting that the features could have been created by dust, sand or liquid carbon dioxide. Oded Aharonson of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) described the hypothesis of recent water activity on Mars as just one possible explanation and insisted further study was needed to determine whether the deposits could have been left there by the flow of dust rather than water.

Other scientists think it possible that the gullies were caused by liquid carbon dioxide. One reason is that computer models of the Martian crust indicate water could exist only at depths of several kilometers, but liquid carbon dioxide could persist much nearer the surface.

Contact was lost with Mars Global Surveyor in November, and has not yet been recovered. The spacecraft has been in orbit since 1997, operating over a lifespan which far exceeded the two-year mission originally planned. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, manages the Mars Global Surveyor mission for the NASA Science Mission Directorate located in Washington D.C..

NASA study: warming and snow melt chokes sea life 1000 miles distant

Friday, April 22, 2005

Earth science experts studying ocean currents and their relationship to snow melts have discovered that an unusual heating of the ground in one place on our planet can choke off sea life over a thousand miles away.

In a new NASA funded study, they have found that a decline in winter and spring snow cover over Southwest Asia and the Himalayan mountain range is creating conditions for more widespread blooms of ocean plants in the Arabian Sea.

The decrease in snow cover has led to greater differences in both temperature and pressure systems between the Indian subcontinent and the Arabian Sea. The pressure differences generate monsoon winds that mix the ocean water in the Western Arabian Sea. This mixing leads to better growing conditions for tiny, free-floating ocean plants called phytoplankton.

The senior researcher and lead author of the study is Joaquim Goes, from the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, West Boothbay Harbor, Maine. Goes and his colleagues used observations from satellite imagery of the ocean’s colors to show unusual blooms, or growth, of phytoplankton concentrations in the Western Arabian Sea. His work shows an increase of more than 350 percent over the past seven years.

Since 1997, a reduction in snow has led to wider temperature differences between the land and ocean during summer. As a consequence, sea surface winds over the Arabian Sea have strengthened leading to more intense upwelling and more widespread blooms of phytoplankton along the coasts of Somalia, Yemen and Oman.

According to Goes, while large blooms of phytoplankton can enhance fisheries, exceptionally large blooms could be detrimental to the ecosystem. Increases in phytoplankton amounts can lead to oxygen depletion in the water column and eventually to a decline in fish populations.

The study is in this week’s SCIENCE magazine.

70,000 General Motors employees go on strike

Monday, September 24, 2007

73,000 United Auto Workers (UAW) union members launched a nationwide strike today against General Motors (GM), the largest auto manufacturer in the United States.

UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said GM would need to meet pay, health care, and job security issues. Gettelfinge said, “This is nothing we wanted…No one benefits in a strike. But there comes a point where someone can push you off a cliff. That’s what happened here.”

The strike was officially launched at 11 a.m. EDT (UTC-4) today.

Negotiations were reportedly going to occur again this afternoon, but there have been no reports of any negotiating going on from either side.

80 facilities in 30 different states closed today because of the strike.

CNN reports that GM facilities in Mexico and Canada may close soon, too.

The vice president of global vehicle forecasts for CSM Worldwide, Michael Robinet, said today that dealerships in the US likely won’t feel the effects of the strike for several weeks.

A statement from GM today said, “We are disappointed in the UAW’s decision to call a national strike. The bargaining involved complex, difficult issues that affect the job security of our U.S. work force, and the long-term viability of the company. We are fully committed to working with the UAW to develop solutions together to address the competitive challenges facing General Motors. We will continue focusing our efforts on reaching an agreement as soon as possible.”

If the strike continues, UAW strike funds will supply each striker with US$200 a month and medical coverage.

Sex, mental and physical exercise, fight dementia

Friday, April 8, 2005Professor Perry Bartlett of University of Queensland‘s Brain Institute recommends sex, cryptic crosswords and a good run to stave off dementia.

The researcher, interviewed on Australian ABC radio today [1], said that with 52,000 Australians expected to be diagnosed with dementia by the end of the year, people wishing to ward off the degenerative disorder may benefit from activities which stimulate growth of new cells in the brain, accompanied by mental exercise to select for survival of the resulting crop of new cells.

“Quite prolonged exercise is very good to make new neurones,” said the Professor. “These new nerve cells are really quite vital to our ability to function in the higher brain functions, such as memory and learning. Most of them die. We now know that we can preserve some of them by giving direct stimuli.”

Professor Bartlett explained recent research findings, including those from collaborator Jeffrey D. Macklis [2] at Harvard in the US.

“There are a lot of hormones and changes in blood that go up and down after exercise, and so that may be a lead to some of the chemicals that can drive the production of nerve cells.

“One of the chemicals that seems to promote neurogenesis is prolactin, and prolactin levels are very high in pregnant females. Prolactin levels, by the way, also go up during sex as well. So one could think of a number of more entertaining activities than running in order to regulate the production of nerve cells.

“Perhaps doing something a little more inquisitive or intellectual might be good at selecting their survival. So perhaps one should run a long distance and do the cryptic crossword or something like that,” he said.

Professor Bartlett gave the same suggestions as being potentially helpful in depression, last year in an interview on the ABC Science Show. [3]

Toronto prepares for Monday transit strike

Saturday, April 9, 2005

The Toronto Transit Commission is expected to strike Monday. The TTC workers union, the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113, rejected a deal offered by TTC management. They last went on strike in 1999. The average daily ridership exceeds 1.3 million passengers.

The city of Toronto has prepared to help deal with the forecasted traffic congestion by opening up free parking for car-pools at 14 city-owned community centres, banning parking on some city streets, and opening up some bus-only lanes to car-pools.

The initial deal, which was rejected, offered a 2% wage increase over five years. With a huge turnout the union-members voted against accepting the offer with a 99% majority according to a press release by the union. The union rejected the latest offer Friday reported to be a three-year contract with raises of 2.75 percent in the first year, three percent in the second and 3.25 percent in the third.

One dead after small plane crashes near Phoenix

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The pilot of a small plane that crahed into a warehouse near Deer Valley Airport in Phoenix, Arizona has been confirmed dead.

The plane veered off the airport runway early Wednesday, shortly before landing, and then slammed into a pest-control building a quarter-mile away, bursting into flames. The cause of the crash is unknown, and no one knows how many passengers were in the plane. The small plane was a four-seat single-engine Cirrus SR 22, which is built out of a composite of plastics and fiberglass.

Cindy Cross, a witness of the crash, said that “there was just a horrible black plume of smoke. We knew that it had hit a building and that it was bad because it wasn’t a normal fire.”

The Deer Valley Airport serves general aviation and hosts an aviation school. It is unknown if the flight was a training flight or not.

3000 homeless after fire breaks out in Chad refugee camp

Sunday, April 13, 2008

A fire broke out in a refugee camp in eastern Chad Friday, leaving 3,000 people homeless and injuring 10, according to the United Nations (UN) refugee agency United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Refugees have been living in the camp as a result of the conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan.

The fire started in the Goz Amer camp triggered by a cooking fire that had gone unwatched. The fire moved quickly through the camp due to high winds. Many of the refugees lost all of their belongings and food rations in the blaze. After receiving tents from the UNHCR in 2004, many of the refugees built traditional dwellings out of sticks and mud, and these shelters burned rapidly in the fire.

In a UNHCR press release, Emmanuel Uwurukundo, acting UNHCR head in Koukou-Angarana said: “Everybody around, refugees and all our partners alike, rushed to the spot and tried to extinguish the fire with whatever they had: clothes, extinguishers and water. The teamwork was outstanding.”

The refugees have already suffered so much tragedy and now face yet another trauma.

In Geneva the UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres commented on the situation: “The refugees have already suffered so much tragedy and now face yet another trauma. I am deeply relieved that there was no loss of life in this devastating fire. We will do everything we can to help and to get shelter and food supplies to them as quickly as possible.”

Families affected by the fire were housed at three area schools, and the UNHCR announced on Friday that it planned to deliver aid supplies including sleeping mats, blankets and kitchen sets. The World Food Programme was also asked by the UNHCR for an extra monthly food ration to be delivered to the families whose homes were destroyed in the blaze.

The Goz Amer camp houses about 20,500 refugees, and is located approximately 70 kilometers from the Sudanese border. Goz Amer is one of 12 UNHCR-run camps along the Chad-Sudan which all told contain over 240,000 refugees from Darfur.

Chad and Sudan signed a peace agreement on March 13 in an attempt to end a five-year conflict, and the leaders of both countries agreed not to back rebel groups that are active near their borders.

Approximately 2.2 million people from the Darfur region have left their homes since the beginning of the violence in 2003. The UN puts the number of deaths due to the Darfur conflict at over 200,000, and the Sudanese government has said that only 9,000 have died.

US unemployment rate reaches 9.8%

Friday, October 2, 2009

Companies in the United States are shedding more jobs, pushing the country’s unemployment rate to a 26-year high of 9.8%.

The US Labor Department said on Friday that employers cut 263,000 jobs in September, with companies in the service industries — including banks, restaurants and retailers — hit especially hard. This is the 21st consecutive month of job losses in the country.

The United States has now lost 7.2 million jobs since the recession officially began in December 2007. The new data has sparked fears that unemployment could threaten an economic recovery. Top US officials have warned that any recovery would be slow and uneven, and some have predicted the unemployment rate will top 10% before the situation improves.

“Continued household deleveraging and rising unemployment may weigh more on consumption than forecast, and accelerating corporate and commercial property defaults could slow the improvement in financial conditions,” read a report by the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook, predicting that unemployment will average 10.1% by next year and not go back down to five percent until 2014.

Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Economy.com, said that “it’s a very fragile and tentative recovery. Policy makers need to do more.”

“The number came in weaker than expected. We saw a lot of artificial involvement by the government to prop up the markets, and now that that is starting to end, the private sector isn’t yet showing signs of life,” said Kevin Caron, a market strategist for Stifel, Nicolaus & Co.

Also on Thursday, the US Commerce Department said factory orders fell for the first time in five months, dropping eight-tenths of a percent in August. Orders for durable goods — items intended to last several years (including everything from appliances to airliners) — fell 2.6%, the largest drop since January of this year.

The US government has been spending billions of dollars — part of a $787 billion stimulus package — to help spark economic growth. There have been some signs the economy is improving.

The Commerce Department said on Thursday that spending on home construction jumped in August for its biggest increase in 16 years. A real estate trade group, the National Association of Realtors, said pending sales of previously owned homes rose more than 12 percent in August, compared to August 2008.

A separate Commerce Department report said that consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of US economic activity, rose at its fastest pace in nearly eight years, jumping 1.3 percent in August.

Other reports have provided cause for concern. A banking industry trade group said Thursday the number of US consumers making late payments, or failing to make payments, on loans and credit cards is on the rise. A survey by a business group, the Institute for Supply Management, Thursday showed US manufacturing grew in September, but at a slower pace than in August when manufacturing increased for the first time in a year and a half.

Stock markets reacted negatively to the reports. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 41 points in early trading, reaching a level of 9467. This follows a drop of 203 points on Thursday, its largest loss in a single day since July. The London FTSE index fell 55 points, or 1.1%, to reach 4993 points by 15.00 local time.

Ontario Votes 2007: Interview with Family Coalition Party candidate Kristen Monster, Willowdale

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Kristen Monster is running for the Family Coalition Party in the Ontario provincial election, in the Willowdale riding. Wikinews’ Nick Moreau interviewed her regarding her values, her experience, and her campaign.

Stay tuned for further interviews; every candidate from every party is eligible, and will be contacted. Expect interviews from Liberals, Progressive Conservatives, New Democratic Party members, Ontario Greens, as well as members from the Family Coalition, Freedom, Communist, Libertarian, and Confederation of Regions parties, as well as independents.