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Peggy Whitson, NASA's most experienced astronaut, retires

Peggy Whitson, NASA's most experienced astronaut, retires

Science
June 15 (UPI) -- After nearly four decades with NASA, including 22 years as an astronaut, Peggy Whitson is leaving the space agency. Her retirement is effective Friday, NASA announced. "It's been the greatest honor to live out my lifelong dream of being a @NASA Astronaut," Whitson wrote on Twitter. "Thank you to the #NASAVillage and all who have supported me along the way. As I reminisce on my many treasured memories, it's safe to say my journey at NASA has been out of this world!" Whitson ends her career with multiple records to her name, including most time spent in space by a U.S. astronaut -- 665 days. She has also conducted more spacewalks, 10, than any other female astronaut. "Peggy Whitson is a testament to the American spirit," NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a news re...
Bilingual microbe is first ever to use two different DNA translations

Bilingual microbe is first ever to use two different DNA translations

Science
June 15 (UPI) -- Scientists have discovered a microbe that uses two different translations of DNA, the world's first. The bilingual nature of the microbe makes it near impossible for scientists to predict which proteins its genome codes for. DNA is composed of a sequence of four chemical bases, or nucleobases, represented by the letters A, T, C and G. Different sequences code for different combinations of nucleic acids, the building blocks of proteins, which fuel myriad biochemical processes inside the cells of all living organisms. Three nucleobases, called codon, code for a single amino acid, and until now, scientists assumed the same three nucleobases always coded for the same amino acid. But while studying the genomes of a unique group of yeasts, scientists realized they'd found an e...
Work starts to upgrade Large Hadron Collider

Work starts to upgrade Large Hadron Collider

Science
Work has begun on a major upgrade to the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) particle smasher.The High-Luminosity LHC will make it possible to study the fundamental building blocks of matter in more detail than ever before.Cern, the organisation that operates the LHC, held a ground-breaking ceremony on Friday to mark the beginning of civil engineering works.The vast LHC is housed beneath the French-Swiss border, near Geneva.The upgrade will boost the accelerator's potential for new discoveries in physics, starting in 2026."The HiLumi project will allow us to get a lot more out of the LHC than we have been able to get so far," said theoretical physicist Prof John Ellis."It's going to enable us to probe much deeper into the history of the Universe, look at very rar...
Stars turn out for Stephen Hawking memorial at Westminster Abbey

Stars turn out for Stephen Hawking memorial at Westminster Abbey

Science
Tributes have been paid to renowned physicist Prof Stephen Hawking in a Westminster Abbey memorial service.British actor Benedict Cumberbatch, who played Hawking in a BBC drama, and astronaut Tim Peake were among those giving readings at the ceremony.Prof Hawking died in March, aged 76, after a long battle with motor neurone disease.His ashes are being buried alongside other great scientists like Charles Darwin and Isaac Newton.25,000 applicationsEnglish Astronomer Royal, Lord Martin Rees, and Prof Hawking's collaborator and Nobel prize winner, Kip Thorne, also gave tributes during the service.TV personalities David Walliams and Piers Morgan, musician Nile Rodgers and Prof Brian Cox were among those who joined members of the publ...
Satellite image shows rain puddles in the world's largest contiguous sand desert

Satellite image shows rain puddles in the world's largest contiguous sand desert

Science
June 15 (UPI) -- An image shared by NASA this week features a rare sight, rain puddles in Rub' al-Khali, the world's largest contiguous sand desert. At the end of May, the tropical cyclone Mekunu passed across the Arabian Peninsula. The port of Salalah, in Oman, received 11 inches of rain in just 24 hours -- two times the city's average annual precipitation total. The storm slowed and dissipated as it traveled inland across the desert, but still had plenty of moisture left to drop. On May 29, three days after the storm, Landsat 8's Operational Land Imager snapped a picture of the dunes of Rub' al-Khali as the satellite passed 435 miles overhead. The basins between the sand dunes can be seen filled with standing water. NASA shared the remarkable image online this week. The portion of the ...