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German satellites sense Earth's lumps and bumps

German satellites sense Earth's lumps and bumps

Science
The German space agency (DLR) has released a spectacular 3D map of Earth. Built from images acquired by two radar satellites, it traces the variations in height across all land surfaces - an area totalling more than 148 million sq km. DLR is making the map free and open, enabling any scientist to download and use it. There will be myriad applications, from forecasting where flood waters flow to planning big infrastructure projects. How was the map made?The two satellites involved are called TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X. Like all radar spacecraft, they send down microwave pulses to the surface of the planet and then time how long the signals take to bounce back. The shorter ...
NASA bumps astronaut off space station flight in rare move

NASA bumps astronaut off space station flight in rare move

Technology
NASA has bumped an astronaut off an upcoming spaceflight, a rare move for the space agency so close to launch. Astronaut Jeanette Epps was supposed to rocket away in early June, and would have been the first African-American to live on the International Space Station. Late Thursday, NASA announced it was pulling Epps off the mission but didn't disclose why. Astronauts have been removed from missions in the past, mostly for health reasons. Epps, an engineer, will be considered for future space missions, according to NASA. She's been replaced by her backup, Serena Aunon-Chancellor, a doctor. Both were chosen as astronauts in 2009. Epps is returning to Houston from Russia, where she'd been training to fly to the space station with a German and Russian. NASA spokeswoman Brandi Dean said Friday...