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Japan spacecraft carrying asteroid soil samples nears home

Japan spacecraft carrying asteroid soil samples nears home

Technology
A Japanese spacecraft is nearing Earth after a yearlong journey home from a distant asteroid with soil samples and data that could provide clues to the origins of the solar systemBy MARI YAMAGUCHI Associated PressNovember 27, 2020, 9:40 AM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleTOKYO -- A Japanese spacecraft is nearing Earth after a yearlong journey home from a distant asteroid with soil samples and data that could provide clues to the origins of the solar system, a space agency official said Friday.The Hayabusa2 spacecraft left the asteroid Ryugu, about 300 million kilometers (180 million miles) from Earth, a year ago and is expected to reach Earth and drop a capsule containing the precious samples in southern Australia on Dec. 6.Scientists at the Japan Aerospace Ex...
How one teaspoon of Amazon soil teems with fungal life

How one teaspoon of Amazon soil teems with fungal life

Science
A teaspoon of soil from the Amazon contains as many as 1,800 microscopic life forms, of which 400 are fungi. Largely invisible and hidden underground, the "dark matter" of life on Earth has "amazing properties", which we're just starting to explore, say scientists.The vast majority of the estimated 3.8 million fungi in the world have yet to be formally classified.Yet, fungi are surprisingly abundant in soil from Brazil's Amazon rainforest. To help protect the Amazon rainforest, which is being lost at an ever-faster rate, it is essential to understand the role of fungi, said a team of researchers led by Prof Alexandre Antonelli, director of science at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew."Take a teaspoon of soil and you will find hundre...
America gets ready to again see astronauts head into space from U.S. soil

America gets ready to again see astronauts head into space from U.S. soil

Science
ORLANDO, Fla., May 26 (UPI) -- NASA and SpaceX plan to provide more than 24 hours of live coverage for the return of human spaceflight from the United States, with programming starting at noon Wednesday. Astronauts Bob Behnken and Douglas Hurley are scheduled to lift off at 4:33 p.m. EDT that day, sitting in a SpaceX-built capsule atop a SpaceX-built rocket. They will head for the International Space Station, with arrival projected 19 hours later. The extended broadcast will be available on NASA's YouTube Channel -- NASA LIve -- and on SpaceX's feed. The major TV and cable news networks are expected to air the liftoff, with ABC News providing deeper coverage. The Walt Disney-owned unit will air a two-hour special report, "Launch America: Mission to Space Live" from 3 to 5 p.m. EDT Wednes...
Astronauts anticipate first crewed launch from U.S. soil in nine years

Astronauts anticipate first crewed launch from U.S. soil in nine years

Science
May 1 (UPI) -- The two astronauts who are to begin a new era of human spaceflight from U.S. soil this month said Friday they hope to inspire generations of Americans. It is time again "to be watching American rockets launching from the Florida coast to the International Space Station," said Doug Hurley, who will be launched May 27 on the first crewed mission from this country since he piloted the final space shuttle mission in 2011. Hurley and Bob Behnken also will be the first astronauts to lift off on a privately owned space vehicle -- a Falcon 9 rocket that carries a Crew Dragon capsule, both built by Elon Musk's SpaceX. The astronauts said they were pleased to learn only recently they would spend a longer time than previously planned on the International Space Station. NASA announced...
Huge knowledge gap over health of soil

Huge knowledge gap over health of soil

Science
A vital knowledge gap about England’s environment has been uncovered by soil campaigners.They have discovered that just 0.41% of the cash invested in environmental monitoring goes on examining the soil.That’s despite the fact that soils round the world – including in the UK – are said to be facing a crisis.The figures are startling: £60.5m goes to monitoring water quality, £7.65m to checking on air – but just £284,000 to auditing soil.The mismatch was revealed in a Freedom of Information (FoI) request by the Sustainable Soils Alliance (SSA). Its director, Ellen Fay, told BBC News: “This figure is staggering – but not surprising. It reflects the widespread under-investment in soil health compared to air and water. Climate change: Where we are in seven char...