ScienceScope

Science  22 Apr 2005:
Vol. 308, Issue 5721, pp. 479
  1. NASA Dart Misses Bull's-Eye

    1. Andrew Lawler
    CREDIT: NASA

    NASA's plan to conduct sophisticated operations in space using robots met with a technical setback last weekend when an agency spacecraft designed to rendezvous automatically with an orbiting satellite shut itself down. The $110 million DART mission—short for Demonstration of Autonomous Rendezvous Technology—was supposed to come within 5 meters of the satellite and execute a series of maneuvers. But as DART came within 100 meters of the satellite, its sensors showed that the NASA probe was using too much fuel and automatically shut off. The probe then put itself into another orbit, where it will degrade and eventually burn up without posing a hazard.

    NASA has set up a team to investigate what went wrong with what was intended as a flight demonstrator for future missions. The technology is meant to help NASA deliver cargo to the international space station, service civilian, commercial, and military satellites, and help build larger spacecraft to carry humans to the moon and Mars.

  2. Canadian Climate Plan Silent on Funding

    1. Paul Webster

    TORONTO—Senior Canadian climate change researchers are fuming at the lack of funding for science in an $8 billion climate change mitigation plan put forward last week by the government. “So far, when it comes to science, Canada's climate change plan is all talk and no action,” says Michel Béland of the Meteorological Service of Canada (MSC) here.

    Scientists in MSC's atmospheric and climate science unit have been pressing the government for 2 years to renew several soon-to-expire climate change science programs. Last year they recommended increases for earth observation, carbon sinks, ocean sinks, “tipping point” thresholds, and climate change adaptation. But although the new plan acknowledges a need for more science, its focus is on spelling out how the country would meet its commitment under the Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 30% by 2012.

  3. Challenge to Animal Studies

    1. Fiona Proffitt

    An undercover investigation at Cambridge University by a group that opposes vivisection is prompting a review of how animal experiments are licensed in the United Kingdom. Last week, High Court Judge Stanley Burnton agreed to allow a judicial review of two of the six charges against the U.K. Home Office, the licensing body, raised by the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection.

    U.K. scientists must apply for licenses from the Home Office before conducting research on animals. The union is challenging the Home Office's licensing decisions, prompted by experiments at Cambridge that involved inducing stroke in marmosets to study brain function in stroke and Parkinson's disease sufferers. Among the union's concerns are that the marmosets were deprived of water.

  4. SLAC Plays Catch-Up

    1. Adrian Cho

    Particle physicists at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) started taking data this week for the first time since an 11 October 2004 electrical accident nearly killed a technician and shut down the particle collider in Menlo Park, California (Science, 29 October 2004, p. 788). While SLAC overhauled its safety practices, physicists at SLAC's rival, Japan's KEK laboratory in Tsukuba, kept cranking out data on the differences between matter and antimatter; they now have 40% more data than their SLAC counterparts.

    To narrow the gap, SLAC researchers plan to skip this summer's 3-month scheduled downtime. And KEK physicists aren't gloating. “The fact that [SLAC] had this long shutdown is a big setback for the entire field,” says Alan Schwartz of the University of Cincinnati, Ohio, who works at the Tsukuba lab.

  5. Saying No to Invasives

    1. Amitabh Avasthi

    A bipartisan set of legislators has called for a comprehensive federal effort to protect the country against aquatic invasive species. The bills introduced last week (H.R. 1592, 1593, and S. 507) would authorize a $25 million research program and an interagency council to coordinate federal activities.

    The act would also require that ships treat their ballast water to eliminate unwanted organisms, although how they'll do so isn't clear. Treatments using heat or ultraviolet light are being tested, says James Carlton, a marine invasions ecologist at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts.

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