What Is a Genetically Modified Crop? A European Ruling Sows Confusion.

In Europe, plants created with gene-editing technologies will be stringently regulated as G.M.O.’s. But older crops whose DNA has been altered will be left alone.

Mushrooms that don’t brown. Wheat that fights off disease. Tomatoes with a longer growing season.

Many scientists responded to the decision with dismay, predicting that countries in the developing world would follow Europe’s lead, blocking useful gene-edited crops from reaching farms and marketplaces. The ruling may also curtail exports from the United States, which has taken a more lenient view of gene-edited foods.

“You’re not just affecting Europe, you’re affecting the world with this decision,” said Matthew Willmann, the director of the Plant Transformation Facility at Cornell University.

But the ruling also raises a more fundamental question: What does it actually mean for a crop to be genetically modified?

In its decision, the European Union court exempted crops produced through older methods of altering DNA, saying they were not genetically modified organisms. That assertion left many scientists scratching their heads.

“I don’t know why they are doing that,” said Jennifer Kuzma, an expert in genetic engineering at North Carolina State University. “I was thinking, ‘Do they have the right science advice?’”

Since the agricultural revolution 10,000 years ago, all crop breeding has come down to altering the genetic composition of plants. For centuries, farmers selected certain plants to breed, or crossed varieties, hoping to pass useful traits to future generations.

In the early 20th century, scientists discovered genes and invented new ways to breed crops. Two lines of corn, for example, could be melded into hybrid plants that were superior to either parent.

By the 1920s, researchers realized that they didn’t have to content themselves with amplifying the genetic variations that already existed in plants. They could create new mutations.

To do so, they fired X-rays at plants or used chemicals that disrupted plant DNA. Mutagenesis, as this method came to be known, introduced random mutations into plants.

Scientists inspected the mutants to find those that were improvements. Thousands of plant breeds in use today, from strawberries to barley, are the product of mutagenesis.

In the 1970s, microbiologists figured out how to insert genes from humans and other species into bacteria. Plant scientists later used recombinant DNA, as the technology came to be known, to develop methods for inserting genes into plants to improve their growth.

Some varieties of corn, for example, received a gene from bacteria that allowed the crops to produce an insect-killing toxin. These came to be known as genetically modified crops, and they sparked a storm of controversy.

Environmental groups such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth raised concerns that genetically modified crops posed unpredictable dangers.

The plants might escape farmers’ fields and spread through wild ecosystems, for instance, perhaps hybridizing with wild plants and introducing their genes into new species.

Environmental groups also raised the possibility that genetically modified crops could harm human health. Genetically modified crops not only produce proteins from their own genes, but from the genes of other species, as well.

On opposite sides of the Atlantic, the conflict has played out in very different ways.

While the government has put in place a number of regulations governing genetically modified crops, the industry has boomed. Over 185 million acres of these crops were planted in the United States in 2017.

In Europe, by contrast, concerns about genetically modified organisms led the European Union to issue a directive in 2001. From the early stages of research to the marketplace, these products would have to pass a series of tests for environmental risks and human safety.

But the directive made it clear that crops made through older forms of mutagenesis were not genetically modified organisms because they were “conventional” and had “a long safety record.”

The result of the directive has been that Europe grows almost no genetically modified crops. In 2017, only 325,000 acres were planted across the continent.

In the years after the E.U.’s directive came out, science advanced beyond recombinant DNA. Rather than inserting a gene from another species, researchers learned to snip out piece of a plant’s DNA, or even rewrite short stretches of genetic material.

Instead of inserting foreign genes, scientists were able to edit a plant’s own DNA in new ways. They could create crops that make more, or fewer, proteins from their own genes, gaining advantageous traits.

When scientists first started experimenting with gene-editing on crops, the European Union offered no clear guidance. In 2015, a French agricultural union and allies such as Friends of the Earth went to court to have gene-edited crops labeled as genetically modified organisms — and regulated as such.

And now the court has agreed. In a statement, the court said gene-edited crops were GMOs “within the meaning of the G.M.O. Directive.”

Dana Perls, the senior food and agriculture campaigner at Friends of the Earth, praised the court for recognizing gene-editing as genetic modification. “We need to call it what it is,” she said.

Ms. Perls said that Crispr and other new methods for tinkering with plant DNA raise concerns about safety, just as recombinant DNA did.

“Gene-editing technologies have unintended consequences,” she said.

Ms. Perls pointed to some scientific journal articles that describe how Crispr and other forms of gene-editing can miss their targets, accidentally altering other stretches of DNA in an organism.

But one of the authors of those papers, Jeffrey D. Wolt, a professor of agronomy and toxicology at Iowa State University, was dismayed by the E.U. court ruling.

“It all boils down to legal interpretations of the directive rather than the weight of the science,” he said.

Dr. Wolt said that it’s important to distinguish Crispr research on plants and the use of gene editing to develop new medical treatments.

There are many opportunities in plant experiments to screen out unwanted mutations. As a result, the chances of unexpected mutations in gene-edited plants are falling to low levels.

Dr. Wolt said that there wasn’t a strong scientific reason to consider gene-edited plants to be G.M.O.s while exempting crops created in the old way, with X-rays and chemicals producing many random mutations at once. “It’s hairsplitting,” he said.

The United States is continuing to veer from Europe. In March, the Department of Agriculture announced that it was not planning to regulate gene-edited crops as it does crops with foreign genes inserted with recombinant DNA.

As a result, Crispr-edited crops like mushrooms are expected to move quickly into the American marketplace. But these crops may be barred from import into Europe.

Strictly speaking, however, the United States stance also is contradictory. Crops created with recombinant DNA, are said to be genetically modified organisms, because genes have been inserted into their DNA.

Yet tinkering with a plant’s DNA with Crispr is apparently not genetic modification, because these crops “are indistinguishable from those developed through traditional breeding methods,” according to a U.S.D.A. statement issued in March.

Dr. Wolt said that the only way to escape these contradictions would be for government regulators to stop focusing on mutagenesis, recombinant DNA, Crispr and other methods for making new crops. “It’s the products we should be concerned with,” he said.

“As soon as we solve this problem favorably or unfavorably for Crispr, there’s going to be a new technology that comes along and we’re going to have the same problem again.”

 

July 27, 2018

Sources: New York Times

Related news

  • Idaho commissioner who circulated 'nauseating' hunting photos resigns

    Idaho commissioner who circulated 'nauseating' hunting photos resigns

    for circulating images of he and his wife posing with dead animals during a hunt in Africa resigned on Monday, saying he had made "poor judgements."</p><p>In a letter to Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter, the commissioner, Blake Fischer, said those judgments "resulted in sharing photos of a hunt in which I did not display an appropriate level of sportsmanship and respect for the animals I harvested."</p><p>While claiming the photos were out of character, Fischer apologized and said he hoped the photos would "not harm the integrity and ethic" of the Idaho Fish and Game Department.</p><p>Fischer was criticized by former commissioners for sending the photos to them and others in a Sept. 17 email. In the note, which was obtained through a public records request, Fischer said the hunt occurred after he and his wife traveled to Namibia for a couple of weeks — a trip that was his third to Africa and her first.</p><p>"First day she wanted to watch me, and 'get a feel' of Africa," he wrote. "So I shot a whole family of baboons. I think she got the idea quick."</p><p>The images showed Fischer and his wife smiling above the bodies of various animals, including several monkeys.</p><p>One of the recipients of Fischer’s note, former commissioner Fred Trevey, responded on Oct. 5, saying the email "dismays and disappoints me."</p><p>Trevey cited the Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s hunter education manual, which he said "clearly instructs our youth to have consideration for and respect the opinions of non-hunters," and to "refrain from taking photos of the kill and from vividly describing the kill within earshot of non-hunters."</p><p>"I'm sure what you did was legal, however, legal does not make it right," Trevey wrote.</p><p>Trevey encouraged Fischer to resign and “shield the Commission as an institution and hunting as a legitimate tool of wildlife management from the harm that is sure to come.”</p><p>In an interview with NBC News, another former commissioner, Keith Stonebraker, said he found the email "nauseating" and said the images "flew in the face” of the ethical hunting standards that commissioners seek to uphold.</p><p>"It would be the same as going out and killing fawns," he said, adding: "I thought, 'Why in the world would anybody want to kill a family of baboons?' It just made no sense at all."</p><p>Such images could stoke what Stonebraker called a "mini crisis" — a dearth of interest among younger generations of would-be hunters and a decline in the number of licenses sold to them by fish and game departments.</p><p>Fischer, whose appointment was set to expire in 2022, also runs an agricultural and irrigation supply company in Boise and manufactures specialty archery equipment, according to his commission profile.</p>

    1 October 16, 2018
  • 'UFO spotted' in Asia? Bizarre lights seen over China baffle onlookers

    'UFO spotted' in Asia? Bizarre lights seen over China baffle onlookers

    ritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes. </p><p>&quot;Aliens are coming!&quot; said one Weibo user, according to the Mail. Another asked: &quot;Is the UFO leaving China after celebrating its national holiday?&apos;</p><p>People Daily&apos;s China, the largest newspaper group in China, said experts believe the lights are likely related to &quot;high-altitude aircraft&quot; and the streaks that were left behind by them.</p><p>One Twitter user appeared to question whether the recent lights over California and Arizona might be related to the lights over China.</p><p>&quot;So the 1st picture is of a &#x2018;UFO Sighting&#x2019; in China,&quot; the person tweeted. &quot;The 2nd picture is from a couple months ago when they &#x201C;launched a rocket in California&#x201D; and the 3rd picture was taken tonight from Phoenix AZ. See any similarities?&quot;</p><p>UFO expert Nigel Watson told The Daily Mail that the footage looked like that of a rocket motor tail.</p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>

    1 October 15, 2018
  • Viking longship discovery thrills archaeologists

    Viking longship discovery thrills archaeologists

    ritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes. </p><p>Archaeologists in Norway have used ground-penetrating radar technology to discover an extremely rare Viking longship in what experts are describing as a &#x201C;sensational&#x201D; find.</p><p>A team from the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU) harnessed high-resolution georadar to locate the ship in &#xD8;stfold County, southeastern Norway. The 66-foot vessel, which is located in a burial mound, is just beneath the topsoil at a depth of 1.6 feet.</p><p>Dr. Knut Paasche, head of the department of digital archaeology at NIKU, described the find as &#x201C;incredibly exciting&#x201D; in the statement, adding that only three well-preserved Viking ships have been found in Norway.</p><p>&#x201C;We are certain that there is a ship there, but how much is preserved is hard to say before further investigation,&#x201D;&#xA0;said Morten Hanisch, county conservator in &#xD8;stfold, in the statement.</p><p>Archaeologists have also identified eight previously-unknown burial mounds, which have been destroyed by plowing, at the site. Additionally, georadar data revealed five longhouses, some of which are &#x201C;remarkably large.&#x201D;</p><p>Viking families lived in windowless longhouses, which also served as a shelter for their cattle.</p><p>The site is the next to a monumental Viking burial mound. The longship thus forms part of a cemetery that is clearly designed to display power and influence, according to NIKU project leader Lars Gustavsen. &#x201C;The ship-burial does not exist in isolation,&#x201D; he said&#xA0;in a statement.</p><p>Archaeologists are now planning to digitally map the site, uncovering more details about the ship without unearthing it and exposing it to the elements. However, experts are not ruling out the possibility of an excavation at some point in the future.</p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>

    1 October 15, 2018
  • Huge ‘diamond’ sculpture in space could make history

    Huge ‘diamond’ sculpture in space could make history

    ritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes. </p><p>If the purpose of art is to expand our minds,&#xA0;how does that change when the artwork is 350 miles away in low Earth orbit?</p><p>The reflective, nonfunctional satellite, which will be visible to the naked eye and will orbit the Earth for several weeks before burning up harmlessly in the atmosphere, is meant to provoke wonder and asks viewers to &quot;consider our place in the universe&quot; and &quot;reimagine how we live together&quot; on Earth, according to the project&apos;s website.</p><p>The actual sculpture will be housed inside of a brick-sized object called a CubeSat and will unfurl and self-inflate like a balloon. Sunlight will reflect off of the sculpture, which is constructed of a material similar to Mylar, making the artwork --&#xA0;the size of two school buses when it&apos;s fully inflated -- visible from Earth.</p><p>The artwork could be seen by a very large number of people worldwide.</p><p>This isn&apos;t the first artwork in space, however.</p><p>Paglen, a recent MacArthur fellow, began assembling a team of advisors in 2008 that included academics, engineers and others in the aerospace industry, reports PBS. He reached out to the Nevada Museum of Art six years later and they agreed to partner with him.</p><p>Paglen continued: &quot;I was noticing that there was a kind of military occupation of space that had been in place for a long time. I started to think about how space might be different.&quot;</p><p>In response to the criticism from some astronomers in Artnet, Paglen wondered why the hundreds of other weather satellites and rocket bodies launched each year had not drawn the same negative reactions.</p><p>&quot;Why are we offended by a sculpture in space, but we&#x2019;re not offended by nuclear missile targeting devices or mass surveillance devices, or satellites with nuclear engines that have a potential to fall to earth and scatter radioactive waste all over the place?&#x201D; he asked.</p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>

    1 October 15, 2018
  • How much does space travel cost?

    How much does space travel cost?

    ity — and it's never been cheap. But the stratospheric cost of putting people and payloads into space is finally starting to fall, thanks in part to the rise of SpaceX and other private spaceflight companies.</p><p>Depending on where you're going, a ticket could set you back anywhere from $250,000 to tens of millions of dollars.</p><p>If you're looking simply to cross the 62-mile-high Karman line that marks the boundary between the upper atmosphere and outer space, Virgin Galactic says it will take you there for $250,000. The company says about 650 people already have tickets for the suborbital flights, to be made aboard a winged vehicle called SpaceShipTwo. A date for customer flights has yet to be announced.</p><p>Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin passengers will join the fewer than a dozen private citizens who have funded their own trips into space. From 2001 to 2009, the Vienna, Virginia-based firm Space Adventures worked with Russia’s space agency to send eight people to the ISS on flights lasting 10 or more days.</p><p>Small satellites may qualify for a free ride to space through NASA’s Educational Launch of Nanosatellites program, which helps universities and research groups fly standardized satellites called CubeSats aboard rockets as secondary payloads.</p><p>NASA is developing its Space Launch System, which will carry astronauts to the moon and Mars. The rocket’s per-launch cost has not been disclosed, but the agency now spends at least $2 billion per year on the project. The maiden flight isn’t expected until 2020.</p>

    1 October 15, 2018
  • Daylight saving time: When and why we 'fall back'

    Daylight saving time: When and why we 'fall back'

    ritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes. </p><p>Friendly reminder: daylight saving time ends at 2 a.m. (local time) on Sunday, Nov. 4, which means it&apos;s almost time to turn those clocks back.</p><p>Theoretically, we&apos;ll gain an hour of sleep. But&#xA0;we&apos;ll also be losing an hour of evening light through March 10, 2019 &#x2014; when it&apos;s time to &quot;spring&quot; forward.</p><p>Daylight saving time was extra special this year, as it marked the 100th anniversary of the event. The tradition of changing clocks officially began in the U.S. on March 19, 1918.</p><p>Here&apos;s what you need to know about the&#xA0;century-old tradition.</p><p>But it was only temporary. The law was repealed about a year later, on August 20, 1919, as soon as the war was over.</p><p>&quot;However, the sections of the 1918 law, which had established standard time zones for the country, remained in effect,&quot; the library said. &quot;In 1921, Congress readjusted the western boundary of the standard central time zone, shifting parts of Texas and Oklahoma into this zone.&quot;</p><p>The topic of daylight saving surfaced again during World War II. On Jan. 20, 1942 Congress re-established daylight saving time.</p><p>More than two decades later, in 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the Uniform Time Act, declaring daylight saving time a policy of the U.S. and establishing uniform start and end times within standard time zones.</p><p>&quot;If a state chooses to observe Daylight Saving Time, it must begin and end on federally mandated dates,&quot; the DOT says.</p><p>No.&#xA0;Hawaii, most of Arizona, and a handful of U.S. territories &#x2014; including American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands &#x2014; do not observe daylight saving time.</p><p>There are several reasons why officials believe daylight saving time is beneficial.</p><p>Some say it saves energy because people tend to spend more time outside when it&apos;s lighter out. The DOT claims it also &quot;saves lives and prevents traffic injuries,&quot; because visibility is better.</p><p>However, some believe the process is a &quot;hassle.&quot;</p><p>Proponents of scrapping daylight saving time argue it&apos;s generally unnecessary, disturbs sleep patterns and has recently become even more complicated. In 1986, Congress extended daylight saving from a six- to seven-month period and extended it again in 2005 to eight months &#x2014; mid-March to mid-November.</p><p>Disagreements over daylight saving aren&apos;t new. In 1965, before the Uniform Act was passed, 71 major cities in the U.S. with a population of over 100,000 were using daylight saving, while 59 others were not.</p><p>&quot;People do not like the hassle of adjusting their clocks twice a year,&quot; Downing added.</p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>

    1 October 15, 2018
  • Stephen Hawking predicted a race of superhumans will take over the world

    Stephen Hawking predicted a race of superhumans will take over the world

    ritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes. </p><p>Remembering renowned physicist and author Stephen Hawking in his own words.</p><p>The late Stephen Hawking believed advances in genetic science would lead to a future generation of superhumans that could ultimately destroy the rest of humanity.</p><p>In newly published writings, Dr. Hawking suggested an elite class of physically and intellectually powerful humans could arise from rich people choosing to edit their DNA and manipulating their children&#x2019;s genetic makeup.</p><p>&#x201C;I am sure that during this century, people will discover how to modify both intelligence and instincts such as aggression,&#x201D; he wrote.</p><p>&#x201C;Laws will probably be passed against genetic engineering with humans. But some people won&#x2019;t be able to resist the temptation to improve human characteristics, such as memory, resistance to disease and length of life.&#x201D;</p><p>This two-tier system of humans, Dr. Hawking predicted, could have grave social consequences.</p><p>&#x201C;Once such superhumans appear, there will be significant political problems with unimproved humans, who won&#x2019;t be able to compete,&#x201D; he wrote. &#x201C;Presumably, they will die out, or become unimportant. Instead, there will be a race of self-designing beings who are improving at an ever-increasing rate.</p><p>&#x201C;If the human race manages to redesign itself, it will probably spread out and colonize other planets and stars.&#x201D;</p><p>While the rise of a superhumans won&#x2019;t happen in our lifetime, new gene-editing technology has already led to concerns about the potential of designer babies.</p><p>&#x201C;The fear is that they could use these techniques to create, some way, genetically modified people. You know designer babies where parents pick and choose the traits of their babies, make them taller, stronger, smarter or something like that,&#x201D; NPR said in a 2016 report about a Swedish scientist using the technique to edit human embryos.</p><p>Dr. Hawking was known for bringing clarity to some of the most mind-bending ideas in science such as the nature of black holes and the possibility of a multiverse.</p><p>But towards the end of this life, he grew increasingly vocal about future problems the world might face.</p><p>In recent years, Stephen Hawking had raised the alarm about the potential threat of artificial intelligence &#x2014; something that also featured in the latest collection of published writings.</p><p>&#x201C;The advent of super-intelligent AI would be either the best or the worst thing ever to happen to humanity,&#x201D; he wrote.</p><p>&#x201C;The real risk with AI isn&#x2019;t malice, but competence. A super-intelligent AI will be extremely good at accomplishing its goals, and if those goals aren&#x2019;t aligned with ours we&#x2019;re in trouble.&#x201D;</p><p>Speaking at the Web Summit in Lisbon in November last year, the famous physicist said the scary reality is we just don&#x2019;t know yet whether AI is good or disastrous for the world.</p><p>&#x201C;We cannot know if we will be infinitely helped by AI or ignored by it and sidelined, or conceivably destroyed by it,&#x201D; he said.</p><p>While AI could be hugely beneficial for reducing poverty, disease and restoring the natural environment, it&#x2019;s impossible to predict &#x201C;what we might achieve when our own minds are amplified by AI&#x201D;.</p><p>&#x201C;AI could be the worst invention of the history of our civilization, that brings dangers like powerful autonomous weapons or new ways for the few to oppress the many.</p><p>&#x201C;AI could develop a will of its own, a will that is in conflict with ours and which could destroy us.&#x201D;</p><p>Hawking warned that scientists and global governments needed to focus on maximizing benefits for society rather than pure capability.</p><p>&#x201C;We need to employ effective management in all areas of its development,&#x201D; he said. &#x201C;We stand on a threshold of a brave new world. It is an exciting, if precarious place to be and you are the pioneers,&#x201D; he told the audience of researchers and technologists.</p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>

    1 October 15, 2018
  • 'Crazy' rocky surface of asteroid Ryugu revealed in MASCOT Lander images

    'Crazy' rocky surface of asteroid Ryugu revealed in MASCOT Lander images

    ritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes. </p><p>While researchers will be poring over the new data from the DLR-made MASCOT lander in the coming weeks and months, they&apos;re already starting to piece together a clearer picture of the asteroid.</p><p>MASCOT then made a 6-minute free fall from a height of 167 feet (51 m) to the asteroid&apos;s southern hemisphere. After analyzing data from the descent, mission researchers think the robot hit a large boulder and bounced several times before eventually landing on its back like a turtle with its camera pointed at the sky &#x2014; not an ideal position for collecting data. MASCOT has no wheels or propulsion system, but thanks to its swinging arm, the lander was able to right itself with a little push.</p><p>&quot;We also were very surprised that the area of bouncing was much more constrained than it was, based on our simulations,&quot; Ho said. The gravity on Ryugu is one-66,500th of Earth&apos;s, so even a tiny push off the surface is enough to send the lander hopping (or potentially floating away from the asteroid).</p><p>MASCAM produced about 66 images with useful scientific content, Nicole Schmitz, a DLR researcher with MASCAM, told Space.com. Pointing to boulders in some of the images, she said, &quot;It&apos;s very remarkable how big some of them are.&quot;</p><p>While the surface of the asteroid appears to be a ghostly gray in the images released by the DLR, its actual color is quite dark.</p><p>&quot;The asteroid is extremely dark, close to black,&quot; Schmitz said. &quot;When you see these images, we enhanced the illumination, because otherwise you would see nothing.&quot;</p><p>Hans-Ulrich Auster, a researcher at TU-Braunschweig, said magnetometer measurements indicated that the asteroid has a weak magnetic field and MASCOT&apos;s landing behavior offered clues about the stiffness of the asteroid.</p><p>&quot;We saw here that 90 percent of the energy was lost [during landing] so that might be an indication that the surface is not as hard as stone,&quot; Auster said. &quot;On the other hand, we can see it&apos;s not as soft as a comet.&quot;</p><p>&quot;With MINERVA and MASCOT, you have three landers for the first time landing on an asteroid and even jumping across the surface performing several kinds of experiments on quite distant regions, which gives you a more global context for the characteristics of the asteroid,&quot; Ho said. &quot;Definitely, it&apos;s the most populated asteroid in space history.&quot;</p><p>The $150 million Hayabusa2 mission launched into space in December 2014. The spacecraft is carrying yet another small rover, MINERVA-II2, which is scheduled to be deployed to Ryugu&apos;s surface next year. Hayabusa2 is also slated to collect a sample of Ryugu rock and send it back to Earth at the end of 2020 so that the pristine cosmic material can be analyzed by scientists directly.</p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>

    1 October 15, 2018
  • NASA's Kepler planet-hunting space telescope wakes up again

    NASA's Kepler planet-hunting space telescope wakes up again

    ritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes. </p><p>The $600 million Kepler mission launched in March 2009. Initially, the spacecraft stared at more than 150,000 stars simultaneously, watching for tiny brightness dips that could indicate the passage of orbiting planets across these stars&apos; faces.</p><p>In May 2013, the second of Kepler&apos;s four orientation-maintaining reaction wheels failed, bringing an end to the observatory&apos;s original mission. But Kepler&apos;s handlers figured out a way to stabilize the spacecraft using the remaining wheels and sunlight pressure, and Kepler soon embarked on an extended mission called K2.</p><p>During K2, Kepler has been hunting for exoplanets and observing a variety of other objects and phenomena, over the course of shifting 80-day campaigns. Kepler began gathering data for the latest one, Campaign 19, on Aug. 29. But the mission team put the observatory to sleep less than a month later after noticing that Kepler&apos;s pointing ability had degraded.</p><p>Refueling Kepler is not an option. The observatory &#x2014;&#xA0;which is responsible for about 70 percent of all exoplanet discoveries to date &#x2014;&#xA0;orbits the sun and is millions of miles from Earth.</p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>

    1 October 15, 2018
  • Should we be worried about Russian rockets?

    Should we be worried about Russian rockets?

    ritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes. </p><p>All of the three losses of the Progress M cargo vehicle, which took place in 2011, 2015 and 2016, were later traced to problems with the third stage of the Soyuz rocket. The two Galileos were stranded in a useless orbit following a partial failure of the Fregat upper stage, commonly used with Russia&apos;s Soyuz and Zenit rockets. A faulty Fregat was also behind Phobos Grunt&apos;s failure to leave Earth&apos;s orbit.</p><p>According to Michal Vaclavik of the Space Office of the Czech Republic, a former Soviet satellite country that is now a member of the European Space Agency, the Soyuz FG rocket, which is used for crewed flights, is a more advanced version of the Soyuz rocket commonly used for launching satellites. The FG was the rocket used in the failed launch yesterday(Oct. 11).</p><p>Since its maiden flight in 2001, the rocket has performed 55 successful launches and has been, in combination with the Soyuz capsule, the only means of transporting astronauts to the International Space Station since the retirement of NASA&#x2019;s space shuttle fleet in 2011.</p><p>&quot;There is more attention paid to reliability during manufacturing of hardware for manned flights,&quot; Vaclavik told Space.com. &quot;There are more inspections during assembly, more testing.&quot;</p><p>Sgobba agrees: &quot;When we compare the reliability of the Soyuz manned version with the Soyuz unmanned version, which of course shares a number of common parts, then we see that the rate of failure has been much higher for the unmanned version.&quot;</p><p>In fact, Sgobba said, the Russians have not lost any cosmonauts since 1971. In comparison, failures of NASA&apos;s space shuttle program killed a total of 14 astronauts aboard the orbiters Challenger and Columbia in 1986 and 2003.</p><p>&quot;If we look at the track record of the past almost 40 years, we can consider this to be a rather reliable system,&quot; Sgobba said.</p><p>&quot;It&apos;s not clear what had happened, but they apparently didn&apos;t find it during inspections and testing on the ground,&quot; Sgobba said.</p><p>This incident, he said, points to a major issue &#x2014; the lack of proper quality- assurance procedures in Russian space manufacturing facilities.</p><p>&quot;The Russians don&apos;t seem to have made the transition towards modern quality- control methods,&quot; Sgobba said. &quot;They don&apos;t seem to have proper written procedures that would prevent mistakes from being made. The old experienced generation of engineers has retired, and there don&apos;t seem to be any systematic training of the young ones and procedures for them to follow.&quot;</p><p>Sgobba said that emerging commercial spaceflight companies should take lessons from the Russian history of failures and make safety management and quality control an inherent part of their manufacturing practices.</p><p>&quot;Sometimes, bureaucratic measures are needed to establish a good quality and safety policy inside the company and prevent accidents and failures from happening,&quot; he said.</p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>

    1 October 15, 2018

Comments

Earn free bitcoin