Your Name in Space

When NASA’s Dawn spacecraft launches next June to visit the asteroid belt, it will carry aboard two vital pieces of information: my name, and the name of our dog. Some 360,000 people submitted their names on NASA’s web site; a chip is now being produced with everyone’s names to be placed aboard the spacecraft.

If you didn’t get a chance to submit your own name for this one, don’t worry: there are a couple more oppotunities available on other missions. As David Biello reports on Scientific American’s blog, Carl Sagan’s Planetary Society has forms on their web site where you can submit the information. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is readying SELENE, a lunar orbiter with a one-year planned mission. You may submit your name and an optional message (limit 60 characters total); the deadline is 31 January 2007.

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Science News Update (02 Dec 2006)

Below are some more interesting news items in the world of science.

Cetacean evolution, continued

I wrote last week about the evolution of cetaceans (dolphins and whales); the entry was inspired by a post at Olduvai George with beautiful illustrations and descriptions of Pakicetus, a land mammal ancestral to cetaceans. He just posted the second in the series, this time focusing on Ambulocetus.

Climate change

An environmental court in Australia has blocked a proposed coal mine since its environmental impact assessment “did not take into account the impact the mine would have on climate change, including emissions caused when the coal is burned later in foreign countries,” according to New Scientist’s Catherine Brahic. As I previously mentioned, Australia is not a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol.

Quirin Schiermeier writes on Nature’s news site about the increase in severity of monsoons in India. As published in this week’s Science, Indian scientists report on the worsening of several aspects of the monsoons and the probable link to global warming. (See also my previous post on global warming.)

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