February 22nd, 2012
02:49 PM ET

Rocket launched into Northern Lights

NASA launches a rocket into the northern lights over Alaska to study electrical activity for future satellites.


Filed under: In Space
Chain of cat feces can harm humans, sea otters
February 22nd, 2012
10:38 AM ET

Chain of cat feces can harm humans, sea otters

There's more to cat excrement than meets the eye, and it may have the potential to cause disease in sea otters and humans alike.

A young cat can shed up to 100 million oocysts – little egg-like structures – in its feces. All it takes is one oocyst to cause an infection of Toxoplasma gondii.

Largely, the parasite is asymptomatic in humans, but it can sometimes cause problems for infants born to infected mothers – including hearing loss, mental disability and blindness. People with compromised immune systems, especially those who have HIV/AIDS, may also develop serious complications.

Researchers are trying to understand why marine mammals in the Pacific Northwest started dying of protozoal diseases starting in 2000; before then, there weren't any documented cases, but samples from the Pacific Northwest have found a rate of about 4% of protozoal disease among stranded animals, says Michael Grigg, investigator at the National Institutes of Health.

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Filed under: On Earth
Expedition 30 Cosmonauts Perform Spacewalk
February 22nd, 2012
10:20 AM ET

Expedition 30 Cosmonauts Perform Spacewalk

"This image of Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Anton Shkaplerov, both Expedition 30 flight engineers, was taken during a spacewalk on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2012. During the six-hour, 15-minute spacewalk, Kononenko and Shkaplerov moved the Strela-1 crane from the Pirs Docking Compartment in preparation for replacing it in 2012 with a new laboratory and docking module. The duo used another boom, the Strela-2, to move the hand-operated crane to the Poisk module for future assembly and maintenance work. Both telescoping booms extend like fishing rods and are used to move massive components outside the station. On the exterior of the Poisk Mini-Research Module 2, they also installed the Vinoslivost Materials Sample Experiment, which will investigate the influence of space on the mechanical properties of the materials. The spacewalkers also collected a test sample from underneath the insulation on the Zvezda Service Module to search for any signs of living organisms. Both spacewalkers wore Russian Orlan spacesuits bearing blue stripes and equipped with NASA helmet cameras."

Source: NASA

Filed under: Light up the screen

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