Following is a summary of current science news briefs.
Asteroid may have killed dinosaurs quicker than scientists thought
CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) - Dinosaurs died off about 33,000 years after an asteroid hit the Earth, much sooner than scientists had believed, and the asteroid may not have been the sole cause of extinction, according to a study released Thursday. Earth's climate may have been at a tipping point when a massive asteroid smashed into what is now Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula and triggered cooling temperatures that wiped out the dinosaurs, researchers said.
Space shuttle Columbia's second life - as a cautionary tale
CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) - Space shuttle Columbia's flying days came to an abrupt and tragic end on February 1, 2003, when a broken wing gave way, dooming the seven astronauts aboard. Although Columbia now lies in pieces, its mission is not over.
U.S. professor finds longest prime number with 17,425,170 digits
KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Reuters) - After running 1,000 computers non-stop for 39 days to uncover the world's largest prime number yet, a Missouri college professor said this week he is starting all over to top his own record. "It's a never-ending job," said Curtis Cooper, a computer science professor at the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg. The computers are still running, although finding a higher prime number is estimated to take five to seven more years. Thousands of other computers in the United States are making the same search.
South Korea launches first civilian rocket amid tensions with North
SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea launched its first space rocket carrying a science satellite on Wednesday amid heightened regional tensions, caused in part, by North Korea's successful launch of its own rocket last month. It was South Korea's third attempt to launch a civilian rocket to send a satellite in orbit in the past four years and came after two previous launches were aborted at the eleventh hour last year due to technical glitches.
Rocket blasts off with new NASA communications satellite
CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) - An unmanned Atlas 5 rocket blasted off on Wednesday to put the first of a new generation of NASA communications satellites into orbit, where it will support the International Space Station, the Hubble Space Telescope and other spacecraft. The 191-foot (58-metre) rocket lifted off at 8:48 p.m. (0148 GMT Thursday), the first of 13 planned launches in 2013 from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station just south of NASA's Kennedy Space Center.