Following is a summary of current science news briefs.
Computer glitch suspends NASA Mars rover operation
CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) - A computer glitch, possibly caused by radiation, has put on hold the Mars rover Curiosity's first attempt to analyze powder from inside an ancient rock, officials said on Monday. Engineers said they hope the NASA rover can resume limited science operations this week.
Anti-AIDS pill, vaginal gel unsuitable for Africa: study
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Trying to prevent HIV infection through vaginal gels or daily tablets has proven ineffective in the southern African region ravaged by the disease because people did not use the medicines properly, a study released on Monday said. A ground-breaking study issued in 2010 indicated a vaginal gel containing an HIV drug can sharply reduce infections in women who use it before and after sex.
Deep underground, worms and "zombie microbes" rule
OSLO (Reuters) - A dark realm far beneath the Earth's surface is a surprisingly rich home for tiny worms and "zombie microbes" that may hold clues to the origins of life, scientists said on Monday. "It's an amazing new world," said Robert Hazen, head of the Deep Carbon Observatory, a decade-long $500 million project to study the planet's carbon, an element vital to life and found in everything from oil to diamonds.
SpaceX cargo capsule reaches International Space Station
CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) - A SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule overcame a potentially mission-ending technical problem to make a belated but welcome arrival at the International Space Station on Sunday. Astronauts aboard the outpost used the station's robotic arm to pluck the capsule from orbit at 5:31 a.m. EST as the ships sailed 250 miles over northern Ukraine.
Astronomers spy possible baby planet in stellar womb
CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) - Scientists have found what they believe to be a planet-in-the-making that is still gathering material left over from the formation of its parent star. The object appears as a faint blob nested inside a disk of gas and dust that swirls around a very young star known as HD 100546, located about 335 light years away in the constellation Musca, or The Fly, astronomers report in a paper published on Thursday in the Astrophysical Journal.
"Mind melds" move from science fiction to science in rats
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The scientists call it a "brain link," and it is the closest anyone has gotten to a real-life "mind meld": the thoughts of a rat romping around a lab in Brazil were captured by electronic sensors and sent via Internet to the brain of a rat in the United States. The result: the second rat received the thoughts of the first, mimicking its behavior, researchers reported on Thursday in Scientific Reports, a journal of the Nature Publishing Group.
Canada to fund non-nuclear sources for medical isotopes
OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada expects to be able to make enough medical isotopes through non-nuclear methods by 2016 to replace those now produced by an aging reactor and better assure an uninterrupted supply for medical imaging, a government minister said on Thursday. To that end, the federal government will fund three research institutes developing cyclotron and linear accelerator technologies for production of isotopes on a commercial scale, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver said.
Veteran explorer stakes Russia's claim over the Arctic
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian polar explorer Artur Chilingarov made his name in the Soviet Union with a daring rescue of an ice-bound ship, then won international fame for planting Russia's flag under the ice cap, angering governments with rival claims over the Arctic. Now at the age of 73, rather than folding away his maps, he is spearheading President Vladimir Putin's diplomatic push to secure more of the mineral-rich region.
China's next manned space mission to launch this summer
BEIJING (Reuters) - China's next manned space mission will launch sometime between June and August, carrying three astronauts to an experimental space module, state media said on Thursday, the latest part of an ambitious plan to build a space station. The Shenzhou 10 and its crew will launch from a remote site in the Gobi desert and then link up with the Tiangong (Heavenly Palace) 1 module, the official Xinhua news agency reported.