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NASA to probe why Mars lost its atmosphere

NASA said Monday it is on track to launch its Maven probe to Mars next month to find out why the Red Planet lost much of its atmosphere. The unmanned spaceship is scheduled to leave Earth on November 18 at 1:38 pm (1739 GMT). The 10-month journey to Mars means that if all goes well, the probe will arrive in late September 2014, and will begin its year long orbiting mission in November, space agency scientists said.

NASA reverses trajectory on Chinese ban

NASA has reversed a decision to ban six Chinese scientists from a space conference, China's state media said, after prominent US astronomers vowed to boycott the meeting in a row over academic freedom. The United States space agency had barred them from participating in the meeting on exoplanets -- bodies outside the solar system -- in California in early November, saying it was legally obliged to do so because of a bill restricting US space cooperation with China. A NASA committee has now written to the six to change course, China's official Xinhua news agency reported.

NASA reverses trajectory on Chinese ban

NASA has reversed a decision to ban six Chinese scientists from a space conference, Chinese state media said, after prominent US astronomers vowed to boycott the meeting in a row over academic freedom. The US space agency had barred them from participating in the meeting on exoplanets -- bodies outside the solar system -- in California in early November, saying it was legally obliged to do so because of their nationality. A NASA committee has now written to the six to change course, China's official Xinhua news agency reported.

NASA ban on Chinese scientists 'inaccurate'

A controversial decision by NASA to bar Chinese scientists from a conference on exoplanets next month was deemed "inaccurate" Tuesday by the US congressman who wrote the law. NASA's announcement that Chinese nationals would not be permitted to enter the Second Kepler Science Conference at Ames Research Center in California November 4-8 sparked a boycott by some prominent US astronomers.

NASA ban on Chinese scientists sparks boycott

Some prominent American astronomers are boycotting a NASA meeting next month on exoplanets due to a ban on attendance by Chinese scientists, experts told AFP Tuesday. The restriction is based on a law passed in 2011 and signed by President Barack Obama that prevents NASA funds from being used to collaborate with China or to host Chinese visitors at US space agency facilities. Among those leading the boycott are Debra Fischer, an astronomy professor at Yale University, and Geoff Marcy, an astronomy professor at the University of California, Berkeley.

NASA's new moon probe settles into lunar orbit

By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., Oct 7 - Politics may be keeping most of NASA's workers home, but that didn't stop the U.S. space agency's new moon probe from achieving lunar orbit, officials said on Monday. The Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer, or LADEE, blasted off on September 6 aboard a small rocket that placed the spacecraft into a highly elliptical orbit around Earth.

NASA tests space radar for finding buried victims

A portable radar device that can sense live victims beneath a collapsed structure was inspired by the same technology used to detect distant objects in space, NASA said Wednesday. The prototype for the new tool was demonstrated for reporters by US space agency experts who are collaborating with the Department of Homeland Security. Known by the acronym FINDER, short for Finding Individuals for Disaster and Emergency Response, the device can locate people as many as 30 feet (nine meters) under crushed materials, NASA said.

NASA, Orbital Sciences poised for Wednesday mission to ISS

Orbital Sciences Corp. on Wednesday launches the test flight of an unmanned rocket to the International Space Station, as NASA forges ahead with its plan to privatize US space missions. The Cygnus capsule, hitched to Orbital Science's Antares rocket, is set to blast off at 10:50 am (1450 GMT) from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, for a Sunday rendezvous with the ISS. Orbital Sciences is one of just two private US companies enlisted by NASA to carry payloads to the orbiting space station. The other is California-based Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX.

NASA identifies three potential asteroids for capture

The US space agency has narrowed its hunt for an asteroid to capture to three, NASA said Wednesday. The asteroids fit the requirements of being between seven to 10 meters (yards) in size, and further study should be able to narrow the choice even more, scientists said at a conference in San Diego, California. "We have two to three which we will characterize in the next year and if all goes well... those will be valid candidates that could be certified targets," said Paul Chodas, senior scientist at the NASA Near-Earth Object Program Office.

Glitch resolved, NASA probe on its way to the moon

By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) - Engineers have resolved a minor glitch with a new NASA robotic lunar probe, which blasted off Friday night for the first leg of a 30-day trip to the moon. Shortly after the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer, or LADEE, spacecraft separated from its Minotaur 5 launch vehicle, its positioning system shut down due to what appeared to be a high electrical current.
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