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Thursday, January 29, 2015

NASA Launching Satellite Thursday to Track Earth's Dirt from Space

NASA's next Earth-observing satellite is ready to launch Thursday (Jan. 29), and it could vastly improve the way scientists monitor droughts around the world.
© NASA/Randy Beaudoin
The space agency's Soil Moisture Active Passive satellite (SMAP) is scheduled to launch from California's Vandenberg Air Force base atop a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket at 9:20 a.m. EST (1420 GMT) on Jan. 29, and at the moment, weather is looking good ahead of liftoff. Officials are predicting an 80 percent chance of good conditions during the 3-minute launch window Thursday.

The SMAP satellite is designed to measure the moisture of Earth's dirt more accurately than ever before, according to NASA. The probe will make a global map of the planet's soil moisture levels every three days. This measurement is important because it can help scientists create more accurate weather models, learn more about drought conditions and even predict floods, NASA officials have said. [See images from the SMAP mission]

"What the soil measurements will do is improve our weather forecasts, improve our assessments of water availability and also address some issues dealing with long-term climate variability and assessments of the impact of human intervention in the global environment," Dara Entekhabi, SMAP science team leader, said during a news conference Tuesday (Jan. 27). "All of these come together and it's the metabolism, how it responds, just like a human body."

You can watch live coverage of the SMAP satellite launch starting at 7 a.m. EST (1200 GMT) Thursday (Jan. 29) on via NASA TV.

The SMAP probe comes equipped with a huge mesh antenna, expected to be deployed sometime after launch. At nearly 20 feet (6 meters), the antenna is the largest of its kind that NASA has ever flown in space, officials have said. SMAP's antenna is designed to spin at about 14.6 revolutions per minute while mounted to the end of a long arm on the satellite's body.

The satellite is built to measure moisture in the top 2 inches (5 centimeters) of soil from its spot in orbit about 426 miles (685 kilometers) above Earth's surface, completing an orbit once every 98.5 minutes. The satellite's unprecedented soil information could help scientists learn more about how droughts spread and the places where they occur. By knowing the moisture in topsoil ahead of time, it could also help researchers better-predict where floods will happen.

"Soil moisture is a key part of the three cycles that support life on this planet: the water cycle, the energy cycle and the carbon cycle," NASA SMAP program executive Christine Bonniksen, said during the news conference. "These things affect human interest: flood, drought, disease control, weather."

The rocket carrying SMAP will also deliver four small cubesats into Earth's orbit during the launch as part of NASA's Educational Launch of Satellites program. One cubesat, called ExoCube, will monitor the upper atmosphere from orbit. Two Firebird satellites will investigate the radiation environment around Earth, and the GRIFEX satellite is a technology demonstration partially developed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.  

The $916 million mission is expected to last about three years or more. SMAP is one of five NASA Earth-monitoring satellites originally scheduled for launch in 2014. Three of those missions — Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 satellite, Global Precipitation Measurement Core Observatory and ISS-RapidScat — got off the ground last year. But SMAP and the recently launched Cloud-Aerosol Transport mission mounted to the International Space Station were delayed until 2015.

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Published by Gusti Putra at: 7:47 AM

Mummified Monk from 200 Years Ago Found Perfectly Preserved in Meditating Pose

The stunning find was discovered in Mongolia with experts reckoning the body has sat undiscovered since the 1800s
The remarkable remains of a mummified Mongolian monk
These are the amazingly intact remains of a monk meditating that have lay undiscovered since sometime in the 1800s.

The discovery of the man sat in the lotus position has sparked a forensic investigation into the unknown religious devotee - with experts' initial evaluation suggesting the mummified remains are at least 200 years old.

The human relic, which had been preserved in animal skin, was found this week in Songinokhairkhan province, according to Mongolia's Morning Newspaper.

Preserved: Experts believe the monk has sat undiscovered for at least 200 years
Investigators are now studying the remains in the capital Ulaanbataar.

In Koh Samui, Thailand, a mummified monk wearing sunglasses - Luong Pordaeng, who died in 1973 – provides an unusual tourist attraction.

Pordaeng sits upright in a glass case at Wat Khunaram temple.

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Published by Gusti Putra at: 7:40 AM

Jasmine Tridevil, the Triple-Breasted Woman.

Woman has Surgery to Get Third Breast

Jasmine Tridevil, a Floridian massage therapist, has had an operation to give herself a third breast, in what is perhaps the most controversial boob job of 2014.

The 21-year-old previously told how she splurged £12,000 on plastic surgery to get and an extra breast grafted onto her chest.

Speaking at the time, Jasmine told a local radio station how more than 50 doctors turned her down before an unnamed surgeon agreed to do the job.

The third breast was made from a silicone implant and skin tissue from her abdomen.

She said at the time: "It was really hard finding someone that would do it, too, because they’re breaking the code of ethic. I called like 50 or 60 doctors - nobody wanted to do it."

Photos of her were soon circulating across the globe, but all did not seem right and many accused her of concocting an elaborate hoax.

Jasmine had to call 50-60 doctors in order to get her controversial operation. She said: “It was really hard finding someone that would do it, too, because they’re breaking the code of ethics”.

She did it because she wanted a reality TV show on MTV, but she had another reason, too.

“I got it because I wanted to make myself unattractive to men. Because I don’t want to date anymore.”

Average: Most women have two breasts

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Published by Gusti Putra at: 7:29 AM

Knuckle Duster Handbags Potentially Dangerous

'Knuckle Duster Handbags' DESTROYED by Cops Because They are Classified as 'Potentially Dangerous' Weapons

Dangerous? Police have been destroying the clutch bag

Hundreds of the high-fashion clutch bags have been seized because of their provocative handles

Handbags with "knuckle duster" clutches are being destroyed because police believe they are classified as weapons.

Police in Madrid have been confiscating any of the clutch bags found on sale in the city's shops, while others have even been impounded following complaints by the Civil Guard at Barajas airport.

The colorful bags have handles resembling brass knuckles.

Those weapons are illegal, and police are not taking any risks with the young women who sport the handbags.

Security forces have been instructed to seize any "potentially dangerous" bags, and to impose fines on retailers found selling the goods.

The Civil Guard in France destroyed nearly 1,000 rifles and guns last year which were handed in during a weapons amnesty.

The weapons were destroyed alongside 25 brass knuckle bags which also went into the furnace.

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Published by Gusti Putra at: 7:01 AM