Interesting Sites

New stars found in Southern Cross

AstronomyNew stars have been recently discovered in the Southern Cross, or Crux, by scientists in the United States. This discovery could affect the flags of New Zealand, Australia, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Brazil, although the new star is located very close to the westernmost star and invisible to the naked eye.

The American scientists found the new stars in the Southern Cross by using the Chandra X-ray Observatory, a space satellite run by NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) which uses x-rays.

Genetically modified seeds got into New Zealand

BiologyThe New Zealand Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) is investigating how genetically modified (gm) seeds of sweet corn was knowingly cleared to enter New Zealand in October 2006.

The two consignments totaling 1,800 kilogram of gm sweetcorn originating from the United States was cleared by the quarantine service run by MAF. Each consignment had a certificate that showed that the seeds had not been gm but there was documentation available that showed that the two consignments had a presence of gm. Jeanette Fitzsimons, spokesperson for genetic engineering and the leader of the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand, said: "I am absolutely shocked and angered that 1.8 tonnes of sweet corn seeds crossed our border, even though the accompanying testing documentation showed that it was contaminated with GE."

Giant camel bones found in Syria

BiologyThe skeletal remains of a giant camel were discovered in a Syrian desert. The fossils are estimated to have come from a camel that died about 100,000 years ago.

The bones were unearthed at al-Hemel, Syria, about 155 miles northeast of Damascus, by an archaeological team made up of both Swiss and Syrian people.

CMSU computing team discovers another record size prime

PhysicsLess than a year after the discovery of a record size prime number, the same team from the Central Missouri State University discovered yet another record holder on September 4, 2006. The primality of this number was verified on September 11, 2006. The team were participants of an online project called Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search.

NASA chooses Woomera, South Australia for rocket launch site

AstronomyNASA has announced that rockets will be launched from Woomera in outback South Australia to service the International Space Station (ISS) - starting in 2008. NASA has selected two American companies to launch rockets from the Woomera base. Rocket Plane Kistler and Space-X will conduct orbital flight tests and commercial operations. The Woomera site would also be used to launch cargo such as fuel and food to the ISS as often as every two weeks.

Woomera, named for an Aboriginal spear-throwing tool, was originally involved in testing of long-range missiles and rockets for Britain during the Cold War. The site was also recently used by the Australian government to incarcerate asylum-seeking refugees.

SpaceX based in California, and Rocketplane-Kistler of Oklahoma City, will share up to $US500 million in NASA seed money to develop their launch vehicles. NASA has stated it wants commercial firms to take over ISS transportation services after the space shuttle fleet is retired in 2010.

SpaceX, owned by Internet entrepreneur and PayPal founder Elon Musk, made its launch debut in March with the Falcon 1 rocket but the vehicle failed shortly after lift-off. The two companies secured the NASA contract to demonstrate its "commercial orbital transportation services". Kistler has scheduled the first launch of its K-1 rocket from Woomera in late 2008.
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