By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - The discovery of three planets that circle a small, dim star could bolster the chances of finding life beyond Earth, astronomers said on Monday. The Earth-sized planets are orbiting their parent star, located in the constellation Aquarius relatively close to Earth at 40 light years away, at a distance that provides the right amount of heat for there to be liquid water on their surface, a condition scientists believe may be critical for fostering life. The discovery marked the first time that planets were found orbiting a common type of star known as an ultra-cool dwarf, the scientists said.
By Steve Gorman LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A solar-powered airplane midway through an attempt to circle the globe began the next leg of its history-making journey on Monday, departing northern California on a relatively short 16-hour flight to Arizona, the project team said. The spindly, single-seat experimental aircraft dubbed Solar Impulse 2 took off just after 5 a.m. local time from San Francisco on a flight that will take it over the Mojave Desert before its planned arrival in Phoenix shortly before 9:30 p.m. The lengthy duration of Monday's flight, which an airliner would make in just two hours, stems from a cruising speed more akin to that of a car, requiring pilots to practice meditation and hypnosis in training to stay alert for long hours.
The second stage of a joint European-Russian mission to search for signs of life on Mars has been delayed from 2018 to 2020, the European Space Agency and Russia's Roscosmos said on Monday. The decision to put back the launch was a joint one that took into account delays in European and Russian industrial activities, the European agency said in a statement. Roscosmos was not available for comment on Monday, a public holiday in Russia.
By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - Astronomers have found a first-of-its-kind tailless comet whose composition may offer clues into long-standing questions about the solar system's formation and evolution, according to research published on Friday in the journal Science Advances. The so-called "Manx" comet, named after a breed of cats without tails, was made of rocky materials that are normally found near Earth. Most comets are made of ice and other frozen compounds and were formed in solar system's frigid far reaches.
The international ITER project to build a prototype nuclear fusion reactor will be delayed by more than a decade and faces another 4 billion euros of cost overruns, its director told French daily Les Echos. ITER chief Bernard Bigot said the experimental fusion reactor under construction in Cadarache, France, will not see the first test of its super-heated plasma before 2025 and its first full-power fusion not before 2035. "The previous planning, which foresaw first plasma by 2020 and full fusion by 2023, was totally unrealistic," said Bigot, who succeeded Japan's Osamu Motojima at the head of ITER early last year.