Tokyo airport tests driverless bus to shuttle visitors

TOKYO, Japan (AFP) — Visitors pouring into Japan’s Haneda airport for the Tokyo Olympics next year may find themselves ferried to and from planes on driverless buses, currently being tested at the major hub. Six Japanese firms, including national carrier ANA, jointly started a 10-day experiment with a self-driving prototype minibus last week. On Tuesday, officials allowed a sneak peak at the automated transportation, which is being tested with a safety driver in the front […]

Blue Origin to make 10th flight test of space tourist rocket

WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — Blue Origin, the rocket company headed by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, is poised to launch the 10th test flight of its unmanned New Shepard rocket on Wednesday as it competes with Virgin Galactic to become the first to carry tourists on brief visits to space. The liftoff is scheduled for 8:50 am Central time (1450 GMT) from a Texas launchpad. The rocket will be carrying several science experiments for NASA. […]

Construction without coordination: how ants build megaprojects

by Patrick GALEY Agence France Presse PARIS, France (AFP) — Leaf-cutter ants build superhighways to transfer food and building materials hundreds of meters without communicating with each other, scientists claimed Wednesday, in findings that could prompt a rethink about how some insect communities organize themselves. Each leaf-cutter colony can carve out nearly three kilometers of trails from the forest floor every year, investing an average of 11,000 hours into constructing and maintaining them. It had […]

NASA and China collaborate on Moon exploration

by Ivan Couronne Agence France Presse WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — The space agencies of the United States and China are coordinating efforts on Moon exploration, NASA said Friday, as it navigates a strict legal framework aimed at protecting national security and preventing technology transfer to China. “With the required approval from Congress, NASA has been in discussions with China to explore the possibility of observing a signature of the landing plume of their lunar […]

Japan satellite blasts into space to deliver artificial meteors

by Miwa SUZUKI Agence France Presse TOKYO, Japan (AFP) — A rocket carrying a satellite on a mission to deliver the world’s first artificial meteor shower blasted into space on Friday, Japanese scientists said. A start-up based in Tokyo developed the micro-satellite for the celestial show over Hiroshima early next year as the initial experiment for what it calls a “shooting stars on demand” service. The satellite is to release tiny balls that glow brightly […]

Saturn’s rings are younger than the planet itself

WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — Saturn’s rings are younger than scientists thought and appeared within the last 10 to 100 million years, according to research published Thursday based on findings from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. The sixth planet from the Sun formed about 4.5 billion years ago, along with the rest of the planets in our solar system, and spent the bulk of its existence without the characteristic rings it is known for today. Astronomers have […]

Facebook to tighten political ad rules for 2019 elections

PARIS,¬†France (AFP) — Facebook said Tuesday it will tighten rules for political ads in countries with elections scheduled in the first half of the year, building on transparency efforts already underway in the United States, Britain and Brazil after a series of scandals. “As we prepare for major elections around the world this year, we’re continuing our focus on preventing foreign interference and giving people more information about the ads they see across our platforms,” […]

YouTube clarifies rules on pranks as risky memes rage

SAN FRANCISCO, United States (AFP) —¬†YouTube on Tuesday clarified rules against posting videos of dangerous pranks, as risky “challenges” prompt people to video themselves doing things like biting into laundry soap or driving blindfolded. The company already forbid content inciting dangerous activities likely to result in serious harm. But the clarifications “make it clear that challenges like the Tide pod challenge or the Fire challenge, that can cause death and/or have caused death in some […]

Cottoning on: Chinese seed sprouts on moon

BEIJING, China (AFP) — A small green shoot is growing on the moon in an out-of-this-world first after a cotton seed germinated on board a Chinese lunar lander, scientists said Tuesday. The sprout has emerged from a lattice-like structure inside a canister since the Chang’e-4 lander set down earlier this month, according to a series of photos released by the Advanced Technology Research Institute at Chongqing University. “This is the first time humans have done […]

Total lunar eclipse on Jan 20-21 will be last until 2022

WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — People in North and South America, a large part of Europe and Africa may get a glimpse of a total lunar eclipse overnight from January 20 to 21, the last such event until 2022. For those in Europe and Africa, the total eclipse will unfold shortly before sunrise. For those in North and South America, the eclipse can be viewed at the beginning or in the middle of the night. […]

India launches new bid to battle dirty air

NEW DELHI, India (AFP) — India has launched a new campaign to improve air quality in more than 100 of its pollution-stricken cities, although an environment group said it lacked detail and the legal backing to ensure it is enforced. Air quality in the country of more than 1.25 billion people has deteriorated to critical levels in recent years, with the capital New Delhi and 13 other Indian cities in the top 15 of a […]