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Branson unveils space plane

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Gizmorama - Branson unveils space plane 
"The Cutting Edge of Science Fact and Science Possibilities"
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Good Morning,
Richard Branson is back in the news with his space plane.
If all goes well, in the next few years the first spaceflight
is expected. Here is a link where  you can click through to 
pictures of the plane...
http://www.newsday.com/services/newspaper/printedition/tuesday/health/la-fi-spaceship29-2008jul29,0,2202547.story

Until Tomorrow,
Erin

Questions? Comments? Email me at: mailto:gizmo@gophercentral.com 
Email your comments 

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	          Branson unveils space plane 

British tycoon Richard Branson was in California's Mohave Desert 
Monday to unveil his new space plane, which would offer the first 
commercial spaceflight. Branson is backing the project that would 
carry an eight-person rocket ship on a flight from Earth up to a 
launch point 48,000 feet up, the Los Angeles Times reported. More 
than 250 astronaut wannabes have plunked down $200,000 for a chance 
to float weightless in space. Once it reaches the transfer 
station, the rocket would detach and fly into space, where it 
would provide passengers and crew four minutes of weightlessness. 
The rocket's mothership would fall to Earth and land at an airport 
like a plane. "This is quite something, isn't it?" Branson said. 
"It's one of the most beautiful, extraordinary aviation vehicles 
ever developed." Branson revealed that the first passengers would 
be his family, including his mother and father. The mothership was 
named Eve for his mother, and features her image  on the fuselage. 
The rollout  came a year after an accident killed three engineers 
and set back the project back a year.

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	    Camera helps track dinosaur movements

Modern technology from above was used to map tracks made by 
dinosaurs millions of years ago in Utah, the U.S. Bureau of 
Land Management says. A helicopter outfitted with high-tech 
cameras flitted across the Moccasin Mountain Track Site, snapping 
images of fossilized footprints left by at least six species of 
dinosaurs that roamed the red sandstone more than 180 million 
years ago, The Salt Lake Tribune reported Monday.  "This is 
the first time a helicopter has ever been used to capture 
detailed images of a track site," said Bureau of Land 
Management paleontologist Alan Titus. The project will create 
3-D images of the tracks that may help scientists understand 
better dinosaur behavior and provide information for 
interpretive displays planned for the 3-acre site in southern 
Utah.  "We will be able to make a precise map of the location 
of the tracks, their spatial patterns and possibly determine 
what the (dinosaurs) were doing," Neffra Matthews, the BLM 
geographer who conducted the imaging work, told the Tribune.
Tracks have been traced to three-toed species similar to the 
horned Dilophosaurus and five-toed creatures that are relatives 
to crocodiles, officials said.

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	 Study: High CO2 environment damages reefs

Reefs may erode in areas with high carbon dioxide levels because 
the "glue" binding coral skeletons to larger reef structures is 
missing, a U.S. study found. The study found coral reefs in 
the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean offer a real-world example 
of the what reef ecosystems will face under high carbon dioxide 
conditions resulting in ocean acidification, the National 
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Monday in a release.
Derek Manzello, a coral reef ecologist at NOAA's Atlantic 
Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory in Miami, and his 
colleagues analyzed cements within reef framework structures 
from the eastern tropical Pacific, a region having naturally 
higher levels of carbon dioxide. They compared those structures 
to reefs from the Bahamas, with comparatively lower carbon 
dioxide levels. Ocean acidification seems to result in a 
reduction in the production of the cements that allow coral 
reefs to grow into large, structurally strong formations, the 
scientists said. "Reefs are constantly degraded by mechanical, 
biological, and chemical erosion," said Manzello. "This study 
indicates that poorly cemented reefs that develop in an acidic 
ocean will be much less likely to withstand this persistent 
erosion." The study was in Monday's issue of the Proceedings 
of the National Academy of Sciences.

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