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Space station gets bigger

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Gizmorama - Space station gets bigger
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Space station gets bigger

The International Space Station got considerably bigger Tuesday
when a Japanese-built laboratory the size of a bus was attached,
NASA said. Col. Michael E. Fossum of the Air Force Reserve and
Col. Ronald J. Garan Jr. of the Air Force took a space walk to
unleash the laboratory, called Kibo -- Japanese for "hope" --
and then astronauts inside the station used a robotic arm to
attach it to the station, The New York Times reported. The lab
is being built in three stages. The first part arrived in March
and the final section will be brought up from Earth later, the
newspaper said. The astronauts also tested ways to clean a
damaged part of the electrical system. The space station crew
will become plumbers Wednesday, trying to fix the station's
toilet, which has had trouble with urine collection, the Times

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New genetic insight offered into ALS

Japanese researchers say they've gained valuable insight into
the genetics of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, also
known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Up to about 10 percent of all
ALS cases are inherited and of those, about 20 percent are the
result of an inherited genetic mutation on chromosome 21, in
the gene encoding for the superoxide dismutase 1, or SOD1,
enzyme, the researchers said. Now Hidenori Ichijo, Hideki
Nishitoh and colleagues at the University of Tokyo have
discovered how mutations in SOD1 lead to motor neuron cell
death and the progression of ALS. The researchers characterized
a molecular pathway by which mutated SOD1 contributes to the
accumulation of malformed proteins that can eventually induce
cell death. The researchers also discovered inactivation of
certain key factors in that pathway could mitigate
neurodegeneration and prolong survival in a mouse model of
inherited ALS. Although not all familial ALS cases are due to
the SOD1 mutation -- and not all people with a mutated form of
SOD1 develop ALS -- the scientists said their findings might
aid in the development of an effective treatment for the

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Phoenix lifts first scoop of Martian soil

One week after landing on Mars, the U.S. space agency's Phoenix
spacecraft has lifted its first scoop of Martian soil as a test
of the lander's robotic arm. The National Aeronautics and Space
Administration said the Monday practice scoop was emptied onto
the ground after a robotic arm camera photographed the soil
inside the scoop. The Phoenix control team said it plans to
have the arm deliver its next scoopful later this week to an
instrument that heats and sniffs the sample to identify
ingredients. NASA said a bright material appeared in the
scooped up soil and in the hole from which it came. "That
bright material might be ice or salt," said Ray Arvidson of
Washington University in St. Louis, co-investigator for the
robotic arm. "We're eager to do testing of the next three
surface samples collected nearby to learn more about it."
The Phoenix mission is led by Peter Smith at the University of
Arizona with project management by NASA's Jet Propulsion
Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. Contributions come from the
Canadian Space Agency; the University of Neuchatel, Switzerland;
the universities of Copenhagen and Aarhus, Denmark; the Max Planck
Institute in Germany; and the Finnish Meteorological Institute.

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