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Japan’s latest X-ray telescope is officially dead

Illustration of ASTRO-H (Hitomi)

The orbiting X-ray observatory ASTRO-H (illustrated) is officially dead, the Japanese space agency JAXA reports. 

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An X-ray space telescope that went silent last month has been officially declared dead. The Japanese space agency, JAXA, announced April 28 that it has stopped trying to communicate with the orbiting observatory ASTRO-H (aka Hitomi) and will now focus on figuring out what went wrong.

ASTRO-H launched on February 17 and seemed to be working fine until radio contact ceased on March 27. Several ground-based observatories have since reported seeing multiple pieces of debris where the telescope should have been. ASTRO-H carried instruments designed to detect X-rays from supernovas, galaxy clusters and debris spiraling around black holes. 

Plants

Nightshade plants bleed sugar as a call to ants for backup

By Helen Thompson 4:08pm, April 28, 2016
Bittersweet nightshade produces sugary wound goo to lure in ant protectors that eat herbivores, researchers have found.
Planetary Science

Hubble telescope finds small moon orbiting dwarf planet Makemake

By Christopher Crockett 11:31am, April 27, 2016
Hubble Space Telescope images from April 2015 show that the dwarf planet Makemake has a tiny moon.
Science & Society,, Neuroscience

Findings on wobbly memories questioned

By Laura Sanders 3:00pm, April 25, 2016
In contrast to older studies, new results suggest that new memories don’t interfere with older, similar ones.
Plants,, Epigenetics,, Cells

Plants might remember with prions

By Susan Milius 3:00pm, April 25, 2016
A plant protein has passed lab tests for prionlike powers as molecular memory.
Astronomy

Hubble telescope snaps stunning pic for its 26th birthday

By Christopher Crockett 7:00am, April 22, 2016
For its 26th anniversary, the Hubble Space Telescope snapped a picture of star blowing bubbles in space.
Health,, Microbiology

This week in Zika: Assessing risk, mosquito range, a transmission first and more

By Meghan Rosen 3:52pm, April 15, 2016
Several new reports document Zika infection in U.S. pregnant women, a case of male sexual transmission, the range of Zika-carrying mosquitoes and more.
Genetics,, Fungi

Gene-edited mushroom doesn’t need regulation, USDA says

By Tina Hesman Saey 3:16pm, April 15, 2016
A CRISPR-edited mushroom isn’t like other GMOs, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says.
Animals,, Numbers

Math models predict mysterious monarch navigation

By Helen Thompson 6:00am, April 15, 2016
Researchers have come up with a series of equations to predict how monarchs use their eyes and antennae to figure out how to get to Mexico.
Physics

Itty bitty engine puts a single atom to work

By Emily Conover 2:04pm, April 14, 2016
Scientists have created a miniature heat engine out of a single atom.
Genetics,, Animals,, Molecular Evolution

Malaria parasite doesn’t pass drug immunity to its offspring

By Tina Hesman Saey 2:00pm, April 14, 2016
Malaria parasites resistant to the antimalarial drug atovaquone die in mosquitoes, a new study finds.
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