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Science Ticker

SpaceX launches and lands its first reused rocket

The refurbished booster section of a Falcon 9 safely touched down on a ship in the Atlantic

March 30 landing of Falcon 9 rocket

RECYCLED ROCKET  A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket successfully landed on a droneship in the Atlantic Ocean after blasting off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Thursday, March 30. This stage of the rocket has flown before, marking the first time the company has reused one of its reclaimed boosters.

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In a spaceflight first, the aerospace company SpaceX has successfully launched and landed a previously used rocket.

The Falcon 9 rocket blasted off March 30 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Flight Center in Florida at 6:27 p.m. EDT carrying a commercial telecommunications satellite. After separating from the rest of the rocket and its payload, the refurbished first stage of the rocket touched back down smoothly on a platform in the Atlantic Ocean. The stage is the same one SpaceX used in its first successful landing on an ocean barge in April 2016.

Although the aerospace company has recovered eight Falcon 9 rockets after previous launches, this homecoming marks the first time it has reflown one of those used boosters. In September, a Falcon 9 rocket and its payload exploded on the launchpad at Cape Canaveral during a routine test.

In the past, the spent first stages of rockets have been lost to the ocean. Capturing and reusing rockets may lead to cheaper spaceflights, the company says.

Anthropology,, Archaeology

Neandertals had an eye for patterns

By Bruce Bower 2:00pm, March 29, 2017
Neandertals carved notches in a raven bone, possibly to produce a pleasing or symbolic pattern, scientists say.
Climate,, Oceans

Arctic sea ice hits record wintertime low

By Thomas Sumner 12:31pm, March 23, 2017
Warm temperatures and heat waves reduced sea ice extent in the Arctic to its smallest maximum extent ever seen.
Animals,, Ecology

Tool use in sea otters doesn't run in the family

By Helen Thompson 8:44pm, March 21, 2017
A genetic study suggests that tool-use behavior isn’t hereditary in sea otters, and that only some animals need to use tools due to the type of food available in their ecosystem.
Particle Physics

Large Hadron Collider experiment nabs five new particles

By Emily Conover 3:25pm, March 21, 2017
LHCb experiment detects new particles composed of two strange quarks and one charm quark.
Animals,, Science & Society

Tropical bedbugs outclimb common bedbugs

By Helen Thompson 6:03pm, March 15, 2017
A study of bedbug traps and feet names finds that tropical bedbugs are much better at scaling slippery walls than common bedbugs.
Astronomy

In new Cassini portraits, Saturn’s moon Pan looks like pasta

By Helen Thompson 5:30pm, March 10, 2017
Photographs taken this week by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft provide a closer view of Saturn’s small moon Pan, which resembles ravioli.
Archaeology,, Microbiology,, Evolution

Ancient dental plaque tells tales of Neandertal diet and disease

By Helen Thompson 1:22pm, March 8, 2017
Researchers have reconstructed the diet and disease history of ancient Neandertals.
Particle Physics,, Astronomy

Rare triplet of high-energy neutrinos detected from an unknown source

By Emily Conover 1:20pm, March 3, 2017
The IceCube Neutrino Observatory spotted three neutrinos within 100 seconds that seem to have come from the same place in the sky.
Health

Certain birth defects are on the rise since Zika arrived in the U.S.

By Laurel Hamers 5:36pm, March 2, 2017
The rate of certain birth defects is much higher in babies born to Zika-infected mothers in the United States, the CDC reports.
Planetary Science,, Oceans

Saturn’s ‘Death Star’ moon may not conceal an ocean after all

By Thomas Sumner 2:07pm, February 28, 2017
A lack of cracks on Mimas suggests that the icy moon of Saturn doesn’t conceal a subsurface ocean of liquid water.
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