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Japan Scientists: Asteroid-Blast Space Cannon on Track

Japanese scientists readying to blast a crater in an asteroid to find out what it is made of said Wednesday they have successfully tested their new space cannon.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said the huge weapon would fire a metal bullet at the surface of asteroid 1999JU3 some time in 2018.

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Study: Dolphins Inspire Rescue Radar Device

British engineers said Wednesday they had taken inspiration from dolphins for a new type of radar device that could easily track miners trapped underground or skiers buried in an avalanche.

The device, like dolphins, sends out two pulses in quick succession to allow for a targeted search for semiconductor devices, cancelling any background "noise", the team wrote in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical and Physical Sciences.

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'Apocalyptic' Smog Eases in Chinese City

A bout of choking smog that brought life to a standstill in a far northeast Chinese city for three days has dissipated, with flights resuming and students returning to school Wednesday.

The heavy pollution, which drew national and international headlines, was largely due to coal-fired heating and the burning of large amounts of straw as winter approaches, local environmental officials in the city of Harbin have said.

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India Sets November 5 for Mars Mission Launch

Scientists on Tuesday set November 5 for the delayed launch of India's first mission to Mars, which was postponed due to problems in positioning a seaborne tracking system.

Blast-off for the unmanned Mars Orbiter Mission had to be rescheduled after the state-run Indian Space Agency Organization (ISRO) said at the weekend that it would be unable to launch as expected on October 28.

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California 'Sea Serpents' Draw Gawkers

The silvery carcasses of two giant oarfish were discovered along the Southern California coast last week, baffling scientists and gaining a growing online following who gawked at the bony, snake-like creatures.

A 14-foot (4.3 meter) oarfish washed up on a beach in the San Diego County coastal city of Oceanside last Friday. Several days earlier, a snorkeler found the carcass of an 18-foot oarfish off Catalina Island and dragged it to shore with some help.

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Vietnam Seizes 2.4 Tons of Smuggled Elephant Tusks

Authorities in Vietnam have seized 2.4 tons of elephant tusks illegally imported from Malaysia in the second large seizure this month.

Customs official Truong Cong Thanh in the northern port city of Hai Phong says the tusks were found in a container Monday. The cargo had been declared as sea shells.

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Dangerous Pollution Levels Blight Chinese City

Thick smog enveloped a major Chinese city for a third day Tuesday, with schools and a regional airport shut and poor visibility forcing ground transport to a halt in places.

Images from Harbin, a northeastern city of more than 10 million people and the host of a popular annual ice festival, showed roads shrouded in smog, with visibility in some areas reduced to less than 50 meters.

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Greenpeace Slams Palm Oil Giant Supplying Oreo, Gillette

Oreo cookies and Gillette shaving cream are among products driving the destruction of Indonesia's forests, Greenpeace said Tuesday, accusing agri giant Wilmar International for supplying "dirty palm oil" to make the grocery items.

In its report "Licence to Kill", Greenpeace said that Singapore-based Wilmar, the world's biggest palm oil processor, was sourcing its oil from illegally cleared land and destroying the habitat of critically endangered Sumatran tigers.

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Global Warming Linked to Wildfires

Wildfires are "absolutely" linked to global warming and increasingly intense heatwaves, the U.N. climate chief has said, as bushfires burned out of control in Australia.

The comments come as debate rages in Australia -- whose new Prime Minister Tony Abbott once described the science behind man-made climate change as "absolute crap" -- about whether there is a link between the infernos and global warming.

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Over 300 Elephants Poisoned in Zimbabwe Park

More than 300 elephants and other animals have died of cyanide poisoning by poachers in Zimbabwe's largest game park, a wildlife conservation group said Monday.

"In July, around 300 elephants had died from cyanide poisoning in Hwange and were discovered by a group of hunters who flew over the area," Johnny Rodrigues, chairman of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force told Agence France Presse.

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