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Experts: Quest for Extraterrestrial Life not Over

The discovery of an Earth-sized planet in the "habitable" zone of a distant star, though exciting, is still a long way from pointing to the existence of extraterrestrial life, experts said Friday.

The planet, dubbed Kepler-186f, is the first of this size found orbiting its star at a distance that would allow it to have liquid water -- a prerequisite for the development of life, whether primitive or complex.

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SpaceX Launches Dragon Capsule to ISS

Private U.S. firm SpaceX launched its unmanned Dragon capsule to the International Space Station on Friday, its third trip carrying supplies and equipment to the orbiting lab. 

After three delays, the Falcon 9 rocket and its Dragon capsule finally blasted off as planned at 3:25 pm (1925 GMT) from Cape Canaveral in Florida.

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Reports: Japan to Continue Research Whaling in Pacific

Japan has decided to continue its whaling program in the Pacific Ocean, reports said Friday, despite losing a United Nations court case on its other "research" hunt in the Antarctic.

If confirmed, the move will likely spark anger among environmentalists who hailed last month's ruling by the U.N.'s International Court of Justice (ICJ) that Tokyo's hunt in the Southern Ocean was a commercial activity disguised as science.

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Preglacial Landscape Found Deep under Greenland Ice

U.S. geologists said Thursday they have uncovered a preglacial tundra landscape preserved for 2.7 million years far below the Greenland ice sheet.

Glaciers are known to scrape everything off any given plot of land -- vegetation, soil and even the top layer of bedrock -- so scientists expressed great surprise that they had found the landscape in pristine condition below two miles (three kilometers) of ice.

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NASA: First Earth-Sized Planet Found in 'Habitable Zone'

The hunt for potential life in outer space has taken a step forward -- an international team of researchers has discovered the first Earth-sized planet within the "habitable zone" of another star.

The exoplanet dubbed Kepler-186f was first spotted by scientists using NASA's Kepler telescope, according to research published Thursday in the U.S. journal Science.

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Study: Down's Chromosome Cause Genome-Wide Disruption

The extra copy of Chromosome 21 that causes Down's syndrome throws a spanner into the workings of all the other chromosomes as well, said a study published Wednesday that surprised its authors. 

Using data from a set of twins, one with Down's and one without, researchers found a major difference in how genes functioned between the two.

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Izumo and Juno: Sperm-Egg Secret Unscrambled

Scientists said Wednesday they had made the long-sought discovery of how sperm latches onto an egg in the very first spark of reproduction, the outcome of a near decade-long hunt.

The find opens up avenues for new contraception or treating infertility, they said.

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Study: Sharks are Not 'Living Fossils'

Modern sharks are not "living fossil" replicas of their prehistoric ancestors but have evolved significantly over millions of years to develop their hallmark design, a consensus-busting study said Wednesday.

The newly discovered fossil skull of a shark-like ancestor of all jawed vertebrates adds to evidence that a bony skeleton, not a cartilaginous one, was the prototype.

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Paleontologists Discover Land Herbivores' Earliest Ancestor

Paleontologists unearthed the oldest ancestor of land-dwelling herbivores with the discovery of a 300-million-year-old skeleton, shedding light onto plant eaters' emergence on land, a study said Wednesday.

A partial fossil of the animal, called Eocasea martini, is "the first link between carnivores and herbivores, the transition," Robert Reisz, the article's principal author and professor at Canada's University of Toronto Mississauga, told Agence France Presse.

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Russia Investigates Top Space Official for Abuse of Office

The head of the famed Russian space-rocket company Energia that makes the Soyuz spacecraft faces a criminal investigation into alleged abuse of office, Russia's Investigative Committee said on Wednesday.

Vitaly Lopota, president of Energia, is suspected of approving unauthorized loans to an international space consortium, Russia's equivalent of the FBI said in a statement.

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