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China Bids Farewell to Pandas Bound for France

Huan Huan and Yuan Zi spent their last day at the panda breeding center in southwestern China ahead of a ten year trip to France, with a farewell ceremony held in their honor.

The two pandas at the center in the city of Chengdu will be flown to the French zoo they will call home for the next decade under an agreement reached between Paris and Beijing after years of top-level negotiations.

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Stranded Mars Probe to Crash into Pacific Off Chile Coast

Russia's space agency said on Saturday its ill-starred Mars probe would crash into the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Chile as the craft is expected to begin its final descent Sunday evening.

"The predicted window for the fragments of the Phobos-Grunt to fall to Earth is between January 15 and 16, with the central point on January 15 at 21:51 Moscow time (17:51 GMT)," the Roskosmos agency said in a statement.

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Mars-Bound NASA Rover Adjusts Course to Red Planet

Firing on all engines, NASA's latest rover to Mars executed a course adjustment Wednesday that put it on track for a landing in August.

Deep space antennas monitored the one-ton rover nicknamed Curiosity as it fired its thrusters in a choreographed three-hour maneuver.

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China, India to Jump Forward with Hawaii Telescope

China and India are catapulting to the forefront of astronomy research with their decision to join as partners in a Hawaii telescope that will be the world's largest when it's built later this decade.

China and India will pay a share of the construction cost — expected to top $1 billion — for the Thirty Meter Telescope at the summit of Mauna Kea volcano. They will also have a share of the observation time.

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Space Station to Move to Avoid Approaching Junk

The International Space Station is dodging a softball-sized piece of space junk.

Mission Control told astronauts to fire the station's engines briefly Friday morning to avoid a piece of an old communications satellite.

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Cut Back on Soot, Methane to Slow Warming

There are simple, inexpensive ways to cut back on two major pollutants -- soot and methane -- and taking action now could slow climate change for years to come, international scientists said Thursday.

When it comes to fending off global warming, the focus often is on harmful carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels in coal plants and car engines that linger in the atmosphere for many decades, said the study in Science.

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A Snake Named Matilda: New Species in Tanzania

The world's newest snake has menacing-looking yellow and black scales, dull green eyes and two spiky horns. And it's named after a 7-year-old girl.

Matilda's Horned Viper was discovered in a small patch of southwest Tanzania about two years ago and was introduced last month as the world's newest known snake species in an issue of Zootaxa.

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Milky Way Teeming with 'Billions' of Planets

The Milky Way is home to far more planets than previously thought, boosting the odds that at least one of them may harbor life, according to a study released.

Not long ago, astronomers counted the number of "exoplanets" detected outside our own solar system in the teens, then in the hundreds. Today the tally stands at just over 700.

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World's Tiniest Frogs Found in Papua New Guinea

With voices hardly louder than an insect's buzz, the tiniest frogs ever discovered are smaller than a coin and hop about the rainforest of the tropical island of Papua New Guinea, U.S. scientists said Wednesday.

Not only are these little peepers with the big names -- Paedophryne amauensis and Paedophryne swiftorum -- the smallest frogs known to man, they are also believed to be the smallest vertebrates on Earth, said the report in the science journal PLoS ONE.

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China Launches Operation to Free Pandas into Wild

China on Wednesday released six young captive pandas into semi-wild enclosures as part of a project aimed at helping the endangered bears adapt to the wild and eventually go free.

Previous attempts by Chinese authorities to release pandas into the wild have proved unsuccessful. The last bear that was set free in 2006 was found dead after 10 months, apparently killed by wild pandas.

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