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Japan Rocket Set to Blast off for International Space Station

A Japanese rocket is set to blast off later Wednesday, carrying emergency supplies and an unmanned cargo vessel bound for the International Space Station.

The H-IIB rocket is set to lift off from the southern island of Tanegashima at 8:50 pm (1150 GMT) after the launch was postponed twice due to weather conditions, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said.

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Govt. Allows Shell to Drill for Oil in Arctic Ocean Off Alaska

The federal government on Monday gave Royal Dutch Shell the final permit it needs to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean off Alaska's northwest coast for the first time in more than two decades.

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement announced that it approved the permit to drill below the ocean floor after the oil giant brought in a required piece of equipment to stop a possible well blowout.

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Scientists Find Evidence of Prehistoric Massacre in Europe

Scientists say they have found rare evidence of a prehistoric massacre in Europe after discovering a 7,000-year-old mass grave with skeletal remains from some of the continent's first farmers bearing terrible wounds.

Archaeologists who painstakingly examined the bones of some 26 men, women and children buried in the Stone Age grave site at Schoeneck-Kilianstaedten, near Frankfurt, say they found blunt force marks to the head, arrow wounds and deliberate efforts to smash at least half of the victims' shins — either to stop them from running away or as a grim message to survivors.

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Study: Mystery of Saturn's 'F Ring' Cracked

An enigmatic ring of icy particles circling Saturn, herded into a narrow ribbon by two tiny moons, was probably born of a cosmic collision, according to a study published Monday.

The so-called F ring, some 140,000 kilometers (87,000 miles) beyond the sixth planet from the Sun, orbits at the border between Saturn's other rings and several moons.

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Study: Plant from 130 Million Years Ago is among 'First Flowers'

An ancient plant that grew underwater in what is modern day Europe, had no petals and bore one single seed may have been the world's first known flowering plant, a study said Monday.

More than 1,000 fossils of the plant, called Montsechia vidalii, were pored over for the new study, which seems to oust a Chinese plant that has also been considered among the first.

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Study: Central Asian Glaciers Shrinking Fast

Central Asian glaciers have melted at four times the global average since the early 1960s, shedding 27 percent of their mass, according to a study released Monday. 

By 2050, warmer temperatures driven by climate change could wipe out half the remaining glacier ice in the Tien Shan mountain range, reported the study, published in Nature Geoscience.  

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Researchers Work on Possible Diesel Replacement

Researchers from Kansas, Michigan and Nebraska are modifying an oilseed for use as a potential diesel replacement.

Their work on Camelina sativa is focused on lowering its viscosity — essentially, its resistance to flowing. Plant oils typically have a high enough viscosity that they build up in engines, limiting their use as petroleum product replacement, The Topeka Capital-Journal ( ) reports.

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As Seas Rise, Saltwater Plants Offer Hope Farms Will Survive

On a sun-scorched wasteland near India's southern tip, an unlikely garden filled with spiky shrubs and spindly greens is growing, seemingly against all odds.

The plants are living on saltwater, coping with drought and possibly offering viable farming alternatives for a future in which rising seas have inundated countless coastal farmlands.

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Extreme Diving, Crucial to Arctic Research

How do algae react to the warming of the Arctic Ocean? How is it affecting wildlife in the fjords? To find answers, researchers rely heavily on divers who brave the icy waters to gather samples.

"Without them, we wouldn't be able to successfully complete our projects," admits Cornelia Buchholz, a marine biologist who is working at Ny-Alesund on Spitsbergen, the largest island of the Svalbard archipelago in the heart of the Norwegian Arctic.

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Squirrels in Yosemite campground test positive for plague

A popular campground at Yosemite National Park in California will be temporarily closed after several dead squirrels were found to be carrying the plague, officials said Friday. 

The move comes about a week after a girl who visited the park tested positive for the plague. She was treated and has recovered. 

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