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Beating Back the Desert in Burkina Faso, Field by Field

In Burkina Faso, what was once stony semi-wasteland is now covered in verdant crop fields, rescued from relentless desertification.

Using simple agricultural techniques largely spread by word-of-mouth, this tiny West African state has rejuvenated vast stretches of scrubby soil over the past 30 years, proving they are not doomed and giving hope to other vulnerable areas in the region.

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African Moon Bid Seeks Boost for Spacecraft Blast Off

An ambitious project to put an African spacecraft on the Moon is sputtering on the launchpad as it struggles to secure an Internet crowdfunding lift off.

The Africa2Moon Mission has drawn just $13,000 (11,000 euros) of the initial target of $150,000 with a countdown of only three weeks left before the appeal closes.

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Opportunity Rover Takes in View from Top of Martian Hill

NASA's Opportunity rover is soaking in the view from its perch atop a Martian hill as engineers continue to fix a problem with its computer memory.

The aging rover beamed new images to Earth on Wednesday, confirming it reached the hill informally called Cape Tribulation.

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Japan Whaling Ships Set Out for Antarctic -- to Count, not Hunt

Japanese whaling ships set sail for the Antarctic on Thursday on the look out for whales, but only to count them and take skin samples, after a U.N. court ordered an end to the annual hunt.

Two ships -- the 724-ton Yushinmaru and the 747-ton Daini (No 2) Yushinmaru -- weighed anchor from a port in western Shimonoseki city, a major whaling base, a government official said.

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Rocket Glitch Forces SpaceX to Abort Landmark Launch

A last-minute glitch forced SpaceX to abort a landmark bid Tuesday to transform rocket science into a recyclable industry by landing the first stage of the Falcon 9 on an ocean platform.

The problem that led to the delay in the resupply mission to the International Space Station involved the rocket's second stage, which is the portion that lifts the cargo vessel to orbit after the first stage falls back to Earth.

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Years-Long 'Silent Quake' Unleashed Fukushima Tsunami

The earthquake that set off the tsunami which caused the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster was unleashed by a stealthy nine-year buildup of pressure on a plate boundary, scientists said Tuesday.

Part of a fault where two mighty plates on the Earth's crust collide east of Japan was being quietly crushed and twisted for nearly a decade, they said.

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Astronomers to Earth: You've Got Some Newly Found Near-Twins

Earth has a few more near-twin planets outside our solar system, tantalizing possibilities in the search for extraterrestrial life.

Astronomers announced Tuesday that depending on definitions, they have confirmed three or four more planets that are about the same size as Earth and are in the not-too-hot, not-too-cold "Goldilocks Zone" for liquid water to form.

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China Encourages Environmental Social Groups to Sue

China on Wednesday granted public interest groups more power to sue those that flout environmental protection laws, the country's highest court said, as Beijing steps up efforts to curb pollution that regularly chokes major cities.

Social groups that work to fight polluters judicially will gain special status and have court fees reduced, the Supreme People's Court said on its website.

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French Space Chief: Comet Probe 'May Revive in March'

A probe that made the first landing on a comet but fell silent when its battery ran down may revive with sunlight in March, France's space chief said Monday.

"The Philae saga is going to continue," Jean-Yves Le Gall, head of the National Centre for Space Studies (CNES), told journalists in Paris, referring to the robot lab perched on the dusty iceball zipping through space.

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Solar Plane to Leave Switzerland Ahead of Round-the World Trip

A sun-powered plane was loaded onto a cargo carrier in Switzerland late Monday heading for the Middle East from where it will attempt a revolutionary round-the-world trip.

The air carrier transporting Solar Impulse 2 is due to leave early Tuesday for Abu Dhabi, from where the long-winged plane will begin its record-making bid in March with the aim of completing the trip by July.

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