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Zombie rabbit

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6 | NewScientist | 22 February 2014 THE moon robot has come back to life – kind of. China’s first lunar rover, Yutu, also known as Jade Rabbit, phoned home last week, shortly after some had given it up for dead. It’s unclear how the rest of the mission will fare. Yutu’s parent craft – the Chang’e-3 lander – touched down on the moon on 14 December and released the rover. Trouble came six weeks later, at the start of its second lunar night. On the moon, night lasts for half of each Earthly month and surface temperatures plunge to below -180 °C, during which time the rover and lander hibernate. As night rolled in on 25 January, Yutu seemed to have failed, but mission operators had to wait until lunar dawn to check. On 12 February, the Chinese ECNS news agency reported that efforts to reactivate the rover were unsuccessful, and many assumed BELGIUM has become the first country to legalise euthanasia for children of any age – but expect a trickle rather than a flood of kids making that choice. The law requires a psychiatrist to vet each case, and parents must approve a child’s decision. The child has to be able to decide for themselves, although there is no minimum age. Only a handful of children a year are likely to request euthanasia, says Luc Deliens, chair of the end-of-life care research E.J. WEST/GETTY Zombie rabbit A child’s right to die UpfrOnTs “It is still not clear whether China’s Yutu moon rover is able to carry out orders from mission control” Next stop the moonIt won’t take the blight out of Blightyit was dead. The same day, another news agency, Xinhua, reported that the Chinese space agency had received a signal, as did a website that tracks amateurs monitoring for radio signals from space. It is still not clear whether Yutu is able to carry out orders from mission control. Even if it is the end of the road for Yutu, China’s space adventure is just starting – the country wants a crewed lunar base. And the rover leads a new wave of moon exploration. Private firms (see “Lunar sweat”, below right) have moon plans, as do the US, Russia, India and South Korea. group at the Free University of Brussels and Ghent University. “There will be no explosion of euthanasia cases.” Referring to surveys in terminally ill children, he says that children avoid asking for euthanasia because they think it would upset their parents. The new law comes as several countries, including the UK, are debating someone’s right to die. Belgium legalised euthanasia for over-18s in 2002. It is permitted for adults in Luxembourg, and over-12s in the Netherlands, while a few US states, and Switzerland, have legalised assisted suicide. EXPECT astronomical shipping charges. A can of the Japanese sports drink Pocari Sweat could next year become the first commercial delivery to the moon. Astrobotic of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, says it will deliver the drink on behalf of Singapore- based firm Astroscale. One of many teams vying for the Google Lunar X Prize, which promises $20 million to the first commercial moon lander, Astrobotic has the Lunar sweat POCARI SWEAT Resistant spuds exiled IT WILL not be a case of second time lucky. A second strain of potato that has been genetically modified to resist blight will probably not be grown in Europe. Late potato blight destroys £3.5 billion of potatoes globally each year. In 2007, German chemical giant BASF developed Fortuna, the first GM potato to be resistant to the disease. But the company was forced to abandon the project in 2012 after failing to obtain approval to grow GM potatoes in Europe. It has since moved its entire plant science research arm to North Carolina. Now British scientists have created potatoes carrying a gene, isolated from a South American potato, that makes them resistant to late blight. In field tests, the GM potatoes were unharmed when exposed to late blight and all the control plants were infected. The GM spuds also produced twice as many tubers. (Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, doi.org/rj7). But Europe’s strict rules on GM crops mean the spuds are unlikely to be grown there. “It’s very dispiriting,” says team leader Jonathan Jones of the John Innes Centre in Norwich, UK. Instead, the technology behind the potatoes will be commercialised in the US by Simplot of Boise, Idaho. The lobby group GeneWatch says the potato’s £3.2 million cost was a waste of taxpayers’ money, as most Europeans do not want GM food. But Jones says the cost is dwarfed by the £72 million that UK farmers pay on pesticides each year to control blight.
Transcript
Page 1: Zombie rabbit

6 | NewScientist | 22 February 2014

THE moon robot has come back to life – kind of. China’s first lunar rover, Yutu, also known as Jade Rabbit, phoned home last week, shortly after some had given it up for dead. It’s unclear how the

rest of the mission will fare.Yutu’s parent craft – the

Chang’e-3 lander – touched down on the moon on 14 December and released the rover. Trouble came six weeks later, at the start of its second lunar night. On the moon, night lasts for half of each Earthly month and surface temperatures plunge to below -180 °C, during which time the rover and lander hibernate. As night rolled in on 25 January, Yutu seemed to have failed, but mission operators had to wait until lunar dawn to check.

On 12 February, the Chinese ECNS news agency reported that efforts to reactivate the rover were unsuccessful, and many assumed

BELGIUM has become the first country to legalise euthanasia for children of any age – but expect a trickle rather than a flood of kids making that choice.

The law requires a psychiatrist to vet each case, and parents must approve a child’s decision. The child has to be able to decide for themselves, although there is no minimum age.

Only a handful of children a year are likely to request euthanasia, says Luc Deliens, chair of the end-of-life care research

E.J.

WEs

t/gE

tt

y

Zombie rabbit A child’s right to die

Upfronts

“It is still not clear whether China’s Yutu moon rover is able to carry out orders from mission control”

–Next stop the moon–

–It won’t take the blight out of Blighty–

it was dead. The same day, another news agency, Xinhua, reported that the Chinese space agency had received a signal, as did a website that tracks amateurs monitoring for radio signals from space.

It is still not clear whether Yutu is able to carry out orders from mission control. Even if it is the end of the road for Yutu, China’s space adventure is just starting – the country wants a crewed lunar base. And the rover leads a new wave of moon exploration. Private firms (see “Lunar sweat”, below right) have moon plans, as do the US, Russia, India and South Korea.

group at the Free University of Brussels and Ghent University. “There will be no explosion of euthanasia cases.” Referring to surveys in terminally ill children, he says that children avoid asking for euthanasia because they think it would upset their parents.

The new law comes as several countries, including the UK, are debating someone’s right to die. Belgium legalised euthanasia for over-18s in 2002. It is permitted for adults in Luxembourg, and over-12s in the Netherlands, while a few US states, and Switzerland, have legalised assisted suicide.

EXPECT astronomical shipping charges. A can of the Japanese sports drink Pocari Sweat could next year become the first commercial delivery to the moon.

Astrobotic of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, says it will deliver the drink on behalf of Singapore-based firm Astroscale. One of many teams vying for the Google Lunar X Prize, which promises $20 million to the first commercial moon lander, Astrobotic has the

Lunar sweat

Poca

ri s

WEa

t

Resistant spuds exiledIT WILL not be a case of second time lucky. A second strain of potato that has been genetically modified to resist blight will probably not be grown in Europe.

Late potato blight destroys £3.5 billion of potatoes globally each year. In 2007, German chemical giant BASF developed Fortuna, the first GM potato to be resistant to the disease. But the company was forced to abandon the project in 2012 after failing to obtain approval to grow GM potatoes in Europe. It has since moved its entire plant science research arm to North Carolina.

Now British scientists have created potatoes carrying a gene, isolated from a South American potato, that makes them resistant to late blight. In field tests, the GM potatoes were

unharmed when exposed to late blight and all the control plants were infected. The GM spuds also produced twice as many tubers. (Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, doi.org/rj7).

But Europe’s strict rules on GM crops mean the spuds are unlikely to be grown there. “It’s very dispiriting,” says team leader Jonathan Jones of the John Innes Centre in Norwich, UK.

Instead, the technology behind the potatoes will be commercialised in the US by Simplot of Boise, Idaho.

The lobby group GeneWatch says the potato’s £3.2 million cost was a waste of taxpayers’ money, as most Europeans do not want GM food. But Jones says the cost is dwarfed by the £72 million that UK farmers pay on pesticides each year to control blight.

140222_N_Upfront.indd 6 18/02/2014 17:53

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