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Tuesday, 18-Dec-2012 00:56 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Twin NASA spacecraft deliberately crash into moon

Twin NASA spacecraft smacked into a mountain on the moon Monday at 3,760 mph, ending a mission measuring lunar gravity. The space agency will name the mountainside landing spot for the probes after the late astronaut Sally Ride, who was part of the mission's science team.

The Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission probes, called Ebb and Flow, flew in formation over the lunar surface to map its gravity from an altitude of 34 miles. The planned impact capped a mission that found hardened veins of magma buried in the moon's thinner-than-expected crust.

The $496 million probes provided the most exacting map of lunar gravity yet made, says Charles Elachi of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. The findings offer clues to the moon's composition and could aid future landing attempts.

Data from the impact will serve as an experimental check on engineers' estimates of flight times of lunar orbiters without fuel. With the fuel on the probes exhausted, mission controllers aimed the probes for impact on a mountain ridge near Goldschmidt crater, far from any of the 23 Russian and U.S. lunar landing sites. "We picked this landing site so we would not hit any historical sites," says GRAIL project manager Dave Lehman.


Monday, 17-Dec-2012 00:42 Email | Share | | Bookmark
PHOTOS: Shooting at Connecticut school

The autopsy reports on the shooter and his mother were released by Connecticut Chief Medical Examiner H. Wayne Carver II, who said earlier that all the children, ages 6 and 7, had been shot multiple times in two classrooms.

Vance said investigators are tracing the history of the weapons and all the ammunition that was used, “back to their origin.” He said that police do not yet have a motive in the mass shooting and that it’s “going to take many, many man hours to attempt to draw this picture, to put this puzzle together.”

"For us to be able to give you the summary of the motive, we have to complete the investigation; we have to have the whole picture to say how and why this occurred,” Vance said, referring to the Connecticut State Police, the lead agency in the investigation. “There are weeks worth of work left for us to complete this.”

Investigators have “executed numerous search warrants” and have obtained a “great deal of evidence” that still needs to analyzed, he said. He declined to elaborate on the nature of the seizures. Some of the children may have to be interviewed as part of the process, he said.

As the state and federal investigation widened, officers led by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were canvassing scores of gun shops, shooting ranges and other facilities.

According to law enforcement officials, more than two dozen officers are knocking on store doors, serving search warrants and reviewing video surveillance recordings in the immediate area around Newtown as well as other parts of Connecticut.

Authorities, speaking anonymously because the investigation is ongoing, said they believed Lanza inquired at a Connecticut store about purchasing a “single-action long gun” as recently as several days before the shooting rampage but was turned away because he did not have a permit to possess a firearm. That is a more basic firearm normally used for hunting, in contrast to the high-powered, rapid-fire, military-style semiautomatic weapons he brought to the school.

“It's a lot of work for us,” one official said. “But it's important.”

Federal law enforcement officials said Lanza damaged his computer and hard drive, but the bureau's laboratory in Quantico, Va., could still manage to recover details about his Internet activity in the days and weeks before the shooting.

Officials said Sunday that school reopening plans are up in the air.

Lt. George Sinko said it was uncertain whether children ever would return to the two classrooms where the killings occurred. “It's too early to say, but I would find it very difficult for them to do that,” he said.

Arrangements were underway for some children to report to another elementary school in Newtown when classes resume.

“We want to keep these kids together,” Sinko said, explaining that officials hoped children who were moved to new schools could stay with their classmates.

“We want to move forward very slowly and respectfully,” he added, explaining why it was expected to take so long to interview surviving children.

At the news conference, Vance also said the FBI had been asked to help investigate false information posted on social media sites that included “some things in somewhat of a threatening manner” and some purported to be messages from the shooter or others involved in the incident.

“There are quotes by people who are posing as the shooter.... Suffice it to say, the information has been deemed as threatening,” he said.


Wednesday, 12-Dec-2012 06:24 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Gunman kills two at Oregon mall before taking own life

The afternoon shooting rampage at the crowded Clackamas Town Center in the Portland suburb of Happy Valley touched off panic inside the mall, sending thousands of shoppers streaming out as police and fire crews arrived on the scene.

Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts said the lone gunman died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound and that law enforcement officers who descended on the scene had not fired a single shot inside the mall. A single weapon was recovered.

"The mall is supposed to be a place where we can take our families. He took the lives of two people and a young lady is at the hospital fighting for her life right now," Roberts said.

The wounded victim was taken by helicopter to a hospital where a spokeswoman said she was in serious condition.

The incident marked the latest in a string of shooting rampages this year that included the killing of 12 people and wounding of 58 others at a midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises" in Colorado.

In Oregon, police evacuated terrified shoppers, who were reported by local media and via Twitter to have hidden in the back rooms of shops as gunshots rang out in the 1.4 million- square-foot mall.

"Shooting in the middle of clackamas town center. I'm stuck in the back room of build a bear!" one person tweeted.

Roberts said that police, assisted by agents from the FBI and U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were still combing through the mall for evidence late on Tuesday night.

A mall spokeswoman directed calls to law enforcement authorities.

"My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families," Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber said in a statement released by his office. "I appreciate the work of the first responders and their quick reaction to this tragic shooting."

(Reporting by Teresa Carson, Dan Cook, Alex Dobuzinskis and Dan Whitcomb; Writing by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Cynthia Johnston, Eric Walsh and Lisa Shumaker)


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