Voyager chases twin in interstellar space between stars



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Space: NASA's Voyager 2 is now the second man-made object to move away from the sun into space between stars. Voyager 2 came out last month "from that bubble the sun creates around you," said veteran NASA mission scientist Ed Stone. The spacecraft is now beyond the outer boundary of the heliosphere, about 18 billion miles from Earth. It is behind the double Voyager 1, which hit interstellar space in 2012 and is now 21 billion miles from Earth. Interstellar space is the vast majority empty between stellar systems. Even being out of the solar bubble, the Voyagers are still technically in our solar system, NASA said. Scientists keep the solar system stretching to the outer edge of the so-called Oort Cloud. It will take about 30,000 years for the spacecraft to reach this far.

United States: Snow suits made the best of a day without work or school, while officials warned that the roads remained treacherous after a winter storm toppled snow, hail and icy rain in five states. Snow-covered interstate crashes caused heavy delays over the weekend. Hundreds of flights were canceled and drivers from North Carolina and Virginia were trapped in the snow or lost control of frozen areas. The storm was blamed for at least three deaths in North Carolina.

Britain: A British court handed over to the charismatic Indian magnate Vijay Mallya a substantial setback in deciding that he should be extradited to India to face charges of financial fraud. Judge Emma Arbuthnot endorsed the Indian government's request for Mallya's extradition and said she would send the case to the British Interior Ministry for review and action. Mallya, who in 1983 became president of an alcohol company formerly led by his father, was a prominent figure among India's business elite. He launched Kingfisher Airlines and had an equity stake in India's racing team in Formula 1. Mallya is accused by India of money laundering and conspiracy involving hundreds of millions of dollars. He denied having made mistakes. The judge described Mallya, 62, in extraordinarily personal terms, suggesting that Indian banks might have been fooled into making bad loans with this "glamorous, flashy, famous bodyguard playboy, ostensibly a billionaire who charmed and persuaded these bankers to lose their common sense. " Mallya can still appeal the decision, which was made at the Westminster Magistrates Court.

Russia: Two Russian strategic bombers with nuclear capability have arrived in Venezuela, a development unfolding amidst growing tensions between Russia and the United States. The Russian Defense Ministry reported that two Tu-160 bombers landed at the Maiquetia airport outside Caracas after a 10-kilometer flight. He did not say whether the bombers carried weapons and did not say how long they will stay in Venezuela. The ministry said an An-124 Ruslan cargo plane and an Il-62 passenger plane accompanied the bombers to Maiquetia. The Tu-160 is capable of transporting conventional or nuclear-tipped cruise missiles. With the code name Blackjack of Nato, the massive warplane is able to fly at a speed twice the speed of sound.

Authorities have quietly introduced restrictions on the sale of yellow reflective vests, fearing opponents will try to copy French protesters on the anniversary of the popular uprising of 2011 that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak, security officials and retailers said. They said that industrial safety equipment dealers were told not to sell yellow vests to buyers and restrict business to wholesale sales to verified companies, but only after securing permission from the police. They were told that offenders would be punished, authorities said without giving details.

Brazil: Researchers at the National Museum of Brazil say they have recovered more than 1,500 pieces from the rubble of a mass fire. Items found include Brazilian indigenous arrows, a Peruvian vase, and a pre-Columbian funerary urn. In October, researchers retrieved skull fragments and a part of the femur belonging to "Luzia," the scientific name given to a woman who lived 11,500 years ago. Progress was announced, along with details of a $ 205,000 grant from the German government for conservation equipment. The museum in Rio de Janeiro is one of the oldest in the world. It housed more than 20 million pieces before being destroyed by a massive fire on 2 September. Authorities have not yet said how the fire started.

United States: The Hawaii Department of Agriculture is importing four brown snakes to be used to train dogs to detect dangerously invasive species and prevent snakes from settling on the islands. Jonathan Ho, an acting manager of the department's quarantine quarantine division, said the Hawaii Agriculture Council has approved a request for sterile male snakes to be used in the dog-screening program, West Hawaii Today reported. "The main focus is for brown snakes," Ho told a meeting in Honolulu last week. "However, Hawaii does not have any kind of snake and the dogs are generalized, so any kind of snake we would act on." The snakes will be used to train four Jack Russell terriers and terrier mixes to search for snakes that could enter Hawaii by plane, ship or cargo carrier. Brown snakes invaded Guam and nearly killed the island's bird species, Ho said. Hawaii has several species of birds protected and threatened with extinction.

Panama: City frogs and tropical forest frogs do not sing the same tune, the researchers found. One study examined why Panama's tiny tungsae frogs adapt their mating mating in urban areas – an unexpected example of how animals change communications strategies when cities invade forests. These frogs take advantage of the relative absence of predators spying on the cities to distribute longer love songs, which are more appealing to female frogs. Tungara frogs do not croak like American frogs. For human ears, their distinctive call sounds like a low-frequency video game beep. For female frogs, it sounds like pillow talk. Every afternoon, at sunset, the 2.5cm brown male frogs crawl into puddles to serenade potential partners. The female toad selects a partner largely based on her love song.
Researchers have found that urban frogs call faster, more frequently and add more ornaments – a series of staccato "mandrels" at the end of the initial lament – compared to those in the forest. These sophisticated urban love songs are three times more likely to attract women, as scientists have learned by reproducing recordings of city and forest toad calls to a female frog audience in a laboratory. Thirty of 40 female frogs jumped to the loudspeaker tapping the calls of urban frogs, the researchers report in the magazine. Nature Ecology and Evolution.

North Korea: The Trump government has imposed sanctions on three North Korean officials for human rights abuses in the isolated country. US officials say the sanctions are intended to draw attention to "brutal" censorship and human rights abuses, as well as the death of the American captive Otto Warmbier. The Treasury Department says officials have important roles in government agencies previously placed under sanctions. It has not been clear what role anyone has had in treating the 22-year-old Ohio student who died after being detained in North Korea last year. The sanctions freeze all US assets that employees may have and make it illegal for any US entity to carry out financial transactions with them.

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