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SCIENCE IN THE NEWS WEEKLY

SpaceX Dragon Splashdown 'Like Seeing Your Kid Come Home'

The privately launched SpaceX Dragon supply ship returned to Earth last week, ending a revolutionary nine-day voyage to the International Space Station with an old-fashioned splashdown in the Pacific. The unmanned capsule parachuted into the ocean about 500 miles off Mexico's Baja California.

In other space news, astronomers have developed a new technique for calculating the masses and ages of old stars based on the masses of the white dwarfs they have become.

The Guardian recounted how the transit of Venus in the 18th century allowed astronomers to measure accurately the size of the solar system for the first time.

And two Colorado companies are working to create a less-costly vehicle to send into the stratosphere. StarLight--a two-stage system with a planelike vehicle suspended below a massive gas-filled balloon--could be the answer to a longtime challenge.


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PODCAST & VIDEO: Engineering Around Extreme Events

Extreme events, such as super floods and hurricanes, are becoming more common, so civil engineers are trying to adapt civil infrastructure such as bridges to these unpredictable and sometimes devastating meteorological events. Engineer Ana Barros discusses how engineering can prepare us for extreme weather events, but also how changing climate and population conditions can affect the ability of infrastructure to hold up over time.

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