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These are the last images ever taken by NASA's Cassini spacecraft

Published: Friday, September 15, 2017 @ 11:48 AM

With this view, NASA's Cassini spacecraft captured one of its last looks at Saturn and its main rings from a distance on Sept. 11, 2017. The Saturn system was Cassini's home for 13 years.
NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
With this view, NASA's Cassini spacecraft captured one of its last looks at Saturn and its main rings from a distance on Sept. 11, 2017. The Saturn system was Cassini's home for 13 years.(NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

After a remarkable 20-year voyage in space, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft made its grand exit Friday as it disintegrated into Saturn’s atmosphere.

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According to scientists at NASA’s Deep Space Network in Canberra, Australia, Earth received Cassini’s final signal at 7:55 a.m. ET.

One minute earlier, the spacecraft entered Saturn’s atmosphere from about 1,190 miles above the planet’s cloud tops at a speed of approximately 70,000 miles per hour.

At that point, the beloved NASA spacecraft burned up and shortly came apart, officially becoming a part of Saturn itself.

>> Related: NASA responds to 9-year-old’s application for planetary protection job

Scientists chose this dramatic, fiery send-off because they didn’t want to risk Cassini colliding with any of Saturn’s moons.

But it was a bittersweet goodbye for Cassini.

Launched in October 1997, the $3.2 billion collaborative mission between NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency led to a number of monumental discoveries, especially during the Cassini spacecraft’s 13-plus years on Saturn.

>> Related: NASA says it’s not running a child slave colony on Mars

On Thursday, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft took its final images before plunging to its death Friday morning.

Cassini Spacecraft Set To Crash Into Saturn on Sept. 15

'Potentially hazardous' monster asteroid will fly close to Earth

Published: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 2:08 AM

Massive Asteroid Flying Close to Earth

monster space rock classified by NASA as "potentially hazardous" is headed toward Earth.

Asteroid 2002 AJ129 – which at 0.7 miles is wider than the tallest building in the U.S. (New York's One World Trade Center) stacked on top of itself – is predicted to miss our planet, according to Metro. However, it will pass relatively close in terms of outer space.

>> On AJC.com: NASA: Asteroid could destroy Earth in 22nd century

NASA classifies any space object surpassing 459 feet wide and passing within 4,660,000 miles of Earth as "hazardous," according to a 2013 report on the space agency's website. There are about 1,000 such known space objects monitored by NASA.

This asteroid is more than eight times wider than the minimum (3,696 feet) and will pass within just over half the minimum distance (2,615,128 miles) to our planet.

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For a reference point, the moon orbits Earth at a distance of about 238,855 miles.

The giant asteroid is expected to "narrowly" miss our planet on Feb. 4, whizzing past us at a whopping 67,000 miles per hour. It will be the biggest and fastest space object to fly near Earth this year, according to The Daily Star.

WATCH: Meteor spotted in Ohio, Michigan, Canada

Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 7:49 AM

WATCH: Meteor Lights Up Michigan Sky

The fireball lit up the sky just after 8 p.m. Tuesday.

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The dashboard cam video was shared by Mike Austin as he was driving north on I-75 near Bloomfield Hills, north of Detroit, Michigan. 

>> On WHIO.com: 2017 fireball caught on WHIO-TV weather camera

The fireball also was seen from northwest Ohio and southwest Ontario, Canada

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It is not known whether the meteorite dissipated in the atmosphere or made it to the ground or into Lake Michigan.

What is Dry January? Taking a break from alcohol can improve sleep and weight, study says

Published: Thursday, January 04, 2018 @ 11:35 AM



Carl Court/Getty Images
(Carl Court/Getty Images)

The holiday season is officially over, and many are now looking at their New Year’s resolutions, which may include maintaining a healthier lifestyle.

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To get a head start, some are participating in Dry January, a month-long break from alcohol. But how effective is it?

Researchers from the University of Sussex conducted a study, published in Health Psychology, to find out. 

They examined more than 850 individuals who gave Dry January a try. They then followed up with a questionnaire one month later and another six months later.

>> Related: Just one drink a day can increase your risk of cancer, study warns

After analyzing the results, they found that after six months, participants said they drank less and were not getting drunk as much.

In fact, 72 percent of the subjects had maintained lower levels of harmful drinking and 4 percent were still not drinking after six months.

After just one month, about 62 percent reported having better sleep, 62 percent said they had more energy and 49 percent experienced weight loss.

>> Related: Women who use IUDs may have reduced risk of cervical cancer, study says

The changes were also seen for those who did not make it to the end of the challenge. “Even if participants took part but didn’t successfully complete the 31 days, it generally led to a significant decrease across all the measures of alcohol intake,” Richard de Visser said in a statement.

The scientists believe their findings prove the challenge can be used to help reduce drinking long-term, added Emily Robinson, director of campaigns at Alcohol Concern, a U.K. charity to combat alcohol harm.

“This research,” she said, “is the proof of how, with the help, advice and support we offer throughout the month, our model can really change behaviour and reduce drinking.”

Tips For Keeping Your New Year's Resolutions

Canola oil linked to dementia, study says

Published: Friday, December 08, 2017 @ 5:03 PM



David McNew/Getty Images
(David McNew/Getty Images)

Memory loss and confusion are common symptoms of dementia. Now scientists are linking canola oil to the disease in a new report

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Researchers from Temple University recently conducted an experiment, published in Scientific Reports, to determine how the common cooking oil may have an effect on the brain.

To do so, they examined mice that were six months old, dividing them into two groups. One was fed a normal diet, while the other had “a diet supplemented with the equivalent of about two tablespoons of canola oil,” the authors explained. 

After observing the animals for 12 months, they weighed them. They found that the mice on the canola oil diet weighed significantly more than those on a regular diet. 

They then assessed their working memory, short-term memory and learning ability by administering maze tests. They discovered the mice that had consumed canola oil suffered damage to their working memory. The canola oil-treated mice had reduced levels of amyloid beta 1-40, a protein that serves a beneficial role in the brain. 

“As a result of decreased amyloid beta 1-40, animals on the canola oil diet further showed increased formation of amyloid plaques in the brain, with neurons engulfed in amyloid beta 1-42,” the authors said. “The damage was accompanied by a significant decrease in the number of contacts between neurons, indicative of extensive synapse injury. Synapses, the areas where neurons come into contact with one another, play a central role in memory formation and retrieval.”

Their findings suggest canola oil is not beneficial to the brain, especially when it is consumed over long periods of time. Researchers now hope to further their studies to find out exactly how much canola oil can produce changes in the brain and if it can be linked to Alzheimer’s disease. 

“Even though canola oil is a vegetable oil, we need to be careful before we say that it is healthy,” lead researcher Domenico Pratico said. “Based on the evidence from this study, canola oil should not be thought of as being equivalent to oils with proven health benefits.”