For the first time since 1972, America is going to send people to the moon. The big difference this time is they're going to stay. NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine wrote a bold essay that envisions astronauts exploring the moon with new technology and using the lunar surface as a base to explore Mars and other destinations. He added, "That's the mandate we've been given by President Donald Trump and a supportive bipartisan Congress. This is an exciting time to be leading America's space program." The plan hinges on a new orbiting outpost called the Lunar Gateway that would allow astronauts to reach the moon and return at will. For now, NASA is discussing the Gateway and commercial cargo moon deliveries with nine US companies. The plan: set foot on the lunar surface within a decade. Bridenstine writes: "This time, when we go to the moon, we will stay." And the best part is Saturn is going to pay for it. (Sky News)
100 Years From Now- No Insects?
Imagine a world insect free? A new report published in New Scientist says indeed, insects could completely disappear in as early as the next 100 years, dragging global ecosystems into a catastrophic collapse. Massive declines have already been seen in large animals, but insects are going extinct eight times faster than birds, mammals, and reptiles. While collapses in insect populations had been previously reported in Germany and Puerto Rico, this new report points to a global problem. The single largest cause of insect decline is loss of habitat. Other factors include widespread pollution, including insecticides used in farming to factory emissions. Insects are a vital food source for birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish, meaning their disappearance could have dramatic, cascading effects. One researcher says, "If the insects disappear we're gonna disappear, too. The whole agricultural system depends on insects that are most vulnerable to extinction to control the other insects which compete with us for our crops." The report's authors recommend a "rethinking of agricultural practices, in particular a serious reduction in pesticide usage." (The Guardian)
Was That Wrong? (Alabama Edition)
It took long enough but an Alabama church has finally removed a pew honoring Confederate President Jefferson Davis, saying the memorial had no place at a time when rebel symbols have been adopted by white supremacists. The pastor of St. John's Episcopal Church, Robert C. Wisnewski Jr., posted a message on the church website saying the wooden pew was dedicated more than 90 years ago at a service featuring a pro-lynching segregationist. After learning of the pew's history at a recent planning retreat, church leaders voted to remove the pew from the sanctuary and place it in the church archive. Wisnewski wrote, "The mission of our parish is diametrically opposed to what these symbols have come to mean." The mostly white church is in Montgomery, where Davis lived briefly before the Confederacy moved its national capital to Richmond, Virginia, in 1861. (ABC News)
Terror in the Skies
It's about as scary as it gets when it comes to air travel: Police in Alaska say a 16-year-old boy grabbed the controls of a small commuter plane and sent the aircraft into a steep climb, followed by a steep dive, before a female passenger subdued him. The pilot then retook control of the Piper Cherokee 6 and landed it safely. The teen ran away upon landing, but police arrested him the following day. His motive for the stunt was unclear. The incident took place on a Yute Commuter Service flight between the communities of Napakiak and Bethel, a four-minute journey so short that locals often joke about it. For some reason, the teen had been sitting in the front passenger seat when he took control of the aircraft's yoke. A woman sitting behind the teen then pulled him away from the controls in a headlock. As of now, YCS is not planning on implementing any new safety features to prevent a repeat incident. (KYUK News)
Uranus Doesn't Look So Good
If you're a stargazer, maybe you've noticed, Uranus doesn't look so good these days. There's a massive white cap on the seventh planet from the sun, which may seem alarming, but as planetary scientists are learning, this is what a prolonged summer looks like on the remote ice giant. New images released by the Outer Planet Atmospheres Legacy (OPAL) show evolving atmospheric events on both Neptune and Uranus. A long-term side project of the Hubble program, OPAL is an annual effort to map these two planets when their orbital paths bring them closest to Earth. "The yearly observations are helping us to understand the frequency of storms, as well as their longevity," says Amy Simon, a scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center who leads the OPAL mission. The large white cap strewn over the north pole of Uranus is particularly dramatic. It's mostly caused by Uranus' unique tilt, which causes sunlight to shine directly onto the north polar regions for an extended period of time during the summer. It's currently mid-summer at Uranus' north pole, resulting in the protracted white cap. Often overshadowed by their larger cousins, Jupiter and Saturn, these distant ice giants are proving to be fascinating in their own right. We're now all on the edge of our seat to see what next year's OPAL observations tell us about Uranus. (Gizmodo)
Next Time Maybe Just Try Tinder
Meanwhile in Missouri, 40-year-old Amy Murray fell in love - with a man serving life in prison. She's a prison nurse so you can it least kind of see how it could happen. Despite his current predicament, she wanted to marry the guy. Only problem was, she was already married. Unfortunately, police say the only way she could see clear to get free was to murder her own husband, Josuha Murray - allegedly. So now Amy Murray has been charged with first-degree murder and she may very well soon start serving a life sentence of her own. At first it appeared Joshua Murray died in a house fire, but investigators say that fire was deliberately set and Joshua Murray was already dead, poisoned with antifreeze, when the flames broke out. Police say Murray killed her husband because she wanted to marry Eugene Claypool, an inmate at her workplace, the Jefferson City Correctional Center. According to recordings of prison phone conversations, Murray, who has an 11-year-old son, told Claypool that she wanted to divorce her husband. But she later told the inmate she could marry him because her husband was dead and "out of the picture." Claypool has been behind bars since 2001 for the murder of a 72-year-old lottery winner. He and Murray also discussed hiring an attorney to secure his early release. Won't much matter now. (KRCG)
What the What?
With Valentine's Day looming later this week, one proactive mom has been relentlessly trying to find a date for her son. The unidentified mother has been so persistent that police at Towson University in Maryland have warned female students about her behavior. Campus police released an "incident advisory" asking for the community's help to identify the woman - who they say continues to scour the school library looking for a date for her boy. She's described as in her 50s and was spotted approaching students in two campus buildings last week. Her M.O> is to show young women a cellphone picture of her son and then ask if they would consider dating him. Now that the story has started going viral, many people have started expressing their deepest sympathies towards her son. While she technically hasn't committed a crime, police way they'd like to meet with the mother to kind of tell her to cut it out. (Metro)