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NASA

NASA Running Low On Fuel For Space Exploration 282

Posted by timothy
from the let's-explore-earth-for-more dept.
smooth wombat writes "With the end of the Cold War came warmer relations with old adversaries, increased trade and a world less worried about nuclear war. It also brought with it an unexpected downside: lack of nuclear fuel to power deep space probes. Without this fuel, probes beyond Jupiter won't work because there isn't enough sunlight to use solar panels, which probes closer to the sun use. The fuel NASA relies on to power deep space probes is plutonium-238. This isotope is the result of nuclear weaponry, and since the United States has not made a nuclear device in 20 years, the supply has run out. For now, NASA is using Soviet supplies, but they too are almost exhausted. It is estimated it will cost at least $150 million to resume making the 11 pounds per year that is needed for space probes."
Television

Confusion Reigns As Analog TV Begins Shutdown 434

Posted by kdawson
from the how-not-to-do-it dept.
As TV stations across the country switch off their analog signals, uncertainty reigns. Some 691 stations will have converted to digital broadcasting by midnight tonight (some interpreted the mandate as going digital by Feb. 17, not during Feb. 17, and shut down yesterday). This represents about a third of TV broadcasters nationwide. No one can say how many of the estimated 5.8 million households unready for the transition are in areas served by the stations that are switching now. The FCC added to the uncertainty by imposing extra conditions, making it unclear until last Friday exactly which stations would be switching at the beginning of the transition period. The article quotes a former analyst at Barclays Capital who said the whole process has been "botched politically."

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