NASA’s Boomerang-Like Aircraft, Kid Athletes Excel in Class, Citrus and Skin Cancer

Posted July 1st, 2015 at 10:00 pm (UTC-4)
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Boomerang-Like Aircraft Could Help NASA Find Landing Sites on Mars

NASA has built a prototype of what it hopes to be the first aircraft to fly on Mars sometime in the 2020’s. Shaped like a boomerang, the flying wing Prandtl-m will be rather small, with a 61 cm wingspan, and weighing only about 454 grams. The designers are planning to send the drone-like aircraft to Mars in a Cube Sat – a miniaturized satellite. Once deployed in the Martian atmosphere, the aircraft can glide down and land.

NASA plans to use the Prandtl-m to fly around Mars to look for possible landing sites for a future manned mission and send back to Earth detailed high resolution images that could tell scientists about the suitability of those landing sites. NASA is planning to test-launch the Prandtl-m from a high altitude balloon later this year.

 Kids Involved With Sports Programs Do Better in the Classroom

A new study led by scientists at the University of Montreal and the CHU Sainte-Justine Children’s hospital found that encouraging children to participate in structured extracurricular sports can help them develop the discipline needed to be successful in the classroom.

The researchers’ analyzed information provided by the parents and teachers of children enrolled in kindergarten. Scientists monitored children’s extracurricular activities as they grew up and compared their success on the field with their classroom success. They found that by fourth grade, children who participated in a structured sport program were better at following their teacher’s instructions and were able to remain more focused in the classroom than those who didn’t take part in extracurricular sports.

 Citrus Fruits May Make Us More Susceptible to Skin Cancer

A new study published online by the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s Journal of Clinical Oncology found that frequent consumption of citrus fruits could be associated with an increased risk of melanoma – skin cancer.

After analyzing the eating patterns of more than 100,000 Americans, the researchers noticed that people who ate or drank citrus products, specifically whole grapefruit and orange juice, at least 1.6 times a day, had 36 percent higher risk of melanoma than those who limited their citrus intake to less than twice a week. Despite the findings, the researchers say it’s too early to recommend changes to people’s citrus consumption.

 ESA’s New Leader Assumes Duties

The European Space Agency – ESA – has a new leader. Johann-Dietrich Woerner who was appointed by the space agency last December, began his new duties as Director General on July 1. He succeeded Jean-Jacques Dordain, the longest-serving Director General, who led ESA since July 2003. Along with overseeing ESA’s ongoing programs and missions, Woerner intends to play an active role in developing the space agency’s plans for the future, which he calls Space 4.0. Before he was appointed to his new position, Woerner served as Chairman of the Executive Board of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) from March 2007 to June 2015.

Rick Pantaleo
Rick Pantaleo maintains the Science World blog and writes stories for VOA’s web and radio on a variety of science, technology and health topics. He also occasionally appears on various VOA programs to talk about the latest scientific news. Rick joined VOA in 1992 after a 20 year career in commercial broadcasting.

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