Europe, Japan send spacecraft on 7-year journey to Mercury

The European Space Agency’s (ESA) first mission to Mercury blasts off with a trio of craft heading to the planet closest to the Sun. (AFP)
Updated 20 October 2018
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Europe, Japan send spacecraft on 7-year journey to Mercury

  • Once the spacecraft arrives in late 2025, it will release two probes that will independently investigate the planet

TOKYO: European and Japanese space agencies say an Ariane 5 rocket has successfully lifted a spacecraft into orbit for a joint mission to Mercury, the closest planet to the sun.
The European Space Agency and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency say the BepiColombo spacecraft successfully separated and was sent into orbit from French Guiana early Saturday to begin a seven-year journey to Mercury.
The mission is complicated by the intense gravity pull of the sun, forcing the spacecraft to take an elliptical path that involves two fly-bys of Venus and six of Mercury itself.
Once the spacecraft arrives in late 2025, it will release two probes that will independently investigate the surface and magnetic field of Mercury.


Amputee Sumatran tiger gives birth to cubs

Updated 22 January 2019
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Amputee Sumatran tiger gives birth to cubs

  • The gender of the two cubs is yet to be determined
  • There are less than 400 Sumartan tigers remaining in the wild as they are losing their habitats to deforestation

PADANG-LAWAS, Indonesia: A Sumatran tiger with an amputated paw has given birth to a pair of cubs in Indonesia, amid fears for the future of the critically endangered species.
Gadis — whose name means girl in Indonesian — delivered her babies at the Padang Lawas conservation area in North Sumatra about a month ago, conservationists say.
The tiger mom has been undergoing rehabilitation since her paw and part of her leg were amputated two years ago after getting caught in a trap for catching wild boars.
“Gadis... has now recovered and is healthy, giving birth to the two cubs,” said reserve head Parta Basmeli Siregar.
The sex of the two cubs has not yet been established, he added.
Sumatran tiger births are rare and the species is considered critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
There are fewer than 400 left in the wild and environmental activists say they are increasingly coming into conflict with people as their natural habitat is rapidly deforested.