May 16, 2009 in Nation/World

Hubble gets refurbished gyros

 

Spacewalking astronauts had to put a refurbished pair of gyroscopes into the Hubble Space Telescope after a brand new set refused to go in Friday, but scientists were satisfied nonetheless and confident the observatory would point precisely to ever more distant objects in the cosmos.

Replacing the gyroscopes was the top priority of the repair mission, and the struggle had NASA on edge for two hours.

Thanks to the spacewalkers’ effort, Hubble ended up with four brand new gyroscopes and two refurbished ones that were original 19-year-old telescope parts, said to be almost as good as the new ones. The telescope also got fresh batteries.

Los Angeles

Judge blocks Wal-Mart store

A San Bernardino Superior Court judge on Thursday rebuffed Wal-Mart’s plan for a Supercenter in the desert city of Yucca Valley, partly on the grounds that the giant retailer failed to take measures to reduce its impact on global warming.

Environmentalists had been pressuring Wal-Mart to install solar panels to provide electricity for its proposed 184,000-square-foot store. But the retailer said the estimated 7,000 metric tons per year of planet-heating greenhouse gases that would result from the store’s operation was too insignificant to require such measures under the California Environmental Quality Act.

Judge Barry Plotkin, relying on contrary evidence from state air quality officials, found otherwise, in a case that signals a growing legal consensus that climate change must be considered by businesses and governments promoting new developments.

The judge ordered city officials to examine the feasibility of an “environmentally superior ‘green’ Wal-Mart supercenter alternative.”

Yucca Valley Town Manager Andrew Takata said city officials are “disappointed” with the court ruling, but that plans for the new store would proceed, either through an appeal or by revising the environmental impact statement.

Warren, Mich.

Police zap large stuffed cat

The fluff was flying when police in suburban Detroit zapped a large stuffed cat with a stun gun while responding to an emergency call about a cougar on the loose.

A 911 caller reported seeing what looked like a cougar inside a piece of discarded drain pipe in Warren. Police zapped the cat with an electronic weapon on Monday, but they wound up with a bunch of fluff.

The Detroit Free Press reports the stuffed animal was apparently placed in the pipe as a hoax. The Macomb Daily of Mount Clemens reports the caller said it was a 150-pound cat.

About 10 officers responded to the cat call. Warren Police Commissioner William Dwyer says the department is “out there to keep the community safe.”

From wire reports


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