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Reuters Science News Summary

16 Sep 2020 / 13:00 H.

    Following is a summary of current science news briefs.

    Scientists create gene-edited animals as 'surrogate sires' to boost food production

    Scientists have created gene-edited pigs, goats and cattle to produce sperm with traits such as disease resistance and higher meat quality in what they say is a step towards genetically enhancing livestock to improve food production. The animals, created for the first time by researchers in the United States and Britain using a gene-editing tool called CRISPR-Cas9, could be used as "surrogate sires", essentially sterile blank slates that could then be transplanted with stem cells that produce the desired sperm, the scientists said.

    China sends satellites into space in first sea-based commercial launch

    China has successfully sent nine satellites into orbit in its first commercial launch of a rocket from a platform at sea, state media reported on Wednesday. The satellites, one of which belonged to video-sharing platform Bilibili, were deployed by a Long March 11 rocket from the Yellow Sea on Tuesday, media reported.

    California wildfire threatens Mount Wilson Observatory and communications hub

    Firefighters waged an all-out ground and air campaign on Tuesday to save the famed Mount Wilson Observatory and an adjacent hub of communications towers from a wildfire roaring through rugged peaks overlooking the foothill suburbs north of Los Angeles. Flames from the blaze, dubbed the Bobcat Fire, crept to within just 500 feet (152 meters) of the evacuated observatory grounds during the day, said David Dantic, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

    Flu outbreaks may be linked to COVID-19; arthritis drug benefit seen

    The following is a roundup of some of the latest scientific studies on the novel coronavirus and efforts to find treatments and vaccines for COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus. Flu may be linked with coronavirus spread

    Potential sign of alien life detected on inhospitable Venus

    Scientists said on Monday they have detected in the harshly acidic clouds of Venus a gas called phosphine that indicates microbes may inhabit Earth's inhospitable neighbor, a tantalizing sign of potential life beyond Earth. The researchers did not discover actual life forms, but noted that on Earth phosphine is produced by bacteria thriving in oxygen-starved environments. The international scientific team first spotted the phosphine using the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope in Hawaii and confirmed it using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) radio telescope in Chile.

    European space agency signs deal for asteroid defence mission

    The European space agency (ESA) signed a deal worth 129 million euros ($154 million) on Tuesday to make a spacecraft for a joint project with NASA looking at how to deflect an asteroid heading for Earth. NASA is due to launch a spacecraft in June 2021 set on a collision course with the Dimorphos asteroid to test whether it would be possible to nudge objects that might be threatening Earth onto a safer path.

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