February 20, 2013

    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Canada to Launch Asteroid-Tracking Satellite

Developed for just $11 million

The Canadian Space Agency will launch the first satellite specifically designed to monitor near-Earth asteroids next month. William Harvey, the CSA's project manager, said that the system, dubbed NEOSSat, would provide advance warning about possibly dangerous asteroid impacts.

"It's an ever-growing problem," said Harvey in an interview with Yahoo!. "The more we send out, the more traffic there is, the more need for situational awareness. Just like you have on the road, you want to make sure your lanes are clear and things are going in the right direction."

NEOSSat has garnered interest as much for its tiny $11 million budget as for its groundbreaking mission. The satellite is slated to launch from India next week.

Via New Scientist


    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Hamilton: Doping Turned Urine Black

Received bad blood transfusion

Professional athletes who are still weighing blood doping—and it seems that there will always be a few—can now add black urine to their list of cons. Tyler Hamilton, former pro cyclist turned whistle blower, gave a detailed account on Tuesday of his dealings with suspected PED supplier Eufemiano Fuentes. Speaking via video uplink in Washington, D.C., Hamilton told the court about bags of blood snuck into Tour de France hotels and his trips with other cyclists to see Fuentes in Madrid.

At one point, Hamilton described a 2004 incident in which Fuentes accidentally brought him a bad batch of blood. The team doctor oversaw the transfusion, but Hamilton knew something was wrong. "The reason I knew that was because 30 or 40 minutes later when I went to the bathroom,” he said, “The urine was black.”

According to Hamilton, Fuentes charged 25,000 euros a year to carry out the transfusions. Hamilton would leave fresh samples of his blood with the doctor that could later be put back into his body. Hamilton alleged that Fuentes might have given him blood that was either tampered with or had belonged to someone else entirely.

Hamilton was caught doping in 2004 and 2009. He was given two separate suspensions for two and eight years, respectively. After recieving his second sentence, he chose to retire.

Read more about Tyler Hamilton and his new book The Secret Race.


Oscar Pistorius.     Photo: Karva Javi/Flickr

New Testimony in Pistorius Case: PEDs Found (Update)

Evidence of fighting and violence

Several details provided by the prosecution during Wednesday's bail hearing appeared to be at odds with sprinter Oscar Pistorius' Tuesday affidavit of the killing of his girlfriend. A South African investigator said Reeva Steenkamp, Pistorius' girfriend, was shot from a high angle. In an affidavit read Tuesday, the double amputee sprinter said that he fired shots through his bathroom door after getting out of bed without his prosthetics on.

On Tuesday, Pistorius said he woke up in the dark and headed toward the bathroom because he thought there was an intruder in the house. On Wednesday, the prosecution presented a statement from a witness who said they saw a light on when the first shot was fired. Another witness said there was talking that sounded like fighting between 2 and 3 a.m. coming from the home.

The prosecution also presented evidence of violence in Pistorius' recent past, according to the New York Times.

According to police detective Hilton Botha, Mr. Pistorius accidentally fired a weapon at a restaurant in January and persuaded a companion to take responsibility. He had also threatened violence in another incident in an altercation about a woman.

South African police also said they found two boxes of testosterone and needles in the home of Oscar Pistorius after investigating the death of his girlfriend, according to the New York Times. The lawyer for Pistorius said the boxes contained herbal supplements.

South African police said Pistorius was a flight risk and should not be granted bail. A decision on bail may come tomorrow.

UPDATE: Check out Deadspin's detailed account of the back and forth between the prosecutors and the defense.


Arapahoe Basin in Colorado is a popular ski destination.     Photo: Jeffrey Beall/Flickr

Skiers Triggered A-Basin Avalanche

15 skiers caught

A group of 14 skiers led by a patroller triggered an avalanche on Saturday at Arapahoe Basin in Summit County, Colorado, according to a preliminary report from the Avalanche Information Center.

According to the Denver Post, the skiers were carried down the slope by an avalanche that was 330 feet wide and, in some spots, almost 12 feet deep. The snow buried one man, but no serious injuries were reported. Ski patrol removed a skier from the mountain by toboggan due to a knee injury.

The west side of Montezuma Bowl, where the avalanche took place, is still closed to the public, but the east side has been reopened.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center lists nine avalanche deaths in the U.S. this season. At this time last year, there had been 13.

Read about the Stevens Pass avalanche that killed three at this time last year.


    Photo: sagriffin305/Flickr

USOC Seeks Interested Cities for 2024

Letters sent to 35 city mayors

The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) has sent out 35 letters to city mayors to gauge interest in a bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics. Following failed bids from New York City (2012) and Chicago (2016) to host the Summer Games—a process that cost around $10 million—the USOC says it's focusing on making this "a thoughtful but more efficient process."

In the letter, USOC CEO Scott Blackmun wrote:

Our objective in this process is to identify a partner city that can work with us to present a compelling bid to the IOC and that has the right alignment of political, business, and community leadership.

According to ESPN, the 25 largest cities in the country along with 10 others received letters. "This letter does not guarantee that the USOC will bid for the 2024 Games," according to the committee, "but rather is an initial step in evaluating a potential bid."

The United States has not hosted an Olympics since the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, which, you may or may not know, was organized by noted "sport" enthusiast Willard Mitt Romney.