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Rosetta Space Probe Gets Interplanetary Wake-Up Call

... That's the message received from a bleary-eyed comet-chasing space probe on Monday, much to the relief of ground-based controllers who sent it a long distance wake-up call after nearly a three-year nap.

The European Space Agency received the communique from deep space on schedule at 1 p.m. ET from Rosetta, some 500 million miles away on a trajectory to rendezvous with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in August. It's been in sleep mode to conserve power.

As we reported last month, Rosetta was launched in March 2004:

"The 6,600-pound spacecraft, which has spent nearly a decade making repeated flybys of Earth and Mars to gain enough speed to catch the comet, was put in hibernation in July 2011, after its last major gravity-assist maneuver. ...

"In August, Rosetta will pull up alongside and on Nov. 11, 2014, is set to place its robotic lander, called Philae (after an island in the Nile River) on the comet's surface."

The Associated Press says:

"Scientists hope the probe's findings will help them understand the composition of comets and thereby discover more about the origins and evolution of our solar system.

"Comets are regarded as flying time capsules because they are essentially unchanged for 4.6 billion years. Scientists have speculated that comets — which are essentially giant, dirty snowballs — may be responsible for the water found on some planets. And like asteroids, comets also pose a theoretical threat to life on Earth."

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Taking Great Photos On Vacation Or "Staycation"

Professional photographers give us the latest on cameras, smart phones and shooting tips for great vacation photos this summer -- and every day.

NPR

For Greece's Farmers, Growing Pressure To Be More Competitive

Greece grows plenty of good agricultural products, but has trouble competing internationally. Many in Greece say it's time for the farm sector to modernize.
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Obama's Trip to Africa & Foreign Aid

By visiting Africa this month, President Obama is drawing attention to one of the diplomatic tools that most directly shapes America's relationships with other countries: foreign aid and assistance. But now all policy makers at home feel the United States is pursuing the soundest strategy when it comes to providing aid abroad. We explore the issue with the official in charge of the Africa portfolio for the United States Agency for International Development.

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Taking Great Photos On Vacation Or "Staycation"

Professional photographers give us the latest on cameras, smart phones and shooting tips for great vacation photos this summer -- and every day.

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