Atlantis’s last mission countdown begins
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., May 11 (UPI) — The countdown to the launch of space shuttle Atlantis started Tuesday as controllers reported to their stations at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The countdown clocks started counting back from the T-43 hour mark at 4 p.m. EDT toward the start of the shuttle’s last mission into space. The STS-132, 12-day mission to the International Space station will include three spacewalks and the delivery of an integrated cargo carrier and a Russian-built research module.
Atlantis’s six astronauts arrived at Kennedy Monday evening, landing in four T-38 jets. The crew members Tuesday reviewed flight day file material and took part in a checkout of their orange launch-and-entry suits.
At Launch Pad 39A, technicians closed Atlantis’s payload bay doors in preparation for Friday’s 2:20 p.m. EDT launch.
“Teams at the Kennedy Space Center and at other centers around the country have been working very hard to get this vehicle ready to fly, and I am happy to report everything is going quite well at (the launch pad),” NASA Test Director Steve Payne said. “Atlantis, crew and launch team are ready to go and looking forward to a beautiful launch Friday afternoon.”
Myeloid leukemia linked to alcohol
MINNEAPOLIS, May 11 (UPI) — Drinking alcohol during pregnancy could increase the risk of acute myeloid leukemia, French researchers found.
Julie Ross of the University of Minnesota — who was not involved in the study but is an editorial board member of the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, the journal in which the findings were published — said acute myeloid leukemia is rare and there are about 700 cases each year in the United States.
“It’s quite rare, so we want to be careful about worrying parents too much,” Ross said in a statement.
Lead researcher Paule Latino-Martel, director at the Research Center for Human Nutrition in France, and colleagues analyzed 21 case studies of acute myeloid leukemia. Alcohol intake during pregnancy was associated with a 56 percent increased risk of acute myeloid leukemia in children. The risk of acute myeloid leukemia was higher in children ages 0-4, but was no significant association with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Ross and Latino-Martel said the findings should strengthen the public health recommendation against alcohol consumption by pregnant women.
“Despite the current recommendation that pregnant women should not drink alcohol during pregnancy, alcohol consumption during pregnancy is 12 percent in the United States, 30 percent in Sweden, 52 percent in France, 59 percent in Australia and 60 percent in Russia,” Latino-Martel said in a statement.
AccuWeather: Bad hurricane season possible
STATE COLLEGE, Pa., May 11 (UPI) — The upcoming hurricane season may be a very active period for the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf coastlines, AccuWeather.com’s chief hurricane forecaster says.
Meteorologist Joe Bastardi MondayTuesday reiterated his preliminary hurricane forecast issued in March, predicting 16-18 storms during the June 1-Nov. 30 season. He noted during only eight years in the 160 years of records have 16 or more storms formed in a season.
He also said he expects an early start of the season, with one or two hurricanes forming by early July and additional threats extending well into October.
He forecasts at least six of the storms will impact the United States.
“From the standpoint of number of storm threats from the tropics to the U.S. coastline, we will at least rival 2008, and in the extreme case, this season could end up in a category only exceeded by 2005,” Bastardi said.
He cited a rapid warming of the Gulf of Mexico and the collapsing El Nino pattern for the heightened forecast activity. Both situations were characteristic of the busy 1998 and record-setting 2005 hurricane seasons.
Bastardi said the Atlantic basin looks textbook perfect for major hurricane activity.
‘Triad’ screens for diabetic retinopathy
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., May 11 (UPI) — U.S. scientists say they’ve developed a machine that allows early diagnosis and treatment of diabetic retinopathy and other potentially blinding diseases.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers said their Telemedical Retinal Image Analysis and Diagnosis technology, known as TRIAD, could be a life-changer for people at risk of diabetic retinopathy and eye diseases.
Officials said the technology — recently licensed to Automated Medical Diagnostics, a Memphis start-up company, by ORNL and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center — can quickly screen for the disease in a doctor’s office or other remote sites, permitting early detection and referral for diabetic retinopathy and other retinal diseases.
“If diabetic retinopathy is detected early, treatments can preserve vision and significantly reduce the incidence of debilitating blindness,” said Professor Edward Chaum at the university’s Hamilton Eye Institute. Chaum and ORNL’s Ken Tobin led the team that developed the device.
“With the TRIAD network, all of the computed diagnoses are sent to an ophthalmologist for review and sign-off of the computer-generated report, much like what is done for an EKG,” Tobin said. “Over time, our hope is that the number of reports requiring physician review will be reduced as the performance of the TRIAD network is proven through clinical testing.”
The research also included scientists from the University of North Carolina and the Delta Health Alliance.
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