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Ozone hole swells

GENEVA—The Antarctic ozone hole has swelled this month to one of its biggest sizes on record, U.N. and U.S. scientists say.

They insist the Earth-shielding ozone layer remains on track to long-term recovery but residents of the southern hemisphere should be on watch for high UV levels in the weeks ahead.

NASA needs better handle on health hazards for Mars

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. NASA needs to get cracking if it wants to keep its astronauts alive and well on missions to Mars, according to an in-house report issued Thursday.

In an extensive audit, NASA’s inspector general office looked at the space agency’s overall effort to keep astronauts safe during lengthy space missions ‚Äî especially trips to Mars, currently targeted for the 2030s.

UN weather body: Antarctic ozone hole expands due to cold

GENEVA The U.N.’s weather body says unusually cold high-altitude conditions have expanded the Antarctic ozone hole to one of the largest sizes on record, though the long-term trend remains one of shrinkage.

The World Meteorological Organizations notes regular, year-to-year variations in the hole, but says the expansion shows “we need to remain vigilant.”

Conservationists are thrilled: 6th new baby born to Puget Sound orca pods

SEATTLE Puget Sound’s endangered resident orcas have welcomed yet another new addition.

The Center for Whale Research in Friday Harbor confirmed on its Facebook page this weekend that a newborn orca designated as J53 was seen travelling Saturday in Haro Strait with a 38-year-old orca known as Princess Angeline.

‘Death Star’ gobbling object

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.—A white dwarf star in the constellation Virgo turns out to be a “death star” worthy of “Star Wars.”

Astronomers announced yesterday they have discovered a rocky object coming apart in a death spiral around this distant star.

They used NASA’s exoplanet-hunting Kepler spacecraft to make the discovery, then followed up with ground observations.