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A new University of Georgia study aims to understand how coyotes live in Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama (where they seem to be doing much better than in the West and the North). They’re trying to trap about 160 coyotes and fit them with GPS collars so they can learn how the animals navigate a human-dominated landscape.

How do they coyotes react to being trapped? Find out here.

Top image: Trapper Dan Eaton prepares to release an adult female coyote.

Bottom image: Biologists measure a coyote trapped outside Augusta, Ga.

Credit: Grant Blankenship/Georgia Public Broadcasting

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Cheapshot

iOS app is a real-time real world RPG game where you fight with other players based on your actual location:

Cheapshot is a different kind of game. It is a map-based multiplayer shooter for iPhone. Target opponents in real locations in real time.

You can find out more about the game here

The world’s rain

This is an absolutely spectacular video. One year ago today, NASA launched a new member of its Earth-Observing satellite fleet, the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) satellite (http://tmblr.co/Zyv2Js18hkg0z). Its job; measure rain over the entire planet.

In the 1990s, NASA launched a satellite called TRMM – the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission, designed to measure how much rain falls throughout the tropical regions of Earth. That mission has been extraordinarily successful; it still is collecting useful data to this day.

Beyond just its longevity, the science it has enabled is amazing. If researchers want to study how fast mountains are eroding in the tropics, whether erosion patterns match rainfall patterns, whether pollution is causing a change in rainfall patterns, or how tropical rainfall patterns are impacted by a warming world, the TRMM mission has produced a multi-decade record where the answers may be found.

The GPM mission is the successor to TRMM: using multiple satellites linked together in a system with the GPM satellite as its keystone, it is capable of a more precise measurement and covers almost the entire world rather than just the tropics. This video shows rainfall throughout the world over a 6-month period after GPM launched.

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Discovering your inner GPS

Although we still don’t know the complete story, there are some very strong clues to how birds navigate. But how mammals (including humans) navigate is relatively unexplored. Recent research is however giving some very interesting insights. 

The hippocampus is a sea horse-shaped structure located in the centre of the brain. It is well known for its role in memory formation, but also is important to our sense of direction and navigation. In 1971, John O’Keefe discovered the first element of a mammalian “inner-GPS” when he observed a subtype of neurons in the hippocampus that became active whenever a rat moved to a particular area of a room. These neurons, now known as “place cells” are thought to help rats – and us – build a picture of where we are in our environment.

In 1984, James Ranck made another step in explaining spatial representation in our brains. He found that mammals have “head-direction cells”: cells that fire in response to the specific angle and direction of your head’s orientation in space.

These findings have been important for starting to uncover the neural basis of human navigation (O’Keefe won a Nobel Prize for his research), and a study published just after Christmas has continued to help unravel the mystery of how we navigate

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Delta IV roars into orbit with GPS satellite.

The United Launch Alliance successfully launched the GPS 2F-9 satellite into orbit earlier this afternoon!

As can be seen in the video above, the vehicle lifts off precisely on schedule at 2:36 PM EST from SLC-37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

ATK’s twin GEM-60 Solid Rocket Boosters of the Delta IV M+ 4,2  rocket can be seen on either side of the Common Booster Core. The RS-25 engine that powers the Delta Common Booster Core also flew its final mission today. The remaining flights of the Delta IV will see the upgraded RS-25A engine on the CBC.

The launch of GPS 2F-9 was the 371st flight of a Delta rocket since its inaugural flight in 1960. This was also the 29th flight of the Delta IV Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle, and the 22nd under the United Launch Alliance. 

To see our coverage on the GPS 2F-9 mission, click here.

Check out ULA’s Instagram feed here.