Short Science, January 4, 2015

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 04 January, 2015, 7:54am
UPDATED : Sunday, 04 January, 2015, 7:54am

Tropical holiday makes actress Lohan sick

US actress Lindsay Lohan has contracted an untreatable tropical disease. She posted on Twitter and Instagram about coming down with the chikungunya virus, which is spread by mosquitoes and causes debilitating joint pain and flu-like symptoms. Lohan was reportedly vacationing in French Polynesia after wrapping a play in London. French Polynesia suffered its first case of the virus last May, and outbreaks have been reported in other South Pacific area over the past three years. Staff reporter


Monarch butterflies near endangered list

Monarch butterflies may warrant endangered species protection in the US because of farm-related habitat loss blamed for sharp declines in cross-country migrations, the US Fish and Wildlife Service says. Monarch populations are estimated to have fallen by as much as 90 per cent during the past two decades because of destruction of milkweed plants they depend on to lay their eggs and nourish larvae. Reuters


Spacecraft hurtles towards dwarf planet

After voyaging 3.86 billion kilometres, Nasa's Dawn spacecraft is finally on the home stretch to Ceres, the largest member of the asteroid belt and one of five dwarf planets in the solar system. Dawn was launched in 2007 to study two very different asteroids and learn more about our solar system. Ceres is Dawn's second stop - its first was Vesta, which the spacecraft circled from July 2011 to September 2012. Now, after leaving Vesta and travelling through space for more than two years, the spacecraft is roughly 643,737km away from Ceres and speeding toward it at about 724 km/, with a rendezvous set for March 6. At 949.5km across and holding a third of the mass of the asteroid belt, Ceres is large enough that its own gravity pulls it into a spherical shape. TNS