Dust storm on Mars not affecting rovers
PASADENA - NASA is tracking a regional dust storm on Mars, but says it has not affected the operations of its two rovers on the surface.
The space agency said Wednesday that the storm raging in Mars' southern hemisphere was spotted earlier this month by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter circling overhead.
The storm came within 840 miles of Opportunity's location. On the opposite side of the red planet, a weather station aboard NASA's newest rover, Curiosity, detected changes in air pressure and overnight temperature related to the storm.
Scientists want to learn more about Martian dust storms, including why some morph into storms that blanket the planet.
'Dirty Jobs' TV show gets a pink slip
LOS ANGELES - There are countless dirty jobs, and someone's got to do them - but now we won't get to see Mike Rowe trying his hand at them: Discovery is pulling the plug on on its reality series "Dirty Jobs."
Rowe, the show's host, creator and executive producer, announced the news in a blog post Wednesday.
"A few weeks ago, I was officially informed that 'Dirty Jobs' had entered into a new phase," he wrote. "One I like to call, 'permanent hiatus.' Or in the more popular industry vernacular, canceled."
The series, which spanned eight seasons, involved Rowe stepping into the shoes of American laborers with weird, strange or difficult jobs.
The series is the second to be canceled by the network this month. Last week came word that "American Chopper," about father-and-son motorcycle builders, would be coming to an end after 10 years.
New Hendrix album has unreleased songs
LOS ANGELES - A new Jimi Hendrix album is coming March 5.
The musician's website says "People, Hell and Angels" contains 12 previously unreleased tracks recorded in 1968 and '69.
Rolling Stone revealed the album cover on its website Wednesday.
Hendrix recorded the songs apart from the Jimi Hendrix Experience as he considered new, experimental directions for his follow-up to "Electric Ladyland."
Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island stay shut
NEW YORK - The National Park Service says the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island will not reopen to visitors this year.
Both sites have been closed since superstorm Sandy hit the region Oct. 29. Cleanup and repairs have been ongoing.
The Statue of Liberty itself received little or no damage. The pedestal and base, including the main floor and exhibits upstairs, are OK. But docks, a brick promenade, railings and other facilities on Liberty Island were damaged.
At Ellis Island, the storm damaged doors, windows and exhibits in the ferry building, among other sites.
A Park Service spokeswoman said Wednesday that no projected reopening date has been established.
District of Columbia
Dwarf planet lacks an atmosphere
WASHINGTON - Astronomers say Pluto's icy more distant sister seems even more alien than thought because it doesn't have an atmosphere.
Scientists gained that bit of new knowledge about the dwarf planet Makemake by measuring light from data gathered by several large telescopes. Researchers report in the journal Nature that the small planet may simply have some pockets of atmosphere from methane ice turning into gas.
Makemake is one of four dwarf planets in our solar system beyond Neptune. It is so far from the sun that its temperature is about 400 degrees below zero.
More forest dedicated to protecting owl
GRANTS PASS - The last building block of the Obama administration's strategy unveiled Wednesday to keep the northern spotted owl from extinction nearly doubles the amount of Northwest national forest land dedicated to protecting the bird by the Bush administration four years ago.
Still, conservation groups that went to court to force the overhaul said key gaps remain, such as an exemption for private forest lands and most state forests.
The full critical habitat plan will not be published until next week, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that 9 million acres of federal forests in Oregon, Washington and Northern California will come under its provisions.
The Associated Press