Sakurajima Busts Volcanic Eruption Record

A pair of explosive eruptions Sunday on Mount Sakurajima in Kagoshima Prefecture brought the total to 550 this year, setting a new annual record, the local meteorological observatory said.

Given that the volcano has been erupting roughly twice as frequently since last year, the number of eruptions could reach 1,000, the observatory said.

The previous record of 548 was set last year.

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Japanese space capsule recoverd in Australian Outback

A team of scientists flew to the Australian Outback on Monday to recover a Japanese space capsule they hope contains the first-ever asteroid samples that could provide clues into the creation of the solar system.

The Hayabusa explorer returned to Earth overnight after a seven-year, 4-billion mile (6-billion kilometer) journey, burning apart on re-entry in a spectacular fireball just after jettisoning the capsule. It was the first time a spacecraft successfully landed on an asteroid and returned to Earth.

NASA scientist Scott Sandford said it was a relief to watch the re-entry and see the capsule had successfully detached and parachuted to Earth.

“During a mission critical event like a re-entry, there’s a whole series of things you’ve got to get right to make it work, and they all seemed to have come off without a hitch,” said Sandford, an astrophysicist and one of the team members who will research the samples. “It’s a great testament to the design and operation of the spacecraft.”

An experimental new breast cancer drug made from sea sponges

Paclitaxel pictured is a common chemotherapy drug and taxane.

Three studies show the drug, Eisai’s eribulin, was effective and tolerated in patients with breast cancer, colon cancer and urinary cancer, according to brief data released on Thursday by the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Sarcomas are cancers that grow from muscle or bone.

The drug is not yet approved, but Eisai has filed with relevant agencies in Japan, the United States and Europe.

The drug works on the same principle, but with a slightly different mechanism as older cancer drugs such as the taxanes and is infused intravenously.

Researchers at Aichi Cancer Center in Nagoya, Japan and several other Japanese sites tested eribulin in 81 breast cancer patients whose cancer had come back despite several rounds of chemotherapy.

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Most distant cluster of galaxies from Earth Discovered

A team of Japanese and German researchers says it has discovered the most distant cluster of galaxies from Earth, 9.6 billion light-years away. Masayuki Tanaka, a special researcher at the University of Tokyo, said Monday his team discovered the galaxy cluster after analyzing X-ray data from the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton observatory and near-infrared ray data from the Subaru telescope in Hawaii.

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