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NASA’s Parker spacecraft rockets toward sun for closest look

AP Associated Press

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CAPE CANAVERAL — NASA has launched a spacecraft to the sun which will fly closer to our star than anything ever sent before. The Parker Solar Probe rocketed away from Cape Canaveral, Florida, early Sunday.

The spacecraft is on an unprecedented quest that will take it straight through the wispy edges of the corona, or outer solar atmosphere, just 3.8 million (6 million kilometers) from the sun’s surface that was visible during last August’s total solar eclipse.

It will eventually stay comfortably cool despite the extreme heat and radiation allowing scientists to vicariously explore the sun in a way never before possible.

Saturday morning’s launch attempt was foiled by last-minute technical trouble and postponed by a day.

But what better day to launch to the sun than Sunday, as NASA noted.

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“Fly baby girl, fly!!” project scientist Nicola Fox of Johns Hopkins University tweeted just before lift-off. She urged it to “go touch the sun!”

“All I can say is, ‘Wow, here we go.’ We’re in for some learning over the next several years,” said Eugene Parker, the 91-year-old astrophysicist for whom the spacecraft is named.

It was the first time NASA named a spacecraft after someone still alive, and Parker wasn’t about to let it take off without him.

Thousands of spectators jammed the launch site in the middle of the night as well as surrounding towns, including Parker and his family.

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Google fined $6.8 billion by EU over Android mobile system

Thompson Reuters

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BRUSSELS — European Union antitrust regulators have fined Google a record 4.34 billion euro ($5 billion) on Wednesday and ordered it to stop using its popular Android mobile operating system to block rivals, a ruling which the United States tech company said it would appeal.

The penalty is nearly double the previous record of $3.7 billion which the US tech company was ordered to pay last year over its online shopping search service.

It represents just over two weeks of revenue for Google parent Alphabet Inc and would scarcely dent its cash reserves of almost $140 billion. But it could add to a brewing trade war between Brussels and Washington.

EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager denied anti-US bias, and said she very much liked the US.

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“But the fact is that this has nothing to do with how I feel. Nothing whatsoever. Just as enforcing competition law, we do it in the world, but we do not do it in political context,” she said.

Google said it would appeal the fine.

“Android has created more choice for everyone, not less. A vibrant ecosystem, rapid innovation and lower prices are classic hallmarks of robust competition,” it said.

Ms Vestager’s boss, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, is due to meet US President Donald Trump at the White House next Wednesday in an effort to avert threatened new tariffs on EU cars amid Mr Trump’s complaints over the US trade deficit.

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