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SATELLITE TO COLLECT X-RAYS IN SPACE

A new NASA science satellite carrying an X-ray telescope to explore the mysteries of black holes and other celestial phenomena has been rolled out by prime contractor TRW Inc. The Chandra X-ray Observatory, designed to detect X-ray sources billions of light years away from Earth, will be launched next spring aboard space shuttle Columbia.

"Chandra will collect X-ray emissions from the very edges of the universe, revealing the cataclysmic forces that shaped our universe -- black holes, collapsing stars, exploding stars, dark matter," said Don Winter of TRW's Space & Electronics Group.

The satellite is named after the late astrophysicist Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, who won a Nobel Prize in 1983 for studies of physical processes considered essential to the structure and evolution of stars. Chandra means moon in Sanskrit.

TB medicine skipped

Most people in danger of developing tuberculosis don't take their medicine, a new study says, despite efforts to eliminate the deadly lung disease.

Researchers from Atlanta found that between 1994 and 1996, only 20 percent of people who had positive TB skin tests followed the prescription that would prevent the disease from flaring up. A positive skin test signals that a person has been exposed to the tuberculosis bacterium.

The population screened in the study came from jails, homeless shelters, a public clinic and neighborhoods known for heavy traffic from drug users. Of the more than 7,000 people who were screened, only 65 percent came back to have their skin test read; 17 percent of them were positive. Only 20 percent of those who were prescribed medicine for six months to a year followed doctors' orders.

The findings, described in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, mean that public health experts should consider incorporating shorter rounds of drugs in TB prevention programs. Recent studies have suggested that new two-month and four-month programs are effective.

-- Dallas Morning News

Worry mounts for wolves' safety

EL PASO, Texas (Reuters) -- Four more Mexican wolves were to be released this month in New Mexico and Arizona, but officials fear they may suffer the same fate as five other wolves shot and killed since the program designed to reintroduce the species began, authorities said.

Thirteen endangered Mexican wolves have been released into the Apache National Forest in New Mexico and Arizona since last March, as part of a program to return the native predators to the Southwest. Five of the 13 were shot illegally, one disappeared, and one pup died after its mother was shot, officials said.

The Mexican wolf reintroduction program sparked a firestorm of protest from farm and ranching associations concerned that the wolves would kill area livestock. But David Parsons, coordinator of the Mexican Wolf Recovery, said no livestock has been killed since the program began.

All wild Mexican wolves were killed during extermination programs in the United States and Mexico 50 years ago, leaving none in the wild anywhere, Parsons said.

Unlike previous wolf reintroduction programs -- including the program in Yellowstone National Park -- Mexican wolves were all bred in captivity and fed on dog food, making their survival rate in the wild perilous even without the threat of guns.

Experts study how Titanic sank

BLEN ECHO, Md. (AP) -- A group of marine experts hopes that sinking a five-foot-long scale replica of the Titanic will help investigations of modern shipwrecks. The Titanic sank off Newfoundland April 15, 1912, after it hit an iceberg on its maiden voyage from England to New York. More than 1,500 of the 2,224 people on board died.

In August, a forensic panel assembled by the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers took detailed photos of the Titanic's remains. Last month, they gathered at the U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center to study how it sank, placing the model in a huge Cold War-era naval research tank.

Analyzing shipwrecks requires "reverse engineering," William H. Garzke Jr., a naval architect at Gibbs & Cox Inc. of Arlington, Va., and founder of the panel, told the Baltimore Sun. That means looking at the wreck and distinguishing the damage caused by its plunge and collision with the bottom from what triggered the sinking.

The Titanic project is sponsored by RMS Titanic Inc., which holds salvage and exploration rights to the ship, and is financed by the Discovery Channel, which is filming a television documentary on the panel's research. The documentary is scheduled to air April 25.