Planet-hunter needs repair
LOS ANGELES - NASA's Kepler planet-hunting telescope is broken, potentially jeopardizing a mission that opened up whole new possibilities on life outside the solar system.
If engineers can't find a fix, the malfunction could mean an end to the $600 million mission's planet search, although the space agency wasn't ready to call it quits Wednesday. "I wouldn't call Kepler down-and-out just yet," said NASA sciences chief John Grunsfeld.
NASA said the spacecraft lost the second of four wheels that control the telescope's orientation in space. Over the next few weeks, engineers will try to repair the wheel or find another solution. The telescope could be used for other purposes even if it can no longer track down planets.
Kepler was launched in 2009 in search of Earthlike planets. So far, it has confirmed 132 planets and spotted more than 2,700 potential ones. So far only two planets seem like ideal places for some sort of life to flourish. - AP
Fla. girl won't face charges
A Florida teenager who was accused of igniting a chemical explosion on school grounds - and who became the subject of a social-media campaign on her behalf - will not face criminal charges.
Kiera Wilmot was arrested April 22 and faced two possible felony charges after school administrators reported she combined toilet bowl cleaner and aluminum foil in a bottle, and the resulting gas blew the cap off the plastic bottle.
She told Bartow police she was doing a science experiment; science teachers said they had no knowledge of an experiment.
The Polk County state attorney said Wednesday that the case has been dismissed, but the 16-year-old must complete a diversion program.
The arrest launched an international outcry on social media by people who thought the arrest was unfair. Nearly 200,000 people signed an online petition protesting her arrest.
Let Melvyn do the scratching
RICHMOND, Va. - Call Melvyn Wilson the king of the scratch-off ticket. The Virginia man recently won his fourth lottery prize of at least five figures, putting his total scratch-off winnings at more than $2 million.
The Virginia Lottery said in a news release that Wilson won $500,000 in November 2004, $25,000 in March 2005, and $1 million in September 2005. Then he retired from his job as a postal worker.
Now 72, Wilson hit another $500,000 scratch-off prize on the Millionaire Mania game.
The lottery didn't say how many tickets Wilson usually buys or how often. No one answered the phone at his home Wednesday.
At an event to claim his fourth oversize winning check Tuesday, lottery officials asked what he did with all his winnings. His reply: "I invest in Melvyn."