Scientists find key to unlock oxygen from moon's surface

Following the discovery of water on the Moon by an instrument aboard India's recently ended Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft, researchers from Nasa and Case Western Reserve University have found a key to unlocking oxygen from the surface of the moon, which would help make a space outpost possible in the future.

Scientists from Nasa and Case Western Reserve are designing and testing components of an oxygen generator that would extract the element from silicon dioxide and metal oxides in the ground.

They have designed sifters needed to produce a consistent supply of oxides.

To find out how the sifters would work in the moon's gravity, which is about one-sixth as strong as the Earth's, Katie Fromwiller, a senior civil engineering student, and Julie Kleinhenz, an assistant research professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering, spent two days flying in high arcs off the Texas coast last month.

This was Fromwiller's first trip on the plane, which space researchers refer to as the "vomit comet," due to the unsettling ride.

Inside the plane, the pull of gravity approximated the moon's weak gravity during the rapid drop in each arc. The riders felt twice the pull of the Earth's gravity on the way back up. During two runs, they floated in zero gravity.

Nasa wants to learn how to work with the soils, and Fromwiller's focus is geotechnical engineering. She teamed with Kleinhenz, a veteran of more than 1,000 hours on the vomit comet.

Nasa engineers were testing other components of the oxygen generator on the same flight.

According to Kleinhenz, Nasa has plans to build a system that includes a rover that would dig, carry and dump moon soil into a hopper or holding vessel.

Sifters would separate particles by size, collecting those that can be converted most efficiently. The particles can also be separated by composition.

The wanted particles would then be blown into a reactor with hydrogen and heated to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. At this time, the oxygen released from the oxides would attach to the hydrogen and be collected.

David Zeng, Frank H Neff Professor and Chair of Civil Engineering from the Case School of Engineering and one of the principal investigators of the study, and his team, are continuing to analyse data produced over the two days. Ultimately, Nasa will decide which kind of device to use in the oxygen generator.

PM set to address UN assembly in Bangla

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is going to be the second head of Bangladesh government to address the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in mother tongue today.

In 1974, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, father of Hasina, addressed the UNGA in Bangla as the prime minister of Bangladesh.

After that, former prime minister Khaleda Zia addressed a special UN session on children in Bangla in 1992.

Hasina will be the third head of Bangladesh government to address any UN session in Bangla, said sources at the Prime Minister's Office.

Hasina is scheduled to address the assembly as the eighth speaker between 8:00pm and 12:00am Bangladesh time.

Morgan, Collingwood guide England to victory

Eoin Morgan steered England to a morale-boosting six-wicket victory over Sri Lanka with a solid half-century in the Champions Trophy here on Friday.

England achieved a 213-run target on a lively track with five overs to spare in the day-night match, thanks to Morgan (62 not out), man-of-the-match Paul Collingwood (46) and Owais Shah (44).

South Africa and Sri Lanka now have one win apiece from two games in the four-team group, while England were playing their first match after being thrashed 6-1 by Australia in a recent home one-day series.

New Zealand have lost their opening match. The top two sides will make it to the semi-finals.

"You can take a lot from victories like this. Our players played without fear and if we continue to do that we can be a good team," said England captain Andrew Strauss.

"Collingwood, Shah and Morgan played brilliantly. The key was not to lose too many early wickets. It was a sensible and professional chase."

Sri Lankan spinners Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis, who were expected to keep the pressure on England, could not make an impact on a pitch which hardly helped slow bowlers.

England's win was set up by pacemen James Anderson (3-20), Stuart Broad (3-49) and Graham Onions (2-58) who bowled well to restrict Sri Lanka on a seamer-friendly track.

They were struggling at 19-2 when they lost openers Strauss and Joe Denly, but Collingwood put the innings on the right track with a vigorous counter-attack.

Paceman Nuwan Kulasekara did the early damage when he removed Strauss (nine) and Denly (five) in his sharp opening spell. Strauss fell pulling, with Thilina Kandamby taking a superb one-handed catch at short mid-wicket.

Collingwood then eased the pressure with his attractive cameo, advancing down the pitch to swing Kulasekara over mid-wicket for a six and then smashing the next two deliveries for boundaries.

He did not spare seamer Angelo Mathews, hitting two boundaries in an over and later swung Lasith Malinga for two sixes. His flourish ended when he inside-edged a Malinga delivery on to his stumps.

"It's good when you contribute to the team's victory. The way Anderson took wickets early on was crucial. Morgan did very well to see the boys home. We negated their spinners well," said Collingwood.

Shah was involved in two partnerships, adding 63 for the third wicket with Collingwood and 76 for the next with Morgan.

Morgan then batted steadily to see England home, hitting seven fours in his seventh half-century in one-day internationals.

Kandamby and Mathews earlier hit impressive half-centuries under pressure as Sri Lanka recovered from a horror start to post a competitive total.

Sri Lanka were struggling at 17-4 before Kandamby (53) and Mathews (52) led the fightback with an 82-run stand for the sixth wicket.

"It was a good total. Thilan Samaraweera, Kandamby and Mathews played well," said Sri Lanka skipper Kumar Sangakkara.

"We have a lot of homework to do before the next game. We played well, but need to be flexible. This wasn't a typical one-day track, but we had to build a good score."

It was a rare sporting gesture by Strauss that allowed Mathews to resume his innings after he was run out.

Mathews turned Onions to square-leg and completed the first run before colliding with the bowler going for a second, with wicket-keeper Matt Prior effecting the run out after receiving the throw.

The Sri Lankan batsman stood briefly at the pitch before walking back to the pavilion, but Strauss called the batsman back.

Mathews, who was then on 51, failed to make the most of the opportunity as he added just one run more to his score before being caught behind off Luke Wright.

Kandamby added 64 for the fifth wicket with Samaraweera (30) and 82 for the next with Mathews.

Three killed in 'shootouts'

Three criminals, including an outlaw, were killed in 'shootouts' with law enforcers in the capital, Kushtia and Bagerhat today.

Two policemen also received bullets during the gunfight in Bagerhat.

The dead were identified as Johnny, 32, a wanted in a number of cases, Mohon Malitha, 45, a leader of Purbo Banglar Communist Party (PBCP-ML) and Fashiur Rahman Shanu, 45, ringleader of pirates gang 'Shanu Bahini' of Sundarbans.

Johnny was killed in a gunfight with police near Kallyanpur Balur Math in the city at about 3:00am, officer in-charge of Mirpur Police Station Mizanur Rahman told The Daily Star.

Police recovered one revolver and three bullets and seized a private car from the scene.

The OC claimed Johnny was a member of criminal Bikash group in Mirpur area.

His body was sent to Dhaka Medical College Hospital at 3:30am.

Other details about the incident could not be known immediately.

In Kushtia, Mohon Malitha was killed in a ‘shootout’ between his cohorts and Rapid Action Battalion at Lalnagar village in Daulatpur upazila, reports our Kushtia correspondent.

Acting on a tip-off, Rab-12 raided Lalnagar where PBCP cadres, led by Mohon, was holding a meeting at about 4:00am.

The Rab men cordoned off the area and asked the outlaws to surrender. But the criminals opened fire forcing them to fire back that triggered a gunfight.

Later, the body of Mohon was found lying on the spot while his associates managed to flee the scene.

Rab recovered one pipegun and one bullet, two bombs and two knives from the spot.

Mohon was accused in seven cases, including six for murder,

Daulatpur police said.

Our Khulna correspondent adds: Shanu was killed in a gunfight with police at Nandabala Canal in Mongla upazila of Bagerhat.

Officer in-charge of Mongla Police Station Kazi Jalaluddin told The Daily Star that police, on information, raided the Nandabala Canal where the pirates were taking preparation to commit a robbery at about 7:00am.

Sensing presence of the law enforcers, the pirates opened fire prompting them to retaliate.

Shanu, accused in a number of cases, including murder, was caught in the line of fire and died on the spot. His associates however managed to flee the scene.

Constable Zakir Hossain and Havildar Abu Musa received bullet wounds during the gunfight. They were admitted to Mongla Upazila Health Complex.

Ctg BCL faction demands punishment of city mayor

A group of workers of Bangladesh Chhatra League today termed Chittagong City Mayor ABM Mohiuddin Chowdhury 'a collaborator' and demanded his punishment for holding meeting with BNP leader Salauddin Quader Chowdhury.

About 150 BCL men loyal to Awami League leader AZM Nasir Uddin brought out a procession in the afternoon and burnt effigies of Mohiuddin Chowdhury and Salauddin Quader Chowdhury in front of Chittagong Press Club.

“We demand trial of Mohiuddin Chowdhury for collaborating with an 'identified war criminal' when Awami League was preparing to try and punish the war criminals," said BCL leader Hasan Murad Biplob.

The protest was staged three days after Mohiuddin Chowdhury, also the president of AL Chittagong city unit, held a meeting with the BNP lawmaker at his city residence Tuesday night.

Biplob said Chittagong city unit of AL and BCL would announce further protests from a condolence meeting of late AL adviser and former labour minister MA Mannan scheduled for September 30.

He said they would launch a campaign and collect signatures to press for trial and punishment of the mayor.

The meeting between Mohiuddin and SQ Chowdhury drew protests from a faction of BNP too.

A group of BNP activists reportedly loyal to BNP Joint-Secretary General Abdullah Al Noman from a rally on Thursday also demanded expulsion of SQ Chowdhury from the party.

Rab detains 141 in city

Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) detained some 141 people in an overnight raid in the city following a bomb hoax near the Gulshan puja mandap.

Commander AK Azad, director of Rab's Legal and Media Wing, told The Daily Star that Rab launched the special drive to ensure full-proof security during the Durga Puja.

Most of the arrestees are snatchers, muggers and drug addicts, sources said.

A rumour spread that an Arges grenade was found near the Gulshan puja mandap in Banani last night.

However Officer In-charge of Gulshan Police Station Kamaluddin said that the object contained no explosive.

Suicide bombs kill 12 in Pakistan

Two suicide car bombs killed at least 12 people and wounded dozens in separate attacks in northwest Pakistan on Saturday, just days after the Taliban warned more suicide strikes were coming if the military pressed forward with an army offensive.

Pakistan's mountainous, lawless northwest region along the Afghan border — where the government holds little control — is a favored area for insurgents to plan attacks on US and Nato troops in Afghanistan, as well as on Pakistani security forces and government workers.

A bomb detonated outside a bank affiliated with the army in Peshawar, the capital of North West Frontier Province, killing at least six people and wounding dozens more, police chief Liaquat Ali Khan said.

An Associated Press reporter at the scene saw vehicles overturned by the blast, buildings gutted and glass scattered everywhere. Most of the casualties were customers in the bank or people loitering outside.

"We saw body parts in the car and our investigation confirms it was a suicide attack," said Malik Shafqat, a police official in Peshawar.

A suicide blast also hit a police station in the province's Bannu district earlier Saturday, killing at least six people and wounding nearly 70 others, police said. The Taliban claimed responsibility for that attack.

The latest strikes came two days after the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan said it was ready to stage more suicide attacks in the region after it was ousted from the Swat Valley in July by an army offensive.

Qari Hussain Mehsud — known for training Taliban suicide bombers — warned of more attacks in an AP interview at a secret location in North Waziristan on Thursday, just hours before US missiles hit the area and killed 12 people.

"We have enough suicide bombers and they are asking me to let them sacrifice their lives in the name of Islam, but we will send suicide bombers only if the government acts against us," he said in the interview.

The US has fired dozens of missiles from unmanned drones to take out top Taliban and al-Qaeda leaders in the northwest over the past year. Although Pakistan routinely protests the strikes, it is widely believed to secretly cooperate with them.

A CIA drone attack felled former Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud on Aug 5.

Qari Hussain Mehsud phoned the AP to claim responsibility for the police station attack Saturday. "We have broken the silence as the government did not understand the pause in attacks, and from now there will be an increase in the number of suicide bombings," he warned.

He urged civilians to stay away from police and security force installations.

Taliban attacks surged in the region last week. Militants ambushed a convoy of prominent anti-Taliban tribal elders in Bannu district on Thursday, spraying their cars with gunfire and killing nine people. Pakistani authorities have urged tribal elders to speak out against the Taliban, and in turn the militants have killed scores of local leaders.