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INNOVATIONS

The pick of the (cat) litter

ST. BONIFACIUS, MINN - The cat-litter industry is being shaken by a new product that doesn't just mask foul odors, it eliminates them.

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Known variously as Crystal Clear Litter Pearls, Ultra Pearls, and Pearl Fresh, the new litter locks up odors in hard little white beads of specially designed silica gel. It's unscented, dust free, nontoxic, and biodegradable. The pearls soak up cat urine, absorbing the moisture and odor from solid waste. The water starts evaporating almost immediately, but the odor-causing molecules remain trapped inside the pearls.

SCIENCE

When good satellites go bad...

PASADENA, CALIF. - NASA has tentative plans to send the Galileo spacecraft on a suicide plunge into Jupiter's atmosphere. Were it left to drift alone, the probe might crash on the moon of Europa, which some believe has a life-harboring liquid ocean beneath its icy crust, and would contaminate it with Earth organisms. Galileo has been orbiting the solar system's largest planet since 1995, but is running low on fuel. The spacecraft's electronics have also encountered three times more radiation than originally anticipated. No date has been set for the mission's end.

ENVIRONMENT

Whale-sanctuary plan nixed

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - A proposal for a 4.7-million-square-mile whale sanctuary in the South Pacific failed to win enough support among international authorities at the 40-nation International Whaling Commission meeting this week. Australia, New Zealand, and the United States were among 18 nations that favored the plan. Eleven opposed it, including Japan, Norway, and six Caribbean nations. Others abstained from voting. If the proposal had been approved, about half the world's oceans would have been off-limits to whaling.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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