Weather service names new chief
After weathering more than its share of budget storms, the National Weather Service is turning to one of the nation's premier storm experts to become its new leader. Louis W. Uccellini will become the weather service's director, effective Sunday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, its parent agency, announced Thursday. The appointment was welcomed by members of the forecasters' union, the National Weather Service Employees Organization, who have had a sometimes fractious relationship with the bosses. "I think everybody is pretty excited," said union president Dan Sobien. Uccellini, 63, a Long Island native, has had a long career with the weather service. After getting his doctorate at the University of Wisconsin and doing a stint at NASA, Uccellini joined the agency in 1989.
Mars rover drills test hole in rock
The Curiosity rover has drilled a test hole in a Martian rock in preparation for the real thing. Images released Thursday by NASA showed a ring of powder that was generated by the drill at the end of the rover's robotic arm. The hole measured less than an inch deep. Scientists planned to analyze the latest activity — dubbed a "mini drill test" — before commanding Curiosity to drill deeper. One of its major tasks is to drill into a rock and transfer the ground-up powder to its onboard laboratories for analysis — a first on Mars.
Reid's hometown is up for sale
The tiny Nevada town that's home to one of the most powerful men in Congress is up for sale. The main properties in Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's hometown of Searchlight, Nev., went on the market this week for just under $5 million. The 88-year-old woman who owns the Searchlight Nugget casino, a motel and a former brothel, says she's ready to retire to Montana. Broker Fred Marik says the town about an hour south of Las Vegas draws tourists on their way to Lake Mojave.