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It was the first ever landing on a comet, and it was perfect.

Unfortunately, that wasn't the end of the journey for the European Space Agency's unmanned Philae lander. After touching down on Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, the lander bounced off the surface and flew a kilometer back up into space.

Everyone has days in which we wonder if much of anything works. Websites crash. Screens blink, go blank, or taunt: I'm sorry. Try later. We have an unusually high volume of calls. Download to update. Click here if you've forgotten your password.

But for a couple of hours on an afternoon this week, people got glimpses of excellence.

With America Recycles Day Saturday, Massachusetts environmental officials are celebrating the Commonwealth’s new commercial food waste ban – the first statewide ban in the nation. The state’s Commissioner of Environmental Protection will visit the Red Lion Inn to see how the renowned hotel is shipping its food waste to a nearby farm.

Philae, the lander currently on comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, may not be able to perform its extended mission — scientists at the European Space Agency worry that the probe may have landed in a spot too shadowy for solar panels to recharge its batteries. The ESA says it may not be able to contact the craft after Friday night.

Worries over the robotic lander's power supply prompted engineers to take the risky step of activating its drill, an operation that had been shelved out of fears that it would sap the remaining charge.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

We take certain things for granted. Like the mountains, rivers and rocks around us.

So what made Connecticut look the way it looks today? As you kayak on the Connecticut River, drive over Talcott Mountain, or swim in Long Island Sound...there are millions of years of history underneath you.

As you may be aware, there's a hot new space movie now in theaters — Interstellar. Here's the premise: It's just a little bit in the future, conditions have become pretty horrible on Earth and some astronauts head out in search of a new planet for humans to inhabit.

In a head-spinning step, a handful of researchers from Cambridge, England, are experimenting with one of man's oldest building materials — the kind from trees — instead of steel as the primary structure for big buildings. And they're aiming really, really high.

Flickr Creative Commons / why 137

A new agreement between China and the United States to reduce carbon emissions will send strong signals to the global community, according to a Wesleyan professor who has studied climate change for the Obama administration.

The European Space Agency made history on Wednesday morning, landing the first man-made object on the surface of a comet. 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is shutting down cod fishing, from Provincetown, Mass., up to the Canadian border, in an effort to reverse plummeting numbers of the iconic fish in the Gulf of Maine.

Starting Thursday, no fishermen — commercial or recreational — may trawl or use certain large nets that might catch cod for the next six months. Local cod fishermen, who now face an uncertain future, say the government hasn't done enough to maintain cod populations, and they challenge NOAA's cod counts.

Wikimedia Commons

Polar vortex is a phrase you've probably heard a lot, but what does it actually mean?

"I think, sometimes, people sort of misunderstand the polar vortex and they think it's this giant amoeba of cold that sits over the North Pole that just gets dislodged and heads right over Chicago," said Ryan Hanrahan, meteorologist at NBC Connecticut. "That's not really what happens."

Humans have never landed anything on a comet's surface. That may change tomorrow.

The European Space Agency's Rosetta mission is poised to send out a small probe to land on a comet known as 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Rosetta spent 10 years chasing the comet before arriving in August.

Jessica Whittle / Creative Commons

One of the most basic functions of local government is to protect its citizens. We talk with a panel of local firefighters who do just that.

When a fire breaks out, many Connecticut towns have volunteer forces that go to the rescue. What draws firefighters to this profession that includes a lot more than just fighting fires? Some Connecticut firefighters are even taking it a step further, and are going out west to help fight forest fires.

iStock / Thinkstock

With the gubernatorial election one week away, lots of issues are on the minds of voters: the economy and jobs, taxes, gun policy, and education -- but what about climate change? 

Robert Snache/flickr creative commons

Paul Bogard, the author of the paperback, The End of Night, went on a journey in search of something rare in America and Europe—true darkness. He wanted to have the jaw-dropping experience of looking up at the night sky to see uncountable stars and planets that we seldom see due to light pollution.

Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPR

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has given people until this Monday to comment on a $613 million plan to finish a toxic waste cleanup of the Housatonic River.

Wavian / Creative Commons

It’s been almost two years since Hurricane Sandy tore her way through the Northeast -- leaving behind a trail of destruction throughout much of our region. 

Adam Gault/Photodisc / Thinkstock

When you think of ways to combat climate change, a few things probably jump to mind. Clean energy. Recycling. But investments?

Steven Thomas / NPS

The state's wildlife action plan aims to provide management options for animals and plants that don't quite qualify for federal protection. Take for instance the Northern Long-eared bat or New England Cottontail rabbit. They're not listed on federal endangered species lists, but their numbers have dropped in recent years due to things like disease and habitat loss.

If you've got decisions to make at the meat counter (or at a burger joint) and want to do right by the environment, you have a couple of options.

You could skip the beef entirely, which is what some environmental groups say you should do. Or you could go for meat with a "grass-fed" or "organic" label.

Patrick Skahill / WNPR

Gina McCarthy, head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, visited Connecticut on Tuesday.

It was a homecoming of sorts for McCarthy, who was commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Protection from 2004 to 2009. 

Kevin Burgio

Kevin Burgio remembered the first time he saw monk parakeets. He was out bird watching "and I ran across this puddle that had like five or six monk parakeets drinking from it," he said. "I'm like, what the hell is that? Did someone lose, like, five parrots? I didn't know there were parrots here."

Kenneth Lu / Creative Commons

Last month, hundreds of thousands showed up for the People’s Climate March in New York City, the largest climate march ever seen in U.S. history. There, climate activists worked their way through the busy streets of New York, calling on Americans to act on global climate change. Today, we talk to someone who was at the march. We’ll also preview today’s Climate Stewardship Summit at the University of St. Joseph.

Also, radio personality Gerri Griswold and Icelandic singer-songwriter Lay Low join us to talk about the upcoming Iceland Affair and Fire and Ice Music Festival.

Flickr Creative Commons / kennymatic

The Connecticut Energy Marketers Association is a trade group representing about 600 heating oil and propane dealers. In a complaint, it alleges the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection didn't adequately assess the environmental impact of Governor Dannel Malloy's Comprehensive Energy Strategy, which plans to add 900 miles of natural gas pipelines in the state.

Patrick Skahill / WNPR

When you think of environmentally beneficial landscapes, the land beneath power lines might not be at the top of your list, but new research is highlighting this habitat's importance in conserving a wide array of plant and insect life.

If you missed the total eclipse of the moon in April, you might have another chance: On Wednesday morning, the second of four lunar eclipses this year and next will occur.

A trio of scientists, two from Japan and one from the U.S., will share the Nobel Prize in physics for the invention of blue light-emitting diodes (LEDs), which led to a new, environmentally friendly light source.

Isamu Akasaki and Hiroshi Amano of Japan and U.S. scientist Shuji Nakamura were selected by the committee of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences to share the 8 million Swedish kronor ($1.1 million) prize.

Nobelprize.org says:

Patrick Skahill / WNPR

It's the fall trout-stocking season for Connecticut's rivers and streams. I met up with a team of scientists and volunteers to learn more about the journey trout take from hatchery to stream.

Everyone loves dolphins. They're adorable, playful and super-intelligent, often called the geniuses of the ocean.

But recently some researchers have begun to question that last notion. When it comes to brainpower, dolphins might not be as special as you might think.

In a recent piece for New Scientist, Caroline Williams rounds up some of the dissenting opinions.

Manhattan's Central Park is surrounded by one of the densest cities on the planet. It's green enough, yet hardly the first place most people would think of as biologically rich.

But a team of scientists got a big surprise when they recently started digging there.

They were 10 soil ecologists — aka dirt doctors. Kelly Ramirez from Colorado State University was among them. "We met on the steps of the natural history museum at 7 a.m. with our collection gear, coolers and sunblock," she recalls.