Health, Science and Environment

Updated at 8:40 p.m. ET

SpaceX has launched NASA's planet-hunting satellite TESS into outer space Wednesday evening from Cape Canaveral.

Tess — short for Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite — will spend two years searching for planets near bright, nearby stars. The satellite was launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

The launch window was narrow — just 30 seconds — and TESS was to be deployed into orbit about 48 minutes after launch.

Gene therapy is showing promise for treating one of the most common genetic disorders.

Results of a study published Wednesday show that 15 of 22 patients with beta-thalassemia who got gene therapy were able to stop or sharply reduce the regular blood transfusions they had needed to alleviate their life-threatening anemia. There were no serious side effects.

The words "dog" and "fog" sound pretty similar. Yet even a preschooler knows whether you're talking about a puppy or the weather.

Now scientists at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D.C., have identified a two-step process that helps our brains learn to first recognize, then categorize new sounds even when the differences are subtle.

The Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia has seen two massive bleaching events over the span of two years. And that's led to a widespread die-off of the corals, according to a new study.

Each night, all over the ocean, swarms of animals wriggle and kick their way from deep below the waves to feed at the surface. Each creature is tiny — less than a centimeter long, and sometimes much smaller — and there are trillions of them.

New research suggests this nightly migration might be helping mix the ocean on a grand scale, sending columns of water down as the animals swim up. It's a radical idea, and one that is just starting to take hold among scientists who study the oceans and who have long assumed that wind and waves, not animals, are the drivers of ocean-mixing.

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