India’s low-budget Mars probe snaps an iconic photo of the red planet


India's plucky little Mars probe is back in the headlines after snapping a stunning picture of Earth's closest celestial neighbor.

The photo, taken with the Mangalyaan probe's Mars Color Camera, was snapped at a distance of 46,292 miles — almost the maximum distance the probe reaches in its orbit of Mars. The highly elliptical orbit comes as close as 227 miles before zooming out to 49,710 miles at its furthest point, according to a report from

The probe's mission is expected to last between six and 10 months and is renowned for its low cost, just $74 million — or a little more than a tenth of the cost of the NASA Mars mission that entered orbit a few days earlier.

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US oil exports are booming — and gasoline prices should be falling soon

The US set another record in July — exporting more than 400,000 barrels of oil every day, something that was virtually unheard of just a few years ago. The US has long had a policy of making it almost impossible for domestic oil supply to be exported — it's only allowed with a special export license. But the licenses have become increasingly common for oil producers sending oil to Canada where it can be refined. The US hasn't exported this much oil since March 1957.

The surge in exports — up from 104,000 barrels per day in July 2013 — is directly related to the surge in US domestic oil production, which is linked to technological changes like fracking. All of this increased domestic oil production, as well as production increases in other countries, has led the global price of oil to fall more than $20 a barrel in the past month. That fall should be showing up in the price you pay for gasoline at the pump this fall. The Wall Street Journal has more.

Honeybee colonies might be collapsing because of a suicidal bee impulse

In 2006, scientists were confronted with the sudden death of massive numbers of honeybees. They gave the phenomenon a name — Colony Collapse Disorder — but they had no idea what was causing it. To date, they still don't know. And while they've tested any number of theories — mites, chemicals, pollution, habitat loss — none seem to totally fit.

Their latest theory is that some combination of factors is triggering an instinctive suicidal response in honeybees — perhaps causing them to kill themselves away from the hive to prevent the spread of disease. At this point, it's still guesswork. PRI's The Takeaway looked at the current research in the field and the prospects for finding what exactly is endangering the lives of honeybees and threatening the global food supply.

ISIS has changed its tactics to minimize the impact of US airstrikes

The launch of US and Western airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria was supposed to bring the terrorist organization to heel — stopping its campaign of violent extremism from spreading any further. Now it seems ISIS, which calls itself the Islamic State, may have adapted its tactics before US airstrikes began and largely avoided serious impact from them.

The BBC reports that ISIS forces have rolled up their checkpoints, turned off their cell phones, abandoned their headquarters and switched from driving convoys of armored US trucks to riding motorcycles, all in an effort to deny US forces the sort of targets that would be appealing for Western airstrikes. ISIS leaders have even released a new memo, outlining new restrictions on the use of technology during battles, meant to deny intelligence to US military planners.

This board game gives you a taste of life in communist East Germany

A German museum is making waves by re-releasing a board game that mimics life in East Germany during the Cold War. The game, called Bürokratopoly, is something like Monopoly, except players compete to accumulate power rather than money.

The game rewards players for corruption, rigged elections, rigid conformity and other tactics that were common in the communist era. The game was originally released during the Cold War — and its dissident creator drew scrutiny from the East German secret police for it.

PRI's The World talked to the social media manager at the DDR Museum in Berlin, the museum responsible for re-releasing the game. To win, players have to rise from a position as a simple worker to the position of the General Secretary, with many stops along the way. The museum says it will teach a new generation about East German history.

What we're seeing on social

Weather around the world

Northeastern Spain and southeastern France were drenched on Monday, with areas reporting up to a foot of rain in 24 hours. In Montpellier, France, 10 inches fell in just three hours, leading to widespread flash flooding, according to a report from Al Jazeera. The River Lez overflowed its banks, though no deaths were reported. In neighboring Spain, there was less rain overall, but 10 people reportedly died due to flooding.

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