Intermediate Word:  cachexia (a) inability to express ideas  (b) naiveté  (c) wasting away  (d) grapevine fungus infection
Difficult Word: - elide 
(a) to slur over, suppress  (b) to replace  (c) to vertically compress  (d) an emergency aircraft exit

Space Elevator Concept Undergoes “Reel” World Testing - Space.com  This week’s testing involved a 12-foot (4-meter) diameter balloon. Safety lines held by team members kept the balloon from floating away. The ribbon dangling from the balloon was made of composite fiberglass, with the robot lifter running up and down the tether. During the day, the highest altitude reached by the balloon/ribbon/robot combination was 1,000 feet (305 meters). “We are cleared up to one mile high off a tethered helium balloon."    
Intelligent Robots To Be A Larger Part Of Space Exploration - SpaceDaily  Left:  K-9 makes its way over simulated Martian terrain at NASA's Ames Research Center in Mountain View. Chronicle photo by Mark Costantini.  Meet Gromit and K-9. They are the two latest robots NASA is using to help improve space exploration. Although they may look similar to the robots already on Mars, Gromit and K-9 have much more complex, built-in intelligence. Loaded with sophisticated software, cameras and spectrometers, these robots can do in 15 minutes what now takes three days. The goal is to develop many more high-tech robots before the next mission to the moon in roughly 12 more years.  The robots will be able to build habitats for future human pioneers, pinpoint promising target regions for joint human-machine exploration and even warn of potentially dangerous areas that might be OK for a machine, but too perilous for humans to approach. The data can be sent back to Earth almost instantaneously, giving scientists vital information much more quickly. Gromit can even talk with astronauts by voice recognition. 

Like a Hawk, Robotic Plane Rides Thermals - Space.com  Left:  Michael Allen launches UAV by hand   Hawks and eagles glide on currents of rising warm air called thermals to extend their flight time without needing more fuel. NASA aerospace engineer Michael Allen and a team of engineers working on the Autonomous Soaring Project at Dryden Flight Research Center have succeeded in extending the range of small unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) by programming them to autonomously soar on thermals. Once the aircraft started to rise on the current, the engine automatically shut off and the aircraft circled to stay within the convective lift resulting from the thermal or updraft. According to the researchers, the small UAV added 60 minutes to its endurance by soaring autonomously.    

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