Strange, But True | NASA will fly you to the sun – or at least your name

This illustration from NASA shows Parker Solar Probe spacecraft approaching the sun.

This illustration from NASA shows Parker Solar Probe spacecraft approaching the sun.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) – NASA will fly you to the sun – or at least your name.

Now until April 27, NASA is accepting online submissions for this hottest ticket in town. The names will be sent on the Parker Solar Probe all the way to the sun.

Once launched this summer from Cape Canaveral, Florida, the probe will eventually come within 4 million miles of our star, closer than any other spacecraft. Temperatures will reach 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit, as the spacecraft zips in and out of this atmospheric hot zone. Until now, the materials for such a grueling journey were unavailable.

Actor William Shatner, who portrayed Capt. James Kirk in the old “Star Trek” TV series, is NASA’s pitchman for the send-your-name-to-the-sun campaign.

Police: Runaway zebra killed by car in Phoenix suburb

CHANDLER (AP) – Police say a zebra was killed when a number of the animals broke out of the grounds of an Arizona festival and were wandering on a nearby road.

The accident on Wednesday morning occurred near the grounds of the Chandler Ostrich Festival in a suburb of Phoenix.

Chandler police Sgt. Daniel Mejia says the SUV driver was taken to a hospital with minor injuries.

The Ostrich Festival, which will be held this weekend, attracts hundreds of thousands of people. Activities include ostrich races and ostrich-themed activities and a parade.

Florida python devours deer that weighs nearly 4 pounds more

NAPLES, Florida (AP) – Researchers studying invasive Burmese pythons in Florida came upon something they’d never seen before: an 11-foot-long python had consumed an entire deer that weighed more than the snake itself.

The wildlife biologists tracking the slithery creatures stumbled upon the bloated snake in Collier Seminole State Park, and when they moved the creature it began regurgitating a white-tailed deer fawn.

Biologist Ian Bartoszek told the Naples Daily News that the fawn weighed 35 pounds; the snake 31.5.

“We were sitting there just trying to process that an animal this size could get its head around what turned out to be a deer,” Bartoszek said. “It’s surreal to see that in the field.”

Bartoszek said it was the largest python-to-prey weight difference he had measured.

Burmese pythons, which can grow nearly 20-feet long, were brought to South Florida as pets in the late 1970s. They were released into the wild and have become a problematic invasive species.

White-tailed deer are an important food source for Florida’s endangered panthers, so the researchers are concerned the pervasive snakes could also impact the health of the big cats.

If the snake had been left in the wild, it would have digested the entire deer, Bartoszek said.

He said the predator-to-prey size ratio stunned his team.

“It showed my team and myself what we were actually dealing with out there, what this python is capable of,” he told the newspaper.

– Information from: Naples (Fla.) Daily News,

Suspects on the run scale fence, land in police lot, custody

PHOENIX (AP) – Two shoplifting suspects running from police scaled a fence to get away from officers and landed in a secure parking lot of a police station – and in custody.

Officials tell KTAR-FM that officers were called to a gas station for possible shoplifting at 6 p.m. Friday. Authorities say as officers arrived, the suspects, 28-year-old Marwan Al Ebadi and 29-year-old Salma Hourieh, took off running.

The pair ran along the side of a building and jumped a fence, despite a sign for “Peoria Police” above the door.

Security video shows Hourieh trying to hide under a bench before being placed in custody. Al Ebadi climbed back over the fence and was arrested on the street.

Al Ebadi and Hourieh face charges of shoplifting, trespassing in a critical public safety building and drug charges.

It wasn’t immediately known if either is represented by a lawyer.

– Information from: KTAR-FM,

Maryland church offers chance to win salvation, and a car

COLUMBIA, Maryland (AP) – Please God, give me salvation – and a car.

That prayer may have been uttered by more than a few people at a Maryland church on Sunday. That’s because Destiny Church in Columbia handed out five used cars to demonstrate God’s goodness and to attract new members.

The Washington Post reported that the church gave away the cars to increase attendance at its new location. It was the first Sunday at a building in a strip mall for the 7-year-old nondenominational church.

Pastor Stephen Chandler said the predominantly African-American church normally draws up to 1,100 people. This week, the church gave away 2,250 tickets in advance of three services.

The church added a fourth service, which meant it had to buy another car to give away. The fifth car was given to a family in need.

– Information from: The Washington Post,

Man with red sauce on face charged with meatball theft

HAZLE TOWNSHIP, Pennsylvania (AP) – Police say a damning clue led to the arrest of a Pennsylvania man charged with stealing a pot of meatballs – red sauce smeared on his face and clothes.

Authorities in Luzerne County have charged 48-year-old Leahman Glenn Robert Potter with burglary, criminal trespass and theft by unlawful taking for allegedly swiping a pot of meatballs from a man’s garage on Monday.

Police say the victim reported his meatballs missing and told officers at around 2:30 p.m. Monday that he saw Potter standing in front of his house with red sauce on his face and clothes. The pot was found on the street.

It’s unclear if Potter washed the sauce off before he was arrested a short time later.

Potter’s attorney did not immediately respond to a voicemail seeking comment.