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Our Daily Planet: Space Shuttle Endeavour's Launch Forecast and the Morganza Spillway Opens

Each weekday morning, OurAmazingPlanet takes the pulse of the Earth, reporting on natural phenomena and exploration news from around the globe.

Update: Endeavour launched successfully for the last time and is en route to orbit. Complete coverage here.

Shuttle Launch Forecast: The weather seems to be cooperating with Endeavour's planned launch today (launch time 8:56 a.m. ET), with just a few clouds near the launch pad. Follow the action on NASA TV and on our sister site,

Flooding Sacrifice: Federal engineers opened more floodgates in the Morganza Floodway on Sunday, potentially flooding homes and farms in order to spare larger cities. See video of the floodgates opening. [Related: What Is to Blame for the Mississippi River Floods? ]

Butterfly Rebound: After decades of decline, some of Britain's most threatened butterflies are fluttering back to health. [Related: Extreme Weather Strikes Blow to Monarch Butterflies ]

Quake Drill: The Midwest can look forward to a huge earthquake in the future along the New Madrid fault. States are testing their preparedness today in a massive national disaster drill. [Related: Earthquake Drill in Midwest: Prudent of Silly? ]

Previously on Our Daily Planet: Shark Fin Ban and Birding World Series

Reach OurAmazingPlanet staff writer Brett Israel at Follow him on Twitter @btisrael.

Brett Israel was a staff writer for Live Science with a focus on environmental issues. He holds a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology from The University of Georgia, a master’s degree in journalism from New York University, and has studied doctorate-level biochemistry at Emory University.