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Let's All Go to Mars!

January 18, 2004

"There's nothing terribly remarkable about Building 29 at the Johnson Space Center in Houston until you consider that that's where they will be storing Mars—or at least a pretty good facsimile of it," Time magazine reports in its January 18 issue. "Spread out inside the sprawling structure will soon be a dead-ringer Mars base, complete with habitat modules, an extraterrestrial greenhouse and even a ground cover of volcanic dust shipped in from Hawaii—about as close as you can get to real Martian dirt without actually visiting the planet. Astronauts training for a Mars mission could spend up to 600 days in this little village, learning to live in an unfamiliar world at least 35 million miles from Earth."

To read the article, just click this sentence and you'll be transported to the Time website.



On August 27, Mars was as close to the Earth as it had been in 60,000 years or so. The Red Planet is still a nice sight for wistful eyes even as it drifts into the distance. Try to take some time and go out and look at it through binoculars (or a telescope, if you're lucky enough to have one). If you look southwest at about 8 p.m. on a clear night you should have no trouble finding Mars shining brightly in the sky.

The photo above was captured by the Hubble Telescope on Tuesday, August 26, 2003.

Dr. Heather
Spring, 2004



Ready to Rove.

"America's Spirit rover has landed in an arid enclave of Mars that is tantalisingly out of reach of the region's most promising sediments and rocks, dismayed scientists have discovered," Science Editor Robin McKie reports for Guardian Unlimited.

Robot Scientist

A team of U.K. scientists has developed a robot scientist to do their job for them," Gillian Law reports from London. "The robot, and the computer system with which it works, have been developed to help generate hypotheses about the function of particular genes on baker's yeast, and then carry out experiments to test them."

How Cold Is It?

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have cooled a sodium gas to the lowest temperature ever recorded — only half-a-billionth of a degree above absolute zero.


Antimatter Surprises

A solar flare can create up to a pound of antimater, the Astrophysical Journal Letters reports in an overview of a project drawing data from NASA's Reuven Ramaty High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager (RHESSI) spacecraft.