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Comets visible to the unaided eye.


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Comets visible.
Comets visible to the unaided eye come along every two years or so.

Opportunity Rover Grinds Away.

Having made the drive up to the "El Capitan" region of exposed rock, NASA's Opportunity rover ground away the surface of part of it with its rock abrasion tool (RAT). It then examined the spot with its alpha particle X-ray spectrometer for five hours, and then swapped in its Moessbauer spectrometer, which will analyze for 24 more hours. After Opportunity transfers this data back to Earth, it will move slightly forward, and grind another spot to gather more data about the formation of this rocky outcrop. scientists back on Earth are getting closer to understand what could have formed this layered bedrock.

Effects of Space Radiation.

Michael Foale and Alexander Kaleri are scheduled to head outside the International Space Station during the night of February 26/27 to perform a nearly 6 hour spacewalk. As part of this spacewalk, they will install what looks like a mannequin to the outside of the station. This is the Matroshka experiment facility, and it's designed to measure the amount of radiation a human will receive in various parts of their body. Tomorrow's spacewalk will be the first time astronauts have ventured outside the station without someone inside to monitor their progress and assist if there's a problem.

Getting a Greenhouse to Work on Mars.

One key to the long-term exploration of Mars will be figuring out how to get plants to grow there in greenhouses - they're natural factories for air and food. Since they evolved on Earth, they have no mechanism for surviving in low pressures, which would be a requirement for off-planet greenhouses; they think they're drying out even when there's plenty of water. One solution might be to biochemically adjust levels of hormones that initiate the drought instinct.

Two Comets Will Soon Be Visible.

Comets visible to the unaided eye come along every two years or so. This time, though, there are going to be two comets visible at the same time: comets C/2001 Q4 (NEAT) and C/2002 T7 (LINEAR). Comet NEAT will pass the closest to Earth on May 7, 2004 at a distance of 48 million kilometres, and will be visible near the horizon just after sunset. Comet LINEAR will make its closest pass on May 19 at 40 million kilometres. Comet NEAT is expected to be the brighter comet, brightening to magnitude 1 or 2 in late April. This will make it visible in even polluted city skies.

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