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The Space Shuttle Discovery's landing pushed back.
If humans are going to live on Mars, we're going to need to learn how to grow plants in the planet's thin atmosphere, poor soil, severe cold, and total lack of water. This environment will put plants into a severe state of stress and shut down their metabolism, but NASA scientists think they've got strategies to help them cope. By introducing genes from extremophile microbes that can withstand severe changes in environment, scientists are hoping to modify plants so they won't shut down their metabolism in response to stress.
The Space Shuttle Discovery's landing has been pushed back to Tuesday because of low clouds above Florida's Cape Canaveral on Monday. All three primary landing sites will be activated on Tuesday, so the shuttle can potentially land at Cape Canaveral, Edwards Air Force Base in California, or White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico. Weather forecasters are expecting similar weather in Florida for Tuesday, so it's likely Discovery will have to use an alternative site. The first landing attempt will be at 0907 UTC (5:07 am EDT).
NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) is set to launch in just a couple of days - its launch window opens up on Wednesday, August 10 at 1153 UTC (7:53 am EDT). If all goes well, the spacecraft will blast off on top of an Atlas V-401 rocket with Russian-made RD-180 engines. When it finally reaches Mars in a few months, MRO will begin a series of 514 aerobraking maneuvers, where it skims through the top of the atmosphere to slow down its velocity and bring it into its final science orbit.
During its recent flyby of Mimas, Cassini found the Saturnian Moon to be heavily battered and bruised by impact craters; it's the most heavily bombarded of Saturn's moons. It also got a perfect image of Mimas' Hershel crater, which is 140 km (87 miles) across, and makes the Moon look like the Death Star. By analyzing the impact craters, scientists hope to calculate how many impacting asteroids moved through the region early in the life of our Solar System.
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