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Preparing for Human Mars Missions in Antarctica.


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Image credit: ESA
Preparing for Human Mars Missions in Antarctica

Jun 13, 2003 - Although a human mission to Mars is still years (maybe even decades) away, research is still being done to understand some of the challenges that will be faced on the six month journey to and from the Red Planet. Several space agencies (ESA, NASA, CNES) are seeking proposals from scientists to conduct research on the long-term effects of isolation in extreme environments at a new research station in Antarctica. Based on these proposals, several projects will be chosen to begin in Spring 2006.

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Image credit: NASA
Mars Explorer Update

Jun 13, 2003 - Just 48 hours after launch, NASA's Spirit spacecraft was 5.6 million kilometres away from Earth and on track for Mars. Just after launch, Spirit was rotating 12.03 times a minute and then thrusters on board reduced this to 2 rotations a minute. As the spin rate slowed down, the star scanners on Spirit were able to recognize various constellations and plot its position. The next hurdle will be when Spirit performs a trajectory-correction maneuver sometime soon. Spirit will arrive at Mars on January 4, 2004.

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Image credit: NASA
More Evidence that Meteors Caused mass Extinctions

Jun 13, 2003 - A team of researchers from Louisiana State University have uncovered a connection between a meteor strike and a mass extinction that happened 380 million years ago called the middle Devonian event. It happened at a time when small plants, wingless insects and spiders inhabited the land, and everything else lived in the sea - 40% of all life disappeared from the fossil records. They found evidence of the strike by measuring the magnetic signature of layers of rock. When a large asteroid hits the Earth, it distributes a layer of dust around the entire planet - if a strata of rock has the same magnetic signature in different parts of planet, it's evidence of a strike.

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