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From New Scientist How cool! First city that will be truly eco-friendly.

From New Scientist Soyuz capsule: How cool is it that someone drove up in a truck and helped them out?!? That would so be us!!! Not that I'm hoping a spacecraft will crash land around us on a Saturday night.... but come on!! How cool!

… Whitson described the ordeal today during press interviews at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. For one "very long" minute, she said, the astronauts suffered forces of 8.2 times normal gravity - nearly double the force they'd expect on a normal descent.

She compared it to having several people sitting on her chest. "It was pretty stressful just trying to breathe - I could also feel my face getting squished back," Whitson said. Of the landing, she added: "Everyone had told me to kind of expect a car crash at the end. I'd say that was a pretty accurate description."

On the ground, a hand reached into the capsule and Whitson assumed the rescue forces had arrived. But she was actually helped out by some local folks who had spotted the capsule and driven over in their truck. One spoke to Russian crew member Yuri Malenchenko.

"They asked Yuri where the boat came from," said Whitson. "He's like - what boat? They were referring to the capsule. It took him a long time to explain that we actually had been in space." …



Finally, I forgot to send the link to this so there's a short article behind this cut about Monday's early morning upcoming

Aquarid meteor shower to peak on moonless night
05:00 02 May 2008: NewScientist.com news service: David Shiga

Bits of Halley's Comet will streak into the Earth's atmosphere before dawn on Monday during the peak of the eta Aquarid meteor shower. Moonlight will not interfere with the show, making this likely the best meteor display for northern hemisphere observers until the Perseids in August, and the best all year for southern hemisphere viewers.

Halley's Comet last swung by the Earth in 1986 and now lies in the outer solar system. But every time it passes near the Sun on its 76-year orbit, the nucleus of the icy object sheds about 6 metres of material, which spreads out along the comet's orbit. Twice a year, the Earth runs into this dusty detritus, producing the eta Aquarids in May and the Orionids in October.

The Earth will plough through the densest part of the trail before dawn on Monday for viewers in any time zone. The eta Aquarid display is especially long lasting, with meteors expected before dawn on Sunday and continuing, though diminishing in number, on Tuesday.

The meteors can appear in any part of the sky, but their trails appear to originate near the star eta Aquarii in the constellation Aquarius, the water bearer, which gives the shower its name.

The strength of the eta Aquarid display varies from year to year, but it is typically the best annual meteor shower in the southern hemisphere, producing between 20 and 60 meteors per hour. Observers in the northern hemisphere are not as well positioned to view this event, and tend to see 5 to 10 "shooting stars" per hour.

Moonless night

But this year's display could be especially strong. The Moon will be absent from the sky, making faint meteors easier to spot. And there are hints of a 12-year cycle for the display, which would suggest strong activity for 2008-2010.

The meteors may be particularly bright because they will be hitting the atmosphere at high speed – about 66 kilometres per second. That is because Halley's Comet – and the debris it sheds – moves around the Sun in the opposite direction as the Earth.

Because the meteors will appear to originate from a point near the horizon as seen from the northern hemisphere, the debris tends to travel through the upper atmosphere "sideways", producing bright meteors known as Earthgrazers. The best chance of catching these is around 0200 local time.

To see the shower, go to a dark area and lie back on a blanket or chair to see as much of the sky as possible. The constellation Aquarius, where the meteors will appear to originate, lies towards the east.

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