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    • Guest
      By Guest
      Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, predicts that in ten years, all new cars in the U.S. will be electric vechicles. He spoke at the closing plenary session of the annual summer meeting of the National Governors Association where he discussed the impact of emerging technologies on energy and transportation, and warned about the future of artificial intelligence. The session began with remarks by outgoing NGA Chair Terry McAuliffe who introduced his successor, Gov. Brian Sandoval (R-NV).
    • By admin
      It seems that major news outlets play more and more dog and cat videos and less and less investigative journalism as time go by. 
      Anyone else noticing this trend?
      I think this is a result of most people getting their news from social media and no longer “tuning into a news channel”
    • Guest Space Cadet
    • By Bible Speaks
      Space the Frontier Beyond Our Imagination!  
      What of the Future?
      The Hubble telescope promises greater revelations for the immediate future. One astronomer wrote: “With the Hubble Space Telescope, we’ll see the shapes of many galaxies around the vicinity of quasars [quasi-stellar radio sources, the most luminous objects in the universe].” As to understanding the origin of galaxies, Richard Ellis of the University of Cambridge, England, says: “We’re about to enter a very exciting time.”
      Human curiosity will continue to spur the search for knowledge of the universe, its beginnings, and its purpose. Such knowledge should awaken in our hearts reverence for the Creator of the vast universe, Jehovah God, who said: “Raise your eyes high up and see. Who has created these things? It is the One who is bringing forth the army of them even by number, all of whom he calls even by name. Due to the abundance of dynamic energy, he also being vigorous in power, not one of them is missing.”—Isaiah 40:26; Psalm 147:4.
      JW.Org


    • Guest
      By Guest
      Elon Musk is just like any other guy. He wakes up, reads emails, sends his kids off to school and goes to work.
      For the most part, his relatability ends there. Musk is one of the most productive men in the world, and his employees at SpaceX just propelled him to a new accolade, 8th place in Glassdoor’s Top 100 CEOs list. The ranking is decided by anonymous entries from employees.
      Musk came in with a 98% approval rating among his employees, shattering the average CEO rating of 67%.
      The list is topped by Clorox’s Benno Dorrer, and fellow chip innovator and Tesla owner Jen-Hsu Huang of NVIDIA came in 6th.

      Musk’s ranking comes solely from SpaceX, as his Tesla and Neuralink did not meet all the requirements to be considered for the list. The fact that he is balancing senior leadership roles in these companies, as well as with OpenAI and Boring Co., is a testament to his organizational abilities.
      “I’d say focus on signal over noise,” he told Glassdoor. “Don’t waste time on stuff that doesn’t actually make things better.”
      Musk’s approval rating indicates that there are good things in store for SpaceX, which also ranked as Glassdoor’s 40th best place to work this year.
      Musk and SpaceX will continue to be in the news, as the company also has two Falcon 9 launches slated for later this week.
      Source 
    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      The US space agency Nasa has landed a new robot on Mars after a dramatic seven-minute plunge to the surface of the Red Planet.
      The InSight probe aims to study the world's deep interior, and make it the only planet - apart from Earth - that has been examined in this way.
      Confirmation of touchdown came through on cue at 19:53 GMT.
      It ended an anxious wait in which the robot radioed home a series of updates on its descent.
      Nasa's mission control at California's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) erupted into cheers when it became clear InSight was safe on the ground.

      Read more: https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-46351114
    • By James Thomas Rook Jr.
      .
      TIRED OF BEING MANIPULATED BY FAKE NEWS?
      VERY SIMPLE SOLUTION ... GET EDUCATED ABOUT WHAT IS REALLY GOING ON AROUND YOU!
      Royal Commission Case Study 54: What to expect - by an anonymous reporter who DOES homework !
       
      With Case Study 54 only a few days away, THIS FRIDAY (AUSTRALIAN TIME) MARCH 10, 2017 (You do the math for local time...) a lot of discussion has been circulating as to exactly what we can expect when Watchtower appears once again before the Australian Royal Commission.
      I’ve decided to chip in a few observations here to help set expectations and to contribute to the discussions as best I’m able. So without further ado, let’s quickly run through what we know:
       
      What exactly will be discussed?   According to the Commission website, the scope of the study is as follows
      1.      The current policies and procedures of Jehovah’s Witnesses and Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Australia Ltd in relation to child protection and child-safe standards, including responding to allegations of child sexual abuse.
      2.      Factors that may have contributed to the occurrence of child sexual abuse at Jehovah’s Witnesses and Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Australia Ltd institutions.
      3.      Factors that may have affected the institutional response of Jehovah’s Witnesses and Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Australia Ltd to child sexual abuse.
      4.      The responses of Jehovah’s Witnesses and Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Australia Ltd to relevant case study report(s) and other Royal Commission reports.
      5.      Any related matters.
      The purpose of this public hearing is not to inquire into individual sets of facts or particular events as has occurred in previous Royal Commission case studies.
      Why does the Case Study 54 hearing appear to be only one day long?   This may appear at first glance to be a surprise. How can a single day of testimony possibly be enough to cover the vast and complex issue of Watchtower’s child abuse scandal?
       
      Well, remember that Case Study 54 isn’t a fact finding mission. That was Case Study 29. The Commission spent days digging and interviewing, and ultimately issued a detailed report on every aspect of Watchtower’s failure. As far as the Commission is concerned, the facts are in. There is no further debate. Case Study 54 is tasked purely with a quick review of those facts and then with publicly asking Watchtower what is has done to address the damning failures identified in Case Study 29.
      Remember what Justice McClellan said to Watchtower’s legal team? That they were going to come back to Watchtower and publicly ask them what had been done to address the issues?
      That’s what this is.
       
      So what has Watchtower done in the 21 months since Case Study 29?   As far as I am aware, the only potential effort from  Watchtower to address any of the concerns raised in the Royal Commission has been to no longer require an abuse survivor to confront their attacker. However, it was not clear from testimony if this practice had actually been halted before the Commission sat. Watchtower seemed to insist in testimony that it was, but their documentation did not reflect this.
      Thus one cannot say with certainty that even this potential change has come as a result of the Commission report.
       
      So Watchtower is going to stand before the Commission, after 21 months, and basically say they’ve done nothing at all?   I have no idea.
       
      I mean, that would be the honest thing to do, but remember how slippery and devious Watchtower was in Case Study 29, with senior Watchtower officials like Rodney Spinks, Terrence O’Brain and Governing Body Member Geoffrey Jackson attempted to mislead and outright lie to the Commission on multiple occasions. As far as I can see, Watchtower has three options
       
      Admit they’ve done nothing and that they don’t intend to for religious reasons, and turn the whole thing into an issue of religious freedom.   Try to stall and muddy the waters by saying they’ve not had enough time, that they have no authority to make the changes required without Brooklyn agreement, knowing full well that Brooklyn is beyond the reach of the Commission. The idea here would be to stall until the day is over, then slink away and wait, knowing no further testimony is required.   Dive full into another round of misleading doublespeak and outright lies to try and pull the wool over the Commission’s eyes. Which one will they pick? Again I have no idea. Judging from Watchtower’s jaw-dropping legal incompetence in Case Study 29 and in the recent Fessler case, it’s very hard to predict their strategy. It seems to have no rhyme or reason, but keep in mind three things.
       
      The men in charge of Watchtower are firstly very deluded. They genuinely think they are defending God’s organization against Satanic and apostate attack, and feel that compromise will be a victory for Satan.   The men in charge of Watchtower are very out of touch with real life, spending all their days in a world where you don’t question Watchtower or those who run it, and now they’ve risen to the top. Their word is law. Odds are that no-one has told Anthony Morris III that his ideas are stupid for a very long time. They have no idea how to handle the kind of environment the Royal Commission brings to the table. Geoffrey Jackson’s excruciating performance, where the Commission made mincemeat of his arguments, was proof of that.   The men in charge of Watchtower are caught between being honest with a Commission that has all of their dirty little secrets on the one hand, and playing to the growing audience of JW’s who they know WILL find out about March 10th one way or the other. They have to both be as compliant as possible to the Commission whilst also appearing to be steadfast and unmovable to the Witnesses who will end up seeing the testimony on YouTube.   So delusion, seclusion, and public relations are all going to crash into once horrible mess as they did in Case Study 29 and as a result I have no idea what Watchtower will do on Friday.
       
      We  hope to preserve the live steam video for future reference as the Commission does not archive or make this video available once the live stream is over. However, technical gremlins are always a factor so if you have the ability to record the live stream, it would be a great idea to do so as well. The more people do this, the less chance of this footage being lost forever.
       
      Lastly we will of course be following up with articles on the day, giving you a more detailed analysis of what has transpired.
      Get your popcorn (and your coffee if you’re staying up late) and lets all observe the car crash together!
      And one last thing: if it is safe for you to do so, please tell as many Jehovah’s Witnesses as you can about the events on March 10th. Their children are at risk and they don’t even know it. They may choose not to look up the Case Study, but simply being aware that it exists is the first step in raising awareness that the Governing Body is not being honest with them about the international scandal of child abuse inside the Watchtower organization.
      (edited for political correctness and other stuff ...) JTR
       
       



    • By James Thomas Rook Jr.
      Wednesday's headline-making announcement from Italian scientists about a possible lake underneath the Martian south pole adds to a growing list of other worlds we believe have liquid water. But it also adds to a deepening mystery about what it all means – especially to us on this lonely Blue Planet teeming with life and strife.
      About 70 percent of Earth’s surface is covered by water, most of it in oceans. The rest is found in rivers, lakes, frozen in glaciers, and inside the bodies of every known plant, animal, and micro-creature on the planet.
      Life, it appears, is not possible without H2O – and for good reason. Among its many unique properties, water is an extraordinary solvent that greases the wheels of life’s biological machinery.
        It’s exciting, therefore, whenever we discover evidence for liquid water “out there” somewhere. For instance, beneath the surfaces of Jupiter’s moon Europa or Saturn’s moon Enceladus, whose phenomenal geysers shoot more than 100 miles into the air. Some research suggests even lowly Pluto – demoted in 2006 to the status of a dwarf planet – harbors subterranean pockets of water, kept fluid by tidal forces from its five nearby moons.
      Above all, there’s our storied neighbor Mars. It has polar caps – both north and south – made of regular and dry ice (i.e., frozen carbon dioxide). It also has surface features that look a lot like dry river beds, suggesting the elixir of life once flowed abundantly and freely there.
      And now this latest headline: bright reflections detected by the European Space Agency’s Mars Express, a ground-penetrating-radar-equipped spacecraft that’s been orbiting the Red Planet since 2003. The Italian scientists interpret the signals to mean there’s a twelve-mile-wide lake of salty water several feet deep sloshing around one mile beneath the Martian surface.
      Surely, this now raises the possibility that, at the very least, Little Green Microorganisms dwell there. After all, exotic, insanely hardy, methane-eating bacteria live in sub-glacial lakes in our own Antarctic.
      Ah, if only it were that simple.
      For starters, the inferred lake beneath the Martian south pole might be nothing more than an aquiver of sludge. Both brine and sludge produce bright radar signatures.
      It’s also possible the reputed lake is just an optical illusion. NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which is also equipped with ground-penetrating radar, has been circling Mars since 2006 and sees no reflections implying the existence of a subterranean lake.
      Even if the announcement is substantiated by future missions – and I personally hope it is – water is not a smoking gun. Where there’s water, there’s not necessarily life.
      Still, every alleged discovery of water on other worlds represents an invaluable experiment that tests the veracity of biology’s current notions about how life came about on Earth. If we keep racking up evidence for water out there, but no life, it will deal a serious blow to the belief in abiogenesis – that life arose from scratch in a primordial soup of ordinary, inorganic chemicals. That would be a big headline.
      If, however, we do find life inhabiting far-flung, water-borne venues, it will strengthen the abiogenesis thesis. That, too, would be a huge headline.
      It’d also be a very sobering one. Why? Because, if water and life do prove to be abundant throughout the cosmos, then we’ll be forced to ask: “Where, then, is everyone??”
      It’s a question I addressed in a recent opinion piece and that leads to many disquieting possibilities. One of them is this: simple water-borne organisms that develop into complex, intelligent life forms inevitably self-destruct.
      The late writer and futurist Sir Arthur C. Clark had that possibility in mind when he stated, “It has yet to be proven that intelligence has any survival value.”
      With every passing year in our search for extraterrestrial water and life, we are getting closer to finding, if not outright proof, then a resolution to Clark’s assertion.
      Shortly following a transmission sent by the Mars Express spacecraft verifying that its instruments had detected a subglacial lake a mile below the planet’s surface, the European Space Agency confirmed Thursday that the orbiter’s surface-penetrating radar had disturbed the eternal and unspeakable dreaming of an aeons-old, world-ravaging malevolence, waking it from its 500-million-year slumber in the underground Martian reservoir.
      The abhorrent trans-dimensional beast then rose from the stygian depths of its lightless subaquatic lair, unleashing a hideous ululation that caused the red planet to fissure and burst into billions of molten fragments, an event recorded as a magnitude 18.5 quake by ESA scientists. The terror-struck astronauts of the International Space Station, evidently drained of their sanity by the sight of the accursed, star-spawned abomination, managed to inform ground control through increasingly incomprehensible transmissions that Earth’s moon had been devoured by the ravening behemoth before all communication with the crew was cut off suddenly and completely.
      ESA administrators, initially optimistic about the discovery of liquid water on Mars and its positive implications for future colonization, changed their message to one of warning earlier today, shrieking barely comprehensible messages of doom as they clawed their living eyes from their sockets in a vain effort to escape contemplation of the vast horror descending upon the world at this very moment to drink our insignificant lives as it will one day drink the light of the stars.
      Is intelligence ultimately a blessing or a curse? Surely, the answer will make for the biggest headline of all.
    • Guest Nicole
    • Guest
      By Guest
      Let me attempt to blow your mind: “Now” travels at the speed of light.
      When the light turns green, I don't concern myself with the fact that the light actually turned green a nanosecond earlier than I saw it. As far as the distances we're used to, “now” might just as well be universal.
      On interstellar distances, you might expect that the lag start mattering. Except it really doesn't. Maybe Sirius isn't there anymore. Maybe it went supernova five years ago, and the shockwave is riding towards us as you read, and it will hit us in another three years. There's no way we'd know. We look up and see the old faithful Sirius sitting right where it's always been. And we can measure its gravitational influence on us and neighboring stars. There is no knowing it's actually gone, and that's because it actually isn't. To someone in the neighborhood of Sirius, the star is no more, but, to us, it still exist. “Existence” travels at the speed of light.
      If the sun was spirited away by a species of prankster kardashev 3 aliens, it would keep “being there” for 8 minutes as far as we'd be concerned.

      And those 10 billion light years away stars we see through our telescopes, they are there. Because we can see them.
      - Julien Boyer
    • Guest
      By Guest
      https://www.space.com/40056-air-breathing-electric-thruster-test.html?utm_source=quora
       
      For the first time, the European Space Agency (ESA) has tested a novel air-breathing electric thruster that could allow near-Earth orbiting satellites to stay in space almost indefinitely. The thruster, designed to harvest atmospheric molecules and use them instead of onboard propellant, could also make future Mars exploration easier, ESA officials said.
      Satellites need propulsion to hold their position or move around in space. Conventionally, satellites use rocket-like chemical propulsion, but electrical thrusters are becoming increasingly popular due to their better efficiency. However, current electrical propulsion systems still need to use a propellant, such as xenon, and their mission lengths are therefore limited by how much propellant they can carry. Due to weight constraints, satellites can carry only a limited amount. Those orbiting close to the Earth, in the range of a few hundred kilometers (about 125 miles), consume it at a higher rate, as they need to compensate for the atmospheric drag that slows them down and pulls toward the Earth.
      Instead of carrying its own propellant, a satellite using ESA's new system would skim air molecules from the top of Earth's atmosphere. The molecules turn into plasma when compressed. An electric field is then used to accelerate the stream of plasma to provide thrust for the satellite.
      "Providing atmospheric drag compensation without the use of carry-on propellant, this kind of electric propulsion would let satellites orbit at very low altitudes around Earth for very long operational time," Louis Walpot, who leads the project at ESA, told Space.com in an email.
      "Normally their orbit would decay rapidly and they'd reenter the atmosphere," Walpot said.
      Together with the thruster, ESA tested an innovative collector that captures incoming air as it hits the thruster at the staggering orbital speeds of about 4.9 miles per second (7.8 kilometers per second). The collector strips nitrogen and oxygen molecules from the air, and turns them into fuel. It's this collector that makes the system the first of its kind, demonstrating how an air-breathing thruster would actually work in orbit.
      "This design of the collector was challenging because the air molecules tend to bounce out again, rather than be retained and compressed to a point where they turn into plasma, capable of being accelerated with an electric field," Walpot said. "The collector-plus-thruster design is entirely passive in nature — the air enters the collector due to the spacecraft's velocity as it orbits around Earth. All it needs is electric power to ionize the compressed air."

      The electric power, he said, could be easily obtained from solar panels.
      Walpot said the system would also work at the outer edges of the atmosphere of Mars, harvesting carbon dioxide molecules that make up the Red Planet's atmosphere instead of Earth's nitrogen and oxygen.
      "This is more than a hundred times less dense than Earth's atmosphere of course, so any such air-breathing spacecraft would fly lower — about 120-180 km," Walpot said.
      ESA, which funds the thruster's development through its Technology Research Programme, started working on the project in 2015 in collaboration with the Polish firm QuinteScience and Italy's Sitael. Researchers tested the technology in a vacuum chamber in Italy, simulating the surroundings at 200 kilometers (120 miles) altitude, according to the statement.

      The agency now plans to scale up the technology to a more realistic flight configuration.
      "This would increase the Technology Readiness Level," Walpot said. "Efforts will start to look at potential applications for the technology, future missions where it would be a good fit."
      He said the air-breathing thruster would work up to altitudes as low as 160 km (100 miles), since it can only operate in vacuum or near vacuum. For comparison, ESA's Gravity Field and Steady-State Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) orbited at about 250 km (150 miles). GOCE used a similar electric thruster to keep itself in the orbit, but its thruster relied on the propellant xenon. The mission ran out of fuel after four years and seven months, after which the spacecraft plunged into the atmosphere.
      Using air as a propellant "opens up near-Earth space for new missions, which could be used for instance for very high-resolution imaging, or even to study the ever-changing conditions prevailing at the top of the atmosphere," Walpot said.

    • By TheWorldNewsOrg
      via TheWorldNewsOrgWorld News
    • By admin
      Click here to watch secular news channels LIVE from around the world.
      Enjoy!
      p.s. - You can comment on what you are watching in real time below each video to start real time conversations based on breaking news.
    • By admin
      Replies below will be split off to form separate topics as needed.
      Enjoy!
    • By John Lindsay Barltrop
      ..........methinks we leave it to Jehovah to perfect our brain and........OUR HEARTS........because as we know, not only our love for Jehovah come from our heart, e.g. Jeremiah 1:33; Matthew 22:37...........but, also wicked reasoning, e.g. Jeremiah 17:9; Genesis 6:5
    • By ARchiv@L
      Thai Officials Using Jehovah’s Witnesses Publications To
                Address Social Issues
      This year marks three years since Thai Government officials started using
      publications by Jehovah’s Witnesses as part of the national initiative
      to educate the public officials on how to address some key social
      issues. These issues include prevention of domestic violence, effective
      parenting, and improving physical and mental health.
      These government’s national education initiatives are orchestrated and
      implemented at over 8,700 regional Community Learning Centers that are
      spread across the country. The government has also set up 11 Community
      Development Learning Centers (CDLC), whose main focus is to train the
      community leaders.
      The director of CDLC in Nakhon Nayok province Chaiwat Saengsri, says the
      goal of the Jehovah’s Witnesses is very clear and aims at helping the
      people and communities get to know their Creator. This is the same goal
      that CDLC has; assisting the community in raising their standards in the
      quest for peace and better quality life.
      Mr. Chaiwat also requested the Jehovah’s Witnesses make their
      publications available during the SMART Leader seminar. This seminar
      seeks to bring together 20 instructors and 100 community leaders from 28
      provinces, who will receive training on community building and leadership.
      The spokesperson for Jehovah’s Witnesses in Thailand Anthony Petratyotin
      says, “We are happy to know that community leaders are making such good
      use of the Bible-based advice found in our publications. We will
      continue to make our literature available to officials, along with our
      primary means of distribution—our public ministry.”
      Some of the publications that have been used include the /Awake!
      https://www.jw.org/en/publications/magazines/g201304/avoid-hurtful-speech/
      Magazine article, “How to Avoid Hurtful Speech”. This article was used
      to teach the community leaders on how to handle conflict in marriage
      without unleashing a torrent of hurtful words whenever a conflict arises.
      The publication seeks to explain why conflict in a marriage happens, and
      what can be done to end it without necessarily using words that will end
      up hurting the spouse. Some of the suggested ways to avoid using hurtful
      words include showing empathy, being respectful, reviving the feeling
      the couple once shared, avoiding verbal attacks, postponing a discussion
      when tempers begin to flare.
      Another article, “An End to Domestic Violence
      https://www.jw.org/en/publications/magazines/g201304/end-to-domestic-violence/
      helps the participants in dealing with domestic violence by
      understanding the prevalence of domestic violence cases, why this
      happens, and what can be done to stop it.
      The publication offers practical advice that can help violent spouses
      change their behavior. The education has helped many spouses replace
      violence with kindness and respect. Violent spouses learn how to treat
      their better half, and eventually become witnesses that domestic
      violence can stop.
      The publication teaches about honor, mildness, and self-control, and
      condemns abusive speech in marriage.
          Thai Officials Use Publications From Jehovah’s Witnesses to Aid
          Community Development https://t.co/qX63wYvCdY
                  Resources
         Jehovah’s Witnesses
          https://www.jw.org/en/news/releases/by-region/thailand/officials-use-publications-from-jehovahs-witnesses/
         Jehovah’s Witnesses -Awake!
          https://www.jw.org/en/publications/magazines/g201304/avoid-hurtful-speech/
         Jehovah’s Witnesses -How to Avoid Hurtful Speech
          https://www.jw.org/en/publications/magazines/g201304/avoid-hurtful-speech/
         Jehovah’s Witnesses -An End to Domestic Violence
          https://www.jw.org/en/publications/magazines/g201304/end-to-domestic-violence/

       10 Feb 2017  Posted by Alison Lesley 
      http://www.worldreligionnews.com/religion-news/christianity/jehovahs-witnesses-publications-used-address-social-issues-thailand
       
      PDF
       
      Thai Officials Use Publications From Jehovah’s Witnesses in Community Development.pdf
    • By JAMMY
      http://www.dentonrc.com/local-news/local-news-headlines/20161001-scam-of-the-month-the-case-of-tech-support-impostors.ece
    • By JAMMY
      http://nypost.com/2016/09/17/woman-lived-with-her-sons-corpse-for-over-a-decade/
       
    • By Ann O'Maly
      Artwork: Gaia is making the definitive map of our Milky Way Galaxy
      Europe’s Gaia space telescope has been used to clock the expansion rate of the Universe and - once again - it has produced some head-scratching.
      The reason? The speed is faster than what one would expect from measurements of the cosmos shortly after the Big Bang.
      Some other telescopes have found this same problem, too.
      But Gaia’s contribution is particularly significant because the precision of its observations is unprecedented.
      “It certainly ups the ante,” says Adam Riess from the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) and the Johns Hopkins University, both in Baltimore, Maryland, US.
      The inability to lock down a value for the expansion rate has far-reaching consequences - not least in how we gauge the cosmic timescale.
      If the Gaia speedometer is correct, it would mean having to reduce the estimated 13.88-billion-year age of the Universe by perhaps a few hundred million years.
       
      Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-37438458
       
    • Guest Nicole
      By Guest Nicole
      Scientists cooking up test with potato pros in Peru; 65 varieties, red desert dirt

      NASA says the Pampas de La Joya Desert in southern Peru has soil conditions like Mars. PHOTO: RYAN DUBE/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
       
       
       
       
      PAMPAS DE LA JOYA, Peru—As humans prepare to blast off to Mars, there is still the question of what they’ll eat once they colonize the red planet. Scientists who have traveled here to the Peruvian desert say they have the answer. Potatoes.
      Researchers at the Lima-based International Potato Center and scientists at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration are studying which type of potato could be best suited for extraterrestrial farming to support a human settlement on Mars. If everything goes as planned, the Martian colonies could be munching on french fries, chips and mashed potatoes one day.
      “It’s got to be a Martian potato that tastes good,” Julio Valdivia-Silva,a Peruvian astrobiologist with NASA, said while surveying the reddish-brown desert on a trip to collect soil. “It’s a big challenge to take a living organism somewhere else. We’ve never done this before.”
      The idea is literally science fiction, included in the Hollywood blockbuster “The Martian,” where Matt Damon played a stranded astronaut and botanist who plants potatoes to survive on Mars. It’s also not so far-fetched.
      Mars One, a Dutch nonprofit foundation, plans to send individuals to the planet in about 10 years on a one-way trip to establish a permanent colony. Inventor Elon Musk says his spacecraft company, SpaceX, also hopes to send humans within a decade but warned during a startup conference in Hong Kong in January that it would be “hard and dangerous and difficult in every way you can imagine.”

      Peruvian potatoes
      NASA, which landed the Curiosity rover on Mars in 2012 and found last year that water flows there, has recently announced plans to land astronauts.
      That will be when the potato comes in handy.
      “When humans go to Mars, they will want to grow things. They’ll need food,” said Chris McKay, a planetary scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California and participant in the potato study. “I think we’ll be able to find varieties of potatoes that will grow at cold and low-pressure conditions. That would be interesting to know for Mars applications.”
      The potato is a major global crop thanks to its ability to adapt to a variety of climates and its abundance of carbohydrates, as well as protein, vitamin C, iron and zinc. Peru, birthplace of the humble tuber, is home to over 4,500 varieties, more than anywhere else, according to the International Potato Center. Potatoes here also have another advantage: They’re not just for eating.
      Reddish, purple and yellow spuds are used as dyes. Potatoes can be used as a battery. In Peru’s rural highlands, a lumpy potato called “the weeping bride” is given by the groom’s mother to the bride-to-be to test how good a wife she will be (it all depends on how neatly she peels the hard-to-peel spud).
      In ‘The Martian,’ Matt Damon played a stranded astronaut trying to grow potatoes on Mars. PHOTO: 20THCENTFOX/EVERETT COLLECTION
      Peru is good for the experiment because of the Pampas de La Joya Desert, one of the driest spots on Earth, which receives about a millimeter of precipitation a year. It is part of South America’s vast Atacama Desert that has long been studied by NASA for its Mars-like conditions, in particular its dirt.
      For the potato study, scientists selected 65 varieties of spuds known to be the most resilient.
      The first step will be to plant the tubers in over 1,300 pounds of soil transported from this desert to Lima. If they grow successfully, the potatoes will then be planted in a simulator that factors in the atmospheric conditions on Mars.
      Walter Amoros, a Peruvian scientist at the International Potato Center, said he thinks half of the potatoes will grow in the desert soil, but only about 10 will yield a good-sized tuber. The flavor could change under the stress, he warned, which is common on Earth when potatoes are exposed to severe drought and high temperatures. That sometimes makes them so bitter they are inedible.
      On Mars, the temperature averages minus 84 degrees Fahrenheit, with lows of minus 284 degrees, according to NASA. It has high levels of radiation and over 60% less gravity than Earth. Its atmosphere has 96% carbon dioxide, with only a tiny amount of oxygen. Then there are the dust storms and salty water.

      Mars and Peru. The landscape is very similar.PHOTOS: NASA, RYAN DUBE/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL;
       
      The potatoes “are going to pass through an acid test. I’ve done tests under stressful conditions, but never so stressful,” Mr. Amoros said. “I don’t think they’ll grow in the open air [on Mars]. They will have to plant them under controlled conditions, in domes.”
      Early space travelers relied on paste-like food squeezed from aluminum tubes. Today, astronauts have a more appetizing menu: chicken, beef and even salmon jerky. Salt and pepper are provided in liquid form, to prevent them from floating away. There is coffee, orange juice and lemonade, consumed through straws.
      NASA’s plant studies are currently focused on leafy greens like lettuce, which has been grown in small plant chambers on the international space station. They also plan to study Chinese cabbage and dwarf tomatoes. While less nutritious than potatoes, researchers hope the greens will be able to complement astronauts’ diet during space flights.
      Scientists say growing food—should humans colonize Mars—would reduce costs and mitigate risks of transporting food by shuttle.
      “If something goes wrong, if you can produce some of your own food in situ, then you have that as a means to sustain yourself,” saidRaymond Wheeler, a plant physiologist at NASA.
      Until cultivating begins, scientists foresee transporting potatoes to Mars in refrigerated tubes. They could be planted by machines in a controlled environment before humans arrive. If Martian soil proves to be too hostile, there are options of growing them without soil by hydroponics and aeroponics, which deliver nutrients in water and air, respectively.
      They will still need fertilizer, which scientists say could be resolved on Mars by recycling nutrients from urine and inedible plant parts.
      “This will be important for achieving sustainable-type systems,” Mr. Wheeler said, “regardless of the approach.”
      Abel Yapo, a student volunteer who helped dig up the desert soil, said he hopes one day to eat potatoes on Mars. “It would be a dream,” he said. “With my potatoes from the results we get here.”
      Source: http://www.wsj.com/articles/nasa-really-is-trying-to-grow-potatoes-on-mars-1460560325
       
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