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In the center of this image, taken with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, is the galaxy cluster SDSS J1038+4849 — and it seems to be smiling.

You can make out its two orange eyes and white button nose. In the case of this “happy face”, the two eyes are very bright galaxies and the misleading smile lines are actually arcs caused by an effect known as strong gravitational lensing.

Read more: https://www.nasa.gov/content/hubble-sees-a-smiling-lens

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One of the GREAT joys in my life, is having educated myself in Astronomy enough to understand at a glance, the exact physical forces that made this  ....  otherwise, somebody could tell me this is a Jack-In-The-Box commercial, and not knowing any better, that would sound plausible.

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      Peruvian potatoes
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      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.
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      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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