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How different things work

Print Edition: Sep 2, 2012

Looking for Martians
The latest landing of an unmanned space vehicle on the planet Mars on August 6 was a giant step forward in space exploration. Here is why:

The event: A spacecraft called Mars Science Laboratory was launched by the US's National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) from Cape Canaveral on November 26 last year. Eight months and 10 days later, the Mars landing vehicle it dispatched, named Curiosity, as large as a medium sized car, landed in a crater on the red planet. For scientists, the most crucial moments were the last seven minutes before landing, when Curiosity entered Mars's gravitational orbit.

Its significance: Curiosity is five times as heavy as the last Mars Rover and carries 10 times as many scientific instruments. It will carry out experiments over two years to find out how habitable the planet is, and study its climate and soil quality closely.

The past: Attempts to land on Mars have been made since the 1960s, largely by Russia and the US, but a surprisingly large number of them have been unsuccessful. The first successful effort was in 1973/74, the last one in 2007/08.

The future:
The next Mars mission is planned for 2018.

Lots in a Name
The most unfortunately named town in the United States is Toad Suck in Arkansas, according to a recent poll by the website findmypost.com. It received the most number of votes beating rivals such as Elephant Butt in New Mexico, Climax in Georgia, Loveladies in New Jersey and Monkeys Eyebrow in Massachusetts.

Old is Gold

A 101-year-old Rolls Royce has been dubbed the 'Best Car in the World' and is expected to fetch »550,000 (approx Rs 4.7 crore) at a forthcoming auction in UK. It was delivered on April 1, 1911, to Sir Adolph Tuck, the son of millionaire Raphael Tuck who made his fortune in the postcard industry at the end of the 19th century.

Funding Apathy

At least eight projects in Rajasthan, funded by foreign agencies, some dating from 2002, have yet to be completed. Donors include the World Bank, which backed an incomplete rural livelihood project, and the Japan International Cooperation Agency which funded a water supply project and a social forestry one. With JICA likely to withhold more funding, the state government will have to chip in.

Compiled by Basudha Das

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