June 27th, 2008

Ground Control to Farmer Tom: asparagus on Mars? The Times

If there ever was, is, or will be, life on Mars, it had better like eating asparagus.
Nasa scientists who have reviewed the results of the first analysis of soil collected by the Phoenix Mars lander say they were ‘flabbergasted’ to find that it contained all the basic requirements, in terms of minerals and nutrients, to sustain life on the Red Planet.
It was also much less acidic than the experts had expected – and suprisingly similar to garden dirt back on Earth.
“There is nothing about the soil that would preclude life. In fact it seems very friendly,” said Professor Samuel Kounaves of Tufts University, the project’s lead chemist, told reporters in a telephone conference. “The soil you have there is the type of soil you have in your backyard,” he added. “You may be able to grow asparagus very well.”

March 29th, 2002

One giant leap of faith for cling film balloonist The Times

Looking like the Michelin Man in tight pants, Andy Elson tested his new spacesuit yesterday in preparation for an assault on the world balloon altitude record. Blinking behind his goldfish bowl he said:

July 12th, 2001

Space station crew driven to distraction The Times

Houston, we have a lot of problems. Medical labels in Russian, faulty equipment and even a shortage of shampoo have driven the crew of the International Space Station to distraction, leaked Nasa documents have revealed. The first three astronauts to live on the station were forced to sleep wearing earplugs because of a noisy machine next to their bunks, and to improvise with chilli sauce when a cleaning gel went missing. They also had to contend with American gadgets that wouldn

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