We recently reported that astronauts on board the International Space Station said they saw strange lights in space. NASA has discovered these were incredibly high auroras, produced by the recent solar storms, although they still don’t know how this was possible.

Auroras are usually only seen from Earth, close to the poles. They are generated by solar storms, and with space storms at a historical high, people recently saw auroras in 49 states. But until the recent astronaut reports, researchers didn’t realize they could also be seen from space.
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U.S. Astronaut Ed Lu, who spent 6 months on the International Space Station, still doesn’t know what caused the mysterious flashes of light he saw while studying the Earth’s aurora from space.

He spent 100 hours watching the northern and southern lights while on the ISS, so he’s familiar with the way they look from space. But on July 11, September 24 and October 12, Lu saw something different: flashes as bright as the brightest stars, that lasted only a second. Fellow astronaut Yuri Malenchenko also saw them on one occasion.

Lu is familiar with flashes from cosmic dust and meteors, and he says these weren’t from a satellite or space junk. He checked weather maps, which showed no lightning storms in the vicinity.
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With so many probes heading for Mars and other planets, the question of whether they could bring back new diseases has become important. SARS, Mad Cow Disease and HIV are only three of the diseases that have crossed the species barrier, so infectious pathogens from Martian rock samples probably could too.

Leslie Mullen writes in Astrobiology Magazine that the International Committee Against Martian Sample Return is worried about this. Not all pathogens cross the species barrier?our dogs and cats get diseases that don’t affect us. Chicken and sheep farmers are untouched by diseases that wipe out their flocks and herds. A Martian microbe could enter the human body, but be harmless because it’s incompatible with human physiology.
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A Russian cosmonaut and an American woman are planning a long distance marriage on August 10th, because they can’t find time to get married on the ground. Yekaterina Dmitriev, who lives in Richmond, Texas, plans to marry Russian Air Force Colonel Yuri Malenchenko next month when he’s in the International Space Station. “This shows you that long-distance relationships do work,” Dmitriev says.

Diane Wilson, County Clerk for Fort Bend, says, “We marry a lot of people when one partner is absent either because they are in the military or are incarcerated.”

The couple will recite their vows by phone link, and their attorney Harry Noe will step in for Malenchenko if their connection breaks down.

Maybe they’ll have some very special bridesmaids.
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