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(Jon sez:)

Your Writer: Jon Kilgannon If there's anything in the entire world harder to write than convincing dialogue for a seven-year-old, I don't know what it is. I've decided to go with a minimalist method here, keeping Wei's dialogue to a haiku-like brevity.

Speaking of haiku:

My Moon-based Death Ray
Panics the people of Earth.
Mock my theories now!
      --Andrew G. McCann
(Mark sez:)

Your Artist: Mark Sachs For those of our readers who may still be living with a younger sister or brother, I offer the idea of putting a bell on them free of charge. If you try this, write in and let us know how long you got grounded for.

NASA's "Opportunity" rover has touched down safely on Mars and planetary geologists are positively frothing with glee at pictures like this one. Actually, even if you aren't a planetary geologist it's not hard to see why. Before Opportunity, only four different spacecraft had ever successfully touched down on Mars to broadcast pictures back from the surface: Viking 1 and 2, Mars Pathfinder, and just a week or two ago, Spirit. All four landers sent back images of very similar environments -- the familiar sandblasted red desert endlessly covered with small, scattered rocks and boulders. Everything we know about Mars's surface comes from examining these four similar areas. By contrast, a rock outcropping like the one visible near Opportunity has never been seen before on Mars, and this opens the door to some brand new science.

Yes, it's easy to make scientists happy!