Mayans may offer drought management lessons
A temple in Tikal, an ancient Mayan city with significant waterways.
July 16th, 2012
04:19 PM ET

Mayans may offer drought management lessons

When anthropologist Vernon Scarborough and colleagues began their investigation of Tikal, an ancient Mayan city in present-day Guatemala, they only intended to confirm previous accounts of the evolution of the city’s water systems. What they found, however, could have consequences for today’s societies dealing with water shortages.

Taking advantage of the few months between 2009 and 2010 that the semi-tropical Tikal was dry, researchers had the opportunity to understand how preclassical and classical Mayans (spanning roughly 600 B.C.E. to 800 A.D.) managed to survive environmental and social conditions many haven’t, focusing on three reservoir systems: the Temple Reservoir, the Corriental Reservoir and the Palace Dam – the largest manmade hydraulic feat in the entire Mayan territory.

When the Mayans initially colonized Tikal, Scarborough said, they had the luxury of springs as principal water sources. The springs were self-replenishing in large part due to the porous limestone composition of the landscape, which allowed water to get through the ground and into the spring.

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Giant rover to make ‘terrifying’ landing on Mars
July 16th, 2012
03:24 PM ET

Giant rover to make ‘terrifying’ landing on Mars

No spacecraft has ever landed like this before and NASA admits it’ll be a wild ride.

NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover, a 2,000 pound (900 kilogram) SUV-sized robotic science laboratory, is scheduled to touch down on August 6 at 1:31 a.m. EDT.

The $2.5 billion rover started its journey on November 26, 2011, with launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Its mission is to figure out whether its landing site, Gale Crater,  was ever home to microbial life. Curiosity has 10 science experiments on board and is equipped with a robot arm that can drill into rocks. Curiosity can climb over obstacles up to 25 inches (65 centimeters) high and can travel about 660 feet (200 meters) per day.

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Filed under: In Space • News
Expedition 32 Launches
July 16th, 2012
10:10 AM ET

Expedition 32 Launches

"The Soyuz TMA-05M rocket launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 10:40 p.m. EDT on Saturday, July 14, 2012, carrying Expedition 32 Soyuz Commander Yuri Malenchenko, NASA Flight Engineer Sunita Williams and JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) Flight Engineer Akihiko Hoshide to the International Space Station."

Source: NASA

Filed under: Light up the screen
Opinion: Let's create a Department of Space
A new agency could oversee international manned missions, while NASA focuses on its core competency, the author says.
July 16th, 2012
10:09 AM ET

Opinion: Let's create a Department of Space

Editor's note: Madhu Thangavelu is space projects director of the Cal-Earth Institute and a fellow at NASA's Institute of Advanced Concepts. He is an advisory board member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics with a focus on the design of complex space projects, including space stations and exploratory missions. He also teaches at the University of Southern California.

By MadhuThangavelu, Special to CNN

The vehicle had that new-car smell, but this was no used car lot.

It was space exploration history in the making.

Astronauts said they noticed the familiar scent in May when they opened the hatch of SpaceX's unmanned Dragon crew vehicle and peered inside the first private spacecraft to visit the orbiting international space station.

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Filed under: Commentary • In Space • Voices

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