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Mandela's Health "Steadily Improving" As Icon Turns 95



JOHANNESBURG - The world is celebrating a very special Mandela Day on Thursday, as the ailing Apartheid icon spends his 95th birthday in a Pretoria hospital, slowly recovering from a recurring lung infection.

"Madiba Nelson Mandela's nickname remains in hospital in Pretoria but his doctors have confirmed that his health is steadily improving," the office of South African President Jacob Zuma said in a statement.

Every year on July 18, South Africans honor the former president’s 67 years of public service by spending 67 minutes of their time to nation-building and charitable acts.

Celebrations started with school children singing happy birthday to the Nobel Prize winner, and will go on with people “handing out school uniforms, textbooks and stationery, refurbishing classrooms and biking for charity”, the country's daily Mail & Guardian writes.

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma will also take part in the festivities, delivering government housing to poor people in Danville, Pretoria.

Wishing Mandela a happy birthday, Zuma said: "We are proud to call this international icon our own as South Africans and wish him good health."

Events are also organized in the rest of the world: Three weeks after American President Barack Obama visited South Africa and paid tribute to Nelson Mandela’s legacy, New York’s Times Square features a giant portrait of Nelson Mandela painted by Paul Blomkamp.

In a recorded message, British magnate Richard Branson also vowed to give “67 minutes to make the world a better place, one small step at a time,"

In Manila, capital of the Philippines, 50 abandoned street children will get a television studio tour and see performances by local artists, the Globe & Mail reports.

Two days ago Zindzi Mandela, Madiba’s daughter, told Sky News her father was making "remarkable" progress in hospital, raising hope in a country that has been praying for his spiritual leader’s recovery for a month and a half.

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Life On "Mars": With The Teams Simulating Space Missions Under A Dome

A niche research community plays out what existence might be like on, or en route to, another planet.

Photo of a person in a space suit walking toward the ​Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah

At the Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah

Sarah Scoles

In November 2022, Tara Sweeney’s plane landed on Thwaites Glacier, a 74,000-square-mile mass of frozen water in West Antarctica. She arrived with an international research team to study the glacier’s geology and ice fabric, and how its ice melt might contribute to sea level rise. But while near Earth’s southernmost point, Sweeney kept thinking about the moon.

“It felt every bit of what I think it will feel like being a space explorer,” said Sweeney, a former Air Force officer who’s now working on a doctorate in lunar geology at the University of Texas at El Paso. “You have all of these resources, and you get to be the one to go out and do the exploring and do the science. And that was really spectacular.”

That similarity is why space scientists study the physiology and psychology of people living in Antarctic and other remote outposts: For around 25 years, people have played out what existence might be like on, or en route to, another world. Polar explorers are, in a way, analogous to astronauts who land on alien planets. And while Sweeney wasn’t technically on an “analog astronaut” mission — her primary objective being the geological exploration of Earth — her days played out much the same as a space explorer’s might.

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