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Pope meets President Raul Castro in Havana

Pope Benedict XVI meets Cuban President Raul Castro on the second day of his visit to the communist-run island, and is to meet Fidel Castro later.

(BBC NEWS) Havana - Meanwhile, former President Fidel Castro has written that he is "happy" to meet the pope, in an article on the government's website.

After arriving in the capital, Havana, the pope told a crowd he prayed for a Cuba "advancing along the ways of renewal and hope".

Cuban officials have insisted that political reform is not on the agenda.

Marino Murillo, one of Castro's vice-presidents and the "economics czar" in charge of liberalisation, told journalists the government was updating the Cuban economic model to make socialism sustainable.

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Future

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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