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This Happened

This Happened — June 2: Pope John Paul II Visits Poland

On this day in 1979, Pope John Paul II, born Karol Wojtyła in Poland, visited his home country, marking a crucial moment in Polish history. And beyond...

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Why was Pope John Paul II's visit to Poland significant?

Pope John Paul II's visit to Poland was significant for multiple reasons. Firstly, he was the first Polish pope in history, which created a strong sense of national pride and unity among the Polish people. Secondly, his visit occurred during the height of the Cold War when Poland was under Communist rule, and his presence symbolized a challenge to the oppressive regime. His speeches and interactions with the public inspired hope, faith, and a desire for freedom.

How did the Polish people respond to Pope John Paul II's visit?

The Polish people responded to Pope John Paul II's visit with great enthusiasm and overwhelming support. Large crowds gathered to welcome him at every location he visited. People displayed their deep religious faith and love for their homeland, and his speeches resonated deeply with the public, encouraging them to stand up for their rights and pursue freedom.

How did Pope John Paul II's visit impact Poland's history?

Pope John Paul II's visit to Poland had a profound impact on the country's history. It fueled a spirit of resistance and unity among the Polish people, contributing to the eventual downfall of the communist regime. His messages of freedom, human rights, and solidarity resonated deeply with the population, inspiring them to actively participate in the Solidarity movement. This movement, rooted in the principles promoted by the Pope, played a crucial role in the peaceful transition to democracy in Poland.

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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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