No matter, the jury's still out about ALH 84001 as far as the scientific community is concerned. We'll have to wait for a robotic Mars sample return mission to see if similar "fossils" are found inside Martian surface rocks.
Save June 20: This writer will be wearing his NASA Solar System Ambassador cap at the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) Open House at the Rutland Airport, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., on Saturday, June 20. CAP was founded in 1941 and is an auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force.
Bring the family and learn all about how CAP helps with search-and-rescue missions as well as homeland security. Plus, see a small display about NASA's proposed Mars ARES robot aircraft and pick up a free ARES paper airplane.
This event will be an ideal opportunity to learn about how to fly, too; come and meet FAA-certified instructors from Argyle Aviation, a new flight school at the Rutland Airport, and hear a talk about the FAA's exciting new Sport-Pilot certificate. This open house will also display several local aircraft including CAP's mission plane and kitplanes built by members of the Experimental Aircraft Association's Green Mountain Flyers chapter.
Like to meet and talk with all kinds of pilots-from jet pilots to recreational pilots? Well, here's your chance. Plus parents and young people can learn about the nationally recignized CAP Cadet leadership program (for young boys and girls, ages 12-18). President Obama recently praised CAP cadets for their outstanding service to the nation.
Scenic flights over Vermont (for a fee) will also be available, weather permitting-finally, top off a day at the airport with grilled hamburgers and hot dogs prepared by the CAP cadets.
This event is free and should be a lot of fun-held rain or shine (if it rains we'll be inside the CAP hangar). The airport is located off Route 7, south of Rutland City, in North Clarendon.
What's in the sky: At 5 a.m. on Saturday, June 20, look to the east to observe a beautiful grouping of the slivered Moon plus three terrestrial planets-Mercury, Venus and Mars.
Lou Varricchio, M.Sc., a former NASA science writer, is a NASA/JPL solar system ambassador in Vermont.