Wednesday, May 05, 1999

The Cyber Scene in Dallas ~ By Eric Olsson

This week Mars made its closest approach to Texas (well OK, Earth) since 1990, and this correspondent managed to turn off his computer one evening and haul his telescope ( out for a look. The view ( should be great for another week or two. International MarsWatch ( offers a nice collection of amateur images from around the world, updated daily (

Though winter temperatures around -200 degrees and a rather sparse atmosphere have caused any Martian aggressors to postpone Earth invasion plans indefinitely, the folks at would have us think otherwise. Among other things you can find information on Orson Welles's famous broadcast ( as well as Jeff Wayne's Glam rock musical version (, featuring forgettable performances by Justin Hayward (, Richard Burton (,+Richard), and David "Rock On" Essex ( 76422)

In fact an invasion in the other direction is about to begin - NASA's ( Mars Global Surveyor ( is already in orbit and began mapping the Martian surface last month, in preparation for the flotilla of orbiters, landers, miniature vehicles, and even aircraft set to arrive in the next few years ( A later mission is scheduled to return a Martian soil sample to Earth by 2008.

Cool stuff, but what's it got to do with the Internet? All this data will require a huge increase in bandwidth between here and Mars, and since last year noted wine collector Vinton Cerf ( has been working with NASA to develop a new Internet protocol,,1449,1141,00.html better suited to interplanetary communications than TCP/IP.