In the pink

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The Independent Online

The planet Earth has just moved closer to Mars than for any time in the past 13 years, and as usual Martian astronomers are predicting a rash of imagined UFO sightings. They are reassuring anxious citizens not to be alarmed; the luminous whitish orb hovering just above the horizon of the red planet is no harbinger of an alien invasion but a harmless celestial manifestation.

The planet Earth has just moved closer to Mars than for any time in the past 13 years, and as usual Martian astronomers are predicting a rash of imagined UFO sightings. They are reassuring anxious citizens not to be alarmed; the luminous whitish orb hovering just above the horizon of the red planet is no harbinger of an alien invasion but a harmless celestial manifestation.

With the aid of powerful telescopes, Martian scientists, however, are noticing some intriguing changes since 1988. For one thing, a discernable film surrounds Earth, evidence they believe of a noticeable warming of their closest neighbour. Curiously, the phenomenon is most marked around a raised blob off the edge of a terrestrial continent the Martians call Europo. Back then this little spot had an icy blue tinge. Now the blue has retreated to the margins and the dominant shade is a soggy shade of pink, flecked with orange. The Martian scientists are detecting much churning in the blue areas but predict the phenomenon will make little difference. They expect the pink element to remain prevalent for many years. Some also forecast the small blob will disappear entirely into Europo in the not too distant future.

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