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Welcome to the Challenge Webcast from the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah

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Answers to additional Questions from the Webcast Chat Room.

Welcome to the design challenge.
The event of your two months of hard work.
It's your design of a lunar base on Earth before we go to the moon.
Remember everything we do on the moon has to be done first here on Earth.
That's the point of doing the simulate orz and habitats that are actually on Earth, but we're doing research how to do things on the moon.
We're very excited that you can join us and please let us know who you are by logging into the chat rooms with either your name or our classrooms name and definitely your location, so we get an idea where you are.
Let me see.
John, I wanted to introduce Jon Rask who is back after two weeks in the Mars Desert Research Station is in the middle of Utah, it's in the desert and it's a habitat that we use here on Earth to study how we might live and work on the moon and Mars.
And just as in your -- your work and your study, they have certain design guidelines that they have to go along with in order to live in and operate this desert research station.
It's in the desert, it's very dry, expect for the snowstorm that just went through.
But it's very Mars like, you'll see pictures coming up.
Energy and life support, there's no electricity out there, there's no water per se, and the people that are at this habitat need to figure out how to take care of those -- those needs of life.
Human factors, it's a very small little area.
Kind of like living in your bedroom with five or six people for two weeks.
You can imagine what that's like.
Also, we may go out of the has been habitat, they wear spacesuits.
All the issues of having to do exploration and how you can do exploration while wearing these spacesuits.
The ideas of contamination, how do you as humans not get contaminated and how do you as humans not contaminate the surrounding area that you're in. The Mars Desert Research Station, the people that design it, the people that live in it and work in it all are facing similar issues to what you faced when you did your design.
And so we'll be hopefully talking back and forth with them today, and I want jo*n to tell us a little bit about yourself and experiences at the station over the past two weeks.
>> Thank you.
My name is Jon Rask and I work here at NASA Ames Research Center, I've been here six years.
I've had the privilege of working with crew 52.
The experience I had is one I'll always remember.
If anyone gets a chance to be involved in this I would encourage you to do so.
What I'd like to do now is give you a little bit of a tower of what MDRS is like.
You can look at some of the pictures we present to you to get a feel for what it's really like. In this their image what you're looking at is the habitat itself.
Everybody lives in the Hab on the left and on the right the green Hab is where we grow plants and have systems to purify water.
What I'd like to do is show you the tunnel that runs between the two.
We talk through this as if it were simulateed through a pressurized tunnel. You can see there's a lot of tanks and filters and so on.
All of this system is set up to recirculate the water we produce that goes down the drains.
We use it to growth crops, and also to use when we flush the toilets.
So the water that we're using is not all being wasted.
We're trying to recirculate that.
Another interesting part of the facilities at MDRS is the next image is the observe story.
This is a telescope about 14 ifrnlz in diameter, we use this to do observations.
You can see the size of it with the people standing next to it. In the next image, this is part of MDRS but it's not visible inside the Hab, it's an area south of the Hab, this is called engineering, engineering we have the fuel source which is in that large red tank in the back, and underneath that shelter is our generator, that's our power sauce.
We have cords connecting that.
We also have a water tank. In the next image, we've gone now into the Hab.
These are the doors that show all the different people who have actually been in each of these state rooms, these doors led to the places where the people will sleep. In this next image, you can see -- if you can have the next one.
There we go.
That image is what it looks like inside the state room where people have their own private space.
You sleep on the top of that bunch, bunk then you can work on the shelf in the back. In the next image you can see what the upstairs looks like.
You can see it looks like partly a kitchen, also some work spaces where there's some computer setup.
There's also a table we can do work and have meetings and also eat. In the next image, what we see is just the port hole looking out to the east.
Gives you kind of an idea of what it's like actually inside the Hab looking out.
It looks very Mars like. In the next image, you see the stairs.
This is the main pathway to get up and down between the different floors and the Hab, as you can see there are two floors in the Hab, we transfer things back and forth.
In this picture people are moving things up to the refrigerator so we can have that to eat.
In the next picture, what we see is the actual laboratory that is in the downstairs.
This picture was taken standing on the stairs themselves.
To get an idea, it's sort of circular inside, there's space to work, you can do biology and geology. What you can see in the next image is also the work space.
There's lot of tools, lots of things going on there.
You got to have a space to work on things, you need an area for tools, that's an important part of an an log outpost and for one that will be on the moon. In the next image we move along to another area which is an important part of our -- their lives which includes the tie let and shower facilities.
These are something we really enjoy and definitely have to do a lot of work to keep and maintain so that we can have them to use.
Getting out of the toilet past the work bench is the bench with the spacesuits, boots, this is the area we put the suits on so we can go outside and do EVAs. You can see one of the crew members putting on the suit and preparing for an EVA.
In the next picture here we see one of Jen's crew members, Ben.
And as you move out, you have to go into the air walk and in the next image you can see that front door of the Hab, that's where everybody come out of the Hab after -- then we move towards the ATVs. In the next image we see the crew going out to some location at a distance away from the Hab, in some cases we'll find things that are interesting.
This is a rock that has microbes growing under neath it.
This is sort of interesting.
So this is potential life on Mars.
After we do our studies in the field we come back to the Hab, we write about them and communicate with mission support.
Here's a picture of Jen's crew doing just that.
Then they have to write to their commander who probably looks like this right now waiting on the phone.
I'd like to turn it over to see, Jen, if you're there.
>> I see we're going to take a little detour first before we get to-- >> Hi.
How are you doing? >> Good thank you.
We just wanted to check you were there.
Now I'd like to turn to over.
>> Please ask your questions in the chat room, as soon as you can.
There is a time lag between the time you type nem and the time we get them.
We'd like to be able to answer as many as we can actually on this broadcast.
Please get your questions in soon.
I'd also like to mention a very important aspect of this whole expedition is that the habitat, the Mars Desert Research Station, was designed and built by an organization by the Mars Society.
If you goggle on the Mars Society on the web, you can get to their website it's about all things Mars and their focus is on the effort to get people on Mars and to figure out how to do that.
And so they have several research stations throughout the world and there's one in Utah I believe their first one and is probably the most evolved of all of them.
There's others in the Arctic, which is where people go to simulate the environment on Mars.
So definitely take a look at their website, you'll learn a lot.
And it's a really interesting and wonderful organization.
They've done a lot of awesome work.
You met John and one of his crew members is a teacher, and he is a teacher at a Middle School in Iowa, his name is Matt Allner.
His a veteran, he came with us to the desert in south America. He's going to talk to us about experiences at MDRS.
>> We're at a school.
I'm Matt Allner, I teach 6th grade science and also a graduate school student at the university of North Dakota in a program called space studies through a department called space studies.
My specialty I'm studying is human factors.
It's psychology understanding how people think and work and how they get along or not get along in extreme environments.
I've been teaching now as a science teacher for 10 years.
I love my job working with the kids.
It's a great way to share what you learn and what you know with people. It's great.
As far as experiences and things I encountered at MDRS. First of all, we had a great commander who you heard speak Jon Rask.
I'd like to think that the psychology studies on our group really point back to the good leadership we had.
So we did -- some of the things I was doing there was studying group dynamics.
When people compare themselves to each other they try to make themselves appear or become better than the person who is standing with them or working with them on a project.
You can see it, you know, when you're young playing, you can see it as an adult in your workplace, it's everywhere we go, it isn't just with astronauts, so we really studied that concept.
Some of the other things I was put in charge of was taking care of the EVAs.
That was quite a task initially developing a maintenance schedule, developing a way of checking all things, if they were working properly, things like batteries getting low, if things malfunctioned out in the field, it's hard for them to communicate.
And communication was vital on EVAs. I got a chance to learn from a lot of people in my group.
That's probably what I came away with most was what I learned from other people.
We had a very dynamic group.
There were problems that came up, not problems with others, but things on the Hab to keep things going.
We had great motivation.
I don't recall any conflict.
That was just a -- a big positive for our good and the leadership John provided.
So I don't know if there's anything else you'd like me to say.
>> Why don't you introduce the people sitting next to you.
>> This is my wife Jessica, he has been incredibly supportive in my journeys.
I can't do this without her.
To my left here is Ryan, Ryan has been my substitute for the last two weeks, so I basically just said, here, teach my class and left him alone.
No, I'm teasing.
Ryan was actually working on a project similar to the lunar design, he was working on Mars based design, they were doing something similar.
The kids are sitting in the background.
They're anxious about designs you put together.
>> Great.
That sounds good.
Thank you.
One thing I wanted to mention was that we're now going to communicate with the MDRS in Utah and the way we're doing this is through a satellite.
And so the people in Utah are talking on the phone just like you and I would, but that communicate is going up to a satellite and that satellite is parked off the northeast coast of South America over the Atlantic Ocean.
It's beaming this down to us in California and we're send tg out to you.
The words you're hearing are -- have gone a very long distance to get to you.
So we're going to hope that everything hangs together.
They've had really bad weather in Utah, a lot of hail, wind and cold.
Trying to get some is of these high technology things is very difficult just like it will be on the moon and Mars.
>> Jen, are you available?
>> Yes, we're here at the MDRS.
How are you?
>> Good.
Jen -- ao right now we're inside.
>> So I have a crew over here and we must introduce them, as well.
They're working in different areas.
So here we go.
>> I'm from Chicago.
>> I'm Ben, I'm serving as the crew engineer from this group.
I'm at the Mars Desert Research Station, power systems, lunar system, and learn more about the science.
>> Hi I'm a science teacher. >> Hi.
I'm at the university of Washington.
I'm studying how they use the equipment here in the MDRS and how well they're able to move around and actually use the equipment, as well as collect EVA samples for analysis looking for bacteria.
>> Back to Jen again and that's the over view of our crew and back to you in the studio.
>> Thanks Jen and everyone on the crew. You'll notice the structure of a crew is about five to six people, then they each have specific jobs.
So there's an engineer, a communications person, they each have a specific task to do.
And among that crew there's a crew leader.
And John was the crew leader for the last rotation.
And the rotation lasts about two weeks and then there's one day of overlap where John's crew as leaving the habitat and Jen's crew was coming in.
They have to trade information about what happened during the past two weeks and where they're at on their science projects and so the next crew can take it forward.
There's a lot of communication I interaction that has to go on in the crew.
I want to remind you about the chat room and log in and ask your questions.
And want to ask Linda, are there any questions about the Mars habitat?
>> I have a really interesting one here, maybe John can field this.
Is it safe for kids to live in the research center?
>> It is, there have been young people who participated in simluations in the past.
I don't know what exactly -- which crew exactly it was in.
One of the individuals who spent almost more time than anybody at the Mars Desert Research Station, Paul, told me there have been young people that have participated in the expedition.
It is possible.
>> Also on John's mission, there was a cat.
The cat was brought on board primarily to keep the mice population down.
Which probably would not be an issue on the moon and Mars.
But the nice thing about having the cat there but from the psychological standpoint it was like a breath of home.
A lot of people have cats or dogs and it became the pet of the crew.
And from a psychological aspect it was a real plus, people could pet him and talk to him.
And I think that really kind of helped. >> Very positive impact on everybody.
>> OK. Let's throw this one to the folks in the field.
How many windows will the research center have.
Can you hear us OK?
>> Yes.
I heard you.
The students wanted to know how many windows you have in the habitat?
>> You have enough for safety considerations you want to be able to see all of the crews are coming in from.
We have three windows, south and east.
Observatory is off to the west and engineering area is to the south.
>> Does that answer your question? >> OK.
All right.
Yeah, that sounds very good.
All right.
Grace wants to know are the people up there going to have individual rooms?
I think John talked a little bit about this but why don't we hear it again.
>> Yes, there are six rooms in the Hab, enough for six people to have a private space for themselves only.
There is room for more people to stay in there, there is some space in the loft. The total people in the Mars Desert Research Station is six, there's six private spaces called state rooms.
>> As you all know having your own private space is really important.
When you're living in close quarters like that for a long period of time, having a place to go to be yourself is very, very important. More questions?
>> Yes.
I think we do. As a matter of fact this one I think should go probably to LATASHA.
Do we need spacesuits to live in the research center?
>> Do we need spacesuits to live in the research center?
>> Well, we usually put our spacesuits on when we go outside of the Hab or the research center, and that protects us from the dust and also allows us to get the oxygen we need.
It also carries our water bags so we can have water.
It's important to have water in this desert so we don't dehydrated.
We return to life as normal as far as the Hab.
Once we do leave the Hab we do need our suits for protection. >> Great thank you very much.
I think the next person would be for Ken.
Let's see, we'll have to find her here.
>> This is in English.
Will you use a certain type of soil dirt or no dirt at all for the crops that you plant in the green room?
>> Do you use a certain type of soil, dirt, or no dirt at all for crops you planted in the green room? >> OK.
>> I am using a solution for my plants.
>> OK.
Thank you.
I have a cute one here that I thought I would ask from Grace. Do you think there are aliens or extra-terrestrial life.
Do you want to handle that on the floor or the crew?
>> We don't know if there's life anywhere else in the universe other than Earth. There are areas trying to answer that question.
One is the NASA biology institute and private groups that is also trying to address the question whether or not there's life out there and if it's intelligent and where is it.
We don't know.
The work we're doing at MDRS is helping us to refine where to search where life might be located if it's there. But the answer to the question is we don't know if there's extra-terrestrial life in the universe but we're looking. >> We're going to view the designs you all sent in and Doctor Heldmann at the research station will be going over them and we are just so impressed with the work that you all have done on these.
It's just extraordinary, and John and Jen and Jen's crew all looked at them and have put together their comments that they would like to shoot back to you.
Jen, are you there?
>> Yes.
We're very impressed with all the designs that you sent in.
My crew and John's crew.
We wanted it highlight the great ideas.
Starting out with the location there were good ideas to put the lunar bases.
A boy from India.
Also Mr. Phillips science class, that would have a lot of ice and -- that could be good for you and I.
I also location ideas from red school and at the junior high, great job.
Move onto the next file.
Life support, they combined a greenhouse and habitat for the oxygen, great.
From international school module two, solar panels during the night to make sure they have power at all time.
>> Energy and also using plants for oxygen.
We're growing plants here at the MDRS.
Also sent us some great ideas, as well as students from Mexico, idea of composting the garbage which is something we're doing here at the Mars Desert Research Station, it's very important to keep plants alive.
We have great ideas coming in from this category.
Students from Mexico they put an ept tain meant room so the crew could have relaxation.
These people put in a recreation room, safety room, a big part when we're in a small lunar habitat.
Jonathan, John, Elementary School they include a hospital and school for the people living on the moon.
And also great ideas from West Ward at coconut creek Elementary School and Putnam County.
Communication, this is important because we need to be able to communicate in the habitat.
Thanks to Connor, Albert and Brook, to communicate with the naufts and transmitter to communicate back with Earth. At the next Middle School, good ideas from their group.
And Putnam County great job. The next category is exploration that everything had to think about.
Some great suggestions came in West Ward Elementary School, they're using vehicles for EVA which is a great idea to keep power low during the daytime.
They have a way to create oxygen.
From very sources already on the moon.
The next Middle School Mrs. Richards class and their clothing team, excellent job.
Next the next slide.
The group from India for a power collection and also energy generation and a launching pad.
Steven, Adam, they had great ideas for having robots construct the lunar base.
Hebrew Middle School in Florida.
They have four levels to their station.
Designed a multistation that can house 11 astronauts.
We also had designs that came in from Eagle Point Elementary, also Mrs. McLaughlin and 6th great technology club, as well.
Also thanks.
On the next slide we have issues of contamination.
Contamination protection.
Thanks to all the immediate school, off a spacesuits.
Something we do here at MDRS is clean the spacesuits when we come back in they had a vacuum for dirt and dust control.
Great designs coming from India, designs to keep us dry.
They did a great job.
>> And last slide we have other ideas that came in, as well.
That the students are working on this project.
We want to thank Mrs. Knox's class.
It's very important consideration and also have a MDRS.
Want to thank you.
We enjoyed looking at your ideas, you had great concepts I'll throw it back to the studio.
>> Thanks, Jen.
What are you guys going to to for the rest of the day?
It's about quarter to 11 there Utah time. What plans do you have?
>> What are we going to do the rest of the day? >> Right.
>> After this, after this webcast we're going to go outside and we're going to go in our spacesuits and practice driving the ATVs using the rovers to explore outside of the habitat from a biology and geology standpoint.
Doing EVAs this afternoon and tonight we have in the observatory looking at the night sky.
We have a pretty full day here at the Mars Desert Research Station.
>> Great.
Sounds like fun.
Wish we were there.
One other thing I waned to do John started working on is a curriculum in how do do these explorations.
We hope you can use it overtime at a lot of different levels and maybe you at some point will be able to go through this training that is being designed right now by the people that you talked to on this webcast.
John, can you tell us a little more about it?
>> As you are designing your outpost, you probably realized there were a lot of things you had to consider.
Also in addition to the design, you also have to consider the things you're doing in the field and in the Hab.
What we started to do with our crew is this training guide, this curriculum for these field astronauts.
What that is train people so they are trained in fundamental aspects of engineering, electronics, biology, how to operate an ATV, how to be able to navigate and GPS systems and also including operating the Hab, as well the green Hab. We're developing a curriculum step by step to use, maintain these different systems to enable more people to come in and learn morn about it. And train people to be field astronauts.
>> That sounds interesting.
I'll take that job any day.
Thank you, John.
We want to make sure you all are keeping in the back of your mind that John and I and other people are designing this for you to be the ones to go to the moon and Mars.
Certainly in my case at the time we are ready to go to Mars, I'll be too old to go.
You all that are in your classrooms right now, you are going to be the ones to go to these places.
And so that's why we're trying to create the understanding to help you go and provide the technology for you to go, as well as the training so that when it comes time to go, you're ready.
So keep that in mind that you guys are the astronauts that will do this.
It won't be me, it might be John, but it definitely you so keep that in mind and study hard and join us on this great expedition.
Do we have more questions?
>> I'm having trouble figure out who to field them through I'm going to throw them out and maybe you'll send this one to Utah.
How long would it take to build our design in real life?
>> How long will it take to design a habitat in real life?
>> 125 years to design an actual habitat.
>> OK thank you.
We have a question from Caitlin, she said have you planned to go to the moon any time soon?
Why don't we bring that one to you.
>> You might have just read in the newspaper that NASA has announced its intention to build a permanent research station actually on the moon.
This has been on idea that has been floating around within the science community forever.
And you may have read science fiction books from way back in the middle of the last century of people have had this idea of building a place to live on the moon and do research.
It would be a research station similar to MDRS or the research stations that are down in south.
You don't go to do research but figure out how to live.
The moon is an obvious stepping point for going to Mars.
What we learn on the moon will be directly -- we'll be able to directly apply what happens on Mars.
This is a really exciting time to be involved in this kind of work, and people like John and the other scientists and engineers that are on these expeditions are paving the way to goal of building a lunar station on the moon.
>> OK.
I have a question here that I think I'll send Utah again.
How do you think you will get supplies from the Earth to Mars?
This comes from Grace.
>> I give that question to our chief engineer.
>> Well, obviously you have to have a rocket.
You have to decide what route you want to take.
The space shuttle, something like the rocket would be more for the actual space travel itself.
Which is one of the reasons why the spacecraft out there, one for cargo and one for the crew.
>> So far is to actually produce rocket fuel on the site.
One of the biggest problems is fuel itself.
So the crew does not have to carry the fuel in their journey alone.
If it could be made there, it would make travel a lot easier.
Which is one of things is how to turn Martian soil into fuel. >> Thank you very much Ben.
We're going to try one from a teacher.
Mat, are you still there?
Can we hear from you?
>> Sure. Go ahead.
>> What was the purpose of us to make this project?
>> That's a great question.
The purpose of you to make this project is to see where your creative ideas were and to as students it gives you a chance to do research, find out what's existing as far as development, where future development may be going, project design stages but also to come up with your own design ideas, too.
We talked about our favorite space shows and I know Star Wars came up.
It comes from movies and come magazines, we're hoping to have these projects in class it can stimulate a thought, wow, it could be cool if I could design something like this.
You get that thought process going on paper, you get together people that can make that happen and develop it. So that's one of the main reasons why we do the project.
>> OK.
Thanks, Matt.
Maybe we'll bring this one back to the floor here and let them fight over it.
How can we get oxygen from the Earth to the moon?
>> The only way you could get from oxygen from Earth to the moon is to take it there.
That would mean pack ainling it into a container and shipping it.
That's one of the main components that's actually in rockets for rocket propulsion, when you combine that with the fuel so you can burn it.
It can be done, has been done.
But it's really expensive to carry large quantities of anything, whether it's water, fluids, fuel or oxygen, because it's really heavy and massive.
So it's possible, but we can't take that much so we have to look at technology as to how to extract it from things on the moon, if possible.
>> We try to figure out how to use what's available on the moon or Mars and being able to use what's there and generate oxygen and heat and all the other things you need for basic life. So we don't have to carry it all there with you.
>> It comes from India, so I know he's with us, why are we making a permanent space on the moon.
What is the advantage of this project?
>> Well, certainly a little bit like I discussed before, the idea is to learn how to live on another -- on another planet, on another body that is not our Earth.
And part of man's quest from the very beginning of time has always been to learn about other things that we don't understand and also to explore.
And the idea of going to the moon and establishing a permanent residence there makes it all the more easy to go back and forth and then as I mentioned to leap forward onto Mars and maybe even to other places.
So this is a very important step for us as humans to actually establish a place on another
And it's something very, very exciting.
>> If you look at the reasons for why humans want to go to Mars.
It's science. Learning about our place in cosmo.
To be able to do that is extremely challenging the fastest you can get there is 7 or 8 months with the rocket technology today.
That's the fastest way.
We want to establish a colony on the moon to see if it works first to work in these hostile environments like the moon and get back to Earth quickly so after we've tried and practiced and used these technologies you can transfer it from the moon to Mars, for example.
>> That's an important point.
In all the exploration we've done, we've always done it on Earth before we've gone out in space.
So we've practiced it, we've developed the technology and methodology.
That's the reason for developing the analog.
So the idea is now we're going to take one step further.
We're going to establish a colony on the moon, learn everything we can from the moon and do everything that we're going to do on Mars, practice it on the moon first and then go forward.
So it's like a big stepping stone out away from the Earth.
>> Take small steps first. >> Yep.
>> OK.
Thank you very much, we are getting a lot of people writing in and asking we respond about con activity issues.
We will be archiveing this webcast shortly after we're done so you can always come back and take a look at it.
There are two ways to log into the video, but at this point I think the best thing is to come back and look at the archive.
You have my address, this is Linda and you can help you do that process.
If we go to the moon and make a base there, would our chrome somes or DNA be altered? >> Latasha.
>> That's a really good question. I'm not -- I'm not going to say they will be altered, but you do bring up a really good point for space biology.
A lot of times we come back into our own atmosphere that pressure has a huge effect on our bones and muscles. When they travel on the shuttle it's in very small spaces.
It's important that astronauts get exercises when they're in the shuttle, as well as when they reach their destinations to keep them from cramping up and causing severe damage to the body, especially the muscles and bones.
>> OK. Thank you very much.
Back to you.
>> That was a good response.
Thank you.
There's also some other things that are happening when you're on the moon.
The moon's environment is very hostile of the reason for radiation.
There's radiation bombarding the moon that we do not see here on Earth.
You can get damaged. Tlar particles traveling at the speed of light that can pass through the body and pass into the DNA and damage it.
What we have to think about in the design in the outpost is protecting us from radiation.
There are things that happen to the body when you're in these low gravity environments one of the big focuses that will be happening on the surfaces on the moon what is happening long term on the body and how that will affect future generations.
>> We don't have all the answers right now.
By a long shot, that's why we're relying on you guys to study hard and come help us and bring your fresh new ideas to this conversation, into this research about how we're going to do this kind of work.
And that's why we do these broadcasts, that's why we want to even cower ainl to you study hard, and come join us.
>> The learning never stops.
Unfortunately, we have a huge number of questions which we would love to spend hours answering, we will answer some on line.
We want to remind you to go to the website and again this whole broadcast will be archiveed onto the website and make sure to keep an eye open for future challenges.
We love to do these, we love to have your input and your design. This is a lot of fun for us and hopefully a lot of fun for you, too.
>> I'm going to throw in one more thing.
Those of you who took the pretest and teachers have been involved, we do need to have you take a post test, I will be sending you an email within the day about that and where you can go to do that.
>> Thank you to everybody at the station and mat and also a big thank you Jen and her crew that are back in Utah and at the beginning of a long two-week crew rotation and to my partner here, John.
>> Thank you.
>> Thank you for all your wonderful ideas.
And hope to see you again soon.
 FirstGov  NASA
Curator: Allison Pasciuto
NASA Official: Mark León
Last Updated: February 2005
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