Inside the Beltway

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All eyes on Mars

NASA is gearing up for next Sunday’s arrival to Mars of the Phoenix Mars Lander — an entry, descent and landing scheduled to begin at 7:46 p.m.

The spacecraft must perform a series of challenging transformations during the seven minutes after it enters the Martian atmosphere, not the least being slowing down from an incredible 12,000 mph to 5 mph and a soft touchdown.

More than half of previous international attempts to land on Mars have been unsuccessful, according to NASA.

Choo-Choo Charlie

Amtrak ought to take the words of one well-known congressman and turn them into a billboard advertisement.

Rising on the House floor last week in support of a resolution creating “National Train Day,” Rep. Charles B. Rangel, New York Democrat, remarked of his Amtrak Acela commute between New York and Washington: “I find my commute by train a convenient, efficient and relaxing way to travel that enables me to read and work in comfort and arrive refreshed, usually on time, and downtown, closer to my destination.”

John McCaslin can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washington

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