Astronomy: A Clear View of Mars

In any telescopic observation of the planets, the first 20 miles are the hardest; the earth's dirty, turbulent atmosphere spoils the view. But last week a balloon-borne, unmanned telescope named Stratoscope II soared above all such standard troubles and took an unobstructed peek at Mars.

Below the gossamer-thin plastic bag that climbed over Palestine, Texas, dangled a 6,300-lb. L-shaped package as bulky as two Cadillacs. It was surely one of the most ungainly-looking loads ever hefted aloft. Designed and built by PerkinElmer Corp. of Norwalk, Conn., it contained a 36-in. mirror that...

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