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A.M. Costa Rica

Third News Page
AIM
San José, Costa Rica, Monday, Sept. 22, 2014, Vol. 14, No. 187
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Landslides and highway closings are a fact of life in the rainy season
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Now that the rainy season is here in full force, expats who wish to go or return from the Caribbean coast have two alternatives: The slow and tortuous route through Turrialba or the more dangerous Ruta 32 from Guápiles to San José.

Ruta 32 through the Parque Nacional Braulio Carrillo in the vicinity of the Zurquí tunnel is almost back to normal today after work crews removed tons of dirt, rock and trees that collapsed onto the roadway Thursday evening. The Cruz Roja said that 1,200 persons were trapped in vehicles and even a bus by three giant landslides and 11 smaller ones.

By 2 p.m. Saturday the Consejo Nacional de Vialidad said the highway was open again. That is until the next heavy rain.

The government plans to rebuild that road and shave back the cliff of dirt, rock and trees that is the south side of the highway. The north side is a cliff, so a slide has the potential of pushing a vehicle into a long fall.

The highway agency offered another alternative for persons headed to the northern zone.  That is Ruta 126 through Cariblanco. But that, too, is shelf road. About 7 p.m. Friday two men in a delivery truck went off Ruta 126. The victims were brothers with the last names Segura who lived in Heredia, said the Judicial Investigating Organization.

Landslides onto highways are nearly always the faults of bad planning or an effort to construct a road cheaply.  To fix Ruta 32 will require moving thousands of tons of rock and dirt.

A project starting today at Monteverde will shave back part of the cliff there, in part to provide room for installing a sewer line.
road work
Consejo Nacional de Vialidad photo
This work is on Ruta 606 near Monteverde.

This is on Ruta 606 between Guacimal and Santa Elena. The road will be closed from 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Oct. 31., said the consejo.


Mars survey craft from project involving Tica arrives in orbit
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

A U.S. spacecraft has arrived at Mars to study the planet's upper atmosphere and help scientists answer questions about how its climate has changed over time.

The craft named the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, or MAVEN, completed a 10-month, 711 million-kilometer journey late Sunday. This is the project of which  Costa Rica-born Sandra Cauffman is the deputy project manager.

The craft will measure the rates at which gases escape the Martian atmosphere into space.  NASA says that will allow scientists to calculate how much of the gas the planet has lost throughout its 
history and understand how a planet that possibly once was home to microbial life has turned into a cold and barren desert world.

Billions of years ago, scientists believe, water coursed over the Red Planet’s face. Today, its arid surface may be a textbook on how solar heat not only evaporated that liquid, but also thinned the atmosphere by bleeding off nitrogen and carbon dioxide.

MAVEN will take six weeks to settle into its orbit around Mars and test its instruments before beginning the one-year mission, which carries a price tag of $671 million.

There are three other spacecraft currently orbiting Mars, two American and one European. Another from India is due to arrive Wednesday.

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