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This essay is an entry in our “Dear Spacecraft” series, where we ask writers, scientists, and astronomy enthusiasts to share why they feel personally connected to robotic space explorers. Dear NOAA-20: I know you don’t have a catchy name like Voyager or Cassini, but I appreciate you all the same. Unlike your extrovert cousins, you…

A land of unrelenting wind and ice, Antarctica is about as far from verdant as any place can get. Yet cucumbers are growing on the continent’s coast. Next to them, bunches of leafy swiss chard, fresh herbs, and peppery arugula thrive. These greenhouse vegetables are the stars of one of several scientific projects underway at…