You almost couldn't make this up - perhaps it has been made up - but a number of sites around the web are reporting Russian plans to send a Monkey to Mars. What makes the whole thing assume a distinct air of lunacy is reports that they plan to send a robot with the monkey to look after it. What doesn't seem to have been explained is if the monkey will receive a return ticket. And no matter how good the robot, this is bound to cause a huge stink, not only in the capsule but with animal rights groups. For me, it does seem unnecessarily cruel. It's also been reported recently that any number of people are willing to go to Mars, even if it is a one-way trip. Much better surely to send human beings who have made the intellectual decision to go on a suicide mission rather than some poor animal. The AFP seems to have the best info on this story. Of course the big worry is that the Monkey and the robot might one day return at the head of a Monkey/Robot death armada and enslave us all!