Weekly News Round-Up 14.06.13

Hello readers! It’s me again, here with your weekly news round-up. We’re getting back to normal again now and we have a great deal lined up for you all in the near future! Stay tuned for a wide range of posts, from a question and answer session we set up earlier this month to the science behind sci-fi!

 

Icy Hovercrafts On Mars?

Ever seen a massive block of ice float? Well, that is one of the things being reported by NASA JPL. Findings recently reported in the journal Icarus show how a range of gullies were found on sand dunes normally covered by CO2 ice throughout the Martian winter. These features would not be seen on Earth, mainly due to the common ices found on Earth transitioning to a liquid before evaporating. CO2 ice, more commonly called dry ice, sublimes – that means it goes straight from being a solid to a gas. This allows a cushion of CO2 to build up under the raft of ice which, if the rate of sublimation is fast enough, can lead to a hovercraft type scenario to occur. To test their hypothesis, the group took a series of man made dry ice rafts to the dunes of Utah and California, where they slide them down the slopes to find that very similar structures form. Read more about it here, in this BBC article: ‘Ice Hovercraft’ tracks seen on Mars

 

Opportunity and Esperance

Opportunity has done it again. By chance, the rover has stumbled upon a rock with a very high clay mineral content. Now, you may think that finding is not particularly impressive nor unique. You’d be wrong. The article sums up how, commonly when scientists talk about finding water on Mars, they are often referring to a fluid with more in common with sulphuric acid that it does with liquid water as we know it. This rock, dubbed ‘Esperance’, is a game changer. The high clay content indicates an abundance of near neutral pH water (where as acidic waters, such as those containing sulphuric acid, are often much lower pH; commonly around pH 1 ). Read more about the findings in this BBC article: Old Opportunity Mars rover makes rock discovery

 

30 Years and 1500 Tweets Later

After 30 years of distinguished service, Cmdr. Chris Hadfield – the Canadian astronaut who was, until recently, in command of the ISS, is due to retire on the 3rd of July this year. We would like to personally extend our thanks to him for everything he has contributed to planetary science, as well as keeping us thoroughly entertained throughout your time in orbit. You are a credit to the scientific world and we hope your interest in space will remain unabated, even in retirement! Read more about the announcement here: Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield to retire

 

Finally, I leave you with a stunning picture of an M- class flare from the Sun, courtesy of NASA. Hope you all have a fantastic weekend, and don’t forget to grab your tickets for the amazing, Live at Jodrell Bank events we will be running demonstrations at later this summer!

An M-class flare appears on the lower right of the sun on June 7, 2013. This image was captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory in the 131 Angstrom wavelength, a wavelength of UV light that is particularly good for seeing flares and that is typically colorized in teal Image and description credit: NASA

An M-class flare appears on the lower right of the sun on June 7, 2013. This image was captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory in the 131 Angstrom wavelength, a wavelength of UV light that is particularly good for seeing flares and that is typically colorized in teal
Image and description credit: NASA

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About Mark Nottingham

Mark is a PhD student in the Isotope Geochemistry and Cosmochemistry group at UoM. Primarily working on the RIMSKI and RELAX noble gas instruments.
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