Ghost Crater Shows Skid Mark-Like Features in This Photo From Mars

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Perseverance's Office on Mars

Jet Propulsion Laboratory 02 August, 2021 - 11:00pm

Perseverance's team has nicknamed this region the "Crater Floor Fractured Rough" unit. The flat, light-colored stones are informally referred to as "paver rocks" and will be the first type from which Perseverance will collect a sample for planned return to Earth by subsequent missions. Small hills to the south of the rover and the sloping inner walls of the Jezero Crater rim fill the distant background of this view.

The panorama is stitched together from 70 individual images taken on July 28, 2021, the 115th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. This panorama is seen here in natural color (main image) and enhanced color (Figure 1).

The Mastcam-Z investigation is led and operated by Arizona State University in Tempe, working in collaboration with Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego, California, on the design, fabrication, testing, and operation of the cameras, and in collaboration with the Neils Bohr Institute of the University of Copenhagen on the design, fabrication, and testing of the calibration targets.

A key objective for Perseverance's mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will characterize the planet's geology and past climate, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust).

Subsequent NASA missions, in cooperation with ESA (European Space Agency), would send spacecraft to Mars to collect these sealed samples from the surface and return them to Earth for in-depth analysis.

The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is part of NASA's Moon to Mars exploration approach, which includes Artemis missions to the Moon that will help prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet.

JPL, which is managed for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena, California, built and manages operations of the Perseverance rover.

For more about Perseverance: mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/ and nasa.gov/perseverance

The End of One Drive by Perseverance on the Floor of Jezero Crater

Clays, Not Water, Are Likely Source of Mars ‘Lakes’

NASA’s InSight Reveals the Deep Interior of Mars

NASA Perseverance Mars Rover to Acquire First Sample

Signs of Life on Mars? NASA’s Perseverance Rover Begins the Hunt

Journey to the Center of Mars With the InSight Lander Team

NASA to Brief Early Science From Perseverance Mars Rover

NASA’s Mars Helicopter Reveals Intriguing Terrain for Rover Team

NASA’s Curiosity Rover Finds Patches of Rock Record Erased, Revealing Clues

NASA’s Self-Driving Perseverance Mars Rover ‘Takes the Wheel’

First You See It, Then You Don’t: Scientists Closer to Explaining Mars Methane Mystery

Mystery radar signals from Mars are not of water: Something else is brewing on Red Planet

India Today 02 August, 2021 - 11:00pm

Now, some scientists think that the radar signals that suggested the presence of water in these lakes located deep under the surface could be emerging from clays, and not water. Three papers published over the course of the last month have offered new insights into the mystery signals, drying up the lakes hypothesis.

In 2018, a team led by Roberto Orosei of Italy’s Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica announced evidence suggesting the existence of subsurface lakes deep below the ice cap at Mars’ south pole. The team had studied data from a radar instrument aboard the European Space Agency (ESA) Mars Express orbiter that showed bright signals beneath the polar cap. These signals could be interpreted as liquid water, the scientists had argued.

The orbiter used radar signals to penetrate rock and ice, which changed as they’re reflected off different materials. However, researchers after conducting tests in a cold laboratory are now suggesting that signals were not from water. .

Researchers now say that many of these lakes may be in areas too cold for water to remain in a liquid state. Aditya R Khuller and Jeffrey J Plaut from Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) analysed 44,000 radar echoes from the base of the polar cap across 15 years of observations. They found many of these signals in areas close to the surface, where it should be too cold for water to remain in liquid form.

Two separate teams further analysed the data to determine whether anything else could be producing those signals. While Carver Bierson of ASU completed a theoretical study suggesting several possible materials that could cause the signals, including clays, York University’s Isaac Smith measured the properties of smectites, a group of clays present all over Mars.

Smith put several smectite samples, which look like ordinary rocks but were formed by liquid water long ago, into a cylinder designed to measure how radar signals would interact with them. He then doused them with liquid nitrogen, freezing them to minus 50 degrees Celsius, close to temperatures observed at the Martian south pole. Once frozen, the rock samples perfectly matched the radar observations made by the ESA's Mars orbiter.

The team then looked for the presence of such clay on Mars using the MRO, which carries a mineral mapper called the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer. They found smectites scattered in the vicinity of the south pole’s ice cap. "Smith’s team demonstrated that frozen smectite can make the reflections no unusual amounts of salt or heat are required and that they’re present at the south pole," JPL said.

The subsurface lake hypothesis is not the first to have garnered global eyeballs, in 2015 NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter found what looked like streaks of damp sand running down slopes, a phenomenon called “recurring slope lineae.” Researchers had detected signatures of hydrated minerals on slopes where mysterious streaks were seen on the Red Planet. These darkish streaks appeared to ebb and flow over time.

However, repeated observations, using the spacecraft’s High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera, showed granular flows, where grains of sand and dust slip downhill to make dark streaks, rather than the ground being darkened by seeping water. The phenomenon existed only on slopes steep enough for dry grains to descend the way they do on faces of active dunes.

While it is impossible to confirm what the bright radar signals are without landing at Mars’ south pole, the latest studies have offered plausible explanations that are more logical than liquid water.

Copyright © 2021 Living Media India Limited. For reprint rights: Syndications Today

Scholastic CEO M. Richard Robinson Jr. Leaves $1.2 Billion Publishing Empire To Longtime Side Chick And His Family Is Furious - BroBible

WOOD TV8 02 August, 2021 - 02:57pm

The saga involving Scholastic CEO M. Richard Robinson Jr. and his family could be a storyline straight out of HBO’s “Succession.”

The late owner of Scholastic Corp., which published several iconic children’s books including “Harry Potter” and “Magic Schoolbus,” reportedly cut his immediate family out of his will and left the $1.2 billion publishing empire to his longtime side chick.

“Scholastic's CEO didn’t give control of the $1.2 billion publisher to either of his two sons, or his siblings, or his ex-wife. Instead, control went to Iole Lucchese, Scholastic’s chief strategy officer” https://t.co/EXwCcf2NRQ via @WSJ #publishing #Scholastic

— Luca Albani (@lukealb) August 1, 2021

Back in June the 84-year-old Robinson Jr. died suddenly at Martha’s Vineyard and left the company and all of his personal possessions to his longtime lover Iole Lucchese, 54, who has worked at Scholastic for over 30 years.

Via Wall Street Journal

The longtime head of Scholastic Corp., M. Richard Robinson Jr., died suddenly in June on a walk in Martha’s Vineyard. He left behind a surprising succession plan.He didn’t give control of the $1.2 billion publisher to either of his two sons, or his siblings, or his ex-wife, with whom he had rekindled a friendship during the pandemic. Instead, control went to Iole Lucchese, Scholastic’s chief strategy officer. She also inherited all his personal possessions.

In the 2018 will, a copy of which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Robinson described Ms. Lucchese, a 30-year company veteran, as “my partner and closest friend.” Ms. Lucchese and Mr. Robinson had been longtime romantic partners, according to interviews with family members and former employees.Ms. Lucchese’s sudden emergence as Scholastic’s heir has set in motion a family succession drama at the century-old company—it is one of the world’s largest publishers of children’s books, from the “Harry Potter” novels to the “Magic School Bus” series—and raised questions about its future as an independent concern.

Family members are apparently not happy about being left out of the will and are hoping Ms. Lucchese will share the wealth with them and transfer over some voting shares of the company.

Some family members are unhappy and are reviewing their legal options, people close to the situation said, with concerns running the gamut from wanting to maintain Scholastic’s independence to rawness about an outsider having control of Mr. Robinson’s personal possessions. One possibility is to reach an agreement with Ms. Lucchese to transfer some voting shares to family members or to ensure they get a greater share of the estate, one person said.

Maurice “Reece” Robinson, Richard Robinson’s youngest son, described his father’s decision to give control of his personal effects to Ms. Lucchese as “unexpected and shocking.”“What I want most is an amicable outcome,” the 25-year-old filmmaker said in an interview. The elder son, John Benham “Ben” Robinson, 34 years old, said in an email that when he grasped his father’s estate plans it “served as salt in an open wound.”

Before he died Robinson named Lucchese as a co-executor of his estate and she has sole discretion over how to distribute Robinson’s personal possessions to his sons.

Robinson’s youngest son Reece seemed to be the most annoyed with situation. “You might think from the will that he didn’t see his sons,” said Reece “That’s not true. For the last two years I saw him multiple times a week.”

NASA Curiosity rover snaps 'whimsical' rock arch on Mars that's defying wind and dust

CNET 02 August, 2021 - 12:18pm

We like to marvel at large natural rock arches on Earth. Well, there's a tiny version on Mars and it's just as delightful. NASA's Curiosity rover got a good look at a weirdly textured little rock formation that's resisting the forces of wind and erosion on the red planet.

Curiosity is exploring the Gale Crater, home to an impressive mountain called Mount Sharp. The rover snapped some close-up views of the dainty, ragged arch last week, and citizen scientist Kevin Gill put the images together into a mosaic view. 

From the lab to your inbox. Get the latest science stories from CNET every week.

NASA planetary geologist Abigail Fraeman described the sight as "a particularly whimsical image of an interesting rock texture" in a rover mission update. "I continue to be dazzled by the textures we're seeing, especially the prevalence of centimeter-sized bumps and lumps poking out of the bedrock," Fraeman said.

The rover is currently checking out a transitional zone between the "clay-bearing unit" (an area rich in clay minerals) and the "sulfate-bearing unit" (gypsum and Epsom salts are examples of sulfates). Both areas hint at a potentially watery past in the region and are of interest to scientists investigating whether Mars might have once been habitable for microbial life.

The field of view for the arch images is only about 6.5 inches (16.5 centimeters), so that means the entire formation is quite small. According to planetary geologist Michelle Minitti, the delicate arch is likely made up of material that's resistant to erosion. The Gale Crater is a dusty and windy place and the rocky landscape shows the signs of this.

Martian geologist Gwénaël Caravaca commented on the arch on Twitter, saying it could be seen to resemble a snake, horns or a DNA strain.

Some see snake, some see horns, some see a DNA strain, but for the moment, what I see is a great RMI mosaic on this strange edifice, likely due to differential erosion on altered rocks#chemcam @MarsCuriosity https://t.co/FyWpa85Epo

Seeing familiar shapes in random objects is a favorite pastime of Mars fans, as followers of the rover's sibling vehicle Perseverance know well from a recent view of the humorously nicknamed "butt crack rock." 

Curiosity has been exploring Gale Crater since 2012. The arch shows there are still plenty of visual and geologic wonders for the veteran rover to uncover as it makes its way up the base of Mount Sharp.

Follow CNET's 2021 Space Calendar to stay up to date with all the latest space news this year. You can even add it to your own Google Calendar.        

Life on Mars theory shattered as new study offers alternate explanation to water

Daily Express 02 August, 2021 - 08:53am

Billions of years ago, the Red Planet is believed to have resembled a young Earth with lakes and rivers – and maybe even life. Today, what little remains of that water is understood to lie hidden under the thick ice caps covering Mars' southern pole. The Martian ice caps are made out of a mix of frozen carbon dioxide or CO2 (dry ice) and water ice trapped underneath.

The discovery of water on Mars would, of course, have major implications for the search for alien life.

Having access to water on Mars would also greatly benefit humanity's efforts to colonise the Red Planet.

But a team of researchers in Canada are not so certain about the liquid water theory.

Researchers from York University in Toronto have now proposed another culprit – clay.

More specifically, the researchers believe the Mars lake theory can be explained through the presence of smectites, which are a type of common clay.

Lead researcher Isaac Smith, a research scientist at the Planetary Science Institute, said: "Since being first reported as bodies of water, the scientific community has shown scepticism about the lake hypothesis and recent publications questioned if it was even possible to have liquid water."

Studies published in 2018 and 2021 have argued the amount of heat and salt needed to thaw the Martian ice caps is simply not there.

And more recent radar observations have picked up the same bright reflections over a more widespread area, adding further fuel to the mystery.

The Canadian team, which included scientists from the US, believe the presence of smectites on the southern pole can account for these discrepancies.

They even claim to have found spectral evidence of the clay along the edges of the south polar cap.

Professor Smith added: "Smectites are very abundant on Mars, covering about half the planet, especially in the Southern Hemisphere.

"That knowledge, along with the radar properties of smectites at cryogenic temperatures, points to the being the most likely explanation to the riddle."

Smectites are a type of clay that forms when volcanic rock (basalt) breaks down in the presence of water.

In other words, the abundant presence of smectite on Mars proves, at the very least, the Red Planet used to be wet.

Briony Horgan, study co-author and professor at Purdue University, said: "Detecting possible clay minerals in and below the south polar ice cap is important because it tells us that the ice includes sediments that have interacted with water sometime in the past, either in the ice cap or before the ice was there.

"So while our work shows that there may not be liquid water and an associated habitable environment for life under the cap today, it does tell us about water that existed in the past."

The researchers supporter their study with lab tests that simulated the freezing conditions under Mars's polar caps.

Professor Smith froze the smectite clays to temperatures of -50C and shot infrared beams at them to measure their reflectiveness.

The experiment found frozen smectite can cause reflections that may be mistaken for liquid water.

Dan Lalich, a post-doctoral researcher at Cornell University, said: "We used our lab measurements of clay minerals as the input for a radar reflection model and found that the results of the model matched very well with the real, observed data.

"While it's disappointing that liquid water might not actually be present below the ice today, this is still a cool observation that might help us learn more about conditions on ancient Mars."

Life on Mars theory shattered as new study offers alternate explanation to water

News18 02 August, 2021 - 08:53am

Billions of years ago, the Red Planet is believed to have resembled a young Earth with lakes and rivers – and maybe even life. Today, what little remains of that water is understood to lie hidden under the thick ice caps covering Mars' southern pole. The Martian ice caps are made out of a mix of frozen carbon dioxide or CO2 (dry ice) and water ice trapped underneath.

The discovery of water on Mars would, of course, have major implications for the search for alien life.

Having access to water on Mars would also greatly benefit humanity's efforts to colonise the Red Planet.

But a team of researchers in Canada are not so certain about the liquid water theory.

Researchers from York University in Toronto have now proposed another culprit – clay.

More specifically, the researchers believe the Mars lake theory can be explained through the presence of smectites, which are a type of common clay.

Lead researcher Isaac Smith, a research scientist at the Planetary Science Institute, said: "Since being first reported as bodies of water, the scientific community has shown scepticism about the lake hypothesis and recent publications questioned if it was even possible to have liquid water."

Studies published in 2018 and 2021 have argued the amount of heat and salt needed to thaw the Martian ice caps is simply not there.

And more recent radar observations have picked up the same bright reflections over a more widespread area, adding further fuel to the mystery.

The Canadian team, which included scientists from the US, believe the presence of smectites on the southern pole can account for these discrepancies.

They even claim to have found spectral evidence of the clay along the edges of the south polar cap.

Professor Smith added: "Smectites are very abundant on Mars, covering about half the planet, especially in the Southern Hemisphere.

"That knowledge, along with the radar properties of smectites at cryogenic temperatures, points to the being the most likely explanation to the riddle."

Smectites are a type of clay that forms when volcanic rock (basalt) breaks down in the presence of water.

In other words, the abundant presence of smectite on Mars proves, at the very least, the Red Planet used to be wet.

Briony Horgan, study co-author and professor at Purdue University, said: "Detecting possible clay minerals in and below the south polar ice cap is important because it tells us that the ice includes sediments that have interacted with water sometime in the past, either in the ice cap or before the ice was there.

"So while our work shows that there may not be liquid water and an associated habitable environment for life under the cap today, it does tell us about water that existed in the past."

The researchers supporter their study with lab tests that simulated the freezing conditions under Mars's polar caps.

Professor Smith froze the smectite clays to temperatures of -50C and shot infrared beams at them to measure their reflectiveness.

The experiment found frozen smectite can cause reflections that may be mistaken for liquid water.

Dan Lalich, a post-doctoral researcher at Cornell University, said: "We used our lab measurements of clay minerals as the input for a radar reflection model and found that the results of the model matched very well with the real, observed data.

"While it's disappointing that liquid water might not actually be present below the ice today, this is still a cool observation that might help us learn more about conditions on ancient Mars."

Quake-Measuring Device Looks at Inside of Mars

VOA Learning English 01 August, 2021 - 12:00am

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A quake-measuring device on Mars is providing the first close look at the inside of the planet. The findings show a surprisingly thin crust and a hot, molten core beneath the Martian surface.

Scientists recently reported that the Martian crust is about the same thickness as Earth’s. The Martian mantle, the area between the crust and core, is about half as thick as Earth’s. And the Martian core is bigger than what the scientists expected. However, it is still much smaller than Earth’s core.

These new studies confirm that the Martian core is molten. But scientists say more research is needed to know whether Mars has a solid inner core like Earth’s, surrounded by a molten outer core.

Stronger marsquakes could help identify any multiple core layers, the scientists said.

The findings are based on about 35 marsquakes recorded by a French seismometer on the American space agency NASA’s InSight spacecraft. A seismometer is a device that responds to ground noises and shaking. InSight arrived on Mars in 2018.

The seismometer on InSight has detected 733 marsquakes so far. But the 35 with magnitudes from 3.0 to 4.0 served as the basis for these studies. Most of the sizable quakes came from a volcanic area 1,600 kilometers away where lava may have flowed millions of years ago.

Mark Panning is with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and took part in the crust study. He said even the biggest marsquakes are so weak they would barely be felt on Earth. He is hoping for a bigger quake which would make it easier to process the information and describe the inside of Mars.

Current measurements show Mars’ crust possibly reaching as deep as 20 kilometers to 37 kilometers. The mantle extends down nearly 1,600 kilometers. And the relatively lightweight core has a radius of 1,830 kilometers.

Earth’s crust ranges from a few kilometers beneath the oceans to more than 70 kilometers beneath the Himalayan mountains in Asia. Earth is almost double the size of Mars.

Panning said, “By going from cartoon understanding of what the inside of Mars looks like, putting real numbers on it...we are able to really expand the family tree of understanding” how our solar system’s rocky planet formed.

The InSight mission has been extended by another two years. But in recent months, InSight has had power issues. Dust covered its solar panels, just as Mars was approaching the farthest point in its orbit around the sun. Solar panels are large, flat pieces of equipment that use the sun's light or heat to create electricity.

Flight controllers have increased power by using the spacecraft’s robotic arm to release sand into the wind to remove some of the dust on the panels. The seismometer has continued working. But all other science instruments have been temporarily stopped because of the power issues. A German heat-seeking device, however, was declared dead in January after it failed to dig more than half a meter into the planet.

molten adj. melted by heat

core n. the central part of a heavenly body, as the earth or sun

lava n. melted rock from a volcano

radius n. a straight line from the center of a circle or sphere to any point on the outer edge

cartoonadj. similar to a drawing in a newspaper or magazine intended as a humorous comment on something

dustn. fine powder made up of very small pieces of earth or sand

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