Lots of Rivers were on Mars: Curiosity rover discovers new evidence Mars once had right conditions for life

Thanks to a combination of images from NASA’s Curiosity rover, scans of sedimentary rock beneath the Gulf of Mexico on Earth and computer simulations, geologists have identified the ancient, eroded remnants of rivers in a number of craters on Mars.

A team of researchers examining data collected by NASA’s Curiosity rover at Gale crater, a large impact basin on the Martian surface, discovered further evidence that rivers once flowed across the Red Planet, perhaps more widespread than was previously thought. "We’re finding evidence that Mars was likely a planet of rivers," said geoscientist Benjamin Cardenas of Penn State University and lead author of the research in a statement.

On Earth, rivers are important for chemical, nutrient and sediment cycles that all have a positive impact on life. The discovery of further evidence for ancient rivers on Mars, therefore, could be an important development in the search for signs of life on the Red Planet.

"Our research indicates that Mars could have had far more rivers than previously believed, which certainly paints a more optimistic view of ancient life on Mars," said Cardenas. "It offers a vision of Mars where most of the planet once had the right condition for life."

The specific landforms identified in Curiosity rover data, called bench-and-nose features, are found within numerous small craters, but until now had not been recognized as being deposits formed by running water.

Evidence for rivers on Mars has been known since the first spacecraft to orbit Mars, Mariner 9, imaged dried-up river channels and floodplains on the red planet’s surface. The various Mars rovers have also found mineralogical evidence in the form of sulfur-containing compounds such as jarosite, which form in water. The rovers and orbiters have also identified ridges formed by sediment in river channels billions of years old.

However, the identification of the bench-and-nose landforms suggests that rivers were even more widespread than thought. They are an alternating mix of steep slopes and shallow ‘benches’, and shortened ridges called ‘noses’. They form when sedimentary material laid down in channels by rivers are subsequently eroded in a preferential direction, possibly by prevailing winds.

Suspecting their watery origin, Cardenas and Kaitlyn Stacey, also of Penn State, trained their computer model on Curiosity’s images of bench-and-nose landforms inside craters and three-dimensional scans of layers of sedimentary bedrock on the sea floor beneath the Gulf of Mexico taken by oil companies 25 years ago.

The computer model was then able to simulate the erosion of sediment left by rivers to form the bench-and-nose landforms.

Curiosity had previously ascertained that the 154-km-wide (96 miles) Gale crater, which the rover is exploring, was filled with liquid water. The discovery that the bench-and-nose landforms were produced by rivers now gives some indication of the structure of that water-mass inside Gale crater.

Source: https://www.space.com/mars-water-curiosity-rover-data-conditions-for-life?utm_term=AF536F6D-055D-443A-91F7-FD448D0CCA73&lrh=4cd1bd23c622eeb1274411ac3b55b43215b8c098a20f14a3285c9e8ae13a98ca&utm_campaign=58E4DE65-C57F-4CD3-9A5A-609994E2C5A9&utm_medium=email&utm_content=3C1E8021-83A0-4C2E-9AD9-5BCE1525AAD8&utm_source=SmartBrief

Video: IMPORTANT: Analog computing will take over 30 billion devices by 2040. Wtf does that mean?

[This could be huge. All of our electrical and electronics were analog. Analog is basically "waves" because ALL OF NATURE works on WAVES. Going digital brought us computers, but there are problems with having gone digital, especially when you want to interact with nature, either my monitoring and having sensors (e.g. light, temperature, sound, etc), or for generating things like sound, etc. This could be huge. Jan]

Here’s the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6AgkTdQXFTY

Physics: Amazing: Only 1% of chemicals in the universe have been discovered. Here’s how scientists are hunting for the rest

[This is amazingly fascinating. I did not know this. This means that lots of weird compounds may exist all over the universe in varying quantities and they might cause all kinds of strange phenomena! This is really great actually. There could be a lot of "magic" out there in the universe working in ways we can't even conceive! Jan]

Most chemical compouds are still unknown to science. How many new ones can we make by combining elements from the periodic table?

The universe is flooded with billions of chemicals, each a tiny pinprick of potential. And we’ve only identified 1% of them. Scientists believe undiscovered chemical compounds could help remove greenhouse gases, or trigger a medical breakthrough much like penicillin did.

But let’s just get this out there first: it’s not that chemists aren’t curious. Since Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev invented the periodic table of elements in 1869, which is basically a chemist’s box of Lego, scientists have been discovering the chemicals that helped define the modern world. We needed nuclear fusion (firing atoms at each other at the speed of light) to make the last handful of elements. Element 117, tennessine, was synthesised in 2010 in this way.

But to understand the full scale of the chemical universe, you need to understand chemical compounds too. Some occur naturally — water, of course, is made of hydrogen and oxygen. Others, such as nylon, were discovered in lab experiments and are manufactured in factories.

Elements are made of one type of atom, and atoms are made of even tinier particles including electrons and protons. All chemical compounds are made of two or more atoms. Although it’s possible there are undiscovered elements left to find, it’s unlikely. So, how many chemical compounds can we make with the 118 different sorts of element Lego blocks we currently know?

Big numbers
We can start by making all the two-atom compounds. There are lots of these: N2 (nitrogen) and O2 (oxygen) together make up 99% of our air. It would probably take a chemist about a year to make one compound and there are 6,903 two-atom compounds in theory. So that’s a village of chemists working a year just to make every possible two-atom compound.

There about 1.6 million three-atom compounds like H20 (water) and C02 (carbon dioxide), which is the population of Birmingham and Edinburgh combined. Once we reach four- and five-atom compounds, we would need everyone on Earth to make three compounds each. And to make all these chemical compounds, we’d also need to recycle all the materials in the universe several times over.

But this is a simplification, of course. Things such as the structure of a compound and its stability can make it more complex and difficult to make.

The biggest chemical compound that has been made so far was made in 2009 and has nearly 3 million atoms. We’re not sure what it does yet, but similar compounds are used to protect cancer drugs in the body until they get to the right place.

But wait, chemistry has rules!

Surely not all those compounds are possible?
It’s true there are rules — but they are kind of bendy, which creates more possibilities for chemical compounds.

Even the solitary "noble gases" (including neon, argon and xenon and helium), which tend to not bind with anything, sometimes form compounds. Argon hydride, ArH+ does not exist naturally on Earth but has been found in space. Scientists have been able to make synthetic versions in laboratories that replicate deep space conditions. So, if you include extreme environments in your calculations, the number of possible compounds increases.

Carbon normally likes being attached to between one and four other atoms, but very occasionally, for short periods of time, five is possible. Imagine a bus with a maximum capacity of four. The bus is at the stop, and people are getting on and off; while people are moving, briefly, you can have more than four people actually on the bus.

Some chemists spend their entire careers trying to make compounds that, according to the chemistry rulebook, shouldn’t exist. Sometimes they are successful.

Another question scientists have to grapple with is whether the compound they want can only exist in space or extreme environments — think of the immense heat and pressure found at hydrothermal vents, which are like geysers but on the ocean floor.

How scientists search for new compounds
Often the answer is to search for compounds that are related to ones that are already known. There are two main ways to do this. One is taking a known compound and changing it a bit — by adding, deleting or swapping some atoms. Another is taking a known chemical reaction and using new starting materials. This is when the method of creation is the same but the products may be quite different. Both of these methods are ways of searching for known unknowns.

Coming back to Lego, it’s like making a house, then a slightly different house, or buying new bricks and adding a second storey. A lot of chemists spend their careers exploring one of these chemical houses.

But how would we search for truly new chemistry — that is, unknown unknowns?

One way chemists learn about new compounds is to look at the natural world. Penicillin was found this way in 1928, when Alexander Fleming observed that mould in his petri dishes prevented the growth of bacteria.

Over a decade later, in 1939, Howard Florey worked out how to grow penicillin in useful amounts, still using mould. But it took even longer, until 1945, for Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin to identify penicillin’s chemical structure.

That’s important because part of penicillin’s structure contains atoms arranged in a square, which is an unusual chemical arrangement that few chemists would guess, and is difficult to make. Understanding penicillin’s structure meant we knew what it looked like and could search for its chemical cousins. If you’re allergic to penicillin and have needed an alternative antibiotic, you have Crowfoot Hodgkin to thank.

Nowadays, it’s a lot easier to determine the structure of new compounds. The X-ray technique that Crowfoot Hodgkin invented on her way to identifying penicillin’s structure is still used worldwide to study compounds. And the same MRI technique that hospitals use to diagnose disease can also be used on chemical compounds to work out their structure.

But even if a chemist guessed a completely new structure unrelated to any compound known on Earth, they’d still have to make it, which is the hard part. Figuring out that a chemical compound could exist does not tell you how it’s structured or what conditions you need to make it.

For many useful compounds, like penicillin, it’s easier and cheaper to "grow" and extract them from moulds, plants or insects. Thus the scientists searching for new chemistry still often look for inspiration in the tiniest corners of the world around us.

Source: https://www.livescience.com/chemistry/only-1-of-chemicals-in-the-universe-have-been-discovered-heres-how-scientists-are-hunting-for-the-rest?utm_term=23709803-D360-4259-9C73-BE4FF46B5C71&lrh=eeb99ac19903b638bde682c575bd3d0872a9ced83f83db97fc733a25835de83a&utm_campaign=368B3745-DDE0-4A69-A2E8-62503D85375D&utm_medium=email&utm_content=CA402D23-BE90-4F1B-AFB0-8D53771391D5&utm_source=SmartBrief

Space: New European Invention: Fuel-Free satellites that have wings! – Spain’s new cubesats will fly in space like a flock of geese

[The European Race never stops inventing. Jan]

Three fuel-free spacecraft will use algorithms and fringes of atmosphere to guide flight.

Europe’s next launch will send a trio of CubeSats to Earth’s orbit that mimic birds flying in formation.

The endeavor, dubbed Advanced Nanosatellite Systems for Earth-observation Research, or ANSER, consists of three shoebox-sized satellites that will monitor Iberian waters as if they are a single, standard-sized satellite.

Launching on an Arianespace Vega-C rocket from Europe’s Guiana Space Center on Oct. 4, the CubeSats will operate about 500 kilometers (310 miles) above Earth, maintaining an optimum distance of 10 km (6.2 miles) apart from each other. Notably, however, the spacecraft will not have onboard propulsion systems to keep them in formation.

Instead the satellites will use their wing-like flaps, which extend their wingspan by about six times, to maintain their relative positions. These flaps exploit the tenuous airflow at the fringe of Earth’s atmosphere to control the satellites’ positions.

"ANSER is also the Latin name for the wild goose, a good example of birds flying in formation, adopting a leader-follower protocol, which is what our mission is emulating," Santiago Rodriguez Bustabad, who is overseeing the mission at the Spanish Institute of Aerospace Technology (INTA), said in an ESA statement.

Rodriguez Bustabad explains that the trio will use a special navigation mechanism – developed for this mission in particular, known as "Differential Lift and Drag" maneuvers. For example, with these maneuvers, a spacecraft can increase its drag effect to produce a significant relative movement in orbit, maintaining control over the formation.

The CubeSats carry a fractionated hyperspectral imager named CINCLUS which is distributed across the three spacecraft. This and other cameras will seek to detect pollution or harmful microorganisms in waters down on Earth.

Rodriguez Bustabad notes that very small satellites, such as CubeSats or nanosats, have become more capable in recent years, with miniaturized sensors and components and lower cost to launch. But these still have limitations, such as in terms of power and resolution.

"To have a real chance of achieving an operational Earth-observing mission we are leaning into distributed systems in the form of clusters and constellations," Rodriguez Bustabad said, "together with miniaturization."

ANSER’s launch will be facilitated by Vega’s Small Spacecraft Mission Service. This ride-sharing service is part of the European Commission’s In-Orbit Demonstration/In-Orbit Validation program aimed at testing new space technologies.

The main payload for the launch will be THEOS-2 (Thailand Earth Observation System-2), along with FORMOSAT-7R/TRITON, developed by the Taiwanese Space Agency (TASA).

Source: https://www.space.com/spain-cubesat-fly-in-formation-like-geese?utm_term=AF536F6D-055D-443A-91F7-FD448D0CCA73&utm_campaign=58E4DE65-C57F-4CD3-9A5A-609994E2C5A9&utm_medium=email&utm_content=809EACD6-7D32-4AF6-ABA5-930E127BD655&utm_source=SmartBrief