Fri, May 26, 2017 | updated 10:22 PM IST

Digging deep into Martian soil

Updated: Jul 26, 2016 12:05 IST      
Digging deep into Martian soil

Washington D.C, Jul 26 (ANI): There is already overwhelming evidence that rivers and lakes once existed on Mars and now, a recent study has given a new twist on the idea.

Previous observations of soil observed along crater slopes on the Red Planet showed a significant amount of perchlorate salts, which tend to be associated with brines with a moderate pH level.

However, researchers have stepped back to look at the bigger picture through data collected from the 2001: Mars Odyssey, named in reference to the science fiction novel by Arthur C. Clarke, '2001: A Space Odyssey,' and found that a different chemical on Mars may be key.

The researchers found that the bulk soil on Mars, across regional scales the size of the U.S. or larger, likely contains iron sulfates bearing chemically bound water, which typically result in acidic brines. This new observation suggests that iron sulfates may play a major role in hydrating martian soil.

This finding was made from data collected by the 2001: Mars Odyssey Gamma Ray Spectrometer, or GRS, which is sensitive enough to detect the composition of Mars soil up to one-half meter deep. This is generally deeper than other missions either on the ground or in orbit, and it informs the nature of bulk soil on Mars.

"This is exciting because it's contributing to the story of water on Mars, which we've used as a path for our search for life on Mars," said co-author Nicole Button.

The study revealed that the older ancient southern hemisphere is more likely to contain chemically bound water while the sulfates and any chemically bound water are unlikely to be associated in the northerly regions of Mars.

The researchers considered several existing hypotheses in the context of their overall observations, which suggest a meaningful presence of iron-sulfate rich soils, which are wet compared to Mars' typically desiccated soil.

Among these hypotheses, the researchers identify acid fog and hydrothermal processes as more consistent with their observations than efflorescence, even though the sensitivity of GRS to elements, but not minerals, prevents a decisive inference. Hydrothermal sites, in particular, are increasingly recognized as important places where the exchange between the surface and deep parts of Earth's biosphere are possible. This hypothesis is significant to the question of martian habitability.

"Our story narrows it to two hypotheses, but emphasizes the significance of all of them," said lead author Suniti Karunatillake. "The depth and breadth of these observation methods tell us about global significance, which can inform the big question of what happened to the hydrologic cycle on Mars."

This research is published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets. (ANI)

Here's how hand amputation, reattachment affect brain

Updated: May 26, 2017 08:20 IST     

Washington D.C. [USA], May 26 (ANI): When a person loses a hand to amputation, nerves that control sensation and movement are severed, causing dramatic changes in areas of the brain that controlled these functions. As a result, areas of the brain devoted to the missing hand take on other functions.

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Soon, toy cars that'll help get kids with disabilities moving

Updated: May 26, 2017 08:19 IST     

Washington D.C. [USA], May 26 (ANI): Two new modified toy car designs have been developed for children with disabilities in an effort to encourage them to further explore, play, and engage in physical and social activities.

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Being 'cruel to be kind' really works!

Updated: May 25, 2017 07:29 IST     

Washington D.C. [USA], May 25 (ANI): Can making people feel bad really help them? Yes, according to a recent study.

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DNA may have only modest impact on sexual assault arrests

Updated: May 24, 2017 19:06 IST     

Washington D.C. [USA], May 24 (ANI): Most arrests in sexual assault cases occur before crime laboratory results are available, a new study found, suggesting that DNA testing may influence arrests in just a small number of cases.

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Your eyes can reveal if you have the post-disaster blues

Updated: May 24, 2017 16:01 IST     

Washington D.C. [USA], May 24 (ANI): Turns out, your eyes really are the windows to your soul as a recent study has found that depression risk following a natural disaster can be predicted via pupil dilation.

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Size of whale has evolved in the recent past!

Updated: May 24, 2017 11:03 IST     

New Delhi [India], May 7 (ANI): Interestingly, blue whales, the largest vertebrate animal that ever lived, have recently evolved into giants.

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Washington D.C. [USA], May 7 (ANI): A team of researchers discovered that deep portions of earth's mantle might be as hot as it was more than 2.5 billion years ago.

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Death by Kissing Bugs more common than thought: Study

Updated: May 22, 2017 13:26 IST     

New York [USA], May 22 (ANI): Kissing Bugs, who like to bite humans around their lips and faces, as they sleep, are more dangerous than you have ever thought of.

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Now, deaf-blind can 'watch' television with this technology

Updated: May 21, 2017 14:15 IST     

Washington D.C. [USA], May 21 (ANI): In a first, researchers have developed a new technology that types Braille or subtitles of television channels in real time and helps deaf-blind people "watch" television without intermediaries.

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Planting trees cannot replace cutting CO2 emissions!

Updated: May 18, 2017 17:15 IST     

New Delhi [INDIA], May 18 (ANI): According to a new study, growing plants and then storing CO2, taken up from the atmosphere, is no viable option to counteract unmitigated emissions from fossil fuel burning.

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Washington D.C. [USA], May 17 (ANI): Large families and strong social ties may help female rhesus macaques live longer, by reducing their chances of dying by 2.3 percent in one year, reveals a new study.

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Turns out, 'drunk you' not that different from 'sober you'

Updated: May 16, 2017 07:21 IST     

Washington D.C. [USA], May 16 (ANI): Your personality may change when you drink, but less than you think, according to a recent study.

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Researchers find ways to make solar energy affordable

Updated: May 14, 2017 21:20 IST     

Washington D.C. [USA], May 14 (ANI): In a recent study, researchers used data science to determine and predict the effects of exposure to weather and other conditions on materials in solar panels.

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Washington D.C. [USA], May 14 (ANI): Just like students choose their flatmates, Briton researchers have found that males of great tit birds are quiet selective when it comes to neighbourhood and opt to nest together with like-minded neighbours to improve their chances of survival.

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Washington D.C. [USA], May 13 (ANI): A group of international scientists studying China's Yellow River has come up with an analytic formula that could help officials better predict and prevent its all-too-frequent floods, which threaten as many as 80 million people.

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'Winged' snakes once slithered the Earth

Updated: May 13, 2017 12:54 IST     

Washington D.C. [USA], May 13 (ANI): A mysterious 5-million-year-old "winged serpent" has finally been identified as a new species of ancient snakes.

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Newly-found distant 'warm Neptune' has primitive atmosphere

Updated: May 12, 2017 10:33 IST     

Washington D.C. [USA], May 12 (ANI): A team of scientists has discovered a distant Neptune-sized planet that has clear skies and an atmosphere almost entirely composed of hydrogen and helium, scientists have discovered.

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New 3-D printed 'bionic skin' lets robots 'feel'

Updated: May 11, 2017 12:27 IST     

Washington D.C. [USA], May 11 (ANI): A team of researchers has come up with a revolutionary process for 3D printing stretchable electronic sensory devices that could give robots the ability to feel their environment.

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Washington D.C. [USA], May 11 (ANI): African lion is the next big cat species to become extinct as they have lost most of their prey, according to a recent study.

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The hidden cost of helping your co-workers

Updated: May 10, 2017 19:56 IST     

Washington D.C. [USA], May 10 (ANI): If you're a co-worker who helps other, you are likely to feel good, but are those good feelings coming at a price?

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