Curiosity Rover Drills Into Mars Rock, Finds Water

Space.com
Miriam Kramer
The hole drilled into this rock target, called "Cumberland," was made by NASA's Mars rover Curiosity on May 19, 2013.
© NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS The hole drilled into this rock target, called “Cumberland,” was made by NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity on May 19, 2013.NASA’s Curiosity rover is continuing to help scientists piece together the mystery of how Mars lost its surface water over the course of billions of years.The rover drilled into a piece of Martian rock called Cumberland and found some ancient water hidden within it. Researchers were then able to test a key ratio in the water with Curiosity’s onboard instruments to gather more data about when Mars started to lose its water, NASA officials said. In the same sample, Curiosity also detected the first organic molecules it has found. Mission scientists announced the discovery in a news conference today (Dec. 15) at the American Geophysical Union’s convention in San Francisco, where they also unveiled Curiosity’s first detection of methane on Mars.

“It’s really interesting that our measurements from Curiosity of gases extracted from ancient rocks can tell us about loss of water from Mars,” Paul Mahaffy, Curiosity’s SAM (Sample Analysis at Mars) instrument principal investigator at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, said in a statement. [Photos: The Search for Water on Mars]

Curiosity measured the ratio of deuterium (heavy hydrogen) to “normal” hydrogen. This D-to-H ratio can help scientists see how long it takes for water molecules to escape, because the lighter hydrogen molecules fly toward the upper atmosphere more freely than deuterium does.

The D-to-H ratio in Cumberland is about half the ratio found in the Martian atmosphere’s water vapor today, NASA officials said. This suggests that the planet lost much of its surface water after the Cumberland rock formed, space agency officials added in the same statement.

But the water sample is also about three times “heavier” than Earth’s oceans. This means that if Mars’ surface water started off with a D-to-H ratio like Earth’s, then most of the Martian water likely disappeared before Cumberland formed about 3.9 billion to 4.6 billion years ago.

The Cumberland measurement fills in a gap for scientists studying different epochs of Martian geological evolution. This sampling marks the first time scientists have been able to measure what the water on Mars may have been like during the Hesperian period, when this rock was formed, said Mahaffy, who is the lead author of a Mars water study published in the journal Science this week.

Previously, scientists have used Martian meteorites on Earth to sample Martian water; however, none of those space rocks date back to the Hesperian period.

“You have the whole period from 2.5 billion to 4 billion years old, and there’s no data that we have from Mars meteorites just because we haven’t found any yet, I guess,” Mahaffy told Space.com. “So, it’s very gratifying to be able to fill in that picture a little bit.”

Follow Miriam Kramer @mirikramer. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original article on Space.com.

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Why Sony Deserves to Lose Over $100 Million

Ever since I saw the first trailer for the movie “The Interview” I was disgusted.  Seth Rogen and James Franco have become the Cheech and Chong of the millennial crowd.  Playing in dopey, stupid vehicles that glorify idiocy and drug usage.  Who at Sony thought it was funny to portray two idiots being hired by the CIA to assassinate an actual foreign leader?

Neighbors and This is the End were just as stupid.

Neighbors and This is the End were just as stupid.

For one thing, the CIA is prohibited from assassination of foreign leaders unless we are in a state of war.

On December 4, 1981 President Ronald Reagan signed Executive Order 12333, an Executive Order intended to extend powers and responsibilities of US intelligence agencies and direct the leaders of U.S. federal agencies to co-operate fully with CIA requests for information. This executive order was entitled United States Intelligence Activities.

Proscription on assassination

Part 2.11 of this executive order reiterates a proscription on US intelligence agencies sponsoring or carrying out an assassination. It reads:

No person employed by or acting on behalf of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, assassination.

What was Sony thinking?  Yeah, let’s have a stupid movie about America killing a world leader – and make it a vapid comedy.  Why don’t we spend over $100 million and put out his “comedy” about assassination out as a nice Christmas film?  Let’s add in lax security, and let’s exchange email and record conversations insulting people and making racists comments, while revealing a white elitist organization that is hypocritical?

When Seth Rogen and James Franco found they would be paid millions by Sony for such a stupid film.

When Seth Rogen and James Franco found they would be paid millions by Sony for such a stupid film.

Don’t get me wrong.  North Korea is a horrible place and makes the world more dangerous and starves its own people for the whims of its dictator.  Still, the film portrays Americans and the CIA as laughing at killing other foreign leaders.  Really?

This image from the trailer and movie is bound to result in an Oscar nomination...

This image from the trailer and movie is bound to result in an Oscar nomination…

I wish Sony had pulled the film from theaters, not because of threats of terrorism from North Korean agents, but because it showed complete stupidity in every approving and filming such a dumb movie.  Sony deserves its public humiliation and loss of money.  What was the spin?  Let’s take Pineapple Express and mix it up with 24 and let’s make it into a comedy?  Why not make it a musical while you are at it?

 

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1890: Smokiana

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6,000-year-old temple with possible sacrificial altars discovered

prehistoric-temple-ukraine-1

A temple dating back about 6,000 years has been discovered within a massive prehistoric settlement in Ukraine. (courtesy Nataliya Burdo and Mykhailo Videiko/Institute of Archaeology NAS of Ukraine, Kyiv.)

A 6,000-year-old temple holding humanlike figurines and sacrificed animal remains has been discovered within a massive prehistoric settlement in Ukraine.

Built before writing was invented, the temple is about 197 by 66 feet in size. It was a “two-story building made of wood and clay surrounded by a galleried courtyard,” the upper floor divided into five rooms, write archaeologists Nataliya Burdo and Mykhailo Videiko in a copy of a presentation they gave recently at the European Association of Archaeologists’ annual meeting in Istanbul, Turkey.

Inside the temple, archaeologists found the remains of eight clay platforms, which may have been used as altars, the finds suggested. A platform on the upper floor contains “numerous burnt bones of lamb, associated with sacrifice,” write Burdo and Videiko, of the Institute of Archaeology of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. The floors and walls of all five rooms on the upper floor were “decorated by red paint, which created [a] ceremonial atmosphere.” [See Photos of the Prehistoric Temple & Animal Remains]

The ground floor contains seven additional platforms and a courtyard riddled with animal bones and pottery fragments, the researchers found.

Massive settlement

The temple, which was first detected in 2009, is located in a prehistoric settlement near modern-day Nebelivka. Recent research using geophysical survey indicates the prehistoric settlement is 588 acres, almost twice the size of the modern-day National Mall in Washington, D.C. It contained more than 1,200 buildings and nearly 50 streets.

A number of other prehistoric sites, of similar size, have been found in Ukraine and other parts of Eastern Europe. These sites are sometimes referred to as belonging to the “Trypillian” culture, a modern-day name. The name is derived from the village of Trypillia in Ukraine, where artifacts of this ancient culture were first discovered.

Archaeologists found that when this prehistoric settlement was abandoned, its structures, including the newly discovered temple, were burnt down, something that commonly occurred at other Trypillian culture sites.

Ornaments and figurines 

Fragments of figurines, some of which look similar to humans, were also found at the temple. Like findings at other Trypillian sites, some of the figurines have noses that look like beaks and eyes that are dissimilar, one being slightly larger than the other.

Ornaments made of bone and gold were also discovered at the temple. The gold ornaments are less than an inch in size and may have been worn on the hair, researchers say.

At the time the prehistoric settlement near Nebelivka flourished other early urban centers were being developed in the Middle East. And the newly discovered prehistoric temple is similar, in some ways, to temples from the fifth to fourth millennia B.C. that were built in ancient Middle East cities, such as those in Anatolia and Mesopotamia, Burdo and Videiko note.

For example a 6,000-year-old temple at the ancient city of Eridu, in modern-day Iraq, also had a floor partitioned into smaller rooms, they note.

The discovery was recently published, in Ukrainian, in the journal Tyragetia. Another paper reporting on recent research at the settlement was published recently online in the journal Antiquity.

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Cute Dogs For Your Monday Blues!

Cute dogs pictures to cheer you up…

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This tree produces 40 different types of fruit

This tree produces 40 different types of fruit
40-fruits

An art professor from Syracuse University in the US, Van Aken grew up on a family farm before pursuing a career as an artist, and has combined his knowledge of the two to develop his incredible Tree of 40 Fruit.

In 2008, Van Aken learned that an orchard at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station was about to be shut down due to a lack of funding. This single orchard grew a great number of heirloom, antique, and native varieties of stone fruit, and some of these were 150 to 200 years old. To lose this orchard would render many of these rare and old varieties of fruit extinct, so to preserve them, Van Aken bought the orchard, and spent the following years figuring out how to graft parts of the trees onto a single fruit tree.

Working with a pool of over 250 varieties of stone fruit, Van Aken developed a timeline of when each of them blossom in relationship to each other and started grafting a few onto a working tree’s root structure. Once the working tree was about two years old, Van Aken used a technique called chip grafting to add more varieties on as separate branches. This technique involves taking a sliver off a fruit tree that includes the bud, and inserting that into an incision in the working tree. It’s then taped into place, and left to sit and heal over winter. If all goes well, the branch will be pruned back to encourage it to grow as a normal branch on the working tree.

After about five years and several grafted branches, Van Aken’s first Tree of 40 Fruit was complete.

Aken’s Tree of 40 Fruit looks like a normal tree for most of the year, but in spring it reveals a stunning patchwork of pink, white, red and purple blossoms, which turn into an array of plums, peaches, apricots, nectarines, cherries and almonds during the summer months, all of which are rare and unique varieties.

Not only is it a beautiful specimen, but it’s also helping to preserve the diversity of the world’s stone fruit. Stone fruits are selected for commercial growing based first and foremost on how long they keep, then how large they grow, then how they look, and lastly how they taste. This means that there are thousands of stone fruit varieties in the world, but only a very select few are considered commercially viable, even if they aren’t the best tasting, or most nutritious ones.

Van Aken has grown 16 Trees of 40 Fruit so far, and they’ve been planted in museums, community centres, and private art collections around the US. He now plans to grow a small orchard of these trees in a city setting.

Of course, the obvious question that remains is what happens to all the fruit that gets harvested from these trees? Van Aken told Lauren Salkeld at Epicurious:

I’ve been told by people that have [a tree] at their home that it provides the perfect amount and perfect variety of fruit. So rather than having one variety that produces more than you know what to do with, it provides good amounts of each of the 40 varieties. Since all of these fruit ripen at different times, from July through October, you also aren’t inundated.”

Read the rest of the interview here.

 

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Guy Transforms Himself Into Every “American Horror Story” Character With Nothing But Makeup

Guy Transforms Himself Into Every "American Horror Story" Character With Nothing But Makeup

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December 13, 2014 · 10:09 pm
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