Dry valleys, channels, and networks of gullies scar the arid Martian landscape. Along with other evidence, these physical vestiges of conditions on ancient Mars suggest a planet once saturated with liquid water. Where is this water now? Scientists have posited that a portion of it evaporated into the atmosphere, but that the rest lies beneath the surface. Findings announced today offer the strongest support yet to that hypothesis: according to new data, large deposits of water ice may in fact exist under just tens of centimeters of soil on the Red Planet.
Researchers used a gamma-ray spectrometer on board the Mars Odyssey spacecraft to map the emissions of gamma rays and neutrons from the Martian surface. Interactions between elements and cosmic rays, which constantly bombard all planets, produce these gamma rays and neutrons. Specifically, when a cosmic ray strikes an element, neutrons are released. These neutrons may either escape the planet’s surface or excite the nuclei of surrounding elements, which respond by emitting gamma rays. Each element emits a unique combination of gamma rays and neutrons, and thus has a distinctive fingerprint. In three papers released yesterday by the journal Science, investigators reported having found evidence for a high concentration of the element hydrogen, an indicator of water. The results suggest that an immense quantity of water exists within the nooks and crannies of a rocky, porous layer of soil some 30 to 60 centimeters beneath Mars’s surface. Stretching from the edges of the polar ice caps to the middle latitudes, the thickness of the ice layer is difficult to determine--it may be anywhere from a few hundred centimeters to a kilometer deep.
If confirmed, the locations of such water ice deposits could determine future landing sites for rovers, locations of sample returns, and perhaps even placements of human settlements. "We have suspected for some time that Mars once had large amounts of water near the surface. The big questions we are trying to answer are, ’where did all that water go?’ and ’what are the implications for life?’" remarks Jim Garvin, Mars Program Scientist at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C. "Measuring and mapping the icy soils in the polar regions of Mars as the Odyssey team has done is an important piece of this puzzle, but we need to continue searching, perhaps much deeper underground, for what happened to the rest of the water we think Mars once had."
Rachael Moeller | Scientific American
Further Improvement of Qubit Lifetime for Quantum Computers
09.12.2016 | Forschungszentrum Jülich
Electron highway inside crystal
09.12.2016 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg
Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.
Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
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