Artists impression of water under the Martian surface (ESA 2001. Illustration by Medialab)
Instruments on the Mars Express orbiter can observe selected areas of the Martian surface (ESA 2001. Illustration by Medialab)
"The presence of such a large amount of water ice under Mars`s surface is very surprising. Especially so close to the surface!" says Gerhard Schwehm, Head of the Planetary Missions Division at ESA. The team working on ESA`s Mars Express, the next mission to the Red Planet, is thrilled by NASA`s Mars Odyssey detection of hydrogen-rich layers under the Martian surface. This hydrogen indicates the presence of water ice in the top surface of the Martian soil in a large region surrounding the planet`s south pole. ESA`s Mars Express, ready for launching in June 2003, has the tools for searching much deeper below the surface, down to a few kilometres.
"Mars Express will give a more global picture of where the water is and how deep," says Patrick Martin, ESA deputy project scientist for the Mars Express mission.
The radar sounder on board Mars Express, MARSIS, will map the subsurface structure from a depth of about a hundred metres to as much as a few kilometres. This is in contrast with the Mars Odyssey, which can sense surface compositions to a depth of only one metre.
Clovis De Matos | alphagalileo
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Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
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