Confirmed: There's Water On Mars
Analysis of the first scoop of topsoil picked up by NASA's Curiosity rover reveals a composition that includes two percent water. It could mean one less worry for future human visitors.
Kecia Lynn has worked as a technical writer, editor, software developer, arts administrator, summer camp director, and television host. A graduate of Case Western Reserve University and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, she is currently living in Iowa City and working on her first novel.
What's the Latest Development?
A sample of Martian topsoil scooped by NASA's Curiosity rover last year and put into its onboard chemical laboratory has been found to contain water in quantities totaling two percent of its composition. The lab, named Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM), used several instruments, including a mass spectrometer, to determine the makeup of the sample after it had been heated to just over 1,500° Fahrenheit. In addition to water, the sample contained perchlorates, which are toxic to humans but could be used as an energy source by certain kinds of microbes, further extending the possibility of life. Several papers describing Curiosity's findings were recently published in Science.
What's the Big Idea?
The data collected by SAM and Curiosity's other instruments "greatly advance our understanding of surface processes and the action of water on Mars," says SAM principal investigator Paul Mahaffy. Two percent of water may not seem like a lot, but for future missions, it could mean a great deal, says paper lead author and Rensselaer professor Laurie Leshin. "When we send people, they could scoop up the soil anywhere on the surface, heat it just a bit, and obtain water."
- The minimum wage debate rages on
- The same study authors in 2017 famously argued that raising the wage to $15/hr. in Seattle and Tacoma actually cost jobs
- This study says something else, though study authors are quick to say they don't necessarily contradict each other. Ummm ...
Calling all big thinkers!
The 72-page report makes a case against modern policy proposals like "Medicare for All" and free college tuition.
- The report comes from the White House Council of Economic Advisers (CEA), which is run by professional economists.
- It attempts to make direct connections between modern-day progressives and past socialist figures like Stalin and Mao.
- The report comes in the wake of other explicitly anti-socialist sentiments expressed by the Trump administration.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.