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Strange magnetic pulses that happen at midnight detected on Mars

A NASA robot on Mars sends back unusual findings, including timed magnetic pulses.

NASA's InSight lander.

Credit: NASA
  • Scientists reveal preliminary findings from NASA's Insight Lander on Mars.
  • The lander has been on Mars since November 2018.
  • The data includes detection of magnetic pulses, happening at local midnight.


NASA's Insight Lander, a robot designed to study the deep insides of Mars, taking its vital signs, has sent back a wealth of information. Within the preliminary findings is evidence of a strange magnetic pulse some times emanating from the planet precisely at midnight.

The seemingly timed nature of the phenomenon raised the attention of the scientists poring over the data. The cause of the pulsation is currently unknown. The researchers are trying to pinpoint whether the signal is from deep underground or closer to the surface.

What's unusual about this occasional magnetic pulsation or wobbling is that it happens at a time when such events would be unlikely on Earth, where they are often related to northern or southern lights, explains National Geographic. While we don't know yet why the ones on Mars take place, the scientists conjecture that it may have to do with how the location of the lander on Mars aligns with the tail of the magnetic bubble around Mars. This tail may be interacting with the magnetic field on its way by, causing the pulsing. NASA scientists are planning further research, including flying the MAVEN orbiter above the lander to confirm this suspicion.

The information was presented at the joint meeting of the European Planetary Science Congress and the American Astronomical Society, taking place in Geneva, Switzerland between from 15th to 20th of September, 2019.

The Insight Lander has been on the red planet since November 2018. Among the information it's collected is the temperature of the upper crust, sounds of earthquakes recorded inside Mars, and measurements of the magnetic field.

Data from the lander shows that the crust of the planet is much more magnetic than predicted, ten times more so than Earth's. Mars's magnetosphere extends 60 to 250 miles above, also found out the lander. This suggests to the scientists that Mars once had a large magnetic field that was possibly able to support life. Once that was gone, radiation was sure to make the planet what it is now.

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Listen to Martian wind blow across NASA’s InSight lander. The spacecraft’s seismometer and air pressure sensor picked up vibrations from 10-15 mph (16-24 kph...

One other very interesting discovery pertains to the 2.5-mile-thick electrically conductive layer, located underground. It's possible this indicates a large amount of water under the surface.

Check out the paper on preliminary findings from the Insight Lander here.

The “new normal” paradox: What COVID-19 has revealed about higher education

Higher education faces challenges that are unlike any other industry. What path will ASU, and universities like ASU, take in a post-COVID world?

Photo: Luis Robayo/AFP via Getty Images
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Everywhere you turn, the idea that coronavirus has brought on a "new normal" is present and true. But for higher education, COVID-19 exposes a long list of pernicious old problems more than it presents new problems.
  • It was widely known, yet ignored, that digital instruction must be embraced. When combined with traditional, in-person teaching, it can enhance student learning outcomes at scale.
  • COVID-19 has forced institutions to understand that far too many higher education outcomes are determined by a student's family income, and in the context of COVID-19 this means that lower-income students, first-generation students and students of color will be disproportionately afflicted.
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Masturbation boosts your immune system, helping you fight off infection and illness

Can an orgasm a day really keep the doctor away?

Sexual arousal and orgasm increase the number of white blood cells in the body, making it easier to fight infection and illness.

Image by Yurchanka Siarhei on Shutterstock
Sex & Relationships
  • Achieving orgasm through masturbation provides a rush of feel-good hormones (such as dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin) and can re-balance our levels of cortisol (a stress-inducing hormone). This helps our immune system function at a higher level.
  • The surge in "feel-good" hormones also promotes a more relaxed and calm state of being, making it easier to achieve restful sleep, which is a critical part in maintaining a high-functioning immune system.
  • Just as bad habits can slow your immune system, positive habits (such as a healthy sleep schedule and active sex life) can help boost your immune system which can prevent you from becoming sick.
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The biology of aliens: How much do we know?

Hollywood has created an idea of aliens that doesn't match the science.

The biology of aliens: How much do we know? | Michio Kaku, ...
Videos
  • Ask someone what they think aliens look like and you'll probably get a description heavily informed by films and pop culture. The existence of life beyond our planet has yet to be confirmed, but there are clues as to the biology of extraterrestrials in science.
  • "Don't give them claws," says biologist E.O. Wilson. "Claws are for carnivores and you've got to be an omnivore to be an E.T. There just isn't enough energy available in the next trophic level down to maintain big populations and stable populations that can evolve civilization."
  • In this compilation, Wilson, theoretical physicist Michio Kaku, Bill Nye, and evolutionary biologist Jonathan B. Losos explain why aliens don't look like us and why Hollywood depictions are mostly inaccurate.
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Live on Tuesday | Personal finance in the COVID-19 era

Sallie Krawcheck and Bob Kulhan will be talking money, jobs, and how the pandemic will disproportionally affect women's finances.

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