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Curiosity, Zooniverse, Terrains

25 July 2015

Mars Curiosity Rover vehicle has found bedrock with high levels of silica – see http://phys.org/print356943672.html … mudstone and sandstone has allso been discovered.

Three bright spots on Ceres are still puzzling scientists – see http://phys.org/print356943700.html … but a now a haze appears to have them stumped (for a while). Are the white spots ice or salt – or something else. Last year ESA scientists spotted water vapour emanating from the surface of Ceres – is thee a conncetion with the haze (or mist) and the white spots.

At http://phys.org/print356976694.html … NASA has released an image of Pluto surrounded by a halo (back lit by the Sun). Flowing ice and haze have aslo been detected on Pluto – which have become an 'icy world of wonders'. The haze extends between 50 and 80 miles above the surface of Pluto and is, in effect, an atmosphere. There is one band of haze at 30 miles high and the other, at 50 miles high.

Pluto, like Mars, has a reddish hue (not always seen in the images sent back). This is due to complex hydrocarbons on the surface, it is thought, caused by ultra violet light breaking down methane gas particles. However, a spokesman from the New Horizons mission siad, 'we-re going to need some new ideas to figure out what's going on.'

Finally, at http://phys.org/print356849717.html … NASA is soliciting help from the general public in order to analyse exotic features near the south pole of Mars. Planet Four: Terrains is a new platform released by Zooniverse, an organisation that is currently hosting 30 projects that enlist people to contribute to discoveries in fields ranging from astronomy to zoology.

Some of Mars resembles the deserts on Earth but the polar regions display new novel features not seen in earth geology. These are related to seasonal freezing and thawing episodes by dry ice, or ice formed from carbon dioxide. At Plent Four:Terrains volunteers are invited to review images of the south pole and identify the different types of terrain. Each image covers an area of around 16 miles across – see also www.zooniverse.org

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