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NASA Curiosity rover captures impressive dust devil swirling on Mars – CNET

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NASA’s Curiosity rover snapped the images in this GIF that show a dust devil moving acros the martian landscape.


NASA/JPL-Caltech

It’s been blustery lately in the Gale Crater on Mars, home to NASA’s Curiosity rover. 

The Curiosity team has been snapping landscape views to keep an eye on the wind activity. Their efforts paid off with a scenic GIF of a dust devil acting up in the distance.

Spotting dust devils on Mars can be tricky, requiring a lot of image processing. 

“But this dust devil was so impressive that — if you look closely! — you can just see it moving to the right, at the border between the darker and lighter slopes, even in the raw images,” wrote atmospheric scientists Claire Newman, a Curiosity team member with Aeolis Research, in an update last week.

Curiosity takes “dust devil movies” where it observes a section of the crater, taking multiple images over a period of time. The researchers are looking at the formation, size, direction and duration of the whirlwinds. The dust devil in the GIF performed its dance earlier in August.

Curiosity is doing its part to give scientists a more complete picture of the wind and dust that can scour the red planet. “The dust measurements will help us to track the regional dust activity on Mars that has been seen from the surface and orbit in recent sols,” said Newman. A “sol” is a day on Mars.

Mars is known for impressive dust storms, including the global storm in 2018 that knocked out NASA’s long-lived Opportunity rover. Unlike Opportunity, Curiosity doesn’t rely on solar panels to stay alive. A bit of dust and wind won’t phase it, and we can safely enjoy the views back here on Earth.


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A clearer view of what makes glass rigid – EurekAlert

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IMAGE: A team of scientists led by the University of Tokyo uses computer simulations to study the rigidity of amorphous solids like glass
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Credit: Institute of Industrial Science, the University of Tokyo

Tokyo, Japan – Researchers led by The University of Tokyo employed a new computer model to simulate the networks of force-carrying particles that give amorphous solids their strength even though they lack long range order. This work may lead to new advances in high-strength glass, which can be used for cooking, industrial, and smartphone applications.

Amorphous solids such as glass–despite being brittle and having constituent particles that do not form ordered lattices–can possess surprising strength and rigidity. This is even more unexpected because amorphous systems also suffer from large anharmonic fluctuations. The secret is an internal network of force-bearing particles that span the entire solid which lends strength to the system. This branching, dynamic network acts like a skeleton that prevents the material from yielding to stress even though it makes up only a small fraction of the total particles. However, this network only forms after a “percolation transition” when the number of force-bearing particles exceeds a critical threshold. As the density of these particles increases, the probability that a percolating network that goes from one end to the other increases from zero to almost certain.

Now, scientists from the Institute of Industrial Science at The University of Tokyo have used computer simulations to carefully show the formation of these percolating networks as an amorphous material is cooled below its glass transition temperature. In these calculations, binary particle mixtures were modelled with finite-range repulsive potentials. The team found that the strength of amorphous materials is an emergent property caused by the self-organization of the disordered mechanical architecture.

“At zero temperature, a jammed system will show long-range correlations in stress due to its internal percolating network. This simulation showed that the same is true for glass even before it has completely cooled,” first author Hua Tong says.

The force-bearing backbone can be identified by recognizing that particles in this network are must be connected by at least two strong force bonds. Upon cooling, the number of force-bearing particles increases, until a system-spanning network links together.

“Our findings may open up a way towards a better understanding of amorphous solids from a mechanical perspective,” senior author Hajime Tanaka says. Since rigid, durable glass is highly prized for smartphones, tablets, and cookware, the work can find many practical uses.

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The work is published in Nature Communications as “Emergent solidity of amorphous materials as a consequence of mechanical self-organisation” (DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-18663-7).

About Institute of Industrial Science (IIS), the University of Tokyo

Institute of Industrial Science (IIS), the University of Tokyo is one of the largest university-attached research institutes in Japan.

More than 120 research laboratories, each headed by a faculty member, comprise IIS, with more than 1,000 members including approximately 300 staff and 700 students actively engaged in education and research. Our activities cover almost all the areas of engineering disciplines. Since its foundation in 1949, IIS has worked to bridge the huge gaps that exist between academic disciplines and real-world applications.

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.

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CP Holiday Train derailed this holiday season due to the pandemic – Barrie 360 – Barrie 360

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The CP Holiday train will not be riding the rails this year to the COVID-19 outbreak.

That said, the spirit of the train will carry on.

“COVID-19 has created many challenges for communities across our network and has only increased the need at local food banks and food shelves,” said CP President and Chief Executive Officer Keith Creel. “It is our honor to continue to donate to communities across our network this year, even if the train itself will not run. The spirit of the Holiday Train program and the Christmas spirit will carry on this year through our virtual concert. We will have the Holiday Train rolling again spreading Christmas cheer as soon as it’s safe to do so!”  

The Holiday train tour, which made a regular stop at Midhurst, was launched in 1999 and has raised $17.8 million and collected 4.8 million pounds of food items.

Live music has always been part of the CP Holiday Train tradition. To maintain that tradition, CP will produce a benefit concert, with details to be announced when they’re available.

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Is there really life on Venus? How do we find out? – News 1130

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In today’s Big Story podcast, last week, an unlikely research project made a startling discovery: Phosphine gas in the atmosphere of Venus. That’s something that, as far as we know, is created by living organisms. Our efforts to find signs of life on other worlds, and a lot of our space dreaming in general, tend to focus on Mars. But all of a sudden we need to take a closer look at our other planetary neighbour.

So how can we find out if there’s really life right next door? What do we know about Venus and why has it been so hard to figure out so far? What else could possibly cause the presence of Phosphine and what would it mean, to space exploration and everything else, if this is really true?

GUEST: Neel Patel, space reporter, MIT Technology Review

You can subscribe to The Big Story podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google and Spotify

You can also find it at thebigstorypodcast.ca.

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