Water ice found near Marss equator could entice colonists and lifeseekers

first_img Email NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU Scientists have discovered substantial deposits of water ice buried in shallow soils near Mars’s equator. The find could spur hopes for astrobiologists seeking life on Mars or future colonists seeking a supply of water, but it also raises a mystery for climate scientists.The findings come from a reanalysis of data from NASA’s Odyssey spacecraft, which began orbiting Mars in 2001 and is the oldest functioning mission at the planet. One of Odyssey’s instruments measures the neutrons kicked up from the martian surface by cosmic rays striking the planet. From these neutron counts, scientists can infer the amount of hydrogen—and thus, presumably, the amount of water—present in the uppermost meter or so of soil. In small amounts, the water can take many forms—either in hydrated minerals or as small ice particles stuck between particles of sand or silt. But when the inferred abundances rise above 26%—as they do in some regions—scientists are pretty sure that bulk ice sits just below the surface, says Jack Wilson, a planetary scientist at Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland.That Mars holds stores of ice is not news. At the poles, there are permanent caps made up of frozen water and carbon dioxide. And as far back as 2002, researchers using Odyssey’s neutron instrument reported evidence of water in the subsurface at high latitudes. The evidence was strong enough that NASA sent the Phoenix lander to explore these regions. When the lander’s robotic arm scratched at the hardscrabble soil in 2008, it found ice just below. By Sid PerkinsAug. 16, 2017 , 1:45 PM Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) NASA’s Odyssey spacecraft has discovered subsurface ice on Mars at latitudes far lower than the planet’s polar caps. Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Water ice found near Mars’s equator could entice colonists and life-seekers Several regions on Mars are potentially water-rich (dark blue), including broad areas near the equator.  Now, Wilson and his colleagues have come up with a way to map the previously collected Odyssey data at a resolution of 290 kilometers, almost twice as good as earlier maps. They looked for smaller, more concentrated patches of water ice that earlier analyses might have missed—and found many such patches at far lower latitudes than expected, the researchers report online this month in Icarus.  J.T. Wilson et al., Icarus (2017) “This is a really wonderful example of how data, once collected, can be analyzed with new techniques,” says Jim Head, a planetary geologist at Brown University. “When we eventually send people to Mars, we’ll want to go where the water is.”But the ice patches also present a puzzle. According to current models of Mars’s climate, equatorial ice can’t persist for more than 125,000 years or so, Wilson says. That’s because it would gradually sublimate into the atmosphere, even if buried beneath a shallow layer of insulating soil. If ice truly exists there, it could be evidence of a shift in Mars’s rotational axis within that time window, Wilson explains. Unlike Earth, Mars doesn’t have a large moon to help stifle the long-term wobble of its orbital axis. And if the planet’s axis were tilted more than its current 25°, some polar cap ice would have sublimated and moved to lower latitudes. Wilson acknowledges that the explanation is unlikely, however, given that Mars’s rotational axis shouldn’t wobble on such fast time scales. Another possibility, he says, is that the soil also provides a vapor barrier to help stifle sublimation as well as physical insulation.Regardless of how the equatorial ice got there, if it finds a way to the surface and occasionally melts, it could provide a welcoming habitat for microbes. That’s why Mars scientists are so excited about so-called recurring slope lineae, dark streaks on steep slopes that are thought to be potential seeps of water, either from melting ice or from underground aquifers.But the same habitats that could support martian microbes could also support earthly ones that survived spacecraft sterilization and hitchhiked to Mars. That’s why NASA has strict rules for sterilizing its spacecraft under its planetary protection office. “You don’t want to take anything to an area where it could live or be preserved,” says John Rummel, a biologist who once served as NASA’s planetary protection officer but is now at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California.Despite new evidence for near-surface ice in unexpected places, Rummel suggests that none of the NASA-designated “special regions” that require extra spacecraft sterilization protocols need to be expanded. That’s because, he contends, Mars’s current climate isn’t hospitable to Earth organisms. He says he’d be concerned only if equipment provided a stationary, long-term source of heat that could melt the subsurface ice and create a “warm pool” that could host life.last_img read more

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Nations falling short of emissions cuts set by Paris climate pact analysis

first_imgNations that signed off on the Paris climate pact are struggling to control emissions of warming gases, such as those emitted by this steel mill in Germany. Email Nations falling short of emissions cuts set by Paris climate pact, analysis finds After a three-year period of stabilization, the report found that global carbon emissions are on the rise, leading to an “emissions gap”—the gap between anticipated emission levels in 2030 compared with levels consistent with limiting global warming to 2°C and 1.5°C.In short, it’s the difference between what nations need to do and what they’re actually doing to prevent dangerous levels of climate change.There is still a small window to keep global temperature increases below 2°C; the one for achieving the 1.5°C goal is even smaller. However, if the emissions gap is not closed by 2030, temperatures will likely rise more than 2°C, according to the report.The findings come shortly after a major U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report warned of catastrophic climate consequences within decades.“If the IPCC report represented a global fire alarm, this report is the arson investigation,” said U.N. Environment Programme Deputy Executive Director Joyce Msuya.“The science is clear; for all the ambitious climate action we’ve seen—governments need to move faster and with greater urgency. We’re feeding this fire while the means to extinguish it are within reach,” she said.Yesterday’s report urged G-20 nations to raise their original Paris emissions reduction targets by three times to meet the 2°C threshold and by five times to meet the 1.5°C mark.The authors of the report stated in a press release that the kind of drastic, large-scale action the planet desperately needs has yet to be seen, even though global emissions have reached record levels at 53.5 billion metric tons in 2017, with no signs of peaking.Cities, states, the private sector and other nonfederal entities may be best placed to take bold actions on climate change. According to the report, the globe may need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 19 billion metric tons by 2030 to close the 2°C gap.“All countries need to work to bring down their emissions, but the biggest impacts will come from the top four emitters—China, the United States, the European Union, and India—which together account for more than 56% of all the greenhouse gases that were emitted over the last decade,” the report states.China is still the single biggest emissions contributor—accounting for 27%—although there are signs that the country could be nearing its peak.On the other hand, the United States and European Union are responsible for more than one-fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions.“If we act quickly, it’s still possible for us to meet the Paris Agreement’s more ambitious goal of limiting warming to 1.5°C,” the report states.Rep. Frank Pallone (D–NJ), the top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said in a statement that U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has been undermining U.S. efforts to combat climate change and reduce carbon emissions.“If we do not bring greenhouse gas emissions under control, we will subject ourselves to even worse climate change consequences than we are experiencing now,” Pallone said.He added, “The U.S. could and should be leading a global effort to transition the world’s economy in a cleaner, more sustainable direction.”Reprinted from Climatewire with permission from E&E News. Copyright 2018. E&E provides essential news for energy and environment professionals at www.eenews.net. By Ines Kagubare, E&ENov. 28, 2018 , 4:00 PM Read more… Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Originally published by E&E NewsThe world is now in a race against the clock, warns a new United Nations climate report.The U.N. Environment Programme report released yesterday found that Group of 20 nations will fall short of the Paris Agreement’s goals unless they take drastic measures to get back on track. Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Lukas Schulze/Getty Images last_img read more

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