The Curiosity rover has been doing some drilling on Mars, and what is has discovered has NASA scratching their heads. A mineral known as tridymite has been uncovered beneath the surface of Mars. And its presence raises far more questions than it answers.
Tridymite is a silicon dioxide (silica) mineral that crystallizes at low pressure and high temperatures around 800 degrees Celsius (1,472 degrees Fahrenheit). These sorts of conditions can only occur in silicic volcanism: volcanoes with magma which contain a large amount of silica. This is commonplace on Earth due to plate tectonics and flowing water. But Mars lacks of both of those things, begging the question: where did all this tridymite come from?
To answer that, NASA has been looking at terrestrial processes that might provide an alternative way of creating the mineral. So far, they haven’t been able to find any alternative. The hunt for a lower temperature process that can produce tridymite is still on, but as time passes NASA is looking ever more at the alternative. That maybe Mars was a lot more active in the past than we realized.
For tridymite to be created in the only ways we understand to be possible, Mars would have had to have active volcanoes, and for that it would have needed a lot of running water. We know that Mars does in fact contain water, but it would need more than we’d ever expected for these processes to be possible.
But does that mean Mars was once far more Earth-like? Or could there have been another low pressure high temperature process going on with similar results? It’s likely Curiosity alone won’t be able to figure it out – we may need another rover with more specialized equipment to suss this one out.
Watching one YouTuber react to Jake Paul and his dad taking part in kissing competition by kissing the same 18-year-old girl made me realise one thing – YouTube is fucked beyond repair.
Radio listeners are dropping off a cliff, and it’s obvious the world is turning to podcasting for their audio-based entertainment – the democratising platform that is slowly (but surely) being led by Anchor.
Self-driving cars are the future, but are humans ready for them? The answer is a resounding “no,” and you shouldn’t expect to see them for a long time…
I - a self-confessed futurist and technology obsessive - am going to tell you to turn off the very device on which you’re reading this and say “no” to living a completely digital life. Trust me, your mental faculties will thank you for it.
Looking for a new laptop, but don't have a lot of money? Here are five options that are both amazing and UNDER £250.
Recent Pokémon GO developments have inspired me to try the app again… Turns out it’s still as broken as I remember it.
I love Lego and DC super heroes made my childhood. Naturally, my interest was peaked by 'The Art of the Brick: DC Super Heroes' art exhibit in London. Here's what I thought of it, along with an exclusive interview with the mind behind this amazing work - Lego artist Nathan Sawaya.
Kickstarter is both a blessing and a curse – for every amazing innovation we get, we get a few stupidly pointless gadgets just like these five pieces of tat.
Google’s DeepMind AI has taken a break from painting masterpieces and besting board game champions to learn a spot of Parkour – using reinforcement learning in encouraging the AI to successfully navigate a course of jumps and crawls.
Astronomy photography is difficult enough, but imagine doing so using a Nintendo Game Boy Camera! Well, this guy has managed to do so and the results are better than you imagine…
My name is Jamie O'Flinn. I am a 24-year-old writer living in the West Midlands. I received a degree in Professional Writing in 2012, and am pleased to report a total lifetime earnings of 50p so far. Earned when I was 8. Selling a story about yoghurt to my literacy teacher.
When not being NRM's star contributor, I'm either gaming, drawing, blogging or trying to shill my bad leprechaun novels to wary agents. There's also a webcomic I've been meaning to do. Maybe. One day.
I'm also delightfully autistic, which grants me special powers. Like tinnitus, and occasional sudden blindness.