NASA Captures Stunning Clouds On Mars With The Navcam

stunning clouds on mars

NASA recently captured some amazing photos of the stunning clouds on Mars.

NASA’s Curiosity rover, still operating long after its planned mission end date, recently took photographs of some stunning clouds on Mars with its Navcam system.

They were cirrus clouds, similar to those found on Earth. While these are amazing pictures, they are also extremely rarely noticed on modern Mars. Likely, they were more common in the past, and this view of them might give science a clearer glimpse as to what this neighboring planet was once like.

animated stunning clouds
A Ghost Like Image of the Stunning Clouds

The photos are rough, grainy, and in black and white. Still, they provide some of the eeriest images of atmospheric condensation NASA has received from the Red Planet until now.

They were taken on July 17, 2017, when the Navcam was pointed at the sky. This took eight snapshots as the clouds passed overhead. It then lowered its camera several degrees and took eight more photos as the ice vapor passed over a pair of rock outcroppings in the distance.

Photos taken later in the day showed no more clouds. Presently, these are the clearest images of such stunning clouds on Mars ever taken by Curiosity.

“It is likely that the clouds are composed of crystals of water ice that condense out onto dust grains where it is cold in the atmosphere,” stated John Moores of York University in Toronto, Canada.


Moores then explained that these “wisps” as the crystals fall and start evaporating is patterns that came to be known as “mare’s tails” or “fall streaks”.


“While the rover does not have a way to ascertain the altitude of these clouds, on Earth such clouds form at high altitude.”

Scientists believe that some billions of years ago, Mars had more water on its surface. It might have also had a thicker atmosphere. At that time, these clouds would have been far more widespread a sight as they were floating above the plains and mountains of the Red Planet.

Image Source: JPL/NASA

China Ready To Set A Mars Simulation Base Here On Earth

mars simulation base illustration

China is planning on setting up a Mars simulation base right here, on Earth.

Deep in the deserts of northwest China, a new project is beginning that will act as a Mars Simulation base. The state media has reported that a deal is signed to build this “Mars Village” as both a tourist attraction and a scientific experiment at Haixi prefecture in Qinghai province. This simulation will provide a unique cultural and educational opportunity for everyone who visits. Not to mention its role as a scientific and research opportunity. One placed in a region not that dissimilar from the terrain on Mars.

Even the Sand Beneath the Mars Simulation Base is Red

NASA has done multiple experiments of this nature, simulating both the journey to and the stay on Mars. Other nations have done it as well, including the European Space Agency and Russia. Still, theirs weren’t as much geared directly towards being a tourist attraction. Liu Xiaoqun, an official with the Chinese Academy of Sciences space exploration program, said this “Mars Community” or “Mars Camp” would be a boost to the local tourism industry. That, in turn, could build more public support for the potential cost of such missions.

The property itself is in the Qinghai desert, which is mostly devoid of vegetation. It spreads over 95,000 square kilometers, and even the sand and rocks have a similar formation and coloring to the Martian surface.

China has a greater plan for future space exploration, and a lot of that seems to be looking at the Red Planet. This Mars simulation base is just the first step on several announced missions. In 2020, they will be launching their first Mars probe. They also have shows plans for a rover which will eventually join the other NASA rovers already on the planet.

The Chinese ambition to be involved in space seems very serious. They also have plans for missions to the moon and a potential Chinese space station.

Image Source: Wikimedia

Thanks To Google Street View, You Can Now Drift Aboard The ISS

google street view aboard the iss

Google Street View is moving into space, or more exactly, aboard the ISS.

The latest update from Google Street View will allow anyone interested in taking a stroll or more likely drifting aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Thanks to this latest update, they will be able to access and explore the space laboratory just as they would any other place here on Earth, available in the system.

Astronauts have been continuously living, working, and studying aboard the ISS for 16 years now. Depending on future funding rounds, they will also continue doing so up until 2024. The space station is scheduled for decommission at that time.

Google Street View Cast an Eye Out in Space

Now, those wishing to take a closer look inside the ISS, but without leaving the comforts of Earth, or without the chance to do so in person can now turn to Google Street View.

This is the first time Street View leaves the planet. On board of the station, it will let viewers take a look at everything from the astronauts’ sleeping quarters to where they store their space suits. This is an even more detailed view of the station, which can already be explored thanks to several other services, games, and movies.

The ISS Street View also comes with an additional feature, as users will note little dots. These should be quite handy as clicking on them will launch notes. In turn, these will be offering explanations as to what everything does.

The information in these notes will vary. For example, one may point out the locations in which astronauts conduct scientific experiments. Or another will show what kind of food they like to eat. It even points out where they work, as staying fit is very important.

The ISS is constructed out of 15 connected modules. All of them are now more easily accessible thanks to Google Street View. This will also be offering a panoramic, 360 degrees view imagery.

Google collaborated with the Marshall Space Centre and NASA on developing a new technology which could create such data. This led to the appearance of the “gravity-free method”. It uses DSLR camera and equipment already on board the ISS to collect the needed images.

“We did a lot of troubleshooting before collecting the final imagery that you see today in Street View,” wrote Thomas Pesquet, an ESA astronaut aboard the ISS which helped with the development.

Pesquet first collected the photos in space and then sent them back to Earth. Here, they were stitched together and helped create the panorama.

Image Source: Wikimedia

Bluetooth Is Offering An Upgrade To Mesh Networking

bluetooth mesh networking logo

Bluetooth is working on enabling its users to create and access mesh networking.

Starting with July 18, Bluetooth will start working on offering users the ability to turn to mesh networking when using its wireless technology.

On Tuesday, the group that oversees the Bluetooth standard, Bluetooth SIG, released the technical specifications for Bluetooth Mesh. This will allow low power Bluetooth devices to act and create a mesh network.

Usually, wireless communications go from one point to the other without passing through any other sources. For example, they offer a straight, in-line connection between a router to a PC or back. Still, the other device can be too far away. In such cases, the user will have to find a solution on their own.

Mesh Networking: A Brief Explanation

Now, mesh networking is a possible solution to such an issue, as it helps data travel over longer distances. It can do so as the communication “hops” between devices. Namely, if the signal from the router cannot readily reach the device from the first try, another device, connected to the same network, will help it reach its target.

This will take the message and re-transmit it to its intended target. In any case, this will enable the communication to travel over longer distances. It will also help it reach its goal as the retransmission can pass from one device to another more than once.

Bluetooth mesh networking will reportedly be particularly useful for smart home technologies. This is because it will allow a router to transmit data to any device in the house, not just those within close range.

Mesh devices will also be quite energy efficient. Usually, sending out a fast signal over a longer distance can require a lot of energy. However, thanks to mesh networking, this can be transmitted with lower-power signals. These will be picked up by a device and then simply retransmitted from one to another.

Bluetooth Mesh will be added to devices that can already support Bluetooth 4.0 or 5.0. As it is, new hardware will not be required for it. Nonetheless, the technology will still depend on whether or not the devices’ manufacturers will be releasing an update for it, or not.

It remains to be seen when this new Bluetooth technology will actually reach the market or when they’ll become usable.

Image Source: Wikimedia

New Particle Discovered At CERN Has Double The Charm

The XI-cc++ particle is a double charmer

Physicists at CERN discovered a new particle that could challenge Quantum Theory.

The physicists at the CERN facility in Geneva, Switzerland have recently discovered a new particle that was only predicted by the current patterns in particle physics. The particle, named XI-cc++, is made up of two heavy quarks and one light one. Thus, its conclusive detection could make it a useful tool in understanding more about the force that binds the quarks together and leads to the formation of the atom.

The New Particle is an Important Discovery to Quantum Theory

The XI-cc++ particle is a baryon, which means it is composed of three quarks. The quark is a unit of measurement for hadrons, the main object of study for the scientists at CERN.

Usually, three light quarks form most baryons. However, as the XI-cc++ particle has two heavy quarks, it is four times heavier than a usual baryon. This makes for an important clue for the suppositions made in quantum theory. As Giovanni Passaleva from the Large Hadron Collider states:

Finding a doubly heavy-quark baryon is of great interest as it will provide a unique tool to further probe quantum chromodynamics, the theory that describes the strong interaction, one of the four fundamental forces.

Physicists have split the quarks into different “flavors” called up, down, top, bottom, charm and strange. The XI-cc++ has two charm quarks and an up quark. That is why it makes the particle lean towards the heavy side. Because lighter particles move faster, they are harder to study.

However, with the XI-cc++ particle, a single light quark moves around the heavier quarks which are slower, making it easier for the physicists to study the phenomenon.

By proving the existence of a speculated particle pattern, researchers wish to discover other such patterns that involve the charm quark and measure their lifespan as well as the frequency with which they can be created in the collision experiments at CERN. With these measurements, scientists can reinforce or disprove the current theories in the Standard Model of particle physics.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons.

Qualcomm Seeks Iphone Ban Following Legal Battle With Apple

Two industry giants are currently engaged in a legal battle.

The legal battle between Apple and Qualcomm is now at a global scale.

Following a string of lawsuits, Qualcomm now seeks the US government to enforce a ban on iPhone imports. Since the beginning of 2017, Apple filed four lawsuits against the market giant on accusations of overcharging for basic patents. The latest lawsuits came after the Federal Trade Commission announced that it would sue Qualcomm for abusing its position as market leader.

The Legal Fights Seem to Only Escalate

As the lawsuits against the market giant seem to pile up, the company is now retaliating by asking the US government to enforce a ban that would stop Apple products for entering American soil. Moreover, the company asks for halting the sales of iPhones that are already in the country.

Qualcomm accuses Apple of violating six patents that deal with extending the battery life of a mobile phone. The company added that the patents have not been licensed because they are not essential for a standard product. However, the company accuses Apple of using technology that the industry giant refuses to pay for. Qualcomm’s general counsel, Don Rosenberg stated:

Qualcomm’s inventions are at the heart of every iPhone and extend well beyond modem technologies or cellular standards.

By striking back, the company aims to put a strain on Apple and its suppliers.

On the other hand, Apple’s lawsuit stays in line with the Federal Trade Commission’s accusations of Qualcomm’s practicing anti-competitive prices. Moreover, Apple extended the lawsuit to two other countries, including China.

The company claims that Qualcomm charges extremely high royalties for technologies it is not responsible for and therefore abusing its position as a market leader. Apple claims that the rates are five times higher than all the other patent licensors combined.

Qualcomm has strongly denied both FTC’s and Apple’s accusations. As a primary supplier of smartphone modems, the company has a leverage that might force Apple to come to an agreement regarding the shipment of iPhones.

As of yet, Apple did not issue a response and its position remains to be seen.

Image Source: Techcrunch

SpaceX Had To Delay The Intelsat Launch Twice In A Row

intelsat launch

The Intelsat launch was delayed for a second time and might now take place on July 05 or July 06.

The latest update on the matter reveals that SpaceX had to delay its launch of a Falcon 9 Rocket carrying an Intelsat satellite for the second time in a row.

Initially, the company was looking to mark this as its third take off in under two weeks. It would have followed the deployment of two other rockets on Friday, June 23, and Sunday, June 25 respectively. Now, the next launch window will open on either June 05 or June 06.

Intelsat Launch Left For A New Day

Initially, the Falcon 9 rocket set to carry an Intelsat 35e satellite into space was scheduled for July 3rd at 2337 GMT or 7:37 p.m. EDT. It would have taken off from Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

However, the launch team was forced to call off the event with just 10 seconds before the projected take off. Now, the Intelsat launch has been delayed for yet another day, according to a new tweet posted by Elon Musk, the company’s CEO and founder.

According to reports, the reason behind the cancellation revolves around the Falcon 9’s Guidance System. It might have also been caused by the rocket’s hardware which may have some issues. No exact details have been offered on the matter as of yet.

“We’ve got plenty of information, but (engineers are) taking their time right now to understand what system they’re really looking at that would be the cause of the hold … stated John Insprucker.

He is the principal integration engineer of the Falcon 9. Insprucker also stated that the next launch window would open on July 05th. If this succeeds, it will mark the third SpaceX mission in 11 days, 12 if it will be deployed on June 06th.

Image Source: Wikimedia

Opportunity Rover Researches Mars Ancient River Site

Opportunity rover

The Opportunity rover explores the surface of Mars

The Opportunity rover from NASA has sent new footage and observation data from the research mission on Mars. In the recent news, Opportunity sent images depicting an area in which a lake may have been.

Opportunity Rover Researches Mars Ancient River Site

In its current mission, the Opportunity rover is examining rocks at the edge of Endeavour Crater for clues that might tell if the rocks were transported by a flood or eroded in place by winds.

The team that manages the Opportunity rover mission will most probably drive the rover to Perseverance Valley after finishing a study of the area above the Valley. The Opportunity rover has been studying the western rim of Endeavour Crater since 2011. It is meant to be a mission of accommodation and study of what is above Perseverance Valley, said Ray Arvidson, Deputy Principal Investigator from Washington University in St. Louis.

“We see a pattern of striations running east-west outside the crest of the rim”, he said.

Researchers have observed a broad notch over the Valley and, at west, patches of rocks that line in the east-west where they believe, billion-years ago, was a drainage channel.

“We want to determine whether these are in-place rocks or transported rocks,” Arvidson said.

Scientists believe that there are two possibilities. It was either the final part of a catchment where a lake was perched against the outside of the crater rim. If this were the case, a giant river course would have carried rocks, breaching the rim and overflowing into the crater.

The other theory makes Perseverance Valley a spillway, the ground west of the crest slope away. If this were the case, researchers are thinking of delving into finding a scenario that would offer an explanation about how the valley was carved. There is much more to do for the Opportunity rover.

Image Source: NASA

Kuiper Belt Mysterious Object Lurks Behind Pluto

Kuiper Belt mysterious Object

A Kuiper Belt mysterious object was found just behind far regions of the Solar System

Two researchers at the University of Arizona are of the opinion that there is a hidden planetary-mass object orbiting the Sun beyond Pluto in our solar system. The researchers from the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory (LPL) are of the hypothesis that the planetary-mass object is, in terms of size, between Mars and Earth. The Kuiper Belt mysterious object was found because it has a perceived ability to control the orbital planes of spaces rocks (or KBOs).

Kuiper Belt Mysterious Object Lurks Behind Pluto

The two authors of the research, Kat Volk and Renu Malhotra, have said that:

“According to our calculations, something as massive as Mars would be needed to cause the warp that we measured”.

The Kuiper Belt mysterious object is supposed to be different from and closer than the Planet Nine, which was not yet demonstrated to actually exist. Rather, it is only a theoretical finding.

For the present study regarding the Kuyper Belt mysterious object, Volk and Renu researched more than 600 KBOs trying to determine the common – or average – direction and tilt of their orbital planes.

The two researchers from the University of Arizona note that the Kuiper Belt mysterious object was not spotted, yet, in the Kuiper Belt. However, they are confident that, after the finishing of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, they will be able to better spot and discover hidden worlds like this one.

While most KBOs – which are debris remained from the formation of the solar system – orbit the sun with orbital tilts, or inclinations, with an invariable plane of the solar system, the farthest KBOs do not. Per the two researchers’ discovery thus far, this Kuiper Bet mysterious object is titled away from the invariable plane by about 8 degrees. Which is more than enough evidence that a planetary-mass object is interfering with the orbital tilting.

Image Source: Pixabay

MOM Celebrated Its 1,000th Day In Space, And Will Last Longer Than Expected

mom spacecraft

The MOM spacecraft recently celebrated its 1,000th day spent up in space.

The Mars Orbiter Mission or MOM celebrated its 1,000th Earth day in space, a feat not many expected it to achieve as the orbiter was estimated to last 180 days or over six months in space. Also, its remaining fuel levels also mean that the orbiter may still have “more years” left.

MOM Outlasted its Expected Target

MOM was launched on November 5, 2013, aboard a PSLV-C25 rocket and reached its Martian target nine months later. Starting with September 24, 2014, the spacecraft has been in a fixed orbit around the Red Planet. Also since then, it has been collecting and beaming back data. Until now, MOM’s onboard camera returned over 715 pictures.

Initially set to orbit the planet for 180 days, Mars Orbiter Mission outlived this estimates by almost ten times. However, the spacecraft did have to face some quite serious issues. One of them is its “blackout”, which lasted from June 2, 2015, to July 2, 2015. This is considered to have been caused by a solar conjunction.

Also, from May 18, 2016, up till May 30, 2016, MOM had a “whiteout”, which left it unable to communicate with Earth. This was generated by Earth coming in between Mars and the Sun.

ISRO (the Indian Space Research Organization) launched MOM with a fixed 852 kilograms of fuel on board. Back in March 2015, its then fuel levels offered the first chance to extend its mission by a further six months. Now, the still remaining fuel will help further increase the mission’s duration.

The 1,000 Earth days spent orbiting Mars correspond to 973,24 Mars Sols or Martian Solar days. During this period, MOM completed 388 orbits. Its remaining 14 to 15 kilograms of fuel are expected to keep it going for another few years, according to an ISRO release.

Also, ISRO points out that “First-year data from MOM was released to the public on September 24, 2016, through ISSDC website. “

Image Source: Wikimedia