Mineral veins found in Mars's Gale Crater were formed by the evaporation of ancient Martian lakes, a new study has shown.

Drill hole into the John Klein target within Sheepbed Member of Yellowknife Bay, with a light-toned sulfate veinlet visible on the back wall. The light-toned veins have been identified as sulfates by ChemCam (Nachon et al.; Schroeder et al.) and CheMin (Vaniman et al.). Drill hole is 1.6 cm diameter. Image is white balanced. Scale bar is 2 cm.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Leicester
The research, by Mars Science Laboratory Participating Scientists at The Open University and the University of Leicester, used the Mars Curiosity rover to explore Yellowknife Bay in Gale Crater on Mars, examining the mineralogy of veins that were paths for groundwater in mudstones.The study suggests that the veins formed as the sediments from the ancient lake were buried, heated to about 50 degrees Celsius and corroded.Professor John Bridges from the University of Leicester Department of Physics and Astronomy said: "The taste of this Martian groundwater would be rather unpleasant, with about 20 times the content of sulphate and sodium than bottled mineral water for instance!"However as Dr Schwenzer from The Open University concludes, some microbes on Earth do like sulphur and iron rich fluids, because they can use those two elements to gain energy. Therefore, for the question of habitability at Gale Crater the taste of the water is very exciting news."The researchers suggest that evaporation of ancient lakes in the Yellowknife Bay would have led to the formation of silica and sulphate-rich deposits.Subsequent dissolution by groundwater of these deposits -- which the team predict are present in the Gale Crater sedimentary succession -- led to the formation of pure sulphate veins within the Yellowknife Bay mudstone.The study predicts the original precipitate was likely gypsum, which dehydrated during the lake's burial.

Seventh Row of Periodic Table Completed

What do the nation of Japan, the state of Tennessee, and the city of Moscow have in common with Russian nuclear physicist Yuri Oganessian? If you hadn't guessed, all four just had elements named after them, marking the observation and naming of all elements in the seventh row of the periodic table.Nihonium, moscovium, tennessine, and oganesson are the latest additions to the chart, assigned to elements with atomic number 113, 115, 117, and 118 respectively. Atomic number refers to the number of protons in each atom's nucleus, and correspondingly to the number of electrons that orbit the protons and neutrons. It is the number of electrons that primarily determines an element's physical properties.

Element 113, nihonium, was named after the nation of Japan—Nihon means "Land of the Rising Sun" in Japanese. Nihonium was synthesized in Japan, by bombarding a block of bismuth with a ions of a heavy zinc isotope (zinc-70) at extremely high speeds. Researchers didn't identify the new element directly, but rather its decay products—nihonium is highly unstable, so right now the only way to figure out that you had some is to look at the pieces it breaks into.

‘World Class’ Optical Telescope, and India’s Largest, to Be Activated near Nainital

The Devasthal optical telescope's supporting structure, which also hosts three detectors, under a protective dome. Credit: IIST
India’s largest ground-based optical telescope, in Devasthal in Uttarakhand, will be switched on March 30 by the prime ministers of India and Belgium from Brussels, during Narendra Modi’s day-long visit to the country. The telescope is the product of an Indo-Belgian collaborative effort, assisted by the Russian Academy of Sciences, that was kicked off in 2007. It is going to be operated by the Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES), an autonomous research body under the Department of Science and Technology.
The instrument is part of a widening foray into observational research in astronomy that India has undertaken since the 1960s, and bolstered with the successful launch of its first multi-wavelength satellite (ASTROSAT) in September 2015. And apart from the merits it will accord Indian astronomy, the Devasthal optical telescope will also be Asia’s largest ground-based optical telescope, succeeding the Vainu Bappu Observatory in Kavalur, Tamil Nadu.
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