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Category Archives: Mars

Mars Facts | All About Mars NASA Mars Exploration

Posted: June 24, 2022 at 10:24 pm

Dusty solar panels and darker skies are expected to bring the Mars lander mission to a close around the end of this year. NASA's InSight Still Hunting Marsquakes as Power Levels Diminish Collecting samples as it explores an ancient and now-dry river channel is but one goal the six-wheeled geologist will pursue during its second Red Planet ...


Mars Facts | All About Mars NASA Mars Exploration

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NASA’s Curiosity Captures Stunning Views of a Changing Mars Landscape

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Striking rock formations documented by the rover provide evidence of a drying climate in the Red Planets ancient past.

For the past year, NASAs Curiosity Mars rover has been traveling through a transition zone from a clay-rich region to one filled with a salty mineral called sulfate. While the science team targeted the clay-rich region and the sulfate-laden one for evidence each can offer about Mars watery past, the transition zone is proving to be scientifically fascinating as well. In fact, this transition may provide the record of a major shift in Mars climate billions of years ago that scientists are just beginning to understand.

The clay minerals formed when lakes and streams once rippled across Gale Crater, depositing sediment at what is now the base of Mount Sharp, the 3-mile-tall (5-kilometer-tall) mountain whose foothills Curiosity has been ascending since 2014. Higher on the mountain in the transition zone, Curiositys observations show that the streams dried into trickles and sand dunes formed above the lake sediments.

Curiosity's Mastcam Views Flaky, Streambed Rocks: NASAs Curiosity Mars rover captured this view of layered, flaky rocks believed to have formed in an ancient streambed or small pond. The six images that make up this mosaic were captured using Curiositys Mast Camera, or Mastcam, on June 2, 2022, the 3,492nd Martian day, or sol, of the mission. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS. Download image

We no longer see the lake deposits that we saw for years lower on Mount Sharp, said Ashwin Vasavada, Curiositys project scientist at NASAs Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. Instead, we see lots of evidence of drier climates, like dry dunes that occasionally had streams running around them. Thats a big change from the lakes that persisted for perhaps millions of years before.

As the rover climbs higher through the transition zone, it is detecting less clay and more sulfate. Curiosity will soon drill the last rock sample it will take in this zone, providing a more detailed glimpse into the changing mineral composition of these rocks.

Mars Report - How Scientists Study Wind on Mars: NASA's spacecraft on Mars are all affected by the winds of the Red Planet, which can produce a tiny dust devil or a global dust storm. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download video Unique geologic features also stand out in this zone. The hills in the area likely began in a dry environment of large, wind-swept sand dunes, hardening into rock over time. Interspersed in the remains of these dunes are other sediments carried by water, perhaps deposited in ponds or small streams that once wove among the dunes. These sediments now appear as erosion-resistant stacks of flaky layers, like one nicknamed The Prow.

Making the story richer yet more complicated is the knowledge that there were multiple periods in which groundwater ebbed and flowed over time, leaving a jumble of puzzle pieces for Curiositys scientists to assemble into an accurate timeline.

Curiosity's 360-degree Panorama Near 'Sierra Maigualida': NASAs Curiosity Mars rover captured this 360-degree panorama near a location nicknamed Sierra Maigualida on May 22, 2022, the 3,481st Martian day, or sol, of the mission. The panorama is made up of 133 individual images captured by Curiositys Mast Camera, or Mastcam. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS. Download image

Ten Years On, Going Strong

Curiosity will celebrate its 10th year on Mars Aug. 5. While the rover is showing its age after a full decade of exploring, nothing has prevented it from continuing its ascent.

On June 7, Curiosity went into safe mode after detecting a temperature reading on an instrument control box within the body of the rover that was warmer than expected. Safe mode occurs when a spacecraft senses an issue and automatically shuts down all but its most essential functions so that engineers can assess the situation.

Although Curiosity exited safe mode and returned to normal operations two days later, JPLs engineers are still analyzing the exact cause of the issue. They suspect safe mode was triggered after a temperature sensor provided an inaccurate measurement, and theres no sign it will significantly affect rover operations since backup temperature sensors can ensure the electronics within the rover body arent getting too hot.

The rovers aluminum wheels are also showing signs of wear. On June 4, the engineering team commanded Curiosity to take new pictures of its wheels something it had been doing every 3,281 feet (1,000 meters) to check their overall health.

The team discovered that the left middle wheel had damaged one of its grousers, the zig-zagging treads along Curiositys wheels. This particular wheel already had four broken grousers, so now five of its 19 grousers are broken.

The previously damaged grousers attracted attention online recently because some of the metal skin between them appears to have fallen out of the wheel in the past few months, leaving a gap.

The team has decided to increase its wheel imaging to every 1,640 feet (500 meters) a return to the original cadence. A traction control algorithm had slowed wheel wear enough to justify increasing the distance between imaging.

We have proven through ground testing that we can safely drive on the wheel rims if necessary, said Megan Lin, Curiositys project manager at JPL. If we ever reached the point that a single wheel had broken a majority of its grousers, we could do a controlled break to shed the pieces that are left. Due to recent trends, it seems unlikely that we would need to take such action. The wheels are holding up well, providing the traction we need to continue our climb.

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NASA's Curiosity Captures Stunning Views of a Changing Mars Landscape

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Europe’s veteran Mars orbiter gets upgrade to key instrument | Space

Posted: at 10:24 pm

The European Space Agency (ESA) is upgrading software on its venerable Mars Express orbiter to enable it to see beneath the surface of Mars and its moon Phobos in greater detail than before.

Mars Express has been orbiting the Red Planet since December 2003, studying its atmosphere, imaging and mapping the planet and, notably, even peeking beneath the surface for signs of water. Now, the orbiter's Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionospheric Sounding (MARSIS), which in 2018 announced evidence of a lake of salty water buried under a mile (1.5 kilometers) of ice in the southern polar region, will receive an upgrade to boost its resolution and water-seeking abilities.

"It really is like having a brand new instrument on board Mars Express almost 20 years after launch," ESA Mars Express scientist Colin Wilson, said in a statement.

Related: Mars crater complex shows layers of ice in stunning spacecraft photos

MARSIS is operated by Italy's Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica (INAF). It uses a 131-feet (40 meters) long antenna to bounce low-frequency radio waves off Mars and collect reflections from beneath the surface. Scientists can use those readings to try to differentiate between layers of materials such as ice, soil, rock and water.

The updates will improve signal reception and on-board data processing, which will mean the instrument's computer can discard unneeded data to free up memory. The new process will increase the amount and quality of science data sent to Earth from MARSIS and possibly allow greater insights into fascinating areas than before.

While the MARSIS team is convinced the upgrade work will be worthwhile, the instrument's software was a challenge to adapt to the new science goals.

"We faced a number of challenges to improve the performance of MARSIS," Carlo Nenna, the MARSIS on-board software engineer who is implementing the upgrade, said in the statement. "Not least because the MARSIS software was originally designed over 20 years ago, using a development environment based on Microsoft Windows 98!"

Now, scientists are eager to give the upgrade a test-drive. "There are many regions near the south pole on Mars in which we may have already seen signals indicating liquid water in lower-resolution data," Wilson said in the statement. "The new software will help us more quickly and extensively study these regions in high resolution and confirm whether they are home to new sources of water on Mars."

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Controversy Grows Over whether Mars Samples Endanger Earth

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Less than a decade from now, a spacecraft from Mars may swing by Earth to drop off precious cargo: samples of the Red Planets rocks, soil and even air to be scoured for signs of alien life by a small army of researchers right here on our terra firma. Orchestrated by NASA and the European Space Agency, this fast-paced, multibillion-dollar enterprise, formally known as the Mars Sample Return (MSR) campaign, is the closest thing to a holy grail that planetary scientists have ever pursued.

In many respects, MSR is already well underway: NASAs Perseverance rover is wheeling aroundan ancient river delta in Marss Jezero Crater, gathering choice specimens of potential astrobiological interest for future pick-up by a fetch rover. Then theres the design and testing of the Mars Ascent Vehicle for lifting those retrieved samples into orbit for subsequent ferrying to Earth that is proceeding apace. But one crucial aspect of the project remains troublingly unresolved: How exactly should the returned samples be handledand at what cost, given the potential risk of somehow contaminating Earths biosphere with imported Martian bugs?

So-far-elusive answers to these questions could profoundly shape not only MSR but also the hoped-for follow-on of sending humans to Marss surface. Can astronauts live and work there without inadvertently introducing earthly microbes to the Red Planet? And perhaps more importantly, can they eventually return home with the certainty that they carry no microscopic Martian hitchhikers? The protocols hammered out for MSR will be a crucial component in resolving those eventual quandaries.

NASAs present proposal for MSR calls for an as-yet-unbuilt interplanetary ferry to release a cone-shaped, sample-packed capsulecalled the Earth Entry Systemhigh above our planets atmosphere. The capsule will then endure a fiery plunge to Earth, sans parachute, ultimately landing in a dry lake bed within the Utah Test and Training Range. Despite impacting at roughly 150 kilometers per hour, the capsule will be designed to keep its samples intact and isolated. Once recovered, it will be placed in its own environmentally controlled protective container and then shipped to an off-site sample-receiving facility. Such a facility could resemble todays biolabs that study highly infectious pathogens, incorporating multilayered decontamination measures, air-filtration systems, negative-pressure ventilation and myriad other safeguards.

Citing the findings of multiple expert panels, NASA presently deems the ecological and public-safety risks of this proposal as extremely low. But not everyone agrees. Earlier this year the space agency solicited public commentary on an associated draft environmental impact statement, netting 170 remarks, most of which were negative regarding a direct-to-Earth, express mail concept of Mars collectibles.

Are you out of your minds? Not just no, but hell no, suggested one commenter. No nation should put the whole planet at risk, another said. And another third opined, Public opposition will surely rise drastically as the knowledge of [NASAs] intentions are spread beyond the smaller space community. Many of the respondents suggested that any shipment of specimens should somehow be first received and studied off-Earthan approach that, while certainly prudent, could easily become a logistic and budgetary nightmare.

Contrast this with the blunt opinion of Steven Benner, a prominent astrobiologist and founder of the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution in Alachua, Fla.: I do not see any need for long discussions about how samples from Mars should be stored once they reach our planet, he says. Thats because space rocks striking Mars routinely eject material that ultimately ends up on Earth. Current estimates hold that about 500 kilograms of Martian rocks land on our planet every year, Benner says. He even has a five-gram hunk of Mars decorating his desk that alludes to that fact.

In the over 3.5 billion years since life appeared on Earth, trillions of other rocks have made similar journeys, Benner says. If Mars microbiota exist and can wreak havoc on Earths biosphere, it has already happened, and a few more kilograms from NASA will not make any difference.

Noting his service on many of the very same expert panels NASA now cites for its extremely low assessment of MSRs risks, Benner says the space agency seems caught in a public relations trap of its own making, honor bound to endlessly debate the supposed complexities of what should really be considered simple, settled science. NASA now knows how to look for life on Mars, where to look for life on Mars and why the likelihood of finding life on Mars is high, he observes. But NASA committees, seeking consensus and conformity over the fundamentals of chemistry, biology and planetary science that must drive the search for Martian life, displace the science in favor of discussions of these nonissues, unnecessarily increasing the cost and delaying the launch of missions.

They end up ensuring that NASA never flies any life-detection missions, Benner says.

Such statements reflect a growing sense of urgency among U.S. planetary scientists about making MSR a reality. In April NASA received the latest Decadal Survey on planetary science and astrobiology, an influential report produced by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine that las out near-future priorities for the field. One of the reports main recommendations calls for the agency to shore up its plans for handling MSRs samples, with an emphasis on readying a Mars Sample Receiving Facility in time to receive material from the Red Planet by 2031.

To meet that deadline, NASA must start designingand buildingsuch a facility immediately, says Philip Christensen, a professor at Arizona State University and co-chair of the new Decadal Surveys steering committee.

Our recommendation was to not go off and build a very fancy, very complicated, very instrument-rich receiving facility, Christensen says. Instead make it as simple as possible. The number-one job is to verify that the samples are safe, then let them go to labs around the world that already have very sophisticated instrumentation.

John Rummel, a now retired astrobiologist who previously helmed NASAs planetary protection efforts for its interplanetary missions, agrees that simplicity can save time but at uncertain costs. Nobody wants to spend all the money in the world on a Taj Mahal for [sample-return] science, he says. Building a bare-bones facility could backfire, however, by failing to allow scientists to properly investigate whether any returned samples harbor evidence of life.

More fundamentally, Rummel says, it simply isnt true that we know enough about Mars to quantify MSRs risks of interplanetary contagion. In the first place, we dont know everything we want to know about Mars. Thats why we want the samples, Rummel says. We keep finding Earth organisms doing new things that are quite interesting from the standpoint of potential life elsewhere. So why dont we think we need to be careful? The answer is that we do need to be careful, as repeatedly emphasized by the National [Academies].... People have to have some kind of respect for the unknown. If you have that respect, then you can do a credible job, and the public is well-served by your caution.

Although MSRs true risks for interplanetary ecological catastrophe may be unknown, the threat that negative public opinion poses for the mission is clear to most participating scientists. Even so, engagement with the public should be welcomed, says Penny Boston, an astrobiologist at NASAs Ames Research Center. What better way to push forward the research needed to fill in knowledge gaps about planetary protection, she reasons, than getting people interested in the topic and its weighty stakes? That will allow us to both optimally protect Earths biosphere and humans while still making the best full use of the analyses of the Mars samples to answer the science questions, Boston says.

Similarly, while a chilling effect from harsh handling restrictions for MSRs samples seems more probable than the eruption of some otherworldly pandemic from lax biosafety protocols, some argue that, in absolute budgetary terms, erring on the side of caution simply isnt very expensive.

According to astrobiologist Cassie Conley, who succeeded Rummel as NASAs planetary protection officer from 2006 to 2017, by the time MSRs capsule impacts in a dry lake bed in Utah, taxpayers will have invested at least $10 billion to bring these samples to Earth. So isnt it worthwhile to spend 1 percent more to construct the best possible facilities and instrumentation for studying these samples while also ensuring that MSR doesnt cause something bad to happen to the only planet we can live on?

There is, however, one additional concern complicating the debate: MSR is no longer alone in its quest for fresh Red Planet rocks, and other projects may not abide by its still-emerging rules. China recently announced its own independent plans to bring Martian material directly to Earth, perhaps earlier than the NASA/ESA Mars Sample Return campaign, and there is also the wild card of Elon Musks Mars-focused SpaceX efforts leading to human voyages to Mars and back far sooner than most experts anticipate.

Chinas entry in particular worries Barry DiGregorio, an astrobiologist and founding director of the International Committee Against Mars Sample Return (ICAMSR). Unless [returning samples from Mars] is done as a global effort in order to share the findings in real time with all spacefaring nations instead of as a national goal, no single country will know what the other has found or what problems they are having with containment, he says.

Thats why DiGregorio contends priority should be given to ruling out each and every samples prospects for harming Earths biosphere before it is brought back to our planetsomething best done in a dedicated space station or even an astrobiology research lab built as part of a lunar base. Of course, he adds, given increasingly high global geopolitical tensions, this concept will likely be a hard sellbut now is the critical time to consider it.

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Controversy Grows Over whether Mars Samples Endanger Earth

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NASA to allow InSight Mars lander to conduct science for several more …

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June 22 (UPI) -- NASA's InSight Mars received a reprieve allowing it to conduct science for another several weeks before shutting down as it nears the end of its battery life.

The agency announced Tuesday that instead of automatically shutting down its last operational scientific instrument, the seismometer, at the end of June as planned, the device will continue operating until late August or early September.

Had it shut down the seismometer later this month, the InSight Mars lander would have been able to conserve energy and survive through til December. Running the seismometer longer, though, will cause the lander to discharge its batteries and run out of power when the seismometer dies.

Doing so allows the seismometer several more weeks to detect possible marsquakes, NASA said.

"InSight hasn't finished teaching us about Mars yet," said Lori Glaze, director of NASA's Planetary Science Division in Washington, D.C. "We're going to get every last bit of science we can before the lander concludes operations."

In order to allow InSight's seismometer to run for as long as possible, NASA is shutting down the lander's fault protection system, which, if operating, allows ground controllers to react to sudden, unexpected events on Mars.

"The goal is to get scientific data all the way to the point where InSight can't operate at all, rather than conserve energy and operate the lander with no science benefit," said Chuck Scott, InSight's project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.

NASA announced in May that it expected InSight to run out of power sometime this summer because dust had covered its solar panels. Scientists hoped the lander might be hit by a Martian dust devil, which could clear dust off the panels and possibly allow it to properly charge up.

Bruce Banerdt, principal investigator for the InSight mission and a principal scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said the possibility of this happening isn't likely, but it's not entirely out of the question.

InSight touched down on Mars' surface in 2018 with the primary goal of studying seismology, weather, soil and the planet's magnetic field. Since the beginning of its mission, it has detected more than 1,300 marsquakes.

NASAs Curiosity Mars rover used two different cameras to create this panoramic selfie, comprised of 60 images, in front of Mont Mercou, a rock outcrop that stands 20 feet tall on March 26, 2021, the 3,070th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. These were combined with 11 images taken by the Mastcam on the mast, or "head," of the rover on March 16. The hole visible to the left of the rover is where its robotic drill sampled a rock nicknamed "Nontron." The Curiosity team is nicknaming features in this part of Mars using names from the region around the village of Nontron in southwestern France. Photo courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

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All About Mars | NASA Space Place NASA Science for Kids

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Mars is a cold desert world. It is half the size of Earth. Mars is sometimes called the Red Planet. It's red because of rusty iron in the ground.

Explore Mars! Click and drag to rotate the planet. Scroll or pinch to zoom in and out. Credit: NASA Visualization Technology Applications and Development (VTAD)

Like Earth, Mars has seasons, polar ice caps, volcanoes, canyons, and weather. It has a very thin atmosphere made of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and argon.

There are signs of ancient floods on Mars, but now water mostly exists in icy dirt and thin clouds. On some Martian hillsides, there is evidence of liquid salty water in the ground.

Scientists want to know if Mars may have had living things in the past. They also want to know if Mars could support life now or in the future.

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope took this picture of Mars as it was making its closest approach to Earth in 60,000 years!

In this picture of Mars, you can see water-ice clouds, polar ice, and some rocky features.

NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity took this picture with its panoramic camera near "Solander Point" on Mars.

NASA's Mars Exploration Program

NASA Solar System Exploration

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Thinking of Waking Up Tomorrow on Mars? Physicist Says That We Actually …

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(Photo : Amy Sussman/Getty Images for World Science Festival) NEW YORK - MAY 29: Musician Mark Everett (L) and physicist Michio Kaku (R) speak at the panel discussion "Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives" at the World Science Festival held at the Paley Center for Media on May 29, 2008 in New York City.

According to a physicist, humans have a small chance to go to other worlds unknowingly through the power of quantum physics. This window could, for example, make a person wake up in the harsh environment of Mars rather than in their bedroom.

The expert said that the tiny but calculable probability could let quantum waves modify space-time and warp a tunnel through it, leading us to be transported to the Martian planet effortlessly.

(Photo: Amy Sussman/Getty Images for World Science Festival)NEW YORK - MAY 29: Musician Mark Everett (L) and physicist Michio Kaku (R) speak at the panel discussion "Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives" at the World Science Festival held at the Paley Center for Media on May 29, 2008, in New York City.

The famous Michio Kaku is the physicist who theorized this bizarre but fascinating possibility. According to the scientist, he always gives his students exercises related to quantum physics. One of the equations he asks his students to construct is the same as the scenario he believes is possible: to calculate the likelihood of us waking up on Mars tomorrow while presenting all the corresponding causes that exist throughout what we know as the 'multiverse.'

The idea is somewhat strange for many, but Kaku provided several pointers anchored to quantum physics that make it doable in a report by the New York Times.

According to Kaku, quantum theory materialized through the inspiration of the concept presented by Heisenberg called the uncertainty principle. In this setup, a small probability could still occur, such as humans being able to exist in a different plane like the red planet.

The physicist wrote, "there's a tiny but calculable likelihood that our quantum wave will tunnel its way through space-time and wind up there."

Kaku explained that, in reality, calculations that attempt to solve the possibility of people waking up on Mars would take longer than the lifetime of the billion-year-old universe to write up and complete.

But despite those challenges, Kaku said we still have a small chance to make this theory possible. Regarding the state of reality, he referenced the famous British genetics specialist J.B.S Haldanewho said that the universe is "not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose."

ALSO READ: Magnetar Model Simulation Demonstrates How Mysterious Fast Radio Bursts Originate

It is highly improbable for an individual to exist in the Martian environment tomorrow, but if they did, further improbabilities would soon follow, such as the limitations against the extreme conditions of the planet and the absence of the breathable air from its atmosphere, among other things.

Kaku emphasized that unlikely does not automatically mean impossible. These trivial chances are what quantum physics is studied for, a field that offers those possibilities and could tackle subjects ranging from the universe's origins to our present and future existence by using the level of quantum uncertainty, The Bytereports.

A new study from the Physics of Life Reviews, titled "At the crossroad of the search for spontaneous radiation and the Orch OR consciousness theory," also suggests a similar idea.

Based on their models, simulations show that a mass and gravitational pull could scratch or crush the quantum waves in other forms. This meant that numerous possibilities could occur instead of only a single, uniform measurement, with the quantum properties to make other aspects of life, such as our minds, break free from the classical mechanics' one-input, one output restrictions.

RELATED ARTICLE: Perpetual Motion Machines: Experts Developed Model of Once-Impossible Time Crystal Model

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Obituary: David Lang (6/24/22) | Le Mars Daily Sentinel

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David Lang, 80 of Le Mars, died Monday, June 20, 2022, at Unity Point St. Lukes Hospital in Sioux City.

David Harold Lang was born Dec. 31, 1941 in Le Mars, to Harold and Louise (Schoenrock) Lang and was raised on their family farm in rural Le Mars. He attended the Le Mars public schools and graduated from Le Mars Community High School in 1959.

Dave was enlisted in the United States Air Guard for six years and was stationed in Vietnam.

Dave was a gifted carpenter and worked for Klinger Construction in Sioux City for many years. Dave also did small construction projects for others and helped his brothers farm.

Dave was a long time member of Trinity Lutheran Church in rural Hinton, where he was baptized and confirmed. Dave was also a member of Wasmer American Legion Post 241 of Le Mars.

Dave is survived by his brother: Kendall Lang of rural Le Mars; four nieces: Nancy, Niki, Natalie, and Noelle; and many other extended relatives.

Dave is preceded in death by his parents; and sister, Neva (Noel) Fries; and brother, Daniel Lang.

The funeral service will be held at 10:30 a.m., Saturday, June 25, at Trinity Lutheran Church in rural Hinton. Burial with military honors will follow at Trinity Lutheran Cemetery in rural Hinton.

Visitation with the family present will begin at 9:30 a.m., Saturday at the church.

Arrangements are with Rexwinkel Funeral Home of Le Mars.

Expressions of sympathy can be extended to the family

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Mars Facts and Information about the Planet Mars

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China plans to return Mars samples to Earth in 2031: report

ByElizabeth Howell published 21 June 22

China plans to haul pristine Mars samples to Earth in 2031, two years earlier than NASA and the European Space Agency plan to do so, according to media reports.

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Mars Facts and Information about the Planet Mars

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Mars meteorite challenges leading theory of how the Red Planet formed –

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A new analysis of a Martian meteorite is challenging current thinking about how terrestrial planets acquired volatile elements, including the elemental ingredients of life, early in their formation.

Researchers analyzed the Chassigny meteorite, which fell to Earth in 1815 and is thought to be a sample from the deep interior of Mars and thus providing a window into the early days of the solar system.

The main hypothesis for the formation of rocky planets such as Earth is that they initially acquired volatiles such as water and elements which vaporize at low temperatures from the solar nebula, the swirling disk of material around the young sun. These volatiles dissolved into the fiery magma oceans of young planets but later outgassed into their atmospheres. Further volatiles were delivered later on, when chondritic meteorites primitive, rocky asteroids formed from dust and grain in the early solar system smashed into the planets, according to that hypothesis.

Related: Iron meteorites point to millions of years of chaos in early solar system

But the new research suggests that Mars' development may have been different.

Sandrine Pron, a postdoctoral fellow at ETH Zrich in Switzerland, and Sujoy Mukhopadhyay, a professor at the University of California, Davis, made extremely careful measurements of the minute quantities of the isotopes of krypton, a noble gas, in samples of the meteorite at the UC Davis Noble Gas Laboratory. They were able to deduce the origins of elements in the rock.

The pair found krypton isotope ratios indicating volatiles originating from chondritic sources instead of those associated with the solar nebula. This finding suggests that volatiles from meteorites were incorporated into the mantle of the Red Planet much earlier than scientists previously thought, while the nebula was still present.

Notably, Mars is thought to have cooled much faster than Earth, taking around 4 million years to solidify, compared with 50 million to 100 million years for our planet. This means the Red Planet is offering earlier insight into the history of volatiles in the solar system.

"The Martian interior composition for krypton is nearly purely chondritic, but the atmosphere is solar," Pron said in a statement (opens in new tab). "It's very distinct."

The observations "contradict the common hypothesis that, during planet formation, chondritic volatile delivery occurred after solar gas acquisition," while also posing questions about the formation of planetary atmospheres, the researchers wrote in a study describing the new work.

The research was published June 16 in the journal Science (opens in new tab).

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