3D rendering of the martian surface with hills and the text, "Is there salt on Mars?"

Exploring the Salty Secrets of Mars (Tidal Salt)

The possibility of life on other planets has been a subject of fascination for centuries. As we explore the universe and search for signs of life on other planets, the question of whether there is sea salt on Mars has become an intriguing topic for researchers.

Sea salt is a common substance found on Earth, and it plays a significant role in our lives. It is used in food preparation, as a preservative, and as a key ingredient in many skincare products. But is there sea salt on Mars?

Some researchers believe that there may be traces of sea salt on Mars, based on data from the Curiosity rover. In 2013, Curiosity discovered evidence of a dry lakebed on the surface of Mars that contained deposits of salts, including calcium sulfate and sodium chloride. While these salts are not the same as the sea salt found on Earth, they are an indication that there may be a history of water on Mars.

To gain more insight into the presence of sea salt on Mars, we reached out to Dr. Tanya Harrison, a planetary scientist and expert in Martian geology.

Read more: Exploring the Salty Secrets of Mars: Insights from Planetary Scientist Dr. Tanya Harrison by Tidal Salt

The Explorers Club Unveils “50 Individuals Changing the World” (Yahoo! Entertainment)

NEW YORK, Feb. 1, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — The Explorers Club today unveiled its annual list of the 50 People Changing the World That the World Needs to Know About – scientists, educators and conservationists whose work will unlock the secrets of the oceans, advance conservation efforts, protect rare and endangered species, and take us further into space. 

The Explorers Club 50 (EC50) was established in 2020 to amplify the communication of science so that it is more inclusive and represents the many diverse voices in the global scientific community.

“We’re hoping to find or inspire the next Buzz Aldrin, Jane Goodall, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, or Kathy Sullivan. We see our EC50 members as being the next generation of individuals who will take us further into space, conserve our earth and oceans, and protect at-risk species worldwide,” said Richard Garriott de Cayeux, president of The Explorers Club. “At a time where science is often under attack, we need to ensure that this next generation of scientists and educators are given as many platforms and resources as possible to conduct and promote their work,”

Among this year’s new EC50 members are:

Dr. Tanya Harrison a scientist and mission operations specialist on multiple NASA missions to Mars, including the Opportunity, Curiosity, and Perseverance Rovers, and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Read more: The Explorers Club Unveils “50 Individuals Changing the World” by Yahoo! Entertainment

The Year Ahead in Astronomy (Gizmodo)

People to Follow: Tanya Harrison is a geomorphologist and the Director of Science for Impact at Planet; before that, she worked on remote sensing for several Mars rover teams. Harrison is a great follow for keeping up with spaceflight missions like Artemis I, but also understanding how space (and seeing Earth from space) can inform our understanding of planets.

Read more: The Year Ahead in Astronomy by Isaac Schultz

NASA spacecraft collides with asteroid in planetary defence test (Al Jazeera)

A NASA spacecraft has hit an asteroid in an unprecedented test designed to prevent potentially devastating collisions with Earth.

NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft crashed into the asteroid Dimorphos about 11 million kilometres (6.8 million miles) from Earth at about 23:00 GMT on Monday.

The US space agency livestreamed the test from the mission operations centre outside Washington, DC, showing images taken by DART’s own camera as the cube-shaped “impactor” vehicle, no bigger than a vending machine with two rectangular solar arrays, careered into Dimorphos, an asteroid about the size of a football stadium.

Cheers could be heard from engineers in the control room as second-by-second images of the target asteroid grew larger and ultimately filled the TV screen of NASA’s live webcast just before the spacecraft’s signal was lost, confirming it had crashed into Dimorphos.

“Impact confirmed for the world’s first planetary defense test mission,” said a graphic that appeared on the live stream.

Read more: NASA spacecraft collides with asteroid in planetary defence test by Al Jazeera

Smelling strawberries, smoke and space in virtual reality (ASU)

​Virtual reality, or VR, has been a topic that has fascinated the public for years.

Movies like “Ready Player One” show the varied possibilities of this technology. Now, Arizona State University researcher Robert LiKamWa wants to take users one step closer to the future of VR.

LiKamWa, an associate professor in the School of Arts, Media and Engineering and an assistant professor in the School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering, part of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, leads a multidisciplinary team of students and faculty from across ASU departments to incorporate realistic, environmentally-sensitive smell into VR for more than just entertainment.

He and his team see possibilities for VR to be a valuable tool in a variety of scenarios in which smells represent vital information and are a powerful emotional tool.

While others have developed smell for VR, the ASU team is working on elements to enhance the experience, like incorporating different intensities of smells depending on how close the user is to a scent and combining multiple odors that can be present in the virtual environment.

The project known as the Smell Engine emerged from work that Tanya Harrison, former director of research at the ASU NewSpace initiative, had been leading for the university’s Interplanetary Initiative. Harrison’s original intent was to incorporate smell into virtual reality training for space exploration applications.

“When Tanya first called me and said she wanted to understand how outer space smells, I thought, ‘That’s so weird, I have to say yes to this project,’” says Trustees of ASU Professor Brian Smith, from the School of Life Sciences .

Read more: Smelling strawberries, smoke and space in virtual reality by TJ Triolo

‘Mission: Interplanetary’ podcast returns for Season 3 (ASU)

The Arizona State University Interplanetary Initiative’s podcast “Mission: Interplanetary” will launch its third season Oct. 4 with a stellar lineup of guests and, for the first time, guest hosts.

This year’s season brings hosts astronaut Cady Coleman and scientist Andrew Maynard back together. Maynard is the author of “Films From the Future: The Technology and Morality of Sci-Fi Movies” and “Future Rising,” as well as a professor in ASU’s School for the Future of Innovation in Society. Coleman is a veteran of two space shuttle flights and spent six months living and working onboard the International Space Station. She serves as the ASU global explorer-in-residence at the School at Earth and Space Exploration.

They will be joined by guest hosts Tanya Harrison and Joe O’Rourke, who will take over hosting duties for several episodes.

Read more: ‘Mission: Interplanetary’ podcast returns for Season 3 by Sally Young

Voices on 2030: Digitalizing Government (KPMG)

The year is 2030. People and technology live in harmony. Trust is embedded into data. Interactions are cognitive. And government services are seamless, customer-centric and intuitive.

It is less than eight years away, but expectations for 2030 are already sky high. Across many spheres — technological, social, political, economic and others — transformation is underway and huge goals are being set. So what will the world look like in 2030? And what can public sector organizations be doing to help ensure they can meet these expectations?

We spoke with leaders and disruptors from around the world, across the public and private sector to explore answers to these questions.

Explore the predictions summary below and download the full report to see what leaders and disruptors from around the world are predicting on the future of digital government.

Read more: Voices on 2030: Digitalizing Government by KPMG

MarbleMedia & Mezo Entertainment Team for Generation Mars (TVKids.com)

marblemedia and Robert C. Cooper’s Mezo Entertainment are co-developing the new live-action sci-fi adventure series Generation Mars, based on the books by Douglas D. Meredith.

The series centers on 12-year-old Cas, the first human born on Mars. “Doug wrote an edge-of-your-seat thriller of a novel, and we can’t wait to build out this story for TV audiences of all ages with Rob Cooper and the contribution of an impressive panel of experts,” said A.J. Trauth, VP of kids/family development at marblemedia.

Cooper (Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective AgencyStargate) will showrun. Dr. Tanya Harrison, who has a Ph.D. in geology with a specialization in planetary science and exploration, will serve as a consultant to ensure scientific credibility of the story world.

Read more: MarbleMedia & Mezo Entertainment Team for Generation Mars by Jamie Stalcup

marblemedia and Mezo Entertainment Find Life on Mars with Sci-Fi Adventure Series, Generation Mars (marblemedia)

Award-winning writer and producer Robert C. Cooper (Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, Stargate) joins as Showrunner  

 Power line-up of esteemed Mars experts are attached to consult, including space exploration non-profit, Explore Mars; NASA Mars mission operations specialist, Dr. Tanya Harrison; and twenty-one-year-old astronaut-in-training and STEM-influencer phenom, Alyssa Carson. 

Los Angeles/Toronto/ Vancouver – (May 26, 2022) – marblemedia and Mezo Entertainment announced today they are in development on a live-action sci-fi adventure series, Generation Mars (10×60’). Helmed by creator Robert C. Cooper (Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, Stargate) the series is based on the popular books of the same name by Douglas D. Meredith.  

Generation Mars chronicles humanity’s perilous extraterrestrial endeavour from the unique point of view of an extraordinary family. It’s an optimistic heart-pounding thrill ride based on hard science that will inspire adventure-seekers of all ages. 

Read more: marblemedia and Mezo Entertainment Find Life on Mars with Sci-Fi Adventure Series, Generation Mars (press release)

China Finds Recent Water Flows on Mars, with Big Implications for Alien Life (Inverse)

Mars was once wet enough to cover its entire surface with an ocean of water hundreds to thousands of feet deep, holding about half as much water as the Atlantic Ocean. However, the most recent epoch of Martian history, known as the Amazonian — the past 3 billion years of the Red Planet— is often considered cold and dry.

Now, in a new study published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances, China’s first rover on Mars finds evidence of water there potentially within the past 700 million years.

“Liquid water may have been around underground much more recently in Mars’ history than previously thought,” planetary scientist Tanya Harrison, the director of Strategic Science Initiatives at Planet Labs, did not participate in this research, tells Inverse. “That’s exciting from an astrobiological standpoint because on Earth, anywhere there’s liquid water, there’s generally something that has managed to survive there. So, it gives the potential for a small habitable environment on Mars in the geologically recent past.”

Read more: China Finds Recent Water Flows on Mars, with Big Implications for Alien Life by Charles Q. Choi

Eyes on the Arctic: Satellites reveal changing conditions at northern latitudes (SpaceNews)

When Iceye co-founders Rafal Modrzewski and Pekka Laurila began looking for promising markets for synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data, they focused exclusively on the Arctic.

It was a natural fit for the Finland-based SAR constellation operator founded in 2014. Eight years later, the Arctic remains a key market for Iceye due in part to its lack of terrestrial infrastructure.

“The only way to monitor it is through satellites,” Modrzewski said.

As Arctic sea ice dips to new lows, economic activity in the region is picking up. Meanwhile, soil under the Arctic tundra is thawing while some vegetation above is flourishing. To track the changes, companies and academic researchers often turn to satellite-based data products.

Spire Global, for example, is developing datasets to help people make decisions about what to do as the Arctic region evolves over time, said Kevin Petty, Spire vice president of weather and Earth intelligence.

With a fleet of more than 110 satellites, Spire tracks the movement of ships and airplanes through the region in addition to gathering atmospheric temperature, pressure and moisture data by noting how signals from GPS and other Global Navigation Satellite Systems change as they pass through the atmosphere.

By observing how the same signals reflect off Earth’s surface, Spire also can provide customers with data on soil moisture levels and sea ice.

Planet is shedding light on the Arctic with more than 200 satellites in polar orbit acquiring electro-optical imagery.

German researchers developed a deep learning model for PlanetScope, Planet’s daily global Earth imagery, to identify areas where the Arctic permafrost is thawing and releasing methane, a potent greenhouse gas. The research, led by Germany’s Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research and the University of Potsdam Institute of Geosciences, maps small landslides that occur when permafrost thaws rapidly.

“This is a type of application that we’re starting to see pick up quite a bit because we have so much coverage both spatially and temporally across the Arctic,” said Tanya Harrison, Planet scientific strategy director.

For instance, Sarah Cooley, a University of Oregon assistant professor, applies machine learning to Planet imagery to track changes in hundreds of thousands of Arctic lakes in areas where the permafrost stores carbon.

“Her results are suggesting that the combined action of all of these small lakes is actually going to be quite a substantial greenhouse gas source moving forward,” Harrison said. “That research is only possible with a dataset like this, because she’s looking at subseasonal scale over a massive area of the Arctic.”

Read more: Eyes on the Arctic: Satellites reveal changing conditions at northern latitudes by Debra Werner

How Do Astronauts Sh*t in Space? (Lifehacker)

There’s a ton of space-related news dominating the headlines right now. Billionaires are engaged in a space race, celebrities are riding along in rockets, and 1,500 pages of UFO-related reports were just declassified by the government. The age of space tourism may soon be upon us, but the age of space curiosity is already quite firmly here. Whether you end up on a tourism rocket, living in a space station a la Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century, or just reading about the cosmic goings-on from the relative comfort of Earth, you’ve probably already got a lot of questions. One might start with: How, exactly, do they go to the bathroom up there?

It could seem low-brow or immature to ponder this when the idea of space exploration is so complex and—with the climate catastrophe going the way it’s going—even vital, but we think it’s quite reasonable to wonder. Here’s your answer.

What is the primary barrier to traditional bathroom use in space?

At the heart of this issue is gravity, or rather, the lack of it out there in space. The concept of gravity is a simple one we all know and understand: There is a force that pulls things down to Earth. That’s physics. We all get it.

In space, where there is less gravity, you float. Everything floats. Whatever isn’t secured to a surface will be suspended, which is why we see videos of astronauts zipping themselves into little sleeping bag contraptions when it’s time to doze. Dr. Tanya Harrison, a planetary scientist, told Lifehacker that on the Space Station, astronauts exist in “microgravity.” They are still close enough to Earth to have a little gravity, but they’re essentially always in a state of “falling.” (Interestingly, she said, though their urine is basically “floating” inside their bladders, astronauts have reported that the sensation of needing to use the bathroom remains the same in these conditions.)

See more: How Do Astronauts Shit in Space? by Lindsey Ellefson