Rappelling NASA rover could split in two to explore Mars’ deep craters

NASA JPL took the DuAxel out for a test run in the Mojave Desert.


NASA/JPL-Caltech/J.D. Gammell

NASA’s car-size Mars rovers are awesome, versatile machines capable of traversing rugged terrain. But they’re not made to descend down the sides of craters. For that, NASA would need something like its DuAxel prototype rover, a wild concept that is two rovers in one.

When all together, DuAxel is a four-wheeled rover. The rear can anchor itself to the ground while the front goes free on two wheels. A tether holds the pieces together while the front section rappels down a steep slope. This could work well for exploring currently inaccessible crater walls on Mars.

NASA put a DuAxel prototype through its paces in the Mojave Desert in California. “DuAxel performed extremely well in the field, successfully demonstrating its

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Science denial runs deep in the GOP


Back in 2012, climate science denial created an “October Surprise” moment for the presidential election and a turning point against the presidential prospects of Republican candidate Mitt Romney. In 2020 science denial is again a game changer, this time for Republican President Donald Trump, who has continued to downplay COVID-19’s seriousness, even after he was hospitalized for the disease which has killed more than 210,000 Americans.

A month before Hurricane Sandy reached landfall first in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and then New York City, killing 37 people in New Jersey and 44 in New York, and causing $70 billion worth of damage, Romney downplayed the threat of the climate crisis.

“President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans,” said Romney, pausing to do a clearly scripted lip bite, as if to stop himself from laughing along with the audience. “And to heal the planet. My promise

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Deep learning enables identification and optimization of RNA-based tools for myriad applications

Deep learning takes on synthetic biology
Credit: Wyss Institute at Harvard University

DNA and RNA have been compared to “instruction manuals” containing the information needed for living “machines” to operate. But while electronic machines like computers and robots are designed from the ground up to serve a specific purpose, biological organisms are governed by a much messier, more complex set of functions that lack the predictability of binary code. Inventing new solutions to biological problems requires teasing apart seemingly intractable variables—a task that is daunting to even the most intrepid human brains.


Two teams of scientists from the Wyss Institute at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have devised pathways around this roadblock by going beyond human brains; they developed a set of machine learning algorithms that can analyze reams of RNA-based “toehold” sequences and predict which ones will be most effective at sensing and responding to a desired target sequence. As reported in

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Coupling deep transcriptome and metabolome analysis unveils thermotolerance in cool-season turfgrass

grass
Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

Tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) is the predominant forage and cool-season perennial species in the U.S., China and several European countries, which grows at optimum temperature ranging from 18 to 25 oC.


High temperature damage impairs the growth of tall fescue by inhibiting secondary metabolites. Little is known about the regulation pattern of the fatty acids and carbohydrate metabolism at the whole-transcriptome level in tall fescue under high temperature stress.

In a study published in Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, the researchers form Molecular Breeding of Turfgrass and Forage Grass Group, Wuhan Botanical Garden of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, first analyzed the high temperature damage to fatty acids and carbohydrate metabolism in two tall fescue accessions, PI 234881 and PI 578718, by using coupling deep transcriptome and metabolome analysis.

Using RNA-Seq, 121 genes were induced during the second energy production phase in tall fescue exposed

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If Trump refuses to concede, American democracy is in deep trouble.

HF: You define democracy as a “system in which parties lose elections.” Why is this such a crucial defining feature?

AP: Democracy has many merits (and demerits), about which see my book, “Why Bother with Elections?” But they all pale in importance in comparison to the role of elections in processing whatever conflicts may arise in a society without violence. As an Italian political philosopher, Norberto Bobbio put it, “What is democracy other than a set of rules … for the solution of conflicts without bloodshed?”

The value of democracy lies in the ability of the citizens to choose by whom and how they would be governed, and this implies being able to throw the incumbents out whenever a qualified majority so wishes.

HF: Trump has just suggested that he may not go along with a transfer of power if he loses. Your work asks why the losers of elections

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Seismic sound waves crossing the deep ocean could be a new thermometer

A seismometer on the atoll of Diego Garcia (left) can calculate ocean temperature with earthquakes near Sumatra (right).
Enlarge / A seismometer on the atoll of Diego Garcia (left) can calculate ocean temperature with earthquakes near Sumatra (right).

Geophysics has shown that precise measurements and a little modeling can perform wonders, like showing us the detailed structure of the Earth’s interior despite the fact that it is inaccessibly buried beneath hundreds of kilometers of rock. This is possible because seismic waves produced by earthquakes subtly change velocity or direction as they pass through different materials. A new paper shows that something similar can actually measure small temperature changes in the deep ocean.

An idea to use acoustic waves from man-made sources was actually floated several decades ago but died out after some trials. A team led by Wenbo Wu at the University of Toronto realized that earthquakes could be taken advantage of in the same way, removing the expensive logistics of constantly setting off booms to get

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Alien planets in deep space could be made of diamonds, researchers suggest

They say diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but what about an entire planet made of diamonds?

Newly published research suggests that some exoplanets in deep space largely comprised of carbon could turn into diamonds.

The research, published in The Planetary Science Journal, suggests that these “carbon-rich” planets could have the right conditions, such as water, heat and pressure, to turn the carbon into diamonds. These planets could also form other minerals that are found on Earth, such as silicates and oxides.

llustration of a carbon-rich planet with diamond and silica as main minerals. Water can convert a carbide planet into a diamond-rich planet. In the interior, the main minerals would be diamond and silica (a layer with crystals in the illustration). The core (dark blue) might be iron-carbon alloy. Credit: Shim/ASU/Vecteezy

llustration of a carbon-rich planet with diamond and silica as main minerals. Water can convert a carbide planet into a diamond-rich planet. In the interior, the main minerals would be diamond and silica (a layer with crystals in the illustration). The core (dark blue) might be iron-carbon alloy. Credit: Shim/ASU/Vecteezy

DWARF PLANET CERES HAS AN ‘ANCIENT OCEAN’ WITH SALT WATER, RESEARCHERS CONFIRM

“These exoplanets are unlike anything in

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