MI weekly selection #228

Atmospheric metal layers around Mars found

Layers of atmospheric metal ions have been found around Mars by NASA’s MAVEN space probe, puzzling researchers because the layers shouldn’t be there. “Something is causing these layers — something is pushing them around — but we don’t know what,” said NASA’s Joseph Grebowsky, an author of a study on the find published in Geophysical Research Letters.

New Scientist

Ancient volcanic eruptions devastated penguins

Colonies of gentoo penguins on tiny Ardley Island in the Antarctic have been decimated three times by volcanic eruptions over the course of 7,000 years. Researchers were able to chart the penguins’ traumatic past by examining ancient guano found in sediments of Ardley Lake.

The New York Times

Great Cold Spot observed on Jupiter

A second great spot, this one cooler and caused by auroras, has been observed on Jupiter. “The Great Cold Spot is much more volatile than the slowly changing Great Red Spot, changing dramatically in shape and size over only a few days and weeks, but it has reappeared for as long as we have data to search for it, for over 15 years,” said Tom Stallard, lead author of a study on the find published in Geophysical Research Letters.


Preparing to geoengineer the atmosphere

A unique experiment by Harvard University scientists aims to test the idea of solar geoengineering, in which aerosols would be sent into the stratosphere to reflect the sun’s rays away from Earth in an effort to combat global warming. Researchers say they will begin with water vapor but could introduce other substances such as calcium carbonate, sulfates or diamond dust as the experiment moves forward.


Farming by ants predates that of humans

Ants were farmers long before humans. By examining ants’ genomes, researchers discovered that fungus farmers likely came from a South American rainforest ancestor about 60 million years ago, splitting into two different farming societies about 30 million years after that.

The New York Times

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