MI weekly selection #476

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Sandy clouds swirl around brown dwarfs

According to new modeling based on telescope data collected nearly 20 years ago, silicate-rich clouds swirling around brown dwarfs likely form when the chemistry and temperature –1,000 to 1,700 degrees Celsius — of the atmospheres of the substellar objects align.

Full Story: Space

Plant cycles affected by urban lighting

Researchers say artificial nighttime lighting is causing longer growing seasons for plants in US cities, which has implications for respiratory health, local economies and other aspects of urban life. A study examined how trees and shrubs at around 3,000 sites reacted to various lighting conditions, finding nighttime lighting affected both the date when buds open and when leaves change color.

Full Story: The Conversation

Snail tooth material is a green alternative to Kevlar

Researchers analyzed the tooth material of the aquatic limpet snail and found that its tensile strength can serve as a guide in developing a more sustainable alternative to plastic and high-performance materials like Kevlar. The team created a system to replicate the limpet tooth’s structure by combining mineralized chitin and isolated radula cells and applying an electrospinning technique.

Full Story: New Atlas

Gene editing could help protect crops against high temps

Record-breaking temperatures across the globe have been causing concern about drought, plant vulnerability to pests and infection, crop failure, and damage to food supplies, and the threat is expected to worsen further. Researchers have identified a temperature-sensitive gene that could be key in adjusting plants’ salicylic acid production and bolstering their immune systems when temperatures are high.

Full Story: MIT Technology Review

Constraints to Martian crust

Data from NASA’s InSight lander suggest most of Mars’ crustal layers are remnants of the planet’s creation, according to a new study. Researchers, who examined the lander’s seismic data along with gravity and topography observations, estimate the planet’s crust is between 30 and 72 kilometers thick.

Full Story: Eos

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