Geological formations are seen in sedimentary rock in the Hellas Basin on Mars. Researchers say these well-exposed channels are archived evidence of long-lived rivers active on the Martian surface over 3.7 billion yrs ago. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UoA/Matt Balme/William)
Scientists say they have found the most detailed evidence yet of long-flowing, ancient rivers on Mars.
The discovery supports existing evidence that Mars – which today is dry and cold – was once a water-rich planet. The researchers say their findings suggest rivers may have flowed on the surface of Mars for hundreds of thousands of years.
The evidence came from new satellite pictures of the Martian surface. These images were captured by a camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The camera is able to take detailed pictures of the surface while orbiting the planet from about 400 kilometers away.
A team of scientists studied the images, which showed a rocky area within the planet’s Hellas Impact Crater. An impact crater is formed when a space object crashes into a planet or moon. The Hellas Impact Crater, in the southern Martian hemisphere, is one of the largest formations of its kind in the solar system.
This image from ESA’s Mars Express shows a valley network on Mars. This oblique perspective view was generated using a digital terrain model and Mars Express data gathered on 19 November 2018 during Mars Express orbit 18831. (Image credit: ESA/DLR/FU Berl
The team was led by Francesco Salese, a geologist at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. The research results were recently published in a study in Nature Communications.
Salese said the scientists studied sedimentary rocks from a 200 meter high rocky cliff. Sedimentary rocks form when sediment, transported by water or wind, settles and forms solid rock.
“These are sedimentary rocks, 3.7 billion years old, and were formed by rivers that were likely active for over 100,000 years of Martian history,” Salese said in a statement.
“OK, it is not like reading a newspaper, but the extremely high resolution imagery allowed us to ‘read’ the rocks as if you are standing very close to the cliff,” he added.
Example of features identified in a deep basin on Mars that show it was influenced by groundwater billions of years ago. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)
Salese said even without the ability to examine the cliff area up-close on Mars, the pictures show strong similarities to sedimentary rocks found on Earth.
The researchers created three-dimensional, or 3D, images of the area to get a more detailed understanding of it. The pictures suggested that some ancient Martian rivers were several meters deep.
William McMahon is another geologist who was part of the investigation team. He said sedimentary rocks have long been studied on Earth to learn what conditions were like on our planet millions, or even billions of years ago.
“Now we have the technology to extend this methodology to another terrestrial planet, Mars, which hosts an ancient sedimentary rock record which extends even further back in time than our own,” McMahon said in a statement.
Another leader of the team was Joel Davis, a researcher with Britain’s Natural History Museum. He said scientists had never before been able to examine such a rock formation with such great detail.
This May 12, 2016 image provided by NASA shows the planet Mars. (NASA/ESA/Hubble Heritage Team - STScI/AURA, J. Bell - ASU, M. Wolff - Space Science Institute via AP)
Davis said the discovery is “one more piece of the puzzle in the search for ancient life on Mars.” He added that it also provides new evidence of how much water existed on Mars in ancient times.
“The rivers that formed these rocks weren't just a one-off event - they were probably active for tens to hundreds of thousands of years,” Davis said.
Salese added that the findings show Mars had an environment able to support large, flowing rivers for extended periods of time.
“This kind of evidence, of a long-lived watery landscape, is crucial in our search for ancient life on the planet,” Salese said.
I’m Bryan Lynn.
Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English, based on reports from Britain’s Natural History Museum, Utrecht University and Nature Communications. Mario Ritter, Jr. was the editor.
What Do Studies on New Coronavirus Mutations Tell Us?
May 17, 2020
The ultrastructural morphology exhibited by the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), which was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China, is seen in an illustration released by the Centers for Disease Cont
Studies of genetic material from thousands of samples of the novel coronavirus show that it is changing. Experts say those findings might affect the current pandemic and efforts to develop vaccines and treatments.
The GISAID Initiative is a partnership between a not-for-profit group and the governments of Germany, Singapore, and the United States. The initiative was formerly called the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data. It collects records of genetic information on influenza viruses and releases them to the public.
Researchers in the United States used GISAID data to follow genetic changes, or mutations, in the “spike” of the new coronavirus. The spike is the part of the coronavirus that gives it its unusual shape.
The researchers said they discovered 14 such mutations early in their investigation at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. They noted that one, called D614G, was “of urgent concern” because it may make the disease more infectious.
Using the same GISAID records, a team in Britain studied genetic material from more than 7,500 virus samples from infected patients around the world.
The team is from University College London. They reported finding 198 mutations in the coronavirus genomes they examined, but none appeared to be of special concern.
Scientists at Britain’s Glasgow University also studied mutations in the samples of the genomes. But they found these changes did not confirm the existence of different strains of the virus.
That finding disproved an earlier study by Chinese researchers. Their study suggested there had been two strains in patients at the start of the COVID-19 outbreak in China. One of the strains had been noted as more “aggressive,” the researchers said.
Eric Topol is a heart specialist and geneticist. He established the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Jolla, California. He told the Reuters news agency the idea that there are several strains of the virus must be rejected.
“We know there is only one strain,” Topol said.
Jonathan Stoye is head of virology at Britain’s Francis Crick Institute. He said that taken together, the studies offer an interesting look at the coronavirus, and show that it is “a moving target.”
“The virus is evolving and is changing. And we don’t yet know what the consequences of those changes are,” Stoye said.
“This coronavirus mutates just like any good RNA virus should,” added Mark Schleiss, a molecular genetics expert. He is with the University of Minnesota Medical School.
Genetics and biology experts say it is still too early to know whether any of the mutations are meaningful.
Lawrence Young is a professor of molecular oncology at the University of Warwick in Britain. He said that while there have been many predictions about the rise of more aggressive strains, studies so far show that is not the case.
Eric Topol noted scientists will have to examine exactly how a given genetic mutation affects the behavior of the virus to find out more.
I’m Pete Musto.
Kate Kelland reported this story for the Reuters news agency. Pete Musto adapted it for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
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With population growth and climate change, we might have to radically change our diets in the future. There are all sorts of developments going on to help feed us in the future, from growing artificial meat to developing insect-based foods. In 6 Minute English we discuss what we might be tucking into in the future and serve up some useful vocabulary.
This week's question
In which continent did tomatoes originate? Is it…
A: South America
Listen to the programme to find out the answer.
a futurologist a person who studies and predicts how we will live in the future
a trend a way to refer to something that is popular now or that is becoming popular
to latch onto become very interested in
a hunch a feeling you have based on your knowledge and experience that something might be true even though you don’t have any real evidence
ingesting taking into your body, i.e. eating and drinking
stringent strict, strong
Note: This is not a word for word transcript
Neil Hello. This is 6 Minute English. I'm Neil.
Sam And I'm Sam.
Neil Sam, have you considered the future of food much?
Sam Well I think in the future I might have a sandwich – in about 30 minutes in the future.
Neil Not quite what I meant! With the population of the world increasing along with the negative effects of climate change and other global issues, we might have to radically change our diets in the future.
Sam Ah, yes I have heard about this – there are all sorts of developments from growing artificial meat to developing insect-based foods.
Neil Mmm, tasty. Well we’ll look a little more at this topic shortly, but we start, as ever, with a question and it’s a food-based question. In which continent did tomatoes originate? Is it…
A: South America
What do you think, Sam?
Sam No idea. I’m going to say Africa, but that’s just a guess.
Neil OK. Well I will reveal the answer later in the programme. On a recent edition of BBC Radio 4’s The Food Programme there was an interview with Dr Morgaine Gaye. She is a futurologist. A futurologist is someone who studies and predicts the way we will be living in the future. Her particular area of expertise is the subject of food. What two things does she say she thinks about?
Dr Morgaine Gaye As a food futurologist, I think about not just what we’re going to be eating in the future but why. Why that thing, why that trend, why will people suddenly latch onto that food, that way of eating that food at that particular time? And when I work for large companies, that’s what they want to know. There is an element of a hunch. And then proving or disproving that hunch.
Neil So, what two things does she think about?
Sam She says that as a food futurologist she thinks about what we will be eating in the future and also why we will be eating that food.
Neil Yes, in particular she looks at why there are particular trends. A trend is what is popular now or what is becoming popular. For example, at the moment there is a trend for eating less red meat.
Sam She also looks at why people latch onto particular trends. To latch onto here means to be very interested in something. So if you latch onto a particular food trend, you start to follow that trend, you might start eating that particular diet.
Neil Information about future trends is very important for companies in the food business. How does she actually predict these trends?
Sam She says she starts with a hunch. A hunch is a feeling you get that something is true. You don’t have any real evidence, but your experience and knowledge makes you think you might be right.
Neil Let’s listen again.
Dr Morgaine Gaye As a food futurologist I think about not just what we’re going to be eating in the future but why. Why that thing, why that trend why will people suddenly latch onto that food, that way of eating that food at that particular time? And when I work for large companies, that’s what they want to know. There is an element of a hunch. And then proving or disproving that hunch.
Neil Dr Gaye goes on to talk about how on the subject of food, there are restrictions. Why is that?
Dr Morgaine Gaye Food business of course has different restrictions around it because it’s about safety, we’re ingesting that. The supply chain and the labelling laws are very stringent especially in this country so it takes longer to get an idea from just a concept that’s discussed around a table to an actual production facility, labelled, branded, tested, marketed and put on the shelves.
Neil So, why restrictions?
Sam Well, it’s about safety. Because we are ingesting food, which is a way of saying we are putting it into our bodies, it has to be safe.
Neil It can be a long process of developing a new food and getting it into the shops because of the need to be safe and meet the laws of different countries. In the UK she mentions that the food safety laws are very stringent. This means that the laws are very tough, very strict. Let’s hear Dr Gaye again.
Dr Morgaine Gaye Food business of course has different restrictions around it because it’s about safety, we’re ingesting that, the supply chain and the labelling laws are very stringent especially in this country so it takes longer to get an idea from just a concept that’s discussed around a table to an actual production facility, labelled, branded, tested, marketed and put on the shelves.
Neil Right, well before we review our vocabulary, let’s get the answer to the question. In which continent did tomatoes originate? Is it…
A: South America
Sam, what did you say?
Sam I made a guess at Africa.
Neil Well, I’m afraid that’s not right. Congratulations though to everyone who said South America. Right, let’s recap today’s words and expressions.
Sam OK, well we started with the word futurologist. This is a noun to describe someone who studies and predicts the way we will be living in the future.
Neil Then we had trend. This word can describe what is popular now and the way in which what is popular is changing. For example now we are seeing a trend for eating less red meat in some parts of the world.
Sam If you latch onto something, you become interested in it and associate yourself with it – we heard that people very quickly latch onto food trends
Neil Then there was hunch. A hunch is a feeling about something you think might be true even though you don’t have real evidence for it. Ingesting something means taking it into your body, so eating or drinking it.
Sam And finally a stringent rule is a very strict rule, a tough rule or law which in connection to food is designed to make sure it is safe and of a suitable quality.
Neil OK, thank you, Sam. That’s all from 6 Minute English. Goodbye!
PTT to raise Bt44 billion through bonds for debt refinancing and augmenting liquidity
Energy conglomerate PTT plans to issue corporate bonds worth Bt44 billion this year and next year, in order to refinance its debt and increase liquidity, PTT chief financial officer Pannalin Mahawongtikul said.
PTT needs to raise funds for debt refinancing, increasing liquidity and raising working capital, she said
Debentures worth Bt 27 billion will reach maturity over the next two years -- Bt1 billion this month, Bt1 billion more in July, Bt22 billion in September and about Bt15 billion more next year, she said.
Due to the Covid-19 fallout, some of PTT's debtors, like airlines and those in the gas industry, have delayed their debt payments, she said. However, the delay in payments by clients has not adversely affected PTT's cash flow, she reassured.
The company currently holds Bt50 billion cash despite its reported net loss of Bt1.6 billion in the first quarter. The losses stem from oil stock loss (cost of oil stockpile) , foreign currency borrowings and weakening of the baht.
PTT Group has losses from oil stock if Bt70 billion from business operations in the first quarter worth Bt17 billion.
The company is optimistic about the outlook for the rest of the year; refinery margins are likely to rise with crude oil price estimated at between $30 to $40 per barrel. The group’s chemical products, however, are under pressure as new suppliers from China have entered the market.
Hot to very hot conditions with thunderstorms and gusty winds will affect the Northeast, the East, the Central region and the lower North, while the South will see continuous rainfall and isolated heavy rain, the Thailand Meteorological Department forecast today (May 18).
It added that thunderstorms and wind will whip up 2-metre waves in the Andaman Sea and advised that small boats must not venture out while bigger vessels should “proceed with caution”.
Here’s the weather forecast for the next 24 hours:
Northern region: Hot to very hot with thundershowers in 10 per cent of the area, gusty wind is possible; temperature lows of 24-30 degrees and highs of 38-41 degrees Celsius.
Northeastern region: Hot to very hot with thundershowers in 30 per cent of the area, gusty wind is possible, temperature lows of 24-29 degrees and highs of 35-40 degrees Celsius.
Central region: Hot with thundershowers in 20 per cent of the area, gusty wind and heavy rain are possible; temperature lows of 26-29 degrees, highs of 38-39 degrees Celsius.
Eastern region: Hot with thundershowers in 30 per cent of the area, gusty wind is possible in some areas; temperature lows of 25-29 degrees, highs of 31-37 degrees Celsius; waves a metre high and 1-2 metres during thundershowers.
Southern region (east coast): Mostly cloudy with thundershowers and heavy rain in 30 per cent of the area; temperature lows of 24-29 degrees, highs of 32-37 degrees Celsius; waves less than a metre high and 1-2 metres during thundershowers.
Southern region (west coast): Thundershowers in 70 per cent of the area with isolated heavy rain; temperature lows of 23-26 degrees, highs of 31-32 degree Celsius; waves 2 metres high and more than 2 metres during thundershowers.
Bangkok and surrounding areas: Hot with thundershowers in 20 per cent of the area; temperature lows of 28-30 degrees, highs of 36-39 degrees Celsius.
COvid-19 alert: If you were at any of these places, contact officials
Mar 24. 2020
Lumpinee Boxing Stadium
By THE NATION
The Department of Disease Control has released a list of 23 places it deems high-risk for Covid-19 in Bangkok, Nonthaburi, Nakhon Ratchasima, Khon Kaen, Ubon Ratchathani, Surin and Songkhla provinces. It wants people who had visited these places on the mentioned dates and times to inform officials.Bangkok
1. Night restaurants and entertainment venues (March 9-10);
2. Ratchadamnoen Boxing Stadium (March 6 to 8);
3. Lumpinee Boxing Stadium (March 6 to 8);
4. Ordination, Rachathiwas Temple (March 14);
5. Rajamangala University of Technology Suvarnabhumi (March 13);
6. The public van travelling between The Mall and Future Park Rangsit (March 8 to 20);
7. The bus, route: Prachachuen, Lumpinee Boxing Stadium, and Rajdamnoen (March 8 to 14);
8. Nonthaburi Boxing Stadium (March 8, from 6pm to 8pm);
9. Live boxing in Kutchik subdistrict (March 8, from 12am to 8pm);
10. Cockfight stadium in Non-Thai district (March 8, from 11am to 8pm);
11. Tawandang (March 8, from 12am to 2.30am, March 15, 12.59am and March 16, to 2am);
12. Nong Phai Lom Market (March 16, at 5pm)
13. Sod Jaeng Mookata Chill (March 12, at 9pm);
14. Mittraphap Tavern (March 7, from 12am to 3.30am);
15. Chom Chan Restaurant (March 14);
16. U-Bar (March 13-14);
17. Ricco (March 12);
18. Mix Club (March 9);
19. Tawandang (March 9);
20. A funeral in Moo 3, Lamduan district (March 16, from 7pm to 11pm);
21. Chong Chom Market in Kap Choeng district (March 15, from 1pm to 2pm);
22. Jiranakorn Stadium in Hat Yai district (March 14-15, from 4pm to 7pm);
23. Minibus No 4 from Hat Yai Airport to Hat Yai Town (March 13 at 10am).