TIFR desalinates seawater without using electricity

TIFR researchers have produced gold nanoparticles that can absorb sunlight over the entire visible region and even the near infrared light. They used such gold nanoparticles to absorb energy from sunlight to be able to desalinate seawater to produce drinking water. The gold nanoparticles can also be used for converting carbon dioxide to methane more … Continue reading TIFR desalinates seawater without using electricity

Antarctic ice reveals that fossil fuel extraction leaks more methane than thought

Hinrich Schaefer, National Institute of Water and AtmosphericThe fossil fuel industry is a larger contributor to atmospheric methane levels than previously thought, according to our research which shows that natural seepage of this potent greenhouse gas from oil and gas reservoirs is more modest than had been assumed. In our research, published in Nature on … Continue reading Antarctic ice reveals that fossil fuel extraction leaks more methane than thought

What ails science in India?

Unlike other countries, India successfully sent a spacecraft (Mangalyaan) to Mars in its first attempt. But the country has failed to produce any path-breaking research or Nobel Laureates for the last several decades. And in all likelihood, India may not produce one in the near future unless some dramatic changes are brought about. What stares … Continue reading What ails science in India?

Fixed nitrogen: Mars was once habitable

The Mars rover Curiosity has for the first time found evidence of indigenous nitrogen in the form of nitrate in aeolian deposits and in two mudstone deposits on the red planet. This discovery has great implications for habitability and, “specifically for the potential evolution of a nitrogen cycle at some point in Martian history.” The … Continue reading Fixed nitrogen: Mars was once habitable

Editorial: Curiosity can’t kill life on Mars

As if the news on earth weren’t depressing enough, the latest dispatches from Mars are also gloomy. It turns out the red planet doesn’t have any atmospheric methane. Earthlings longing for inter-galactic companionship may have to set their sights elsewhere, for the gas is an important chemical signature of microbial activity. On earth, more than … Continue reading Editorial: Curiosity can’t kill life on Mars

Editorial: A year of curiosity

Curiosity — the car-sized remote vehicle with an array of sophisticated instruments — may have travelled only a little more than 1.6 km within the Gale Crater on Mars as it completed one year on the red planet August 6, but the invaluable information it has sent back has certainly changed our understanding of the … Continue reading Editorial: A year of curiosity

Editorial: A river ran through Mars

From finding a trail of evidence supporting the presence of water on Mars a few billion years ago, Curiosity’s discovery of subrounded or rounded pebbles provides definitive proof that the red planet once had a river. According to a May 31 paper in Science, multiple exposures of a sedimentary rock (conglomerate) containing densely-packed rounded pebbles, … Continue reading Editorial: A river ran through Mars

Rounded pebbles on Mars point to water flow

For the first time ever, scientists have been able to collect unequivocal evidence that water had once flowed on Mars some three billion years ago. Observations by NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity have revealed pebble-rich rock exposures that are so very characteristic of a riverbed. The round-shaped pebbles embedded in a matrix of coarse-grained sand are … Continue reading Rounded pebbles on Mars point to water flow

Radiation risk to astronauts travelling to Mars measured

Measurements made by the Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD) on board Curiosity show that radiation in deep space poses a “significant” risk to human space travellers. During the 253-day, 560-million-km trip of the spacecraft to Mars from November 26, 2011 to August 6, 2012, the detector recorded 466 millisevert (mSv) radiation with an error margin of … Continue reading Radiation risk to astronauts travelling to Mars measured

Editorial: Mars mission accomplished

Published in The Hindu on March 28, 2013 In what counts for one more extraordinary achievement in space science, the Mars Curiosity rover launched by NASA scientists has found strong evidence of habitable conditions that once existed at the Yellowknife Bay area in Gale crater. These reconfirm that certain regions on Mars have had favourable … Continue reading Editorial: Mars mission accomplished