There's a Lot of Water on Mars; New Planets Are Way Close

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Discovered: Mars has tons of water, space's new planets are too close for comfort, elephant seals make good scientists, and fructose (sugar!) could be healthy, after all.

  • There is a lot of water on Mars. Space nerds get all excited when we hear of the supposed water on Mars because then, maybe, we could leave this falling apart planet and live on that frontier some day. Today, science has lifted those hopes even higher, finding a lot more water than they expected in two martian meteorites. "We analyzed two meteorites that had very different processing histories," explains researcher Erik Hauri. "One had undergone considerable mixing with other elements during its formation, while the other had not. We analyzed the water content of the mineral apatite and found there was little difference between the two even though the chemistry of trace elements was markedly different. The results suggest that water was incorporated during the formation of Mars and that the planet was able to store water in its interior during the planet's differentiation," he continues. Science thinks volcanoes brought this water to the surface. This news couldn't come at a more perfect time because just today science found that other promising possible space colony -- the moon -- doesn't have very much ice at all. [Carnegie Institution]
  • Space's new planets are too close for comfort. Science just discovered two new planets that orbit way too close to each other. "We've never known of planets like this," explains researcher Sarbani Basu. "These two worlds are having close encounters," added researcher Josh Carter. They are so close their orbits are only two days apart, with the inner planet orbiting its star every 14 days and the outer planet every 16. "If you were on the smaller planet looking up, the larger planet would seem more than twice the size of Earth's full moon. It would be jaw-dropping," explains Basu. We imagine it would look like that big fat Earth crushing planet in Melancholia, which would indeed make our jaws drop. [Yale]
  • Elephant seals make good scientists. These guys might have a reputation for lying on the beach and snuggling all day, but when someone asks them to do something important, they deliver. Using elephant seals, science confirmed that the Fimbul ice shelf is melting, but at a slower rate than previously thought. By putting sensors on the top of their heads, researchers could measure the temperature and salinity of the waters along the Fimbul Ice Shelf, something that would be too difficult and dangerous otherwise. "Nobody was expecting that the MEOP seals from Bouvetøya would swim straight to the Antarctic and stay along the Fimbul Ice Shelf for the entire winter," explains researcher Tore Hattermann said. "But, this behavior certainly provided an impressive and unique data set." Let's give a hand to the elephant seals, today's science heroes. [American Geophysical Union]
  • Fructose might be good for us, after all. Speaking of bad raps, science thinks sugar has gotten one. "Over the last decade, there have been connections made between fructose intake and rates of obesity," explains researcher Dr. John Sievenpipe. "However, this research suggests that the problem is likely one of overconsumption, not fructose." Not just that, but eating fructose, which is not to be confused with high fructose corn syrup, helped people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes regulate their blood sugar, found the study. "We're seeing that there may be benefit if fructose wasn't being consumed in such large amounts,"added researcher Adrian Cozma. "All negative attention on fructose-related harm draws further away from the issue of eating too many calories." Just to be clear, this is fructose, the simple sugar found in fruits vegetables and honey, we're talking about here, not the fun stuff. So, eat responsibly. [Diabetes Care]

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