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Multiple underground water reservoirs discovered on Mars, new study finds

A number of liquid bodies have been found on Mars, raising the tantalizing possibility that liquid water could exist on the Red Planet long believed to be desolate and hostile to life.

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(TMU) – A number of liquid bodies have been found on Mars, raising the tantalizing possibility that liquid water could exist on the Red Planet long believed to be desolate and hostile to life.

A major new study published Monday by the journal Nature Astronomy indicates that a subterranean reservoir of extremely salty water is located close to the Martian south pole. For scientists, the existence of such a lake – along with a number of other wet areas – is a tell-tale sign that the planet could harbor its own native microscopic life, given the importance of liquid water to survival.

While some researchers still remain unconvinced that liquid water exists on Mars, the new study lends credibility to the belief that the Mars Express robot orbiter made the discovery, according to tentative findings from 2018 during the mission to radar map the planet’s crust.

The research gleaned from those findings found that an underground “lake” of liquid water lies beneath layers of sediment close to the planet’s south pole, similar to the subglacial lakes that exist underneath Greenland and Antarctica’s ice sheets here on Earth.

The 2018 study was hailed as a huge breakthrough in the search for alien life in our universe, in general, and on Mars, specifically, but skeptics continued to question whether scientists had actually accumulated enough details to know with certainty that they had actually found a vast lake of liquid water.

However, this latest study used the techniques used by the satellites orbiting our own planet to study the massive subterranean lakes underneath Antarctic glaciers to confirm that the vast store of liquid does exist on Mars, and spans about 15 miles across.

Earth’s own subglacial lakes thrive with bacterial life, leading scientists to believe that their Martian counterparts could also be teeming with microscopic activity.

“We are much more confident now,” said Elena Pettinelli, a geophysics professor at Italy’s Roma Tre University, who led the research on this and the previous study. “We did many more observations, and we processed the data completely differently.”

The researchers were also able to use the method to locate a patchwork of other buried reservoirs in the region, separated from the main reservoir.

Researchers still don’t know precisely how deep the reservoirs go, but they are located a bit more than a mile below the surface.

The data also shows that the bodies are likely filled with hypersaline solutions, or water that is so saturated with a thick concentrate of calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium that they are able to remain liquid despite the extremely cold conditions on the Martian south pole.

If these pools are filled with liquid water, they are a likely venue for microbial alien life – which itself could be the remnant of life that may have existed billions of years ago on the planet if Mars had the sort of oceanic expanses of water on its surface that the Earth does.

If the discovery is confirmed, this will be the very first time that liquid water will have been found on Mars.

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Awesome New Infrared Goggles Could Help Blind People ‘See’ Surroundings

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People who are blind or deal with low vision face a unique number of challenges in their daily lives, ranging from accessing published material to holding a job or living on one’s own.

However, emerging infrared technology under research could help the blind and visually impaired navigate the world around them using a pair of innovative goggles.

In new research recently published and yet to be peer-reviewed, Manuel Zahn and Armaghan Ahmad Khan at Germany’s Technical University of Munich explored how their 3D camera and haptic feedback armband can assist people with low vision.

“Even in the present era, visually impaired people face a constant challenge of navigation,” the pair wrote. “The most common tool available to them is the cane. Although the cane allows good detection of objects in the user’s immediate vicinity, it lacks the ability to detect obstacles further away.”

The two students’ design deploys two infrared cameras placed in a 3D-printed goggles prototype to get a stereoscopic view that is transformed by a small computer into a map of the user’s surroundings. The infrared gear also works in the dark. The armband then uses 25 actuators arranged in a grid that vibrates when users come close to objects while also assisting them in their orientation. As users walk near obstacles, the vibration intensity of the actuators increases.

In tests, subjects enjoyed roughly 98 percent accuracy while getting through obstacle pathways, with all five participants completing the course in their first run. After two additional runs, the volunteers were able to navigate the obstacles more rapidly.

Zahn and Khan frequently cited Microsoft’s Kinect motion detection system for the Xbox in their study, but the pair are confident that their own setup will be far smaller, cheaper and less conspicuous than the gaming device.

The new headset could offer an interesting opportunity for blind and partially sighted people to clear the myriad obstacles they face when performing regular tasks or navigating the world around them.

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Toddler Goes On $2000 Furniture-Shopping Spree On Mom’s Phone

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A New Jersey mom learned that keeping your browser open may not be the best idea as children, and even infants, become increasingly tech savvy.

Madhu Kumar was browsing Walmart’s furniture selection on their website and had added some items to her shopping cart but never checked out. She was shocked and confused when she started to receive a steady stream of packages from the big-box retailer.

Madhu immediately turned to her husband and two older children to find out who ordered the packages.

“I need one or two, why would we need four?” Madhu asked.

As it turned out, her toddler Ayaansh Kumar – who, at 22 months old, was barely learning to count – had gone on a $2,000 shopping spree while playing on his mother’s phone.

“It is really hard to believe that he has done this, but that’s what happened,” Ayaansh’s dad, Pramod Kumar, told NBC New York.

Among the packages were some that could barely be squeezed through the family’s front door at their home in Monmouth Junction.

Purchases included accent chairs, flower stands and a range of other household items that arrived throughout the week.

“He’s so little, he’s so cute, we were laughing that he ordered all this stuff,” his mom remarked.

From birth, young Ayaansh had observantly watched his family members engage in a range of activities from home – including shopping, attending classes, and going to school. And as it the case for many kids of his generation, he knows the basics of operating a smartphone.

The parents are still waiting for all of the boxes to arrive so that they can return them to their local Walmart. The retailer has already told the Kumars that they are eligible for a refund, but the parents plan to save at least a few items to remind them of their son’s first e-commerce adventure.

“Moving forward, we will put tough passcodes or face recognition so when he picks up the phone he finds it in locked condition,” his father said.

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