Monday March 25, 2019
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Scientists find Mars surface replica in India

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photo credits :http://www.redorbit.com

Kolkata: Why wait for a million-dollar ticket to Mars when you can have an inter-planetary experience a la Oscar nominated blockbuster “The Martian” right here in India?

One simply needs to head over to the western Indian state of Gujarat to glimpse the remarkable rocky landscape similar to the Red planet.

A replica or “terrestrial analogue” of the Martian surface has been discovered in the state, thanks to Indian scientists from the Space Applications Centre (SAC-ISRO) in Ahmedabad, Indian Institute of Technology-Kharagpur and the National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI) in Hyderabad.

The team identified and documented the presence of a rare mineral jarosite through spectroscopic studies in Matanumadh area (86 km northwest of Bhuj) in Kachch district of Gujarat, a finding which links it to the Red planet. This work is part of a programme initiated by SAC-ISRO under its Mars mission.

“The landscape of Matanumadh with its unusual mineral assemblage, including jarosite, in a basalt terrain, mimics the geological environment of many of the identified jarosite localities on Mars,” Saibal Gupta, professor in Department of Geology and Geophysics at IIT-Kharagpur, told reporters.

Presence of the rare mineral was reported from various parts of the surface of the Red planet by NASA’s Mars exploration rover Opportunity in 2004. Since then, other rovers have detected jarosite at several localities on the planet’s surface.

The fact that jarosite is found in limited natural terrestrial environments means “extreme and unusual” conditions are required for its formation and stabilisation.

“The Martian surface must, at some time, have experienced these conditions. Thus, the positive identification of jarosite, in addition to the previously reported minerals natroalunite and minamiite, is a major argument in favour of the Matanumadh Formation representing a Martian analog locality,” contended Souvik Mitra, of IIT-Kharagpur.

In fact, as a clone, the Indian site more closely resembles the Martian surface than known Western Australian jarosite localites, note the researchers in the study published in the Journal ofGeophysical Research: Planets in March.

The significance of the discovery is multi-fold and could have implications in the way we explore the Martian surface.

NASA is working to send humans to Mars in the 2030s, but there are many milestones to accomplish to ensure that astronauts come back to the Earth safely, the space agency says on its website.

“The two essential conditions for jarosite formation are near-surface acidic water and oxidizing conditions. Understanding how jarosite formed in the Matanumadh Formation may shed light on the final stages of aqueous (water-based) activity in parts of the Martian surface,” said Mitra. Last year, NASA scientists found evidence of flowing water on Mars.

Mitra envisages if the local tourism authorities can educate the locals about the site and its link to Mars, then it could also benefit regional tourism.

Most importantly, in addition to sending up sophisticated robots and probes on Mars to study it, investigations could be carried out right at the Matanumadh Formation at a reduced cost, to understand what transpired on Mars a few billion years ago, according to Gupta.

“This is no substitute to human exploration of the Martian surface, but that could be quite some time in the future. Till then, these analog localities provide a starting point for knowing what to expect.”

“In fact, this work is a demonstration of what collaboration between scientists from different organisations within India can do, and SAC-ISRO is to be commended for this endeavour,” Gupta added. (IANS)

  • Akanksha Sharma

    This is amazing.

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Netflix Testing New Mobile-only Subscription Plan For India

However, since this is a test, not all users would be able to be part of the new plan and it is also possible that Netflix could decide on not making it a permanent option after all

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Netflix declined to share what other countries would be involved in the test besides India. Pixabay

In India and other select countries, content-streaming platform Netflix is testing a new mobile-only subscription plan that would only cost users $3.63 a month (Rs 251).

The basic Netflix streaming plan in India starts from $7.27 (Rs 500) and the test plan would slash the existing subscription plan exactly by half.

“We will be testing different options in select countries, where members can, for example, watch Netflix on their mobile device for a lower price and subscribe in shorter increments of time,” The Verge quoted Netflix as saying on Friday.

Although it remains unclear as of now, but the statement from the content-streaming platform hints that it could start offering weekly or bi-weekly subscription options alongside or instead of monthly plans.

Netflix
The test in India makes sense, given that Netflix has already expressed interest in the country, the report said. Pixabay

Netflix declined to share what other countries would be involved in the test besides India.

The test in India makes sense, given that Netflix has already expressed interest in the country, the report said.

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Last week, Todd Yellin, Product Vice President at Netflix gave a keynote in Mumbai addressing company’s future plans of expanding interactive TV shows and Netflix original content from India on its platform.

However, since this is a test, not all users would be able to be part of the new plan and it is also possible that Netflix could decide on not making it a permanent option after all. (IANS)