Tag Archives: geological sciences

Questions for Jack Mustard: Helping to shape a new Mars rover

In 2020, a new-generation Mars rover will land on the Red Planet and gather much more detailed data than Curiosity, which is on Mars now. NASA revealed details about the new rover at a news conference Tuesday, July 9, 2013. Brown University’s Jack Mustard chaired the Mars 2020 Science Definition Team.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — NASA unveiled details about a new rover proposed to land on the surface of Mars in 2020. The details came in the form of a 154-page document prepared by the Mars 2020 Science Definition Team, which was tasked with recommending scientific objectives of the mission. (more…)

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Development in Brazil: Double cropping helps Brazil’s development

It’s not just about agriculture. Growing two crops a year in the same field improves schools, helps advance public sanitation, raises median income, and creates jobs.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — New research finds that double cropping — planting two crops in a field in the same year — is associated with positive signs of economic development for rural Brazilians.

The research focused the state of Mato Grosso, the epicenter of an agricultural revolution that has made Brazil one of the world’s top producers of soybeans, corn, cotton, and other staple crops. That Brazil has become an agricultural powerhouse over the last decade or so is clear. What has been less clear is who is reaping the economic rewards of that agricultural intensification — average Brazilians or wealthy landowners and outside investors. (more…)

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Lunar impacts created seas of molten rock

A new analysis of data from NASA’s Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA) shows that molten rock may have been present on the Moon more recently and for longer periods than previously thought. Differentiation — a settling out of rock layers as liquid rock cools — would require thousands of years and a fluid rock sea at least six miles deep.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Early in the Moon’s history an ocean of molten rock covered its entire surface. As that lunar magma ocean cooled over millions of years, it differentiated to form the Moon’s crust and mantle. But according to a new analysis by planetary scientists from Brown University, this wasn’t the last time the Moon’s surface was melted on a massive scale. (more…)

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Technology in the Classroom

A professor uses clickers and UD Capture to make a large class feel smaller

Susan McGeary, associate professor in the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Delaware, incorporated clickers and UD Capture for the first time in spring 2012 to see if she could increase student participation. What McGeary did not expect was the level of engagement in her Geological Hazards course, which is a 250-300 person class.

“Clickers seemed to remove the barrier between me and the students; they approached me more, asked more questions, were more involved during the class — it was exciting,” McGeary said. (more…)

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‘Mount Sharp’ on Mars Links Geology’s Past and Future

One particular mountain on Mars, bigger than Colorado’s grandest, has been beckoning would-be explorers since it was first sighted from orbit in the 1970s. Scientists have ideas about how it took shape in the middle of ancient Gale Crater and hopes for what evidence it could yield about whether conditions on Mars have favored life.

No mission to Mars dared approach it, though, until NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission, which this August will attempt to place its one-ton rover, Curiosity, at the foot of the mountain. The moat of flatter ground between the mountain and the crater rim encircling it makes too small a touchdown target to have been considered safe without precision-landing innovations used by this mission. (more…)

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Geologists Correct a Rift in Africa

EAST LANSING, Mich. — The huge changes in the Earth’s crust that influenced human evolution are being redefined, according to research published today in Nature Geoscience.

The Great Rift Valley of East Africa – the birthplace of the human species – may have taken much longer to develop than previously believed.

“We now believe that the western portion of the rift formed about 25 million years ago, and is approximately as old as the eastern part, instead of much younger as other studies have maintained,” said Michael Gottfried, Michigan State University associate professor of geological sciences. “The significance is that the Rift Valley is the setting for the most crucial steps in primate and ultimately human evolution, and our study has major implications for the environmental and landscape changes that form the backdrop for that evolutionary story.” (more…)

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