Citizens' Issues
Scientists find Mars surface replica in India
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 Center (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 IANS.
 
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 of Geophysical 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.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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Want to stay strong even at old age? Exercise regularly
Toronto : The "secret" to staying strong as we age is superb fitness that can be achieved by regular exercise, suggests new research.
 
The study found that people who were elite athletes in their youth or later in life have much healthier muscles at the cellular level compared to those of non-athletes.
 
The study, published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, compared world-class track and field athletes in their 80s with people of the same age who are living independently. 
 
"One of the most unique and novel aspects of this study is the exceptional participants," said researcher Geoff Power, professor at University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada.
 
"These are individuals in their 80s and 90s who actively compete in world masters track and field championships. We have seven world champions. These individuals are the creme de la creme of ageing," Power noted.
 
The study found that athletes' legs were 25 percent stronger on average and had about 14 percent more total muscle mass.
 
In addition, the athletes had nearly one-third more motor units in their leg muscles than non-athletes.
 
More motor units, consisting of nerve and muscle fibres, mean more muscle mass and subsequently greater strength.
 
With normal ageing, the nervous system lose motor neurons, leading to a loss of motor units, reduced muscle mass, less strength, speed and power. That process speeds up substantially past age 60.
 
"Therefore, identifying opportunities to intervene and delay the loss of motor units in old age is of critical importance," Power said.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
 

 

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EU, India agree to strengthen strategic partnership
Brussels : India and the 28-member European Union ended their 13th summit in Brussels Wednesday night by underlining their commitment to strengthen their strategic and economic partnership.
 
"As global partners and the world's largest democracies, the leaders reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen the EU-India Strategic Partnership based on shared values and principles," the leaders declared in a joint statement.
 
The leaders endorsed the "EU-India Agenda for Action-2020" setting out a concrete road-map for the EU-India Strategic Partnership for the next five years.
 
The Agenda seeks to strengthen foreign policy cooperation, in areas of mutual interest such as Asia, Africa, the Middle East/West Asia, Europe, and other relevant areas including through regular dialogue.
 
They confirmed their "strong interest in building global peace, security and prosperity, fostering non-proliferation and disarmament, and tackling global challenges such as terrorism and climate change in addition to other challenges such as migration and refugee crisis".
 
They expressed their commitment to further strengthen the EU-India economic partnership.
 
A The leaders welcomed that both sides have re-engaged in discussions with a view to considering how to further the EU-India Broad-based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) negotiations.
 
The EU was represented at the summit Aby Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, and Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission. The Republic of India was represented by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
 
The leaders welcomed the European Investment Bank's (EIB) commitment to supporting long-term investment in infrastructure crucial for environmentally sustainable social and economic development in India.
 
They welcomed a total loan of 450 million euro as a participation in the construction of the first metro line in the city of Lucknow, with the signature by the EIB and the Government of India of a first tranche of 200 million euro.
 
The leaders welcomed the announcement by the EIB of the upcoming establishment, in New Delhi, of the Bank's regional representation for South Asia.
 
Emphasising that the threat of terrorism is global and needs to be tackled globally, the leaders adopted a Joint Declaration on Counter-terrorism.
 
The EU and India renewed the 2010 'Joint Declaration on International Terrorism' and decided to step up cooperation to counter violent extremism and radicalisation, the flow of foreign terrorist fighters, sources of terrorist financing and arms supply
 
The EU and India expressed their confidence in the arbitration procedure on the Italian Marines case currently underway in the framework of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), to which India and Italy are strongly committed. Both sides will contribute to settling the case on this basis, enabling the cause of justice to be served for all those affected .
 
The leaders reiterated their commitment for a sustainable, democratic, prosperous and peaceful Afghanistan Aand agreed that a stable and democratic Pakistan is in the interest of the entire region.
 
The EU and India decided to step up their cooperation to fight climate change and adopted the aJoint Declarationbetween the EU and India on a Clean Energy and Climate Partnership'
 
The EU and India agreed to address environmental challenges and work together towards sustainable development enhancing cooperation on environment issues.
 
The Joint Declaration by the European Union and the Republic of India on Indo-European Water Partnership' adopted at the Summit foresees strengthening technological, scientific and management capabilities in the field of water management and supports the Indian 'Clean Ganga' and 'Clean India' flagship projects.
 
The leaders also endorsed the establishment of the Common Agenda on Migration and Mobility (CAMM) between the EU and India, reflecting the importance of India as a strategic partner for the EU in the field of migration and mobility.
 
The CAMM, as a framework for cooperation, is the start of a longer term process which will lead to deeper cooperation and solid mutual engagement on migration.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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