10 Newly Uncovered Facts About Mars

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10 Newly Uncovered Facts About Mars



When NASA announced the discovery of flowing water on Mars, it was a big deal. Since then, we’ve made many more discoveries that have mostly gone under the radar of the general public. Currently, we have two rovers and three orbiters exploring Mars with another two on the way. We are constantly finding out new things about our red neighbor or confirming previous ideas.


10Mars Has Impact Glass Which Might Preserve Life


Photo credit: NASA

Impactite is a type of rock created from a meteorite impact. It is often a mixture of various rocks, minerals, glass, and crystals formed through shock metamorphism. Popular sources of impactite on Earth include the Alamo bolide impact site in Nevada and Darwin Crater in Tasmania. Last year, NASA found new sources on Mars.

NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter detected deposits of impact glasspreserved in several craters on the Red Planet. In 2014, scientist Peter Schultz showed that similar impact glass found in Argentina preserved plant matter and organic molecules, so it is possible that Mars’ impact glass could contain traces of ancient life.

The next step would be to obtain a sample of Martian impact glass. Hargraves Crater, one of the sites with glass deposits, is among the landing site candidates for the 2020 rover. This new discovery should make it a front-runner.

9Comet Flyby Wreaks Havoc On Mars’ Magnetosphere


Photo credit: NASA/Goddard

In September 2014, the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) spacecraft entered Mars’ orbit. Just a few weeks later, the probe witnessed a rare event when a comet did a very close flyby of the Red Planet.

Comet C/2013 A1, popularly known as Siding Spring, was discovered in 2013. Initially, we thought that the comet would crash into Mars, but the two objects came within 140,000 kilometers (87,000 mi) of each other.

Scientists were interested to see the effect of such a close flyby on a planet. Because Mars has a weak magnetosphere, the planet was flooded with a layer of ions as the comet’s potent magnetic field overwhelmed that of Mars. NASA compared the effects with those of a powerful but short-lived solar storm. As the comet’s magnetic strength intensified, Mars’ magnetic field was plunged into total chaos, at times flapping “like a curtain in the wind.”

8Mars Has A Mohawk


In 2013, the MAVEN spacecraft was launched with the goal of studying Mars’ atmosphere. Based on observations made by the probe, computer simulations reveal that the planet sports a pretty trendy “Mohawk.”

Mars’ sweet hairstyle is actually comprised of electrically charged particles being blasted away by solar winds from the planet’s upper atmosphere. The electrical field created by the incoming solar wind, as well as other powerful solar events like coronal mass ejections and solar flares, can direct the particles at either pole. This creates a polar plume of escaping ions which bears a resemblance to a “Mohawk.”


7Mars’ Future Crops


Photo credit: phys.org

If humans are ever going to inhabit Mars, then we will need to develop methods of feeding colonists on the Red Planet. According to scientists at Wageningen University, we already have access to four vegetables and cereals which should be safe to grow and eat in Martian soil.

Those four crops are tomatoes, radishes, rye, and peas. Dutch scientists have been growing them in Mars-like soil developed by NASA. Although the soil contains high levels of heavy metals such as cadmium and copper, the food grown in the soil didn’t absorb enough to constitute “dangerous levels.”

The four crops are part of an ongoing experiment that will look into the viability of six other foods as potential Martian crops. The study is backed by Mars One, a project currently selecting candidates for a manned mission to Mars within the next 10–15 years.

6Mars’ Morse Code Dunes


Rovers and probes have been studying Martian dunes for a while now, but recent images taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have somewhat puzzled scientists. In February 2016, the spacecraft highlighted a region that showed complex dunes with shapes reminiscent of dots and dashes used for Morse code.

Current thinking says that a nearby depression, likely an old impact crater, limited the amount of sand available for dune formation which led to their unusual shapes. The “dash” dunes were formed by winds coming in at right angles from two directions, creating their linear form.

The origins of the smaller “dot” dunes are more of a mystery. Typically, they appear when something interrupts the formation of linear dunes. However, scientists are not sure exactly what that “something” involves and hope that further study of the area will help them understand the process better.

5Martian Mineral Mystery


Photo credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

A region of Mars explored by the Curiosity rover in 2015 is raising a lot of questions for NASA scientists. Known as the “Marias Pass,” the area is a geological contact zone where a layer of sandstone sits atop a bed of mudstone.

The region has an exceptionally high concentration of silica—up to 90 percent in certain rocks. Silica is a chemical compound found in rocks and minerals on Earth, primarily quartz.

According to Curiosity team member Albert Yen, standard processes for boosting silica concentration involve either dissolving other ingredients or bringing more silica from another source. Either way, you need water, so uncovering the processes will give us a better view of ancient, watery Mars.

Scientists were even more surprised when they took a rock sample. They actually stumbled on a mineral called tridymite, a first for Mars. Although tridymite is incredibly rare on Earth, there are huge quantities of it in the Marias Pass and we’re not sure how it got there.


4The White Planet


Photo credit: NASA via Popular Mechanics

There was a time when the famed Red Planet would have actually been more white than red. According to astronomers at the Southern Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, this is because Mars underwent a relatively recent ice age more extreme than anything we’ve seen on Earth.

The team reached this conclusion by observing the layers of ice at the Martian north pole. On Earth, scientists would dig through the ground, pull out a long tube of ice, and carefully study each layer. As this wasn’t possible on Mars, astronomers used the Shallow Subsurface Radar aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

With the help of ground-penetrating radar, astronomers saw 2 kilometers (1.2 mi) deep into Mars’ icy crust and formed a 2-D cross section which showed the planet had an intense ice age 370,000 years ago and should expect another one in 150,000 years.

3Mars Had Underground Volcanoes


Photo credit: NASA

Usually found in igneous rock, the newly discovered tridymite points to heavy volcanic activity in Mars’ past. New evidence from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter also suggests that Mars once had volcanoes thaterupted under ice.

The probe studied a region of the Red Planet known as Sisyphi Montes. It is full of flat-topped mountains which are similar in shape to Earth volcanoes that erupted underneath ice.

When an eruption occurs, it is usually powerful enough to punch through the ice layer and shoot large quantities of ash into the air. This also leaves behind a distinct trail of minerals and other compounds, giving subglacial eruptions a unique signature that was also found at Sisyphi Montes.

2Ancient Mars Had Mega Tsunamis


Photo credit: Science News

Scientists are still debating whether the Red Planet once had a northern ocean. However, new research indicates that the ocean did exist and wasdecimated by huge tsunamis that make most of their Earthly counterparts pale in comparison.

Until now, the evidence pointing to an ancient ocean consisted of the remains of a shoreline which wasn’t present everywhere it should have been. If these mega tsunamis existed, they could have wiped away part of the shoreline.

Alexis Rodriguez, one of the proponents of this new idea, says the waves would have been up to 120 meters (394 ft) high and occurred as often as once every three million years. Rodriguez is particularly interested in studying craters near the shoreline. They would have been drenched by tsunamis and trapped water for millions of years, making them ideal places to search for signs of ancient life.

1Mars Had More Water Than The Arctic Ocean


Photo credit: NASA/GSFC

Although the location of Mars’ ocean is up for debate, scientists agree that the Red Planet used to have a lot of water. NASA suggests that Mars once had enough water to completely cover the planet’s surface in one giant ocean 140 meters (450 ft) deep. However, that water was likely concentrated in an ocean bigger than Earth’s Arctic Ocean and occupied roughly 19 percent of Mars’ surface.

These estimations come courtesy of observations made by the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii and the Very Large Telescope in Chile. Mars’ atmosphere currently has two forms of water: H2O and HDO, where a normal hydrogen molecule is replaced by deuterium, a hydrogen isotope.

Scientists measured the ratio between H2O and HDO present on Mars today and compared it to the water ratio from a 4.5-billion-year-old Martian meteorite. The results indicate that Mars lost 87 percent of its water content to space.



10 Amazing Facts About Ancient Sparta

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10 Amazing Facts About Ancient Sparta


Ancient Sparta was located in a region known as Laconia in the southeastern part of the Peloponnese. Even today, the allure of that prominent Greek city-state still catches our interest and imagination. The simplicity of their way of life, their political stability, their strict education system, and the “production” of the finest Greek warriors were some of the reasons why ancient Sparta was admired by many other Greek cities.


10Brevity And Directness


In addition to their reputation as fine warriors, the Spartans were also known for the brevity and directness of their speech.

Shortly before Philip of Macedon (Alexander’s father) invaded Laconia, he wrote a letter to the Spartans saying, “If I invade Laconia, I will drive you out.” The Spartans wrote a one-word letter back to Philip saying, “If.” (Plutarch, On Talkativeness: 511a). Philip eventually entered Laconia and sent another letter to the Spartans asking whether they would receive him as a friend or a foe. The Spartans replied, “Neither.” (Plutarch, “Sayings of the Spartans”: 233e).

Plutarch wrote that Spartans do not say much, but what they say grabs the listener’s attention and they go straight to business (“Life of Lycurgus”: 19). A lost Greek comedy (we know some fragments of it due to the latter quotations) had a line saying, “Smaller than a letter sent from Sparta.”

9Suppression Of Corruption And Greed


Photo credit: CoinWeek

The pursuit of material wealth and mostly any other activity outside of a military career was discouraged by Spartan law. Iron was the only metal allowed for coinage; gold and silver were forbidden. According to Plutarch (“Life of Lycurgus”: 9), Spartans had their coins made of iron. Therefore, a small value required a great weight and volume of coins.

Transporting a significant amount of value in coins required the use of a team of oxen, and storing it needed a large room. This made bribery and stealing difficult in Sparta. Wealth was not easy to enjoy and almost impossible to hide.

8Suppression Of Laziness


Spartan warriors had to be strong and fit. This was particularly important for young men who were still in the process of becoming fully developed warriors. Aelian (Miscellaneous History: 14.7) recorded that Spartan law required young men to stand naked in public so that their bodies could be inspected.

This was a routine check performed every 10 days, and they were expected to display a healthy and strong physique. Those who had flaccid limbs, excessive body fat, or both were beaten and censured.




Photo credit: Wikia

Xenophon (Constitution of Sparta: 9.4) provides a detailed list of the disastrous consequences that a Spartan soldier could face if he was perceived as a coward.

According to this list, everyone would be ashamed to share a meal with a coward and to wrestle with him in the gymnasium. He would never be picked when choosing teammates for ball games, he had to make way for others in the street, he had to give his seat to younger men, he would not be able to find a woman to marry, and he could be beaten in case he behaved in a manner that would lead others to believe that he was not a coward.

During the famous last stand against the Persians in Thermopylae, a Spartan soldier named Aristodemus was suffering from a disease in the eyes and was too ill to fight. After returning to Sparta, he was known as “the coward Aristodemus.” One year later, Aristodemus fought and died bravely in the Battle of Plataea and regained his honor.

Plutarch added another form of punishment for cowardice. He wrote that cowards had to “go around unkempt, wearing cloaks with patches of dyed cloth, and with one side of their beard shaved.” (“Life of Agesilaus”: 30).



Although Spartan law permitted anyone over age 20 to get married, men had the obligation of living in military housing until age 30. As a result, young married couples were forced to live their marriage as a sort of illegal and secret affair. Many couples would even have children years before they lived under the same roof.

Even during their wedding night, a newly married Spartan couple had to conduct themselves as if they were doing something wrong. A Spartan bride was dressed like a man and left alone on a couch in a dark bedroom. Her husband had to sneak into the room in secret, making sure that nobody noticed his presence.

“This would go on for a long time, and some Spartans even became fathers before seeing their wives in the daylight.” (Plutarch, “Life of Lycurgus”: 15).



Photo credit: Ancient Origins

The Spartans had slaves, known as “helots,” who were occupied as farmers, as house servants, and in most activities that would distract the free Spartan citizens from their military duties. The helots were culturally Greek, reduced to servitude by the Spartans, and with new conquests, their number increased. During the late eighth century and after a long war, the Spartans annexed Messenia (southwest of the Peloponnese) and its inhabitants were reduced to slavery and turned into helots.

Plato (Critias, fragment 37) claimed that Spartans had special locks on their doors because they had little trust of the helots. It is also known that the Spartans had a secret police, the Krypteia, who were responsible for keeping the helots in check. According to Plutarch (“Life of Lycurgus”: 28), the Krypteia would kill any helot found in the countryside during the night, and they wouldkill any helot who looked strong and fit during the day.


4Spartan Kings


Sparta had two kings belonging to different royal dynasties. Although their power was limited, one of them would have the duty of commanding the army in time of war. Spartan kings were descendants of the god Heracles. At least, this is what the official genealogy of the Spartan kings claimed.

The existence of two ruling houses was in direct contradiction with the idea of a common ancestry, which led to an imaginative explanation: During the fifth generation after Heracles, twin sons, Agis and Eurypon, had been born to the king. This was the mythical origin of the ruling families’ names, the Agiads and the Eurypontids.

Herodotus offers a complete genealogical list for the ancestry of Leonidas and Leotychidas, the two Spartan kings around the time of the Persian Wars. (Histories: 7.204.480 for Leonidas and 8.131.2 for Leotychidas).

3The Ephors


Photo credit: Life in Triplicate

The ephors were a branch of Spartan government with no equivalent in the rest of the Greek world. They were elected annually from the pool of male citizens. Their role was to balance and complement the role of the king. They were the supreme civil court and had criminal jurisdiction over the king.

The kings swore to uphold the Spartan constitution, and the ephors swore to uphold the king as long as he kept his oath. When a king went to war, two of the ephors would join him to supervise his actions. During the absence of a king, some of his responsibilities would be delegated to the ephors.

2Spartan Women


Photo credit: Edgar Degas

The role of women in Sparta was different than in the rest of Greece. In general, they had a lot more freedom. They were not secluded like in many other Greek cities, and girls were expected to endure the same physical training as boys.

They also had gymnastics side by side with boys, all naked. They were trained in casting the dart, running, wrestling, and throwing the bar, among other skills. All this was supposed to make women stronger, more flexible, and better equipped to endure the pain of bearing children.

Spartan women had a reputation among other Greeks of being chaste. This admiration coexisted with the fact that if a married woman was childless, the state could order her to see if another man could do a better job in begetting children. Usually, women would accept this initiative. Spartan law was strict about encouraging new children, and there was little or no room for maneuvering in this regard.

1Spartan Army


Photo credit: Realm of History

Spartan citizens were expected to become professional soldiers, a process that began by removing young kids from their homes at age seven. The young Spartans were separated into age groups and lived in military housing.

From age seven, Spartans had to endure severe athletic and military training. Plutarch (“Spartan Customs”: 239d) said that Spartans boys were flogged with whips for an entire day on the altar of Artemis and they had to tolerate it, competing with each other to see who was capable of resisting the highest number of strokes.

Their training became even more intense at age 20. By this time, they joined common mess halls. Their skills in the battlefield allowed them to be capable of outmaneuvering any other Greek army. It was no coincidence that Sparta had no need for fortifications during most of its history.


Cristian is a freelance writer and editor of Ancient History Encyclopedia. He is currently studying archaeology (University of Leicester) and has a strong passion about the Human Past.

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Emirates airline plane ‘crash lands at Dubai International Airport after mid-air fire drama’ with 24 Brits on board

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Emirates airline plane ‘crash lands at Dubai International Airport after mid-air fire drama’ with 24 Brits on board

Flight EK521, which departed from Trivandrum International Airport in India, crash-landed with 300 passengers and crew on board

British passengers were caught up in mid-air terror after a Emirates airline plane caught fire in mid-air and dramatically crash-landed at Dubai International Airport.

Twenty-four Brits were among the 300 passengers on board the Boeing 777-300 jet when it smashed down onto the runway at around 1pm local time (10am UK time).

Miraculously, no-one was seriously hurt in the crash and passengers were evacuated just minutes before the plane exploded into flames.

The three-hour flight took off from Trivandrum International Airport in India at around 6am UK time before the captain is understood to have sent out and emergency signal shortly before the plane was due to land.

Eye-witnesses described seeing huge plumes of smoke rising from the plane before it crashed down onto the runway.

One passenger told the Khaleej Times: “Technically (I have no idea what happened but while landing something abnormal took place on the runway.

“We saw smoke inside the aircraft and all the emergency doors were opened.

EPAAn Emirates airlines Boeing 777-300 A6-EMW plane
The Emirates airlines Boeing 777-300 lays on the ground in Dubai airport
Emirates flight from Trivandrum to Dubai crash-lands
Horrified passengers witnessed the crash from the airport terminal

“I pulled my daughters and took my travel documents and slid down the slides.”

Photographs of the incident posted on social media showed a
plane lying crumpled on its belly on the tarmac with black smoke
pouring from its upper section.

The plane exploded just minutes after passengers were evacuated
Dramatic footage captured the moment the plane exploded

Dramatic video also showed the plane skidding across the runway as it came in to land before exploding in a ball of fire shortly after passengers were evacuated.

Firefighters managed to bring the fire under control, and the destroyed fuselage of the plane was seen lying on the tarmac as an investigation was immediately launched

The majority of passengers – 226 in total – were Indina.