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Mars lander spies the planet's deep boundaries

Science

Two years ago, NASA's InSight spacecraft alighted on the surface of Mars, aiming to glean clues to the planet's interior from the shaking of distant earthquakes and deep heat leaking from its soil. Mars, it turned out, had other ideas. Its sticky soil has thwarted InSight's heat probe, and in recent months howling winds have deafened its sensitive seismometers. Most mysteriously, the planet hasn't been rattled by the large marsquakes that could vividly illuminate its depths. Despite these hurdles, a precious clutch of small-but-clear quakes has enabled the InSight team to see hints of boundaries in the rock, tens and hundreds of kilometers below. They are clues to the planet's formation billions of years ago, when it was a hot ball of magma and heavier elements like iron sank to form a core, while lighter rocks rose up out of the mantle to form a capping lid of crust. The results, some debuting this month at an online meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), show that the planet's crust is surprisingly thin, its mantle cooler than expected, and its large iron core still molten. The findings suggest that in its infancy, Mars efficiently shed heat—perhaps through a pattern of upwelling mantle rock and subducting crust similar to plate tectonics on Earth. “This may be evidence for a far more dynamic crust formation in Mars's early days,” says Stephen Mojzsis, a planetary scientist at the University of Colorado, Boulder, who is unaffiliated with the mission. The evidence has been hard won. Early in the mission, winds were quiet enough for InSight's seismometers, housed in a small dome placed on the surface, to hear a multitude of small quakes—nearly 500 in total. But since June, winds have shaken the surface strongly enough to smother all but a handful of new quakes. Yet frustratingly, the winds have not been strong enough to sweep away dust that is darkening the craft's solar panels and foreshadowing the mission's end sometime in the next few years. The seismometers are still running nonstop, but power constraints have forced the team to turn off a weather station when using the lander's robotic arm. “We are starting to feel the effects,” says Bruce Banerdt, InSight's principal investigator and a geophysicist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Meanwhile, the heat probe, about the length of a paper towel tube, is stuck in soil that compacted instead of crumbling as the rod tried to delve in. Mission engineers have used the robotic arm to push the probe down and scrape dirt on top. In the next month or two, they'll try once more to get the probe to burrow in, Banerdt says. “If that doesn't work, we'll call it a day and accept disappointment.” Perhaps the biggest disappointment is the lack of a marsquake larger than magnitude 4.5. The seismic waves of a large quake travel more deeply, reflecting off the core and mantle boundaries and even circling the planet on its surface. The multiple echoes of a large quake can enable just a single seismic station like InSight's to locate the quake's source. But above magnitude 4, Mars has been curiously silent—an apparent violation of the scaling laws that apply on Earth and the Moon, where 100 magnitude 3 events correspond to 10 magnitude 4 quakes, and so on. “That is a bit weird,” says Simon Stähler, a seismologist on the team from ETH Zurich. It could simply be that Mars's faults aren't big enough to sustain big strikes, or that its crust isn't brittle enough. But two moderate quakes, at magnitude 3.7 and 3.3, have been treasure troves for the mission. Traced to Cerberus Fossae, deep fissures in the crust 1600 kilometers east of the landing site that were suspected of being seismically active, the quakes sent a one-two punch of compressive pressure (P) waves, followed by sidewinding shear (S) waves, barreling toward the lander. Some of the waves were confined to the crust; others reflected off the top of the mantle. Offsets in the travel times of the P and S waves hint at the thickness of the crust and suggest distinct layers within it, Brigitte Knapmeyer-Endrun, a seismologist at the University of Cologne, said in an AGU presentation. The top layer may reflect material ground up in the planet's first billion years, a period of intense asteroid bombardment, says Steven Hauck, a planetary scientist at Case Western Reserve University. At 20 or 37 kilometers thick, depending on whether the reflections accurately trace the top of the mantle, the martian crust appears to be thinner than Earth's continental crust—a surprise. Researchers had thought that Mars, a smaller planet with less internal heat, would have built up a thicker crust, with heat escaping through limited conduction and bouts of volcanism. (Though Mars is volcanically dead today, giant volcanoes dot its surface.) A thin crust, however, might mean Mars was losing heat efficiently, recycling its early crust, rather than just building it up, perhaps through a rudimentary form of plate tectonics, Mojzsis says. A handful of distant quakes, originating some 4000 kilometers away, provided a further clue. Those waves traveled deep through the mantle and interacted with the mantle transition zone, a layer where pressure transforms the mineral olivine into wadsleyite. By analyzing the travel time of waves that passed above, below, and through the transition zone, the team located its depth—and found it shallower than expected, an indication of a cooler mantle. For the mantle to be this cool today suggests that convection—the swirling motions that, on Earth, drive tectonic plates and carry heat from the mantle to the surface—might have operated early on, says Quancheng Huang, a Ph.D. student at the University of Maryland, College Park, who presented some of the results at the AGU meeting. “Plate tectonics is a very effective way of cooling a planet.” A third science experiment aboard InSight probes deeper still, using tiny Doppler shifts in radio broadcasts sent from Earth to receivers on the probe to detect slight wobbles in the planet's spin. The size and consistency of the planet's iron core affect the wobbles, much as raw eggs spin differently from cooked ones. “We've had something like 350 hours of tracking,” says Véronique Dehant, a geophysicist at the Royal Observatory of Belgium. The preliminary results confirm that the core is liquid, with a radius compatible with previous estimates made by spacecraft measuring tiny variations in the planet's gravity, Dehant reports in her AGU poster. Those gravity estimates have found a core with a radius of about 1800 kilometers—taking up more than half the planet's diameter. Rebecca Fischer, a mineral physicist and modeler at Harvard University, isn't surprised at the signs of a liquid core. “It would be a pretty big surprise if it weren't,” she says. Sulfur and other elements mixed with the iron should help it to remain molten while cool, much as salt prevents icing. On Earth, convective motions in the molten outer core drive the magnetic dynamo. But on Mars, those motions seem to have stopped long ago—and without a magnetic field, the planet's atmosphere was vulnerable to the Sun's cosmic rays and leached water to space. Banerdt hopes to sharpen this fuzzy picture of the planet's interior, and he thinks calmer winds will soon make that possible. After two Earth years, the probe's first martian year is ending, and the quiet of the mission's first months is returning. “We're looking forward to another whole pile of event detections,” Banerdt says. And though the planet has not cooperated so far, perhaps the Big One is poised to strike Mars like a gong—a reverberation that would at last make all clear.


Vectorspace AI Datasets: ABT Crypto AMA (Ask Me Anything)

#artificialintelligence

While'data' might be the new oil, the'dataset' is the refined gasoline that powers every Machine Learning (ML) and AI operation. These datasets are used to boost signal, accuracy, precision, profit/loss, Sortino or Sharpe ratios in the financial markets and biosciences industries. The following is a transcript of a recent AMA hosted by ABT Crypto Academy on Telegram with the founder of Vectorspace AI, Kasian Franks. We're extremely privileged to be joined by Kasian Franks the CEO of Vectorspace, it's only right we start off with a brief introduction -- can you tell us what exactly Vectorspace is and how the idea came about? We got our start in Life Sciences, now most refer to it as Biosciences at Genentech and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab https://www.lbl.gov There we were tasked with creating a system to identify hidden relationships between genes, drugs and diseases connected to breast cancer, chromosomal radiation damage and extending human lifespan for the purpose of deep space travel. We wrote a paper with Micheal I. Jordan, teacher of Andrew Ng, who developed the first AI for Google and China's Baidu. "The statistical modeling of biomedical corpora could yield integrated, coarse-to-fine views of biological phenomena that complement discoveries made f…" Human genes are like stocks or cryptos. Our technology is based on datasets.


Trump aims to sidestep another arms pact to sell more U.S. drones

The Japan Times

Washington – The Trump administration plans to reinterpret a Cold War-era arms agreement between 34 nations with the goal of allowing U.S. defense contractors to sell more American-made drones to a wide array of nations, three defense industry executives and a U.S. official told Reuters. The policy change, which has not been previously reported, could open up sales of armed U.S. drones to less stable governments such as Jordan and the United Arab Emirates that in the past have been forbidden from buying them under the 33-year-old Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), said the U.S. official, a former U.S. official and one of the executives. It could also undermine longstanding MTCR compliance from countries such as Russia, said the U.S. official, who has direct knowledge of the policy shift. Reinterpreting the MTCR is part of a broader Trump administration effort to sell more weapons overseas. It has overhauled a broad range of arms export regulations and removed the U.S. from international arms treaties including the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and the Open Skies Treaty.


Facial recognition regulation is surprisingly bipartisan

#artificialintelligence

Bipartisanship in modern politics can seem kind of like an unbelievable, mythical creature. But in recent months, as Congress considered regulation of one of the most controversial topics it faces -- how, when, or if to use facial recognition -- we've gotten glimpses of a political unicorn. In two House Oversight and Reform committee hearings last summer, some of the most prominent Republicans and Democrats in the United States Congress joined together in calls for legislative reform. Proponents of regulation ranged from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) to Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), a frequent Trump supporter on cable news. On Friday, Jordan was also appointed to the House Intelligence Committee to confront witnesses in public presidential impeachment hearings that begin this week.


The future of AI is collaborative

#artificialintelligence

Jordan French is a multi-media journalist on the editorial staff at TheStreet.com He is also the Founder and Executive Editor at Grit Daily News. Formerly an engineer and attorney he represented the "People of the United States" in energy market manipulation cases as an enforcement attorney at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. As an engineer he worked on the Mars Gravity Biosatellite Program and later co-founded BeeHex, Inc., the personalized nutrition and robotics company that popularized 3D-printed pizza. The author of forthcoming book, The Gritty Entrepreneur, he is a frequent public speaker, technology evangelist and media moderator.


Tesla Autopilot was engaged during 60 MPH crash, driver tells police

Engadget

The Tesla Autopilot system was engaged when a Tesla Model S sedan was crushed as it rammed into a stopped truck at 60 MPH in Utah last week, the driver has told police. The driver luckily escaped with only a broken foot, though the car suffered extensive damage. When interviewed by police, the Tesla's 28-year-old driver "said that she had been using the'Autopilot' feature," and was looking at her phone shortly before the accident in South Jordan, near Salt Lake City, according to a statement Monday from South Jordan Police Sgt. Winkler told The Deseret News that the diver, who hasn't been identified by police, had entered an address into the car's GPS and was looking on her phone for possible alternate routes. She "looked up just as the accident was about to happen," he said.


Police probe whether Autopilot feature was on in Tesla crash

#artificialintelligence

A Tesla sedan with a semi-autonomous Autopilot feature rear-ended a fire department truck at 60 mph (97 kph) apparently without braking before impact, but police say it's unknown if the Autopilot feature was engaged. The cause of the Friday evening crash, involving a Tesla Model S and a fire department mechanic truck stopped at a red light, was under investigation, said police in South Jordan, a suburb of Salt Lake City. The crash, in which the Tesla driver was injured, comes as federal safety agencies investigate the performance of Tesla's semi-autonomous driving system. The Tesla's air bags were activated in the crash, South Jordan police Sgt. The Tesla's driver suffered a broken right ankle, and the driver of the Unified Fire Authority mechanic truck didn't require treatment, Winkler said.


Tesla with Autopilot slams into truck stopped at red light

USATODAY - Tech Top Stories

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating a crash and fire involving a Telsa Model S car. Two teens died in Fort Lauderdale, Florida crash on Tuesday. The probe is not expected to involve Tesla's semi-autonomous Autopilot system. A Tesla sedan with a semi-autonomous Autopilot feature rear-ended a fire department truck at 60 mph (97 kph) apparently without braking before impact on May 11, 2018, but police say it's unknown if the Autopilot feature was engaged. SOUTH JORDAN, Utah (AP) -- A Tesla sedan with a semi-autonomous Autopilot feature has rear-ended a fire department truck at 60 mph (97 kph) apparently without braking before impact, but police say it's unknown if the Autopilot feature was engaged.


Dublin Tech Summit 2018: Cybersecurity, Artificial Intelligence, and Privacy

#artificialintelligence

I had the pleasure of attending this year's Dublin Tech Summit which took place at Dublin's Convention Centre on April 18th and April 19th. A number of famous faces were there, from the "e-celebrities" like YouTuber Casey Neistat to the geekier such as Jordan Evans of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). There was something for everyone and there was generally somebody that you had heard of giving a presentation. While Casey Neistat focused on his life growing up and how he became a YouTuber, Jordan Evans talked about the work JPL was currently undertaking and their hopes for the future. Both presentations came with a lot of "fun" attached – information laced in with some comedy.


Eric Schmidt on AI: 'Trust me, these Chinese people are good'

#artificialintelligence

Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google parent company Alphabet, has warned that China is poised to overtake the US in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) if the US government doesn't act soon. Speaking at the Artificial Intelligence and Global Security Summit on Wednesday, the former Google CEO said: "Trust me, these Chinese people are good." He added: "They are going to use this technology for both commercial as well as military objectives with all sorts of implications." China published its AI strategy in July and said that it wanted to be the world leader in AI by 2030. "It's pretty simple," said Schmidt, who claims to have read the report.