Sunday Science (14 – 20 Sep 2020)

Science News related to Life on Venus, Magnetoelectric Effect, Solar-Cell Efficiency, Life on Mars, Solar Cycle 25, Extra Terrestrial Life, Astronomical Observations, Solar Storm

Note: I do not write/own any of the science news bits (and cover picture) given here. The links on each of the news bits will redirect to the news source. The content given under each headline is a basic gist and not the full story.

Possible Marker of Life Spotted on Venus

Source: ESO

An international team of astronomers today announced the discovery of a rare molecule — phosphine — in the clouds of Venus. On Earth, this gas is only made industrially or by microbes that thrive in oxygen-free environments. Astronomers have speculated for decades that high clouds on Venus could offer a home for microbes — floating free of the scorching surface but needing to tolerate very high acidity.

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Physicists Discover New Magnetoelectric Effect

Source: Vienna University of Technology

A special material was investigated for which, at first glance, no magnetoelectric effect would be expected at all. But careful experiments have now shown that the effect can be observed in this material, it only works completely differently than usual. It can be controlled in a highly sensitive way.

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Theoretically, Two Layers Are Better Than One for Solar-Cell Efficiency

Source: Penn State

Solar cells have come a long way, but inexpensive, thin film solar cells are still far behind more expensive, crystalline solar cells in efficiency. Now, a team of researchers suggests that using two thin films of different materials may be the way to go to create affordable, thin film cells with about 34% efficiency.

Original written by: A’ndrea Elyse Messer

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Study Shows Difficulty in Finding Evidence of Life on Mars

Source: Cornell University

While scientists are eager to study the red planet’s soils for signs of life, researchers must ponder a considerable new challenge: Acidic fluids – which once flowed on the Martian surface – may have destroyed biological evidence hidden within Mars’ iron-rich clays, according to researchers at Cornell and at Spain’s Centro de Astrobiología.

Original written by: Blaine Friedlander

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The Sun Has Begun A New Solar Weather Cycle. It Should Be Pretty Quiet, Scientists Say.


The sun is officially nine months into a new solar weather cycle, scientists have confirmed, and it will likely look much like its predecessor, which ran from 2008 to 2019. Scientists predict that the sun’s new activity phase, called solar cycle 25, will peak in 2025 but will generally be a less active cycle, quite similar to solar cycle 24, which ended in December.

Original written by: Meghan Bartels

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Device Could Help Detect Signs of Extraterrestrial Life

Source: American Chemical Society

Finding traces of past or current lifeforms on other worlds is challenging. Now, researchers reporting in ACS’ Analytical Chemistry have developed a fully automated microchip electrophoresis analyzer that, when incorporated into a planetary rover, could someday detect organic biosignatures in extraterrestrial soil.

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Climate Change Impacts Astronomical Observations

Source: University of Cologne

Climate changes associated with global warming can affect astronomical observations. That is the result of a study involving scientists from the University of Cologne. The international research team investigated a range of climate parameters at the Very Large Telescope (VLT) at the Paranal in the Atacama Desert in Chile, where the European Southern Observatory (ESO) operates its telescopes.

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Solar Storm Forecasts for Earth Improved with Help from The Public

Source: University of Reading

Solar storm analysis carried out by an army of citizen scientists has helped researchers devise a new and more accurate way of forecasting when Earth will be hit by harmful space weather. Scientists at the University of Reading added analysis carried out by members of the public to computer models designed to predict when coronal mass ejections (CMEs) – huge solar eruptions that are harmful to satellites and astronauts – will arrive at Earth.

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