The waters of Mars, peace walls and Ghost Ranch fossils : Your weekend reading list

Seasonal water flows on Mars
Dark streaks on the hillside mark seasonal flows on some steep slopes of Mars, recently confirmed to be salty water. This July 21, 2015, image shows examples within Mars' Valles Marineris.
NASA | JPL-Caltech | University of Arizona

It has been a busy week in our little solar system. The #superharvestbloodmoon brought us outside to gaze upon an eclipse, NASA announced the detection of flowing briny water on the surface of Mars, and released new images of Pluto and its moon, Charon.

This weekend, learn about interplanetary biological contamination, explore the legacy of the "peace walls" of Belfast, and find out why digging up a fossil is just the beginning of the work.

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Water on Mars: NASA faces contamination dilemma over future investigations

Preventing contamination
Nithin Abraham, a thermal coatings engineer, placed Molecular Adsorber Coating panels to prevent contamination in the giant chamber where the James Webb Space Telescope will be tested.
NASA | Goddard | Chris Gunn

One of the fundamental tasks of finding life in another biosphere is to make sure you didn't bring hitchhikers from Earth, a task that will keep the Curiosity Rover away from the newly confirmed Martian waters. The Planetary Protection Office is one of the organizations that works to prevent contamination. via The Guardian

Fun Curiosity Rover fact: Curiosity monitors sunspots on the far side of the sun when no other sensors are available.

Will Belfast ever have a Berlin Wall moment and tear down its "peace walls"?

Permanent walls were built to separate Catholic and Protestant districts of Belfast in the 1970s, and the city is still carved up by almost 100 of them. Defensive architecture, it turns out, is easier to build than tear down via The Guardian

Northern Ireland In The Shadow Of The Peace Proces
The "Peace Line" fence stretches between the Catholic and Protestant areas of West Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Christopher Furlong | Getty Images 2005

How do you bring an aircraft back from the dead?

Recently, a group called Club Concorde announced their goal of purchasing a mothballed Concorde and return it to flying condition. But just how feasible is it to return a retired plane back into service? via BBC

Concorde Debut, 1971
The second Anglo-French supersonic airliner, Concorde 002, sat in 1971 at the British Aircraft Corporation's airfield at Filton, Bristol, where it was constructed.
Hulton Archive | Getty Images file

Why sea monkeys love salt: A fable on the cost of symbiosis

Just like Mars, we have briny water, but we already know ours has life in it. via National Geographic

Charon gets a new profile pic

The most recent image of Pluto and its moon, Charon, taken in July, highlights the striking differences between the two bodies.

Charon and Pluto, composite image
This composite of enhanced color images of Pluto (lower right) and Charon (upper left), was taken by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft as it passed through the Pluto system in July.

The color and brightness of both Pluto and Charon in the photo were processed identically to allow direct comparison of their surface properties, and to highlight the similarity between Charon's polar red terrain and Pluto's equatorial red terrain.

Pluto and Charon are shown in the photo with approximately correct relative sizes, but their true separation is not to scale. The image combines blue, red and infrared images taken by the spacecraft's Ralph/Multispectral Visual Imaging Camera. via NASA, The Verge

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Shelf|Life, Episode 10: The dinosaurs of Ghost Ranch

Discovering a dinosaur is just the first step. Paleontologists Sterling Nesbitt, Mark Norell, and Danny Barta tell the story behind the American Museum of Natural History's treasure trove of Triassic fossils from Ghost Ranch, N.M. via American Museum of Natural History

What is the biggest environmental problem people don't know about?

At the Aspen Ideas Festival, scientists, activists and filmmakers were asked to name the largest environmental issue that is below the public's radar. via The Atlantic