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Curiosity Discovers Ancient Debris Channel Potentially Formed by Water

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Curiosity, NASA’s impressive Mars rover, has been on a journey up Mt. Sharp in Gale Crater for almost 12 years now. Recently, it reached an intriguing feature called Gediz Vallis channel, which could shed light on Mars’ ancient watery history. This channel appears to have been carved by water billions of years ago and has since been filled with rock.

While the upper regions of Mt. Sharp are inaccessible to Curiosity, nature has provided the rover with rocks that have tumbled down from the mountain, creating a ridge and filling up the channel. These rocks, within Curiosity’s reach, may hold valuable clues about Mars’ watery past.

Mars’ history of surface liquid water is a complex puzzle with many pieces. Evidence of hydrated minerals, sulphates, river channels, and deltas on Mars suggests a once warm and wet environment. Gediz Vallis, though a small part of Mars, could provide significant insights into the planet’s past.

his image from 2019 shows a proposed route for MSL Curiosity. The rover is about to expire Gediz Vallis Channel. Image Credit: By NASA/JPL-Caltech/ESA/Univ. of Arizona/JHUAPL/MSSS/USGS Astrogeology Science Center
This image from 2019 shows a proposed route for MSL Curiosity. The rover is about to expire Gediz Vallis Channel. Image Credit: By NASA/JPL-Caltech/ESA/Univ. of Arizona/JHUAPL/MSSS/USGS Astrogeology Science Center

Understanding Gediz Vallis starts with Mt. Sharp, which was formed over geological time by sediment deposition in layers. The channel, with its steep walls, suggests water carving rather than wind erosion. The rocky debris in the channel likely originated from the upper reaches of Mt. Sharp, offering Curiosity a glimpse into areas it cannot reach.

This image shows the debris piles in the Gediz Vallis channel as seen by MSL Curiosity. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UC Berkeley
This image shows the debris piles in the Gediz Vallis channel as seen by MSL Curiosity. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UC Berkeley

Project scientist Ashwin Vasavada expressed excitement about the possibility of water formation in the channel or debris pile, suggesting a return of water after a long dry period on Mars. This aligns with other evidence of varying water phases on the planet, complicating our understanding of its history.

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Gediz Vallis Ridge is the hill-like slope at right in this MSL Curiosity image captured on August 19th, 2023. It took the rover three attempts over three years before it could reach the ridge. It spent 11 days at the ridge and is now working its way to Gediz Vallis Channel. The formation has scientists intrigued because of what it might tell them about the history of water on the Red Planet. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Gediz Vallis Ridge is the hill-like slope at right in this MSL Curiosity image captured on August 19th, 2023. It took the rover three attempts over three years before it could reach the ridge. It spent 11 days at the ridge and is now working its way to Gediz Vallis Channel. The formation has scientists intrigued because of what it might tell them about the history of water on the Red Planet. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

While exploring Gediz Vallis will take months, the data collected could provide valuable insights into Mars’ watery past. Recent research, based partially on Curiosity’s data, suggests episodic water presence on Mars, challenging the notion of water disappearing at once. Gediz Vallis’s role in Mars’ story is yet to be fully understood, but ongoing exploration could unravel more of the planet’s complex history.

This digital elevation model (DEM) provides some context for Curiosity's journey. Image Credit: Hughes et al. 2022
This digital elevation model (DEM) provides some context for Curiosity’s journey. Image Credit: Hughes et al. 2022

Curiosity’s meticulous exploration of Gediz Vallis holds promise for unraveling Mars’ mysteries, offering valuable insights into the planet’s dynamic geological past.

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Immigration in Maine Addressing Labor Shortage Could Set Trend for U.S.

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A significant labor gap in Maine’s lobster industry is being filled by immigrants, shedding light on the critical role that foreign-born workers are likely to play in the U.S. economy as the native-born population ages. Maine, known for its abundant lobster population, is grappling with an aging workforce that is increasingly unable to sustain the demands of the thriving lobster industry, valued at $1 billion.

Ben Conniff, a founder of Luke’s Lobster, underscores the importance of immigrants in sustaining the natural resources economy of the state, as many native-born workers are not inclined towards manufacturing work in food processing. Since its establishment in 2013, Luke’s Lobster has heavily relied on immigrants to staff its lobster processing plant, highlighting the vital role played by foreign-born workers in filling labor gaps.

With Maine boasting the oldest population in the U.S., with a median age of 45.1, the state offers a glimpse into the economic future of America, where immigrants are poised to be a crucial source of new workers and economic vitality in the coming years.

As immigration continues to be a hotly debated topic in the country, the influx of immigrants has been instrumental in boosting the American economy’s potential. The Congressional Budget Office has revised upwards its population and economic growth projections for the next decade, attributing the growth to the wave of newcomers entering the workforce.

Maine’s initiatives to attract and integrate immigrants into the workforce, such as the creation of an Office of New Americans, reflect the state’s proactive approach towards addressing labor shortages. Private companies like Luke’s Lobster have also taken steps to diversify and supplement the aging lobster fishing industry by training immigrants and minorities in lobster fishing and licensing processes.

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Chadai Gatembo, an 18-year-old immigrant from the Democratic Republic of Congo, exemplifies the success story of immigrants finding opportunities in Maine. Despite facing challenges on his journey to the U.S., Gatembo is now on the path to becoming a full-fledged lobsterman, showcasing the potential for immigrants to thrive in new industries.

The influx of immigrants is not without its challenges, with issues of work authorization and economic stability confronting many newcomers. Adriana Hernandez, a mother of four from Venezuela, highlights the economic hardship faced by immigrants awaiting work permits, underscoring the barriers faced by unauthorized workers in integrating into the labor market.

Despite these challenges, the overall impact of immigration on the U.S. economy is significant. Immigrants have helped to bolster job growth, insulate the economy against downturns, and contribute to a more diverse and innovative workforce. Economists predict that immigration will play a crucial role in addressing labor shortages and demographic shifts as the native-born population ages.

The entrepreneurial spirit of immigrants like Chenda Chamreoun, who has risen from lobster cleaning to a quality assurance supervisor and now aims to start her own catering business, showcases the economic potential of foreign-born workers. Immigrants tend to be more entrepreneurial, adding to the innovation and productivity of the American economy.

J. Edward Moreno contributed reporting from New York, and Zolan Kanno-Youngs from Washington.

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