NASA’s Curiosity rover has measured the Red Planet’s atmospheric composition, is the headline on BBC.co.uk. The robot, it reports, sucked the air into its big Sample Analysis at Mars (Sam) instrument to reveal the concentration of different gases.
The Sam analysis is continuing but no major surprises are expected at this stage — carbon dioxide will dominate. Carbon dioxide is the chief component of the Martian air, as found by the Viking probes in the 1970s and the Phoenix lander in 2008. Of keener interest will be whether a signal for methane has been detected by Curiosity.
The gas has recently been observed by satellite and by terrestrial telescopes, and its presence on the Red Planet is intriguing. Methane should be short-lived and its persistence suggests a replenishing source of some kind — either biological or geochemical. It is hoped Sam can shed some light.
The Insider waits with bated breath to hear of the results of this captured atmosphere — at least we will be able to compare it to the Earth’s and conclude definitively if clean air really does smell funny.
Why no Wi-Fi?
A COLLEAGUE of the Insider, a rather disgruntled one, it must be said, would like to know why, if the government insists on using Birchwood Conference Centre in Boksburg as an event venue, it cannot set up Wi-Fi — journalists can’t tweet without it. This, the Insider suspects, is the government’s secret plan.
Gina’s guide to riches
LESS drink, fewer fags, more work — that’s part of the secret to getting and staying rich. So says the world’s richest woman, Georgina "Gina" Hope Rinehart, an Australian mining tycoon known simply as Gina. Rinehart’s family made their billions in the iron-ore prospecting business through Hancock Prospecting. She made herself very unpopular last month by saying there was no monopoly on becoming a millionaire. "If you’re jealous of those with more money, don’t just sit there and complain. Do something to make more money yourself—-spend less time drinking or smoking and socialising, and more time working."
Politicians in Canberra, the capital, were annoyed and working-class Aussies were outraged and, if some are to be believed, drank even more. Of course, it does not mean if you like a bottle of whisky a day that you are poor. Some big drinkers (and big thinkers), especially lovers of whisky at R2,000 or more a bottle, and puffers of expensive cigars, hardly rank among the poor, so the Rinehart Theory of Poverty probably only applies to plonkers who drink cheap booze and roll their own fags in brown paper. Whatever the truth of her observation, Aussies will tell you that this Sheila certainly knows how to get up a digger’s tail.
(On how it felt to know that all that iron ore lying in the ground would some day be her’s) "Bloody good."
Gina Rinehart, Australian billionaire (born 1954)
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