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Technical Trainer, LRT Systems | Valley Metro RPTA

SPS Jobs - 1 hour 45 min ago
US - AZ - Phoenix, EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY Valley Metro RPTA Technical Trainer, LRT Systems An Equal Opportunity Employer FLSA: Exempt position, not eligible for overtime compensation. OPENING DATE: 08/18/17 CLOSING

Manager, Service Planning | Valley Metro RPTA

SPS Jobs - 1 hour 46 min ago
US - AZ - Phoenix, Valley Metro RPTA Manager, Service Planning Valley Metro is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer FLSA: Exempt position, not eligible for overtime compensation. OPENING DATE: 06/16/17&nb

Process Improvement Specialist | Saudi Aramco

SPS Jobs - 2 hours 49 min ago
SAU - Dhahran, Duties & Responsibilities: You will be required to perform the following: Work independently with minimal direction on individually responsible projects. Lead a team of professionals on client te

AVP; Prog Prof MKTS | Bank o America

SPS Jobs - 2 hours 50 min ago
US - NY - New York, AVP; Prog Prof MKTS sought by Bank of America. Reqs: BS or equiv. & 5 yrs exp; Must incl 1 yr of exp in each of the fllwng: Dvlpng desktop/web-based applics using objct oriented prgrmng langs inc

IT Professionals | Larsen & Toubro Infotech Ltd.

SPS Jobs - 2 hours 59 min ago
US - NJ - Edison, IT Professionals:Openings available at Larsen & Toubro Infotech Limited for the following positions in Edison, NJ and unanticipated client locations throughout the U.S. *Systems Analyst: Gather a

Operations Engineer 4 | Asurion, LLC

SPS Jobs - 3 hours 17 min ago
US - VA - Sterling, Operations Engineer 4 sought by Asurion, LLC in Sterling, VA. Tbco Oprtns Engnr 4 is rspnsble fr prvdng tchncl exprtse & spprt to the Asurion clms prcssng pltfrm. Aply @ www.jobpostingtoday.com #

IT Professionals | SureIT Solutions Inc.

SPS Jobs - 21 August 2017
US - AZ - Chandler, All positions require at least a BS degree in related field. All positions require relevant experience. Sr. level positions available. Must be willing to travel/relocate. Send resumes to: recruitment@

Forensic Mechanical Engineer | Envista Forensics

SPS Jobs - 21 August 2017
US - CA - San Jose, Qualifications: Baccalaureate degree in Mechanical Engineering or a related field is required. Significant experience (typically 6+ years) as a professional engineer is required.   Experience

Multiple Openings | Google Inc.

SPS Jobs - 21 August 2017
US - CA - Mountain View, Interested candidates send resume to:  Google Inc., PO Box 26184 San Francisco, CA 94126 Attn: A. Johnson. Please reference job # below: Operations Lead (Mountain View, CA) Responsible for Googl

Propulsion Engineer | Nammo Energetics Indian Head, Inc.

SPS Jobs - 21 August 2017
US - MD - Indian Head, EDUCATION AND/OR EXPERIENCE Minimum of a BS degree in Mechanical and/or Aerospace Engineering preferred or Chemical Engineering or Physics with applicable experience. Five (5) years defense indus

Quality Engineer | Albany Engineered Composites

SPS Jobs - 21 August 2017
US - NH,   Knowledge: BS Engineering (BS ME, IE or ChemE preferred); equivalent experience may be considered 5+ years' experience in quality/manufacturing industry Aerospace experience preferred Experienc

Productivity Improvement Supervisor (PRO00008112) | DuPont Pioneer

SPS Jobs - 21 August 2017
US - IA - Renwick, In order to be qualified for this role, the following is required:  Bachelor’s degree (equivalent years of experience will be considered) 3 years of experience in implementation of continu

Associate or Assistant Professor in solar, space or planetary science | UNIVERSITY OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

Latest Jobs - 21 August 2017
US - NH - Durham, Associate or Assistant Professor in solar, space or planetary scienceUniversity of New HampshireDepartment of Physics and Space Science Center   The Department of Physics and the Space Science C

Software Developer – Mid (Mult Openings) | Susquehanna International Group, LLP

SPS Jobs - 21 August 2017
US - PA - Bala Cynwyd, Reqs: Bach deg in CS, Eng, Math, or rel or foreign equiv + 5 yrs progress exp (OR Masters deg in CS, Eng, Math, or rel + 2 yrs exp) developing SW apps in either C++ or C# on Unix, Linux, or Windows. S

Database Developer-Mid (Mult Openings) | Susquehanna International Group, LLP

SPS Jobs - 21 August 2017
US - PA - Bala Cynwyd, Reqs: Bach deg or foreign equiv in CS, Eng, Math, or rel + 5 yrs progressive exp dvlpg DB apps, of which 2 yrs must incl using 1 or more of the following skills: Oracle, MS SQL server, or MySQL DB env

Lead Database Developer | ADS Alliance Data Systems, Inc.

SPS Jobs - 21 August 2017
US - OH - Blue Ash, ADS Alliance Data Systems, Inc. has a position in Blue Ash, OH; Lead Database Developer: Code complex programs & derive logical processes and oracle database. Mail resume to Shannon Bria–Re

Senior Consulting Engineer | Alcatel Lucent USA, Inc., dba Nokia

SPS Jobs - 21 August 2017
US - KS - Overland Park, Alcatel Lucent USA, Inc., dba Nokia has a position in Overland Park, KS. Senior Consulting Engineer: -Provide technical & business pre-sales consulting in IP Network areas & IP routing techno

Snowstorms on Mars and Diamond Rains on Neptune

Inside Science - 21 August 2017
Snowstorms on Mars and Diamond Rains on Neptune

Two independent studies yield new insights into spectacular weather phenomena on our neighbor planets.


A simulated view of Chasma Boreale, a Martian canyon near the north polar cap.

Image credits:

NASA/JPL/Arizona State University, R. Luk


Monday, August 21, 2017 - 11:00

Yuen Yiu, Staff Writer

(Inside Science) -- Two separate discoveries this week show how spectacular the weather can be on other planets in our solar system. First, a paper from Nature Geoscience explains a mechanism that can create snowstorms on Mars. A separate paper from Nature Astronomy discusses how diamonds can rain down on giant icy planets such as Neptune and Uranus.

Snowstorms during Martian nights

For years, scientists thought that the dry Martian atmosphere lacks the moisture needed to generate powerful convection-driven snowstorms. Convections are currents of air or liquid caused by an uneven temperature distribution. They are what makes water boil on a stove, and storms form above oceans.

Mars' atmosphere doesn’t have convection currents driven by rising warm, moist air like on Earth, so scientists previously thought that snow could only fall slowly on Mars due to gravity. But the new paper discovered a different convection mechanism that can create powerful snowfall on Mars.

"Convection is actually very simple. All you need is warmer air below and colder air above," said Aymeric Spiga, an astrophysicist from the French National Center for Scientific Research in Guyancourt, France. He is the lead author of the paper. "So, either you can have warming from below, or cooling from above."

Using a computer model that simulates Mars' atmospheric conditions, Spiga and his colleagues discovered that the cooling of the air at night around icy clouds on Mars can generate strong enough convection currents to trigger microbursts -- a weather phenomenon often described as the opposite of tornadoes. The microbursts can then cause the Martian clouds to rapidly dump their content, creating local snowstorms. This new theory can explain some of the previously unexpected turbulent events observed by NASA's Phoenix lander during Martian nights.


Microburst -- tornado's long-lost cousin

Similar to a tornado, a microburst can generate extremely strong vertical wind. Instead of an updraft like a tornado, a microburst is characterized by a rapid downdraft. Even though microbursts are commonly not as destructive as tornados, they can still produce wind speed well over 100 miles per hour. A microburst can also significantly increase the amount of rainfall or snowfall as the downdraft forces content from clouds to descend rapidly.

"It's a very insightful paper that has a very good explanation for some of the curious observations Phoenix had made," said Michael Mischna, a planetary scientist from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of NASA in Pasadena, California, who was not involved in the study. "There were a number of theories arguing that [Martian snowfall] was essentially just gravitational settling, but the issues with that is it would take many, many hours for these ice particles to descend towards the surface. This paper explains that you can have this atmospheric instability that is basically turbulently mixing the atmosphere."

While a snowstorm on Mars is still somewhat comparable to the weather we experience on Earth, the "weather" on our larger neighbor planets can be quite bizarre. A separate paper published in Nature Astronomy provides a behind-the-scenes look into the widely hypothesized "diamond rains" on the icy giants of our solar system -- Neptune and Uranus.

Diamond on ice

Because of the chemical makeup and high pressure of Neptune and Uranus' atmospheres, scientists have long speculated about the possibility of diamonds forming mid-atmosphere, and falling down like rain on these planets. Now, for the first time in history, scientists at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Menlo Park, California, were able to recreate some of the key environmental conditions of these gaseous giants here on Earth. They used high-power lasers to create shock waves that temporarily produce the amount of pressure expected more than 5,000 miles underneath the planets' gaseous surfaces. By re-creating these conditions around a plastic material made of mostly hydrogen and carbon -- the same elements that are abundant in the atmosphere of Neptune and Uranus -- the scientists were able to directly study these diamond rains without leaving Earth.

"The special thing about this experiment is that we started with plastic. We didn't start with graphite or any pure carbon material," said Siegfried Glenzer, a plasma physicist from SLAC and a co-author of the paper.

According to Glenzer, the plastic material they used is much more representative of these planets' content than pure carbon. When the high pressure is applied to the plastic, the carbon atoms separate themselves from the plastic and clump together, forming diamonds.


Greg Stewart/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

Since the high pressure produced by the laser only lasts a split second, the resulting diamonds are extremely small -- only nanometers in size. However, if the pressure is sustained, as it would be inside Neptune and Uranus, there is no clear limit on how big these diamonds can get, according to Glenzer.

"After the carbon atoms clump together and form diamonds, they fall down very, very slowly towards the center of the planet over many millions of years," said Glenzer. During this process, the diamonds can continue to grow. So perhaps when F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote his novella "The Diamond as Big as the Ritz," the idea wasn’t as far-fetched as he might have thought.

The success of the laser experiment may also provide a more ecofriendly way to make artificial diamonds. Currently, the sparkly gems are mainly produced with explosives to generate the high amount of pressure needed. The laser method developed by this study can provide a cleaner way to make diamonds.

"Everything comes back to the chemistry. If you can understand the chemistry, it actually tells us a story of how those planets formed," said Mischna. "If we know how our solar system was formed, then when we look at other stars and other solar systems, we can sort of guess how they are evolving with time, and it can help us locate perhaps other stars that can have habitable planets around them."

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Author Bio & Story Archive

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Yuen Yiu

Yuen Yiu covers the Physics beat for Inside Science. He's a Ph.D. physicist and fluent in Cantonese and Mandarin. Follow Yuen on Twitter: @fromyiutoyou.


Latest Jobs - 21 August 2017
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SPS Jobs - 20 August 2017
US - MA - Cambridge, REQUIRED:  bachelor’s degree (advanced degree preferred) in a scientific field or computer science; at least four years’ experience in scientific high-performance (cluster) computing;


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