OpenLearn Live sifts some of the gems from online learning and research. This page will be updated across the day.
- Autumn statements: Autumn
- Quantum computing leaps forward
- Children caring for parents with Parkinsons
As people have children later in life, there's a related rise in the number of schoolchildren who have a relative at home who has Parkinsons Disease. Plymouth University has produced a short video for teachers on how they can spot, and support, students who are coping with caring:
The University of Sussex have made what they feel is a major breakthrough on building the next generation of computers:
— BBC Radio 4 Today (@BBCr4today) November 25, 2016
This week, we've been starting up each day with a look at autumn. Here's the week to date:
- Three Autumn legends
- The Autumn Statement
- Why do leaves fall in Autumn?
- Should you say Autumn or Fall?
For the last segment, we're leaving Earth behind, and heading off to Mars for a Martian autumn. Yes, there are seasons in space.
Here's a description of Curiosity's Autumnal ramble from NASA's JPL website:
This view shows the path and some key places in a survey of the "Pahrump Hills" outcrop by NASA's Curiosity Mars rover in autumn of 2014. The outcrop is at the base of Mount Sharp within Gale Crater.
The mission's in-place investigation of the layered mountain began at the low edge of the Pahrump Hills outcrop, at the target "Confidence Hills." Curiosity collected a drilled sample of rock powder at that target in September 2014 and delivered portions of the powder into analytical instruments inside the rover. Then the mission began a "walkabout" of the outcrop, similar to the way field geologists on Earth walk across an outcrop to choose the best places on it to examine in detail. The dashed gold line indicates the path the rover drove during the walkabout. Names are shown for a few of the features visited and observed by the rover. Red dots indicate stops at the end of a day's drive. White dots indicate locations of stops made during the drives to collect observations of the Pahrump Hills outcrop. The mission completed the walkabout at the site labeled "Whale Rock," and the team is now examining the observations acquired during the walkabout to decide where to return for more detailed analysis.
How do you know when it's Autumn on Mars, though?
Mars has two different lengths of day, which makes things slightly more confusing - there are sidereal days, which are based on how long it takes Mars to spin round to get the stars back into the same relative position. That day is 24 hours, 37 minutes long. There's also a solar day, which measures the length of time it takes for the Sun to appear, relatively, in the same place as the sky. That day is 24 hours, 39 minutes long.
And the orbit of Mars around the Sun is much longer - a Martian year is 687 days long.
It's the Sun that drives the Martian calendar. The elevation of the Sun in the sky is used to carve the Martian year into seasons. The Planetary Society explains:
The way that scientists mark the time of Mars year is to use solar longitude, abbreviated Ls (read "ell sub ess"). Ls is 0° at the vernal equinox (beginning of northern spring), 90° at summer solstice, 180° at autumnal equinox, and 270° at winter solstice.
Because of the differential in year length, the Martian seasons don't map onto Earth seasons - but Mars, like Earth, is currently in Autumn. Only until the end of the weekend, though - Monday is Mars' Winter Solstice.