Gliding down Martian sand dunes ‘on cushions of gas’ and Google, Burberry send kisses

June 12, 2013

Here’s what we’re reading/watching today:


This image from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is an example of  “linear gullies.” (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona)

1) NASA offers up what is probably one of the most beautiful mental (and perhaps actual) images you’ll encounter this week. The space agency has discovered tracks on the Martian surface that are likely created by chunks of frozen carbon dioxide. These chunks are believed to “glide down some Martian sand dunes on cushions of gas similar to [a] miniature hovercraft, plowing furrows as they go.” The grooves in the Martian sand dunes are called “linear gullies,” and were observed by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO).


A detailed image of the “linear gullies” on Mars. The image was taken with the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) the grooves shown here, on the side of a large sand dune inside Russell Crater, are the longest linear gullies known, extending almost 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) down this dune slope.  (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona)

“I have always dreamed of going to Mars,” said Serina Diniega, a planetary scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., and lead author of a report published online by the journal Icarus. “Now I dream of snowboarding down a Martian sand dune on a block of dry ice.”

No similar process exists on Earth, according to NASA. If you want dry ice on earth, you have to go buy it from the store. Candice Hansen of the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Ariz. would know, she’s a co-author on the study explaining how the “linear gullies” likely formed. According to a NASA release, Hansen bought some dry ice and sent blocks of it down sand dunes. The material traveled particularly far and fast on a gaseous cushion down the dunes.

“Some of the processes we see on Mars are like processes on Earth,” said Hansen via the release, “but this one is in the category of uniquely Martian.”

Here’s a video of the dry ice experiment:

(NASA)

2) A new study from the AAA Foundation shows that hands-free devices don’t promote drivers’ safety as well as once thought. The Post’s Ashley Halsey III reports

“The new study’s most surprising finding is that technology developed to enhance the safety of text messaging while driving isn’t very effective.”

3) Burberry and Google are joining forces to re-engineer the postcard—specifically ones sealed with a kiss. Over on Burberry Kisses (yes, it’s an ad campaign), users can press their lips to their smartphone screen or desktop camera to “capture your kiss.” The longer you do it, the better the print. Then you can choose a lipstick color (one of Burberry’s, of course) and then send your message anywhere in the world via Google Maps.

The coolest aspect of the highly-detailed application is watching messages sent live across the globe. The ad campaign is part of Google’s Art, Copy & Code‘s portfolio. This is the advertising team we ran into during SXSW earlier this year. While there, they showed us the prototype for a talking shoe, among other future tech.

4) And this is the design guide for Google, in case you’re wondering what the secret sauce is behind the company’s now iconic look. Interesting timing given Apple’s reveal of its new icon look this week at WWDC2013 — a design move Wall Street doesn’t appear to be too excited about, according to Wired’s Michael V. Copeland. (via Mashable)

5) And there appears to be a new luxury in the Big Apple: virtual golf courses. Bloomberg Businessweek’s Keenan Mayo reports that “Golf & Body NYC” is billing itself as the “first urban golf country club,” offering simulations of Pebble Beach and St. Andrews golf courses. (Bloomberg Businessweek)

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Emi Kolawole · June 11, 2013