Matt’s Favorites: Mars MAVEN Launches, Antarctic Volcano And Much More

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Mars MAVEN

So what’s the latest haps from the fascinating worlds of science and technology on your Tuesday morning? Time to ride the rocket into deep space…

* First of all, here are links to the Tech Report home page and Tech Report Page Two, where you will find much worthwhile news.

* A new NASA Mars probe began a 10-month voyage to the red planet Monday, blasting off on a $671 million mission to study the thin martian atmosphere in a bid to find out what triggered a dramatic case of climate change that turned a once-hospitable environment into a cold, presumably barren desert. “Something clearly happened,” said Principal Investigator Bruce Jakosky. “Water was abundant on early Mars, the environment was something that was capable of supporting liquid water yet today we see a cold, dry planet that is not able to support water. What we want to do is to understand what are the reasons for that change in the climate.”

* Earthquakes deep below West Antarctica reveal an active volcano hidden beneath the massive ice sheet, researchers said Sunday in a study published in the journal Nature Geoscience. The discovery finally confirms long-held suspicions of volcanic activity concealed by the vast West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

* Yahoo is expanding its efforts to protect its users’ online activities from prying eyes by encrypting all the communications and other information flowing into the Internet company’s data centers around the world.

* The anticipation is building for Comet ISON’s potentially dazzling night sky show this month and a new mobile app promises to help skywatchers spot the comet with telescopes, binoculars and their own eyes.  Called Comet Watch, the free app is available for the iPhone or iPad.

* Speaking of great views from space, check out these amazing shots from the Chandra X-Ray Telescope.

* What if a wheel could power up and give your bike an extra boost? A startup called FlyKly is developing something called a “Smart Wheel” — a pedal-assist device that syncs with a smartphone.

* In response to the longtime, alarming proliferation of photos and videos containing child pornography on the Internet, Web search giants Google and Microsoft plan to introduce measures to block the content from their search results.

* Students looking to slash the cost of a mobile phone plan will now find a new option available through Sprint. Announced on Monday, the My Way Student Promotion provides students with a full year of free calls, text messages, and data from Sprint. To qualify for the offer, buyers must purchase a Sprint phone at the student activated price through Best Buy and activate a new line via Sprint’s Unlimited, My Way plan.

* Keep your fingers crossed. They’ve started removing the spent fuel rods from the damaged Fukushima plant, a delicate operation involving the most toxic nuclear waste in the place.

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