June 26th, 2008

Martian air once had moisture, new soil analysis says UC Berkeley

A new analysis of Martian soil data led by University of California, Berkeley, geoscientists suggests that there was once enough water in the planet’s atmosphere for a light drizzle or dew to hit the ground, leaving tell-tale signs of its interaction with the planet’s surface. The study’s conclusion breaks from the more dominant view that the liquid water that once existed during the red planet’s infancy came mainly in the form of upwelling groundwater rather than rain. To come up with their conclusions, the UC Berkeley-led researchers used published measurements of soil from Mars that were taken by various NASA missions: Viking 1, Viking 2, Pathfinder, Spirit and Opportunity. These five missions provided information on soil from widely distant sites surveyed between 1976 and 2006.

April 12th, 2004

Experiment harnesses state-of-the-art sequencing technology to detect life on Mars UC Berkeley

The same cutting-edge technology that speeded sequencing of the human genome could, by the end of the decade, tell us once and for all whether life ever existed on Mars, according to a University of California, Berkeley, chemist. Richard Mathies, UC Berkeley professor of chemistry and developer of the first capillary electrophoresis arrays and new energy transfer fluorescent dye labels – both used in today’s DNA sequencers – is at work on an instrument that would use these technologies to probe Mars dust for evidence of life-based amino acids, the building blocks of proteins.

March 8th, 2004

UC Berkeley researchers developing robotic exoskeleton that can enhance human strength and endurance UC Berkeley

The mere thought of hauling a 70-pound pack across miles of rugged terrain or up 50 flights of stairs is enough to evoke a grimace in even the burliest individuals. But breakthrough robotics research at the University of California, Berkeley, could soon bring welcome relief

February 2nd, 2004

Pink slime yields first set of genomes sequenced from environment UC Berkeley

In the first triumph of a field dubbed “environmental genomics,” scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, in collaboration with the Joint Genome Institute, have for the first time sequenced the genomes of the most abundant members of a community of organisms – not one at a time, but simultaneously. The researchers took a simple community of microbes from a pink slick on the floor of an abandoned mine, ground them up, and shotgun sequenced the lot. As they put the pieces of DNA back together, the snippets fell easily into five distinct genomes, four of them unknown until now.