Confirmed: Season 4 of Telltale's 'The Walking Dead' game will be finished

Image: skybound entertainment

It’s official: Skybound Entertainment will release the final episodes in Season 4 of Telltale’s The Walking Dead.

Skybound, for those who don’t know, is the publishing label co-founded by The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman. The company’s been a longtime partner on Telltale’s series, and even formally announced an intention to finish the series after Telltale closed down in September.

The early October announcement noted that Skybound would endeavor to “work with members of the original Telltale team to finish the story in a way the fans deserve.” But the company shared no further details at the time, and all’s been quiet ever since.

Until now. Skybound confirmed its plans in a Monday post on the company’s website. There are still lots of questions to be answered — notably including which former members of Telltale are signed on for the gig — but it locks in what fans have wanted to hear: The final two episodes will see the light of day.

Here’s the full announcement:

Thank you for your patience while we worked with Telltale to take control of TELLTALE’S THE WALKING DEAD. It’s been a ton of work logistically and legally to get us to a place where we’re able to roll up our sleeves and get to the actual work. After Telltale shut its doors, the game was, unfortunately, unable to be worked on and hence the release dates of Episodes 3 and 4 have been delayed. But, we’re excited to let you know that many of the talented, passionate team members who originally worked on the game are resuming development efforts today!

Soon, we will be announcing release dates for the two remaining episodes. It’s likely that previous seasons of the game may be unavailable to purchase for a few days as we transition—but don’t panic!—we’ll have everything back online ASAP. If you already purchased Season Four, you will NOT have to pay again; future episodes will be available to download as soon as they are released via your original point of purchase.

Please continue to check back here on our Skybound site for future updates on the game!

A few things to note here.

That first line, about Skybound working with Telltale to “take control” of the series, is important. The now-shuttered company is in the process of liquidating its assets, as GameDaily.biz discovered on Nov. 14. So it’s probably more apt to call this series “Skybound’s The Walking Dead” now.

Less clear is who’s actually building these final episodes. Skybound’s announcement notes that “many of the talented, passionate team members who originally worked on the game are resuming development efforts.”

That’s great. Telltale’s closure was very sudden and the layoffs left this large group of people out of work and with no safety net. Of course there’s creative value in having that same team — or as much of them as possible, since some have since moved on to other jobs — finish what they started. But it’s also just the right thing to do.

Who is it though? Stories of poor working conditions at industry mainstays like Rockstar Games and Riot Games (Telltale too) blew up in 2018. Fans of video games are more interested than they’ve been before in the wellbeing of the people who make the games we play. So having more specifics on that would be great.

That’s not a knock on Skybound, to be clear. It’s clear the publisher is just getting started on this journey, and there’s a good chance that many of the specifics are still being ironed out. But across two announcements now, Skybound has emphasized its interest in working with the former Telltale team. Hopefully the next one goes further.

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Samsung's Foldable Phone Won't Be Cheap

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Bill Gates really identifies with this 'Silicon Valley' character, but he has one complaint

Like 'Silicon Valley's' Richard Hendricks, Bill Gates still sees himself as a technological whipper snapper.
Like ‘Silicon Valley’s’ Richard Hendricks, Bill Gates still sees himself as a technological whipper snapper.
Image: Robert Burroughs/Liaison

Apropos of nothing, Microsoft founder Bill Gates has decided to share his thoughts on the HBO comedy Silicon Valley.

On Monday, Gates published a new post on his blog — known as GatesNotes (seriously) — about the tech industry satire, which is currently in between seasons. Gates sees Silicon Valley as a rare example of pop culture getting life in the tech world “right.” 

“If you really want to understand how Silicon Valley works today, you should watch the HBO series Silicon Valley,” Gates wrote.

giphy” data-credit-provider=”custom type” data-caption=”Bill Gates: apparently not opposed to dick jokes!” title=”Bill Gates: apparently not opposed to dick jokes!” src=”https://i.amz.mshcdn.com/N80aJ0UxgqLkDLcxFRouyd5tsOg=/fit-in/1200×9600/https%3A%2F%2Fblueprint-api-production.s3.amazonaws.com%2Fuploads%2Fcard%2Fimage%2F885565%2F58eba565-4db5-44a8-bb59-449f0cc3ad7c.gif” alt=”Bill Gates: apparently not opposed to dick jokes!” data-fragment=”m!60c9″ data-image=”https://i.amz.mshcdn.com/0U_pnnvgDUtw79SEZqqhfAZlt_w=/https%3A%2F%2Fblueprint-api-production.s3.amazonaws.com%2Fuploads%2Fcard%2Fimage%2F885565%2F58eba565-4db5-44a8-bb59-449f0cc3ad7c.gif” data-micro=”1″>

Bill Gates: apparently not opposed to dick jokes!

The dad-jeans loving billionaire also apparently identifies with one character: the scrappy, anxious, but sometimes endearing protagonist, Richard Hendricks (Thomas Middleditch). 

“Personally, I identify most with Richard, the founder of Pied Piper, who is a great programmer but has to learn some hard lessons about managing people,” Gates wrote.

That’s right: despite the fact that Gates is one of the world’s most successful people, he apparently still sees himself as an awkward, earnest do-gooder.

He even tweeted a photo that appears to be an edited picture of himself as a young upstart … except with Richard’s face, and the Pied Piper logo instead of the old logo for Microsoft. 

Gates, have you been playing around in MS Paint?

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Just a wee babe.

Image: Deborah Feingold/Getty Images

Gates also thinks the personality archetypes are spot on. The infighting and competition, the snarky but socially clueless programmers, the entrepreneurial largess and sometimes arbitrary nature of success and failure, all reflect the Valley that he knows deeply, he said. 

And he thinks his peers who are opposed to the show need to lighten up: “they don’t make any more fun of us than we deserve.”

Gates does have one note. He thinks that Silicon Valley mayyy be a bit harsh on big companies (you know, like Microsoft):

I do have one minor complaint. Silicon Valley gives you the impression that small companies like Pied Piper are mostly capable while big companies like Hooli are mostly inept. Although I’m obviously biased, my experience is that small companies can be just as inept, and the big ones have the resources to invest in deep research and take a long-term point of view that smaller ones can’t afford. But I also understand why the show focuses so much on Pied Piper and makes Hooli look so goofy. It’s more fun to root for the underdog.

It’s pretty fun to imagine Bill Gates watching the antics of the Pied Piper crew and LOLing, maybe even thinking back on his time in the garage with Paul Allen. 

Gates said he is currently making his way through Season 5, which ended in May. He’s holding out hope that it returns for a sixth season, though production on new episodes is reportedly delayed and may not air until 2020.

We’re just going to have to keep our eyes peeled for more GatesNotes fandom until then.

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7 of the best air purifiers to deal with pets, pollen, and pollution

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Invest in an air purifier to clean up your environment and battle those nasty pollen allergies.
Invest in an air purifier to clean up your environment and battle those nasty pollen allergies.
Image: coway

Allergies are more annoying than usual this year, right?

No really, it’s not your imagination — pollen season is getting worse every year, and air purifiers are making their way to the must-have list of home appliances.

A recent segment on ABC News detailed that climate change is a huge factor that’s contributing to the worsening pollen seasons. Among the culprits are high temperatures and raised levels of carbon dioxide, both of which can affect the proteins in the pollen grains that cause these allergies. 

In the story, Dr. Jeffrey Demain, a board-certified allergist and immunologist, is quoted saying, “It’s been shown that in rising carbon dioxide, the allergenic peptide of each pollen grain goes up.” He also points out that carbon dioxide levels have been “shown to increase the amount of biomass and pollen production by a plant,” as quoted in the article. 

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America has even said that climate change is a “serious threat” to public health, citing longer allergy seasons and worsening air quality caused by rising temperatures.

But allergies aren’t the only reason to invest in an air purifier (or air cleaner, as they’re sometimes called.)

We know taking deep breaths is calming and all, and we don’t want to freak you out — but those big gulps of oxygen can contain a lot of harmful dust, pollen, smoke particles, mold spores, and pet dander. Dirty air is easy to overlook because you don’t notice it, but your future self could very well feel the effects. We’re talking asthma, immune system weakening, lung problems, and increased vulnerability to sick building syndrome.

But there is a light at the end of this snot-filled tunnel: Eliminating these airborne particles is the best way to cope with allergies and other respiratory infections — and there’s no better way to trap these pain-in-the-ass irritants and increase air quality than by using an air purifier with a HEPA filter. 

Plus, air purifiers are ace when it comes to ridding a space of animal smells like litter boxes and pet beds, as well as clearing the air of smoke stench from cigarettes, pollution, or fires without opening a window. (And no, getting an air freshener is not good enough.)

As you can guess, Amazon is totally on top of the air purifier game. We found the ones with the best customer reviews, and have separated them by price. Whether you need something small to take with you or you’re in the market for an air purifier that can handle the whole house, you’re covered. May the red eye relief be with you.

Image: 9oine

Image: 9oine

Named a #1 new release on Amazon, the rechargeable 9Oine Mist ca and Portable USB Ultrasonic Air Purifier is the breath of fresh air you can take with you literally anywhere. (Yes, we know it looks like a mini espresso maker.) Its PureMist ultrasonic technology operates at below 15 decibels (the average person needs just below 60, so this is extra clean) and projects ultra hygienic and humidified air. It also features a color-changing LED light, because why not?

Amazon customer MariaM writes:

Got it last Friday and took it on a road trip. Was great in the car and in the hotel room! This holds SO MUCH water which is awesome because you don’t have to refill as often. And, it seems to be nice quality.

Your car, office, camping tent, and hotel room just got a lot less stuffy. Overall, it has a 4.8 out of 5 star rating, purchased by nearly 30 people. Get it for $13.99 here.

Image: 9oine

Image: hamilton beach

Pet parents: We know you love your fur babies, but you can admit that their beds or litter boxes don’t smell the best. The Hamilton Beach 04384 Pet Specialized Air Cleaner is your answer to combatting reeking rooms (and getting rid of pet hair that you constantly see floating in the air). This is due to its 99% HEPA filtration and use of zeolites, or non-toxic absorbent crystals, which are naturally activated when combined with heat and water, and are also being used in new efforts to reduce CO2 emissions. The Hamilton Beach air cleaner is said to be optimal for rooms up to 140 square feet, but numerous customers have mentioned that it can handle larger spaces.

Amazon customer RoundGoatCrafts writes:

I’m very pleased with these… enough that I bought two for my house and one for my mother’s house! We have one big (mastiff) dog, and a couple small dogs, plus three cats. I placed in the laundry room (where the cat box is) and in the living room (where the dog beds are) and within 48 hours I couldn’t even tell we had pets! My husband also smokes in the house, and we can tell a definite improvement in the air quality and freshness. Highly recommended.

Overall, it has a 4.2 out of 5 star rating, purchased by nearly 2,500 people. Get the Amazon’s Choice product for $51.10 here.

Image: hamilton beach

Image: levoit

On the hunt for something more powerful? The Levoit LV-H132 Air Purifier is one of the sleekest little guys on the market, and though it’s small enough to sit on a desk, its cleaning capacity is massive. Ideal for small rooms or offices, the three-stage filtration system apparently kills 99.7% of dust, pollen, and pet dander, including particles as small as .3 microns. It’s also 100% ozone free — this basically means that it does not use UV or ions, which produce trace amounts of measurable ozone (a harmful air pollutant).

Amazon customer Sasha raves, writing:

Worth every cent. We live in the heart of Manhattan and we bought this particular product as I can smell cigarette smoke coming through the walls from the neighbors. I also wake up with a stuffy nose most days. I put the product in the room to test it and was blown away by how awesome the air smelled. Like being up a mountain. I can’t smell cigarette smoke and after the first night of using the air purifier I didn’t have a stuffy nose in the morning.

I highly recommend this product for anyone who lives in a city. You don’t realize how low the quality of air is until you try this product, and it really does make a significant difference. Super impressed.

Overall, it has a 4.3 out of 5 star rating, purchased by nearly 2,000 people. Get it for $89.99 here.

Image: levoit

Image: gaurdian technologies

Moving on to the big guns: The GermGaurdian 3-in-1 purifier with HEPA has the best ratings and highest number of customers in the bunch, so yeah, it’s a pretty good contender. This Amazon’s Choice air purifier cleans air with UV-C light technology along with titanium dioxide to kill airborne bacteria, viruses, germs, and mold spores. Though it sits on the floor, it’s slim enough to be tucked in a corner, in between furniture, or somewhere else out of the way.

Amazon customer Voodoo writes:

Love this! This really really cleans the air. It makes my life a lot nicer during allergy season. I can tell the difference. I have a lot of cats and it make my house smells clean. I loved it so much, I bought another. We have a big house and you can tell the difference when they are running. People who visit our home alway say “If you didn’t see the cats you would never know they were there, it doesn’t smell like pets”!!! Awesome!

It’s not the quietest thing in the world on its highest setting, but if you’re anything like me, that white noise could actually be great for drowning out city noise, neighborhood lawnmowers, and more. Overall, the GermGaurdian has a 4.3 out of 5 star rating, purchased by over 8,000 people (whoa). Get it for $149.99 here.

Image: GAURDIAN TECHNOLOGIES

Image: honeywell

For a little more oomph and widespread coverage, the Honeywell True HEPA Allergen Remover is great for larger rooms up to 465 square feet. With your choice of one of four cleaning modes (germ, general clean, allergen, or turbo), this powerhouse can apparently filter and circulate air in the room five times per hour — and will automatically shut off after the selected amount of time. It can sit on the floor or on a tabletop, which makes it a pretty versatile choice for homes of all sizes.

Amazon customer Tom F. writes:

My chronic allergies and sinusitis have required that I use HEPA air filters in every room of my home. This unit is by far the best and quietest air filter that I have ever owned. Consumer Reports rates this air filter very high and with good reason, because it’s the best and most affordable unit on the market to date. The unit is very simple and offers double filtration, the extra thick charcoal filter is first, followed by the extra thick HEPA filter. This makes it a great space saver that can be placed almost anywhere, especially against a wall. 

There are way too many other positive reviews to count, with numerous customers mentioning how quiet this thing is — even on the Turbo setting. Overall, it has a 4.3 out of 5 star rating and has been purchased by over 1,600 people. Get it for $199.99 here.

Image: honeywell

Image: coway

Image: coway

If you were hoping for a more modern design, the Coway AP-1512HH Mighty Air Purifier is aesthetically pleasing AF. This Amazon’s Choice product looks too clean and will blend right in with any home’s contemporary decor. Called “mighty” for a reason, this puppy features a four-stage filtration system with a 99.7% HEPA efficiency rating (in a space up to 570 square feet). All of that sounds like it would be intense and loud, but this thing is seriously quiet. When it’s done and the built-in air quality monitor hasn’t sensed pollutants in 30 minutes, it’ll turn off for max energy savings.

Amazon customer leiluni writes:

I have had this purifier for two years now and it is, by far, the best large purchase I have ever made. I’ve noticed a huge difference in my health since buying it and it truly works!! The air quality display is accurate, too! It turns red when it detects smoke, when I vacuum, or even when I spray Febreze; if my cat sits in front of it, it turns purple almost immediately!! I highly recommend this air purifier and will buy another one without hesitation when this one finally goes out.

Another customer put stickers on it and turned it into a giant iPod Nano. (If you do this, send pics.) Overall, the Coway Mighty has a 4.3 out of 5 star rating, purchased by nearly 1,000 people. Get it in black or white here, with prices starting at $229.99.

Image: coway

Image: alen

Image: alen

Meet the granddaddy of all purifiers: The Alen BreatheSmart Customizable Air Purifier can make your indoor air practically as fresh as outdoor air, and is ideal for those who have severe allergies, lung conditions or asthma, or who live in areas with lots of pollution or where forest fires are common. Probably similar to something you’d see the cast of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition put into a house, this puppy provides robust coverage to spaces up to 1,100 square feet. The purifier also comes with built-in air quality monitor and a HEPA-Odorcell filter, best for eliminating lingering diaper, pet, or mold odors. It’s also available in more than a dozen color and finish options, plus there’s also one that’s specifically designed to be painted so you can match it to your room. 

Here’s what one Amazon customer had to say about this air purifier:

These are amazing. My husband has some lung issues. When he was in the hospital for an another issue, he didn’t cough. The first night he was home he started coughing again. So we thought, hospitals have the ultimate in filtrated air. So I found the best air purifiers I could find and bought them. The first night we used them, his cough was much improved. We use them almost 24/7 now and wouldn’t be without them.

The BreatheSmart has a 4.5 overall rating (out of 5), purchased by nearly 400 people. And thanks to the aforementioned color options, even though it will take up a bit of floor space, it can at least blend in with your decor. Prices start at $629, but customers say it’s “worth every dang penny.” Get yours here.

Image: alen

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Save $50 on the Fire TV Recast at Amazon ahead of Black Friday

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Fire TV Recast let's you watch and record live TV anywhere, without a special DVR cable package.
Fire TV Recast let’s you watch and record live TV anywhere, without a special DVR cable package.

Now’s the time of year that we’re constantly out and about, chipping away at our holiday shopping lists and bouncing around to holiday parties, which means it’s a lot harder to prioritize being home for our favorite over-the-air TV programs. Thankfully, Amazon’s hooking it up by taking $50 off the Fire TV Recast, so you’ll never have to miss a thing. 

The Fire TV Recast is a DVR device that lets you watch and record TV at home or on the go, and is basically the ultimate addition to any Fire TV, Echo Show, or compatible mobile device. And the best part? No monthly fees.

SEE ALSO: All the best Black Friday 2018 sales, right in one place

You’ll be able to watch everything from live sports, to local news, to all of those late-night shows you can never seem to stay awake for. It even has two tuners, so household wars won’t break out every time your show’s time slot interferes with the big game. Just record ’em both! You’ll get up to 75 full hours of recorded HD video with this thing.

As with any compatible Alexa device, you’ll get the full hands-free experience. Just use your voice to ask Alexa to search, record shows, open channel guides, and more. 

Normally priced at $229.99, you can now get the Fire TV Recast for just $179.99. 

Image: amazon

Black Friday 2018 deals by store

Black Friday 2018 deals by category

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Best Black Friday 2018 smart home deals: Amazon Echo, Roomba, Google Home, Apple HomePod

Just to let you know, if you buy something featured here, Mashable might earn an affiliate commission.
The new Amazon Echo Show is on sale for $120 off for Black Friday.
The new Amazon Echo Show is on sale for $120 off for Black Friday.
Image: amazon

Smart home devices were the hot, gift-worthy items during last year’s holiday season and 2018 is shaping up to be no different. A big part of the reason for this is because these smart home devices tend to see great discounts on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, making now the ideal time to shop for loved ones — or snag a gift for yourself. Trust us, we won’t tell anyone. We promise.  

SEE ALSO: All the best Black Friday 2018 sales, right in one place

Although some of the deals are not official yet, a large number of them are active right now, so you can take advantage of these fantastic sales from Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, and Target before the Black Friday shopping holiday even begins. 

However, keep coming back to this round-up for new deals on smart home devices popping up throughout the week as soon as they are available. We’ll continue to take all the hard work out of shopping for the holidays for you, so you can spend more time with the ones you love.

Here are the best deals on smart home devices for Black Friday:

Early Black Friday deals

Amazon smart home

Philips Hue

iRobot Roomba

Everything else

Smart home deals starting on Black Friday

Google

Facebook

Apple

Philips Hue

Eve

Sonos

Everything else


Black Friday 2018 deals by store

Black Friday 2018 deals by category

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Submit your product for Mashable's 'Top Picks of CES 2019'

Heading into the future like...
Heading into the future like…
Image: bridget bennett/mashable

A new year of exciting new consumer tech is on the horizon, and CES 2019 will be the first stop to see what’s in store for our increasingly connected lives.

CES 2019 officially kicks off in Las Vegas on Jan. 8 and runs through Jan. 11. As always, Mashable will be on the ground bringing you the latest gadgets and blossoming tech trends before they become game-changers.

Do you have an innovative product that’s emblematic of one of those trends, or might even create one? We want to hear about it and why it should be recognized as a standout product at CES.

To be considered for the Mashable‘s Top Picks of CES 2019, the product must be:

  1. Aimed at the consumer market.

  2. Making its debut at CES 2019.

  3. Knock-your-socks-off amazing.

If your company has a product that qualifies, please submit it for consideration via the Google form below, and someone from our editorial staff will be in touch. If you have multiple products, please submit each one separately, although we encourage you to submit only the products you feel are true outliers (remember No. 3 above).

The deadline for entries is Dec. 26, but the sooner you submit, the better your chances of qualifying. Good luck!

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A mommy blogger's post about her son is going viral for all the wrong reasons

This episode of Black Mirror sucks.

In the ultimate backhanded compliment against her own son, mommy blogger Katie Bower took to Instagram to wish her child a happy sixth birthday, and to lament the fact that “his photos never got as many likes.”

“From a statistical point of view, he wasn’t as popular with everyone out there,” she complained in the caption, before musing over whether people liked her younger children better because they were babies. “I saw all that because I want to believe that it wasn’t him … that it was on me. My insufficiency caused this statistical deficit because obviously my Munch should get ALL the love and squinty eyes are totally adorable.” 

Yikes. Here’s the rest of the post, where Bower admits she’s worried that her son will “see the numbers” one day and “have to learn that his value is not in online approval.” 

Both Instagram and Twitter users responded, horrified that she would put so much value on her kid’s internet popularity.

Instagram users were not here for Bower's favoritism.

Image: instagram/bowerpowerblog

Imagine being this self-involved!

Image: instagram/bowerpowerblog

Yikes all around.

Image: instagram/bowerpowerblog

Some were supportive, but still gently criticized her for her caption.

“All my love, Katie …” one follower said. “But maybe some things are better left off Instagram.”

Some Instagram users were supportive.

Image: instagram/bowerpowerblog

Some of her followers still criticized her, though.

Image: instagram/bowerpowerblog

Bower also faced backlash in September, when she admitted that she “had literally no idea what the deal was with 9/11” and that she “didn’t realize that people were actually in the buildings.”

“It didn’t hit me until a year later that so many people died,” she captioned a photo of her sons patriotically sitting on a bale of hay.

“Unfortunately there is always backlash when things are twisted and taken out of context,” Bower said in an Instagram DM, but said that the messages of support she’s received “makes being vulnerable worth it.”

Bower says that Weston doesn’t know what Instagram is, but knows that “Mommy has a job on the computer that means we have friends all over the world that we have never met in person.” 

At least he doesn’t care about clout!

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NASA's 2020 rover will land in an ancient, dried-up lakebed to hunt for past life on Mars

An artist's conception of the 2020 rover descending through Mars' atmosphere.
An artist’s conception of the 2020 rover descending through Mars’ atmosphere.
Image: nasa

NASA’s next car-sized rover will plummet through the thin Martian atmosphere and softly land on the floor of a dried-up lakebed, the space agency announced Monday.

When the robot arrives on Mars about 8 months after its launch in 2020, NASA will endeavor to land the six-wheeled rover in the Jezero Crater, a 30 mile-wide bowl about 1,640 feet deep. It’s believed to have once held an 800-foot deep lake some 3.5 billion years ago. 

The space agency hopes to accomplish a number of things during the at least two-year mission. But the first science directive is to “determine whether life ever arose on Mars.” Indeed, today Mars is extremely unlikely to harbor any life — on the surface, at least. It’s a heavily irradiated, dry, frigid desert, with no liquid water.

“But it wasn’t always that way,” Ken Farley, the Mars 2020 project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in a press call. 

Ancient water canals leading out of the Jezero Crater.

Ancient water canals leading out of the Jezero Crater.

Image: NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

NASA scientists suspect Mars was once a blue world, like Earth. And as bodies of water on Earth are teeming with life, NASA wants to scour the Jezero lakebed for signs that past microbial life could have survived there, or perhaps clear signs of long-dead life itself. 

“All things point to the idea that we should be looking to ancient Mars for a surface-habitable environment, said Farley. “Lakes on Earth are both habitable and inevitably inhabited.”

The Jezero landing site also allows NASA scientists to rove over a dried-up river delta where water once flowed out of the lake. 

This environment likely held nutrient-rich clay minerals that could have been an ideal place for Martian microbes to flourish, as they do in moist clays on Earth. 

The 2020 rover comes equipped with of slew of scientific instruments, making it a bonafide mobile laboratory. 

It carries a ground-penetrating radar, an experimental machine that produces oxygen from atmospheric carbon dioxide, and tools to store five tubes filled with Martian rocks and soil — to be carried back to Earth by another future mission one day.

“Getting samples from this lake-delta system will revolutionize how we think about Mars and its ability to harbor life,” Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, said during the call. 

An artist's conception of the 2020 rover.

An artist’s conception of the 2020 rover.

Image: nasa

One of the most significant tools for sleuthing out past evidence of Martian life — if not the most critical — is the SuperCam, a high-tech camera perched atop the 2020 rover. 

Once the rover lands, NASA scientists know there will be countless places of interest to visit, so the SuperCam will fire lasers to detect the make-up of rocks and chemicals from 25 feet away. Then, the rover will slowly rumble over to most promising places — places that could have once sustained hardy, microscopic life. 

Such ancient evidence will be difficult to find — should it exist at all. 

“It [Mars] may not yield its secrets easily,” Roger Wiens, a planetary scientist who heads the team that built the SuperCam, said this summer. 

While exploring the Martian surface with the new rover — should it successfully land — NASA also hopes to collect information that will support human visitation to Mars — a longer-term goal for the 2030s. 

While NASA wants to return astronauts to the moon in the coming decade, the next logical step is Mars.

“Mars is really the obvious place after the moon,” said Zurbuchen.

And the 2020 rover is expected to pave the way there.

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Instagram cracks down on apps that give fake follows and likes

Instagram will crack down on shady third-party apps.
Instagram will crack down on shady third-party apps.
Image: LightRocket via Getty Images

Instagram is finally doing something to crack down on fake likes and followers. 

The app will begin to remove follows, likes, and comments that are the result of shady third-party apps. Instagram will also prompt password resets in an effort to prevent continued use of the apps. And, if Instagrammers keep using these services, the app will punish users by limiting their use of certain features.

The apps in question are third-party services that use your Instagram credentials to help boost your account by rewarding you with likes, comments, and followers. If you’re active on Instagram, you’ve probably encountered activity from some of these services, even if you don’t directly use them yourself. (Telltale signs include when random accounts like several of your old photos all at once, often with generic comments like “nice.”)

The problem with these apps, according to Instagram, is not just that they game the system to create fake engagement, but that they’re often shady and exploit the log-in information provided by users. 

“Every day people come to Instagram to have real experiences, including genuine interactions,” Instagram writes in a blog post. “This type of behavior is bad for the community, and third-party apps that generate inauthentic likes, follows, and comments violate our Community Guidelines and Terms of Use.”

Instagram will prompt password resets for people who have used apps to get followers and likes.

Instagram will prompt password resets for people who have used apps to get followers and likes.

Image: instagram

In order to root these apps out of Instagram, the company will begin to prompt password resets for people who have used these services in the past. And it will start to remove followers, likes, and comments that were generated as the result of these services. (Importantly, Instagram says the change will kick in beginning Monday, so previous likes and follows will not be impacted, even if they were the result of one of the apps in question.) 

What’s more, if people continue to use these services, they may see more serious account repercussions. According to a spokesperson, Instagram “may limit access to certain features,” if they identify repeat offenders. The spokesperson didn’t elaborate on what specific features could be  impacted.

But given how serious a problem Instagram hackings have been in the past, the ramp-up in enforcement should be welcome news to those concerned about account security.

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