Jacobs School of Engineering/UC San Diego

NASA is quietly taking baby steps toward a manned mission to Mars, which President Trump says is now the space agency's highest priority. In a new study funded by the agency, researchers devised a way for future settlers on the Red Planet to make bricks out of the soil without an oven, or even any other ingredients.

What they did: Engineers from the University of California-San Diego molded simulated Martian soil into shape and hit it with a force equivalent to a whack from a 10-lb. hammer. That was sufficient to set the soil, which they think is being bound by iron oxide that gives the dirt its red color. The bricks were stronger than steel-reinforced concrete, they report.

The expert brick-maker's take: "The people who will go to Mars will be incredibly brave. They will be pioneers. And I would be honored to be their brick maker." – Yu Qiao, University of California-San Diego.

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Updated 59 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11:30 a.m. ET: 11,304,534 — Total deaths: 531,659 — Total recoveries — 6,111,195Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 11:30 a.m. ET: 2,841,124 — Total deaths: 129,689 — Total recoveries: 894,325 — Total tested: 34,858,427Map.
  3. States: Photos of America's pandemic July 4 ICU beds in Arizona hot spot near capacity.
  4. Public health: U.S. coronavirus infections hit record highs for 3 straight days.
  5. Politics: Trump extends PPP application deadlineNew Jersey gov. wants national face mask requirement
  6. World: Mexican leaders call for tighter border control as infections rise in U.S.
  7. Sports: 31 MLB players test positive as workouts resume.
  8. 1 📽 thing: Drive-in movie theaters are making a comeback.
2 hours ago - Sports

Sports return stalked by coronavirus

Tampa Bay Rays left fielder Austin Meadows bumps elbows Friday during a workout at Tropicana Field. Photo: Kim Klement/USA Today Sports via Reuters

When MLB teams arrived at the ballpark this weekend for the first summer workouts of 2020, the comforting sounds of baseball brought smiles to players' faces.

Between the lines: Even the loudest crack of the bat couldn't mask the eerie silence or distract from the ever-present coronavirus threat.

3 hours ago - Health

239 scientists call on WHO to recognize coronavirus as airborne

People walk at the boardwalk in Venice Beach. Photo: Apu Gomes/AFP via Getty Images

A group of 239 scientists in 32 countries is calling for the World Health Organization to revise its recommendations to account for airborne transmission as a significant factor in how the coronavirus spreads, the New York Times reports.

The big picture: The WHO has said the virus mainly spreads via large respiratory droplets that fall to the ground once they've been discharged in coughs and sneezes. But the scientists say evidence shows the virus can spread from smaller particles that linger in air indoors.