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MAVEN Mission Aims To Learn About Mars’ Atmosphere – On Science

November 13, 2013

MAVEN’s making its way to Mars soon.

Big cats just got a little older.

The latest tattoo that everyone will want.

And a drunk pill…coming up today… On Science!

Hello and welcome to On Science. I’m Emerald Robinson.

The three M’s of NASA’s next mission to launch—Mars, magnetic, and MAVEN. NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission launches next week and will be trying to find why Mars is losing its atmosphere. An instrument aboard the craft called the Solar Wind Electron Analyzer is designed to analyze patterns in electrons between Mars’ ionosphere and the solar wind, where most planetary material is being lost. But MAVEN is also looking to understand the layout of magnetic fields around Mars. Because Mars’ magnetic field is generated mostly by magnetized rock in its crust, the Red Planet has many localized magnetic fields that rotate with the planet every Martian day. The reaction between these magnetic fields and the solar winds allow for different ways for the charged particles to exit. And MAVEN will find out how that happens!

Well paleontologists have happened upon a big find. Scientists announced they unearthed the oldest big cat fossil ever found. The fossil is a skull from a new species named Panthera blythae and dates back between 4 and 6 million years ago. Found in Tibet, it fills a gap in the “Pantherinae” subfamily, which includes lions, jaguars, tigers, and leopards. The find also points to the geographical context of evolution for these cats, suggesting the group evolved in central Asia and spread outward. The team discovered the skull in 2010 in the region between Pakistan and China and said the skull was “just lodged in the middle of a mess.”

Google is looking to take its marketing genius one step further by branding you. Google has filed a patent for a throat tattoo that would serve as a microphone to allow for better communication with smartphones, gaming devices, or other wearable technologies. The tattoo would allow users to interact with their devices with voice commands, without having to wear Bluetooth devices. I guess that really is the ultimate in hands-free. And if you’re scared of needles not to worry, the tattoo is really more like a sticker or adhesive bandage—so no actual branding. Whew! That’s a relief.

But there seems to be no relief from global warming. A new study from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory reveals that observed changes in global precipitation are directly affected by human activities and cannot be explained by natural variability alone. The emissions of heat-trapping and ozone-depleting gases are affecting distribution of precipitation in two ways. First, increasing temperatures are making wet regions wetter and dry regions drier. Second, atmospheric circulation patterns will push storm tracks and subtropical dry zones toward the poles. Researchers said their observations conclude that El Nino and La Nina are not to blame for the changes. They said that the increase in greenhouse gases is responsible for the changes and that these two effects are occurring simultaneously.

And the constant bad news of global warming may drive you to drinking but that could kill you too. So one scientist is working on a solution to that. How about getting drunk without the drink? Former British government drugs advisor, Professor David Nutt, is working on a drug that mimics the effect of alcohol minus the hangover. He says that for the drug’s effects, an antidote could be taken to stop the drunk sensation immediately for driving or going back to work. Happy hour for lunch anyone? Oh and Nutt is experimenting on himself! He says of course alcohol companies are hesitant to fund the research but the pill could be used in a variety of cocktails. The professor says that it would help alleviate a lot of the death and disease associated with the use of alcohol. Oh that professor is such a Nutt.

And that’s what’s up today On Science. See you tomorrow!



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