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NASA’s Deep Space Network Celebrates 50 Years – On Science

December 19, 2013

Another NASA anniversary celebration…

Cornell’s cool 3D printer breakthrough…

Spiders like their veggies too…

And Lego’s like you’ve never seen them before. Coming up today… On Science!

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

We’re always celebrating an anniversary of NASA’s of some sort, since the space agency has so much going on! NASA’s Deep Space Network turns the big 50 next week on Christmas Eve actually, another reason to celebrate. The network has been vital to nearly every mission that has went to the moon and beyond. It’s the way that astronauts communicate back to Earth and is responsible as well for data transmission. It began as the Deep Space Instrumentation Facility on Dec. 24, 1963, but has since expanded into the Deep Space Network. Historic statements transmitted through the network include “that’s one small step for man. One giant leap for mankind.” Deep Space Network has been so important to missions over the years that they coined the phrase “don’t leave Earth without us.”

Say it loud! Cornell has achieved a first! Researchers at Cornell University have printed the first 3D-printed consumer electronics device. What is it? A loudspeaker! The team joined 3D printing and music in 3D harmony. Every part of the speaker was made using the printer – even the electrical wiring. The team said the sound quality might not be ground-breaking but it is “decent.” And it has major implications for the future, where what you might order off Amazon, you could maybe one day print right at home from your desktop. Sorry drones no need for delivery. We’re still a long way off from printed sophisticated electronics at home but, hey, it’s a step in the right direction.

When you think spider, you typically think tiny, ferocious little blood suckers. But that’s not necessarily true. A new study from a couple of European researchers has found that the orb-weaver spider consumes 25% pollen. They were even found to eat pollen when insect prey was readily available. Their web not only captures hapless prey, but pollen as well. A field and lab study, including a stable isotope analysis, showed that these spiders feed on pollen and insects for optimal nutrition. They found that the pollen eaten by these spiders are so high that they should be reclassified as omnivores instead of carnivores. They just like to keep a well-balanced diet!

3-2-1 Lift off! [ rocket sound ]. Gaia’s officially lifted off! The European Space Agency launched the 2 billion euro probe from French Guiana. It’s mission is to map more than a billion stars in 3D as well as hunt for planets and asteroids. So essentially it will be mapping the Milky Way in 3D. How cool is that? Blasting into orbit aboard a Soyuz rocket, the mission will last five years and will hopefully provide more insight into the origin and evolution of the universe as well. The makers of the telescope, Astrium, say that it is so sensitive that is could measure a person’s thumbnail from the moon. That’s pretty precise. It’s the biggest camera ever put into space. Go, go Gaia!

If I managed to make a bridge with my Legos I thought I was genius, but these guys have taken Legos to a whole new level! Steve Sammartino and Raul Oaida have built a functional car, yes your heard me right, car out of Legos that runs on air. No fuel necessary! It’s part of their crowdfunded Super Awesome Micro Project. The car is made up of 500,000 Lego bricks and 256 pistons. It’s made entirely of the Legos aside from the tires, wheels, and gauges. What’s the dollar amount on the Legos alone? A whopping $60,000 worth. That’s a lot of Legos. The car was built in Romania and then shipped to Melbourne, Australia.. It wasn’t an easy trip for the Legomobile as it incurred a lot of damage during the travel. However, the duo managed to piece it back together, even though it required a little more than snapping Legos back in place. So is it street legal? Or only at Legoland?

And that’s what’s happening today On Science! Let go my Lego!



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