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Rogue Asteroids Are Quite Common – On Science

January 30, 2014

What happens when asteroids go rogue?

What’s bubbling below the world’s most active volcano?

Just how strong can 3D printing be?

And the Curiosity Rover is setting off on a tricky road trip! Coming up today…On Science!

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

Asteroids are static and remain near the sun, right? If they’re good little asteroids they do. But there’s some out there that break the rules and rebel. Scientists at MIT and the Paris Observatory claim that rogue asteroids are more common than previously thought. While working on a map of asteroids, these scientists say they now think the Solar System has been very dynamic. They theorize that Jupiter once drifted very close to the Sun, bringing along asteroids from the outer edges of the Solar System and displacing other asteroids that were already near the Sun. They said it’s like Jupiter bowled a strike right through the Solar System. They also said that this type of displacement could have once led to an icy asteroid colliding with Earth and depositing water onto our planet’s surface. They said all asteroid types exist in every region of the main belt and, through their mapping, they have discovered many asteroids in unexpected locations.

This volcano may be spewing lava but what’s bubbling below the surface is what we need to watch out for! Researchers at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science have discovered a large magma chamber below the world’s most active volcano – Kilauea. The team analyzed seismic waves to find the chamber. Then they used seismic data to develop a 3D velocity model of a magma anomaly to determine the size, composition and depth of the chamber, which sits about 5 to 6.8 miles below the surface. The chamber is composed of 10% magma and 90% rock. This is the first geophysical observation that large magma chambers exist in the deep oceanic crust below and understanding these magma bodies will help us better understand where future lava eruption will come from.

You know we really should do a segment entitled “What 3D Printers Can Do Now.” A startup called MarkForged is taking 3D printers to the next level using carbon fiber. Why? Because carbon fiber is stronger, that’s why. They wanted to overcome the strength limitations of other 3D printed materials that have been created. The MarkForged website says that “now you can print parts, tooling, and fixtures with a higher strength-to-weight ratio than 6061-T6 Aluminum. Now that’s pretty strong.

If you’ve ever seen a cuttlefish, you know they are fascinating – the way they can change from a zebra-camouflage or do hypnotic color oscillations. But how can we mimic that? Harvard University has unlocked the secret of the cuttlefish’s coloring camouflage ability. A new study reveals that a natural nanoscale photonic device allows the cuttlefish to dynamically change its colors. It uses pigmented organs called chromatophores that contain luminescent protein nanostructures that enable the cuttlefish to make quick and elaborate changes in its skin pigmentation. When the fish changes color, each chromatophore expands changing the surface area as much as 500%. Researchers say the challenge now is for us to learn how to replicate these mechanisms and potentially engineer a camouflage system that could be applicable in military use. Mother Nature is always one step ahead of us.

Curiosity is taking Easy Street. NASA is contemplating a path across a small sand dune, that would be much smoother than another, in order for the Curiosity Rover to reach a favorable route to science destinations. The alternate path would involve sharp rocks that could puncture the rover’s wheels. The team is a little more careful after a few rips and punctures in the wheels happened in the fourth quarter of 2013. Curiosity is approaching “Dingo Gap” on its way to its next drilling site called “KMS-9,” and continues to make progress toward its long-term destination to explore geographical layers exposed on the slopes of Mars’ Mount Sharp. Mosey on down the road, Curiosity. Sometimes it’s ok to take the easy route in life – especially if you’re on Mars.

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



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