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Is Asteroid Capture NASA’s Next Big Thing? – The Daily Orbit

April 8, 2013

A look at the future and the history of space exploration.

Walk, don’t run!–why your mother was onto something.

Chocolate just got even better.

And a whole lot of dreaming on today’s Daily Orbit!

Hello and welcome to the Daily Orbit.  I’m Emerald Robinson.

Well, I thought the point, especially after the recent meeting between NASA and Congress, was to keep asteroids away – but oh no, we want to bring them closer.  NASA now says that it plans to capture a small asteroid and bring it closer to Earth so that astronauts could travel there, analyze it, and return home with samples. The mission requires the building of a deep space exploration capsule they are calling Orion, which they plan to test next year.  The ideal candidate would be a 20-30 ft wide asteroid.  A robotic arm will grab it, stuff it in a bag, and then start motoring it toward our moon.  They should name it the “asteroid-burglar.”  Ha!  President Obama plans to allocate $100 million for the mission.  That’s going to be quite an expensive start to the Obama space rock collection.

So we’ve talked about where we are going in the future of space exploration, but now let’s take a look back at where we’ve been.  NASA is celebrating the 40th anniversary of its Pioneer 11 spacecraft.  Launched in April 1973, Pioneer captured amazing images of Saturn and Jupiter.  The mission was originally slated for 21 months, but Pioneer far exceeded expectations.  And just like an understudy who gets a chance to play, Pioneer 11 was only meant as a back-up to its predecessor Pioneer 10 but was rerouted to further explore Jupiter. Then the spacecraft was sent on a suicide-mission through the rings of Saturn. And living up to its name, it made it through the treacherous debris forging the road for the Voyager missions.  NASA received its last Pioneer transmission in 1995.  RIP Pioneer 11.

“Sweet dreams are made of these…” – brain activity.  Scientists say they can see your dreams, oh la la – with MRI that is.  A team of scientists created decoding computer programs based on brain activity measured while participants were awake and looking at certain images.  They then used MRI to monitor brain activity as subjects slept, and saw that it may be possible to predict the content of a person’s dreams.   Right now, there is no standard pattern across the board – the waking and sleeping data were within the same person.  But they hope to build a decoder that works for different people.  They say this may help us understand why we dream and give clues to mental illnesses.

I was dreaming that I was running and running and then….A guy in a lab coat came after me and said you don’t have to run anymore, walking is just as heart healthy.  Well isn’t that a dream come true!  And it is true according to a new study, as long as the same amount of energy is expended; walkers had a similar decrease in blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.  And the more you walk the bigger the benefit!  In some cases walkers experienced an even greater risk reduction than runners.  So get to steppin’ for your heart!  Hey, there’s really no excuse now.

And when you’re finished walking, reward yourself with some chocolate mixed with fruit juice.  It has half the fat and less sugar so you won’t feel bad.  Researchers from the University of Warwick in the UK announced at the American Chemical Society’s annual meeting that have found a way to infuse chocolate with fruit juice without losing its texture.  It even prevents “sugar bloom”—the gross white coating from when the chocolate has been on the shelf too long.  They said “this approach maintains the things that make chocolate “chocolatey” but with fruit juice instead of the fat.”  They have successfully made dark, white, and milk chocolate with apple, orange, and cranberry juices without overpowering the chocolate flavor.  They hope their approach will catch on in the food industry. Well guys you have my support.  Healthier chocolate – that’s what my dreams are made of!

Well that does it for the Daily Orbit. See you tomorrow Orbiters!



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emerald robinson

Emerald Robinson is the host of the Daily Orbit, Red Orbit's daily video news program. Known for her Southern charm and a quick wit, Emerald made her television debut on the daytime drama The Young and the Restless. Since then she has appeared in many feature films and TV programs, including a tour as host of Auto Trader New Car Review for WheelsTV.

Read more about Emerald here ...