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Student Names Asteroid For OSIRIS-Rex Mission – The Daily Orbit

May 3, 2013

What’s in an asteroid‘s name?

What’s more inspiring than Mother Nature?

Solving the 20 year old mystery of the “Cave of Death.”

And it’s a material world on today’s Daily Orbit!

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

What is in a name?—to quote Shakespeare. Well when it comes to asteroid 101955 1999 RQ36 it’s complicated. NASA’s OSIRIS-Rex spacecraft will launch in 2016 and touch down on said asteroid in 2018 to return samples to Earth in 2023 so we can learn more about the origins of our solar system. But that name? No! So NASA held a contest to rename it. And who won? A 9 year old boy from North Carolina name Michael Puzio who coined the name Bennu, after the soul of the Egyptian sun-god Ra, because he said OSIRIS-Rex resembled the drawings of Bennu. I can see the resemblance. Puzio said in response to his win “It’s great! I’m the first kid I know that named part of the solar system!” Congrats Michael! Kids are so creative!

And scientists are having to get creative in their Martian meteorite studies. A team of scientists is looking at a billion year old meteorite from Mars found in the Miller Range of Antarctica in 2003. This nakhlite meteorite is the size of a tennis ball and weighs 1.5 pounds. Their question–does the meteorite show that Mars could once sustain life? The rock shows habitable signatures, like water, but then it has been in a habitable environment here on Earth. However, they say their contribution to the research is “to provide additional depth and a little broader view than some work has done before in sorting out those two kinds of water-related alterations—the ones that happened on Earth and the ones that happened on Mars.” Good luck with that!

Mother Nature is inspiring man yet again. Engineers are looking to the tail of the seahorse for a new robotic arm design. The seahorse tail is unique in that it can be compressed to nearly 50% of itself without damage thanks to connective tissue between the tail’s bony plates and tail muscles that absorb the bulk of the pressure resulting from the displacement. They have varying plate sizes and degrees of hardness with joints that either glide or pivot. Engineers say that 3D printing technology could possibly be used to create a unique hybrid robotic arm that uses both hard and soft robotic devices inspired by the structure of the seahorse tail. The arm could be used medically, for underwater exploration, as well as detecting and detonating bombs.

“We’re living in a material world and I am a material girl!” Although one of my fav songs from the 80s—it’s all too true of today’s teens a new study shows. Researchers drew from a national survey of high school students conducted from 1976-2007 that focused on their willingness to work hard and the perceived importance of having lots of money and material goods. Results showed that the majority of recent grads believed it was important to have a lot of money, a house, and goodies as opposed to grads in the 70s. On the flip side, 39% of recent students admitted to not wanting to work hard whereas only 25% did in the 70s. Trends showed a peak in this “want-more-but-don’t-want-to-work-hard” attitude in the 80s and 90s that has continued through present day. Interestingly, that’s when advertising spending rose, leading researchers to believe that the rise in ads contributed to this attitude. It’s always the media…geez.

Come enter the “Cave of Death…” Well the cave of death isn’t so deadly anymore but many carnivores between 9 and 10 million years ago didn’t make it out. After studying 6,700 of the 18,000 well-preserved fossils found there, scientists believed that these meat-eaters were in search of prey or water and couldn’t make their way out. Up until now the lack of herbivores had puzzled them but they said the clearly visible opening wouldn’t have appealed to animals looking for vegetation. They say that sediment deposits from water brought an end to the cave’s deadly reign and worked to preserve the fossils. And that is the story of the “Cave of Death!”

Well that’s all for the Deadly.. I mean Daily Orbit.



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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 ...