August 23, 2013
Retirement Over For NASA’s WISE Mission – The Daily Orbit
Another great one is coming out of retirement.
What gives beer its bite?
A wolf’s howl understood.
And we got it from our Mama on the Daily Orbit.
Hello and welcome to the Daily Orbit. I’m Emerald Robinson.
Michael Jordan did it, Cher did it, and now WISE is doing it—WISE as in NASA’s Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer. And what exactly is it doing? If you guessed coming out of retirement you would be correct. The spacecraft was decommissioned in February 2011 after discovering and categorizing thousands of asteroids throughout the solar system. WISE will return in September with a new mission to detect NEOs or near-Earth-objects. It will discover, record and characterize their size, thermal properties and reflection coefficient. But it’s specifically looking for potential candidates for NASA’s asteroid initiative to identify, capture and relocate an asteroid in order to send a manned mission there by 2025. WISE has a pretty good batting average, observing nearly 160,000 of the 600,000 known objects. WISE is like the Barry Bonds of NEO detection.
And when you think of baseball, beer often comes to mind—the smell of the bubbly getting sloshed around on the stands when the home team hits a homerun. But researchers say it’s not the bubbles that give beer its “bite.” The bite actually comes from a chemical reaction between the carbon dioxide and the human tongue. They say carbonation isn’t required at all. After taste testing beer at varying pressure levels – resulting in different carbonation concentrations – researchers found subjects experienced the same bite. They concluded the “bite” is a chemical sensation rather than a purely physical one. They may not be necessary, but bubbles are more fun don’t you think?
The wolf howl…such a haunting and lonesome sound. But it really isn’t lonesome at all. A new study suggests that the reason wolves howl has something to do with social relationships within a pack. Researchers noticed that wolves howl as a member of the pack departs. Observations revealed that a wolf will howl more if they have a better relationship with the departing pack-mate and if the departing wolf is of high social rank. Researchers say that the wolf howl is a flexible social response that seeks to re-initiate or regain contact with a high-ranking individual or a closer affiliate. That’s how I try to find my friends in a crowd too.
3D manufacturers believe in their vision of one day households everywhere using 3D printers in their everyday lives. But critics say that won’t happen until easy design tools are in place. So 3D printing company, “MakerBot” says what about a 3D scanner? Enter, “The Digitizer.” This record player-looking device rotates small objects on a turntable while two lasers and a camera create a 3D model that can then be recreated by a 3D printer. Still new, the technology has a few glitches like shiny, fuzzy, or reflective surfaces don’t scan well. Guess I’m not scanning and making jewelry then. But makers say, “expectations should be realistic.” The Digitizer runs $1,400 and is available for pre-orders.
That song “she got it from her Mama” couldn’t be more true…the good and the bad. A new study shows that the aging process is hastened due to maternal genetics. Damage in the cell’s power plant – the mitochondrion – is of particular importance in the aging process and determined by the genes we inherit from our mother. Mutations in the mitochondria gradually disable the cell’s energy production resulting in aging. The study found that “if we inherit DNA with mutations from our mother, we age more quickly.” They say the question now is if it is possible to affect the degree of DNA damage through lifestyle intervention. I hope yes! But hey, looking at my Mama, I should be okay!
And that’s it for today’s Daily Orbit. Have a great weekend!