June 18, 2013

NASA Choose New Astronaut Class Of 2013 – The Daily Orbit

NASA’s making the cut for future space explorers.

France finds feline inspiration.

Tweet ain’t no longer slang.

And running on hooch on today’s Daily Orbit.

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

And then there were 8. NASA’s 2013 Astronaut Candidate Class started with 6,300 potential candidates, but after sifting through resumes for a year and a half, they have selected their eight contenders. These maybe-astronauts will receive technical training at space centers around the world to prepare for missions to low-Earth orbit, an asteroid and Mars. Class is in-session this August. NASA said these candidates demonstrated impressive strengths academically, operationally, and physically with diverse backgrounds and skill sets. NASA should have jumped on the bandwagon and made the selection process a reality show. “Astronaut, you are safe! You are continuing on and are one step closer to Mars…”

Maybe when these astronauts go to Mars they’ll take this cat with them! Engineers in France have developed this feline inspired robot that they say could be included in search and rescue missions or, yes, for space exploration on mountainous terrain. The cheetah-cub is the fastest of its kind, able to run 7 times its body length in one second. The leg design is based on detailed observation and construction of an actual feline leg with the same proportions and springs for tendons and small motors for muscles. They said the robo-cat is light, compact, and made from cheap materials. Doesn’t science make you purr?

And from an artificial cat leg to an artificial bone—is there anything science can’t do? Well, except teleporting, but I’m still holding out for that one. Using 3D printing technology, MIT scientists have created physical fracture-resistant, bone-like structures from synthetic materials. They created bone simulations with the same geometric patterns seen in natural bone, but also new designs that do not exist in nature but could be stronger. Authors of the study said that one day whole buildings could be printed with optimized materials.

And with all the recent concern about how climate change is affecting our ecosystems, it’s no surprise that scientists have been stumped as to how fish were able to survive and thrive in the toxic oceans and past climate changes the Earth has gone through over the past 400 million years. They say the key to their survival lies in the hemoglobin in their blood, which is responsible for unloading large amounts of oxygen into their tissues when there was a lack of oxygen in the water. The molecule hemoglobin was eventually passed on to us humans, and we use the same system today—although fish seem to be more efficient than us, since scientists say we branched off from fish in the evolutionary chain about 350 million years ago when the hemoglobin system was in its early stages. Scientists say we can study fish for better insight into conditions influenced by oxygen levels in the body.

“Tweet.”(noun): A posting made on the social media website Twitter. (verb) “make a posting on the social media website Twitter.” “Tweet” is officially part of the English language landing in the Oxford English Dictionary. The new admission also included the words “follow” and “follower.” I tweet to my followers who follow me and they love my tweets.

Put in the hooch and let’s scoot! How many times have you heard someone say—“that stuff could run a car!” Well it can and a Scottish energy start up is looking to do just that. The company Celtic Renewables is taking the draff—the residue of grains of barley and pot ale—and turning it into biobutanol. In a distillery, only 10% of what flows out will be whiskey, the other 90% is draff. And whiskey makers should be on board as draff disposal hits their bottom line. They are working on the process to make it more cost competitive. Well that puts the “GO” in Whiskey a go-go!

And that’s all for the Daily Orbit. See you tomorrow!

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