August 30, 2013
Greenland Ice Sheet Hides A Massive Canyon Below – The Daily Orbit
What lies beneath the ice in Greenland?
Why does putting down the cigarette pack on the pounds?
NASA’s plan for deep space communication.
And China’s headed to the moon on the Daily Orbit!
Hello and welcome to the Daily Orbit. I’m Emerald Robinson.
Greenland’s been keeping a secret. Scientists recently discovered one of the world’s largest canyons beneath the country’s ice sheet. Comparable to the Grand Canyon, it stretches at least 460 miles and is up to 2,600 feet deep in some places. It is believed to predate the ice sheet that has covered Greenland for the past few million years. So it is old! Scientists accidentally stumbled upon it while radar-mapping bedrock while researching climate change in the region. They said with technology like Google Street View “one might automatically assume our Earth had been fully explored and mapped.” I thought when little Swords Creek, VA, was on Google Maps they had found everywhere! One researcher said “a discovery of this nature shows that the Earth has not yet given up all its secrets.” I love secrets!
And it’s no secret that smokers often put on weight when they try to put out the cigarette. But why exactly is that? New research found the weight gain associated with quitting smoking in not due to higher calorie intake, but a change in the composition of your intestinal flora. They found the former smokers put on an average of 15 pounds even if their calorie intake remained the same. Research showed that bacterial strains common in obese people’s intestines are also present in people who recently quit smoking. So here’s a tip to avoid that, don’t start in the first place!
NASA’s got a deep outlook on the future. The agency is looking to laser-based fiber optic technology for deep-space transmissions instead of the radio waves which they currently rely on to send data and computer codes. They plan to prove that two-way laser communication would be better with their Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration aboard the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer Mission. If successful, it could eventually allow for 3D High Def video transmissions into deep space. How cool would that be for the future Mars colonists? LLCD is designed to send six times the data from the moon with a smaller, more power-efficient transmitter. Lasers are also more secure and safer from interference and jamming. The 100-day unmanned moon mission launches in September.
And China’s also staring up at the moon with a mission in mind. China recently announced that it will launch its first lunar lander, the Chang’e 3, by the end of the year. China has previously launched two lunar orbiters in preparation for the lunar lander. Once it lands, the craft will release a radio-controlled rover that will take pictures and dig out samples of the surface that it will test on-site, and transmit the results back to Earth.
The terror bird might look exactly as its name implies but like a lot of scary-looking things, its beak may have been worse than its bite. Paleontologists have long debated whether the giant “terror bird” was a predator or herbivore. But new evidence found in Germany says that the bird was most likely not a meat eater. This flightless bird with a ferocious beak lived in Europe between 55 and 40 million years ago at a time after dinosaurs became extinct and mammals were in the early stages of evolution. Its size and beak had lead paleontologists to believe it was carnivorous but recently found footprints of its cousin don’t show claws, so it couldn’t have grappled prey. Scientists say without conclusive evidence either way, the terror bird’s diet remains a mystery. It still looks a little scary to me.
And that’s all for the Daily Orbit. Have a great weekend!