August 5, 2013

Mars Rover Curiosity: One Year Later – The Daily Orbit

We’re celebrating #1YearOnMars!

What’s the recipe for making a mammoth?

Could a 3D printer actually save you money?

And getting in synch on today’s Daily Orbit!

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

This week we are celebrating the one-year anniversary of the NASA Curiosity rover’s arrival on Mars. The little rover launched from Cape Canaveral, FL, in November 2011 and after a long journey touched down on Mars’ Gale Crater on August 6, 2012. Curiosity has already had a very successful first year, accomplishing its major objective—to find the first evidence that Mars once had conditions hospitable to life. Powder drilled from sedimentary rock on Mars’ surface showed the presence of sulfur, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and carbon—all important ingredients for life. What’s in store now for the rover? It’s on the move to the base of Mount Sharp, where it will investigate the mountain’s lower layers. And you can take part in celebrating Curiosity’s first year by using #1YearOnMars to leave your memories and thoughts via social media.

Remember Dolly the Sheep cloner Ian Wilmut? Well, the cloning scientist is now weighing in on resurrecting the woolly mammoth. He says that stem cells may be the way to go. His sheep, Dolly, was the first mammal to be cloned from an adult somatic cell. In order to create a mammoth clone in the way he did Dolly, he suggests using a few unfertilized elephant eggs to create more eggs to carry the pregnancies. Then you have to find viable stem cells in frozen Mammoth remains, which is the tricky part. But Wilmut isn’t sure this is even biologically possible. He also said if mammoth male sperm could be recovered then scientists could create an elephant-mammoth hybrid. And those are Wilmut’s special recipes for making a mammoth.

So a DIY 3D printer might set you back a couple grand, but could it save you money in the long run? A team at Michigan Tech tested out printing 20 common household items from a water bottle holder for your bike to iPhone cases. They calculated that costs with shipping, if purchased in-store or online would be anywhere from $300 to $2,000 for these items. They were able to “print” each of these with a 3D printer in a single weekend for just $18 in materials, using free open-source customizable designs. The team says they’re user friendly with easy-to-download online designs and printers that can be set up in under half an hour.

Here’s an idea. Print a tent and go camping! Is your circadian rhythm a little off lately? Then camping might be the answer. A new study successfully synced the circadian clocks of eight people with the timing of the sunrise and sunset by doing nothing more than spending one week exposed to only natural light while camping. Researchers say it doesn’t matter if you are an early bird or a night owl, we all can synchronize with the solar day. The invention of electrical lighting flipped the switch on our circadian clocks allowing people to stay up later than usual. But you don’t necessarily have to pitch a tent to reset. Researchers suggest dimming the lights at night, forgoing late-night TV and cutting laptop or iPad use at night to help reset your internal clock if you’re having trouble sleeping. Sorry, Jimmy Kimmel looks like I’m going to have to kick our late-night TV dates to the curb.

If you do decide to go camping though, be sure to take the nasal spray—and not for your allergies. A team of researchers has developed a nasal spray to counteract the neurotoxic effects of snakebites. Of the 125,000 people who die from snakebites each year, seventy-five percent did so before ever reaching a hospital because there is no easy way to treat them in the field. Also, antivenoms are very costly; and they require refrigeration, and some expertise in administering them. Although the nasal spray will be easier to transport and administer, researchers say it’s not going to be a substitute for antivenom, but it will buy time to get the victim to the hospital and could save a lot of lives. They are looking to designing a product that could be stocked on drugstore shelves.

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

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