October 10, 2013
Lunar Explorer Reaches Lunar Orbit – The Daily Orbit
LADEE reaches lunar orbit.
What are LARLES?
Something else the shutdown is shutting down.
And time’s ticking away on the Daily Orbit!
Hello and welcome to the Daily Orbit. I’m Emerald Robinson.
In case you’ve forgotten, it’s still Space Week! Actually today’s the last day so let’s go out with a cosmic bang!
LADEE has officially achieved orbit around the moon. NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer probe blasted off base on September 6 from Virginia, and after a month long journey aboard a Minotaur 5 rocket has finally broken free of the rocket and fired up its own engines. And the government shutdown made things a little dicey for LADEE too. With 97% of NASA players sidelined, they’re short on hands, but fortunately one of LADEE’s flight controllers was still working and monitored a do-or-die maneuver designed to lower the spacecraft’s orbit to put it in a near-circular path over the moon’s equator. Later in the month LADEE will be demonstrating a new communications system that will allow for the greatest speed of data transmission between crews on the Earth and the spacecraft. LADEE’s mission also includes studying the lunar atmosphere and dust environment just above the lunar surface. That’s a boy LADEE.
And in more space news. Scientist are getting a close-up of craters on Mars of a different kind. A Northern Arizona University astronomer discovered the new type of craters naming them Low-Aspect-Ratio Layered Ejecta, or LARLE, craters. While updating a catalog of Martian craters, the astronomer noticed the LARLE craters which have a thin, sinuous, outer residue that extends far beyond the typical range of material thrown up by an impact. After much research, she determined that the deposit was due to a phenomenon called “base surge” in which a cloud of fine material forms after a large explosion and pushes out along the impact surface, eroding it and picking up material as it goes creating the widespread outer deposit. They used high-resolution images from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to get a good view of the novel craters. The astronomer said “that’s part of the fun of science, to see something and say whoa, what’s that?” That’s pretty cool.
What’s not cool, though, is how the shutdown is affecting our lives! So the out-of-work scientists can’t even count on trying out new brews while killing time at the bar. The agency responsible for approving new breweries, recipes, and labels for beer has closed during the government shutdown. The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau already took as long as 75 days to approve new applications and now craft brewers can expect to wait longer. One brewer said “this is something people don’t mess around with. Even in a bad economy, people drink beer.” Especially in a bad economy.
And this next story puts a new perspective on the saying “you’re old ticker.” A new watch called Tikker is killing it on Kickstarter. The watch is not your typical time-telling gadget. It slowly counts down to your supposed last breath. Tikker arrives with an instruction manual and a questionnaire meant to estimate how long the wearer is scheduled to live. Plug it in and Tikker literally counts down the seconds to the wearer’s demise, all the while displaying the current time. Obviously, a lot of people think it’s a good idea with the company already surpassing its $25,000 Kickstarter goal by $9,000 with about three weeks left on the clock. Makers of Tikker say the idea behind the watch is to encourage wearers to realize their life has an end date and they should make the most of their lives while they have them and at $39 the price won’t give you a heart attack. It’s like beating a deadline. And for those of you who work well under pressure, this might be good for you! Obviously Tikker is good at beating deadlines itself.
And turtles are trying to beat the countdown clock to their demise. As climate change progresses, North American turtle populations are being pushed from their habitats. Using data on 59 different turtle species published on turtle physiology, genetics, and fossils with new models of species’ response to climate-change cycles over the last 320 millennia, researchers found that the centers of the turtles’ ranges shifted an average of 45 miles for each degree of warming or cooling. While most species found suitable new habitats, some didn’t causing them to be endangered. Researchers say that understanding how turtles respond to these changes helps them to estimate future extinction risks that could be caused by climate change. Hopefully, turtles respond well under pressure too!
And that’s all for the Daily Orbit!