February 22, 2013

Buy Your Ticket To Mars In 2018 – The Daily Orbit

What will be the hottest destination spot of 2018?

Why DEET isn’t cutting it anymore.

What monster is taking over Tahoe?

And robotic wings are flapping on today’s Daily Orbit!

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

So I’ve been planning my next vacation. What do you think? A cruise? Hawaii? Mars? You heard me right. I will have to wait until 2018 to take that trip but a private space company is planning to send space tourists to Mars on a 500-day journey starting in January 2018. The project is headed up by Dennis Tito, who became the first space tourist himself when he paid $20 million back in 2001 to take a trip to the International Space Station. The trip would involve a flyby of Mars in a modified SpaceX Dragon Capsule with a free return back to Earth. And I like what the company said in their press release, that they want to “encourage Americans to believe again, in doing the hard things that make our nation great, while inspiring youth through Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics education and motivation.” Hmm…a 500 day trip—I better start banking my vacation days.

Quick throw me the DEET! DEET has been widely used to keep mosquitoes away and is invaluable in countries where malaria and dengue fever outbreaks are spread by these disease carrying bugs. But it may not be so effective after all. New research shows that these pesky pests will ignore the smell of DEET after only three hours of exposure. They believe the bugs are “habituating” to the smell of this repellant developed by the U.S. military back in WWII. Ugh! Stupid bug!

Ahhh… giant Goldfish are taking over!!! Well, in Lake Tahoe anyway! Just like the Burmese pythons that have infested the Everglades, Tahoe is seeing its ecosystem disrupted by this non-native invader. Question is, who even knew they existed and how the heck did they get there? Scientists think they were dumped in the lake by their previous owners, in what has been coined “aquarium dumping.” And they’re increasing at a steep rate. Scientists say that aquarium dumping into the wild is a big problem. Especially with the goldfish, who eat by rooting in the sediment causing murky water—destroying vegetation and water turbidity. So the take-away folks—if you have a pet fish and you don’t want it anymore don’t set it free in the local lake.

And moving deeper below the water’s surface. You never know what you’ll find “under de sea.” And one group of researchers were quite surprised at their find of the deepest hydrothermal vents on the ocean’s floor to date. While looking for another site of vents in the Cayman Trough in the Caribbean with a remotely operated vehicle, they stumbled upon these vents that are almost 5,000 meters, or 3 miles, below the surface. These hydrothermal vents shoot out dark water that scientist say are a “stunning sight!” The vents are formed by the boundary between two tectonic plates. And the water shooting out has been measured at 401 degrees C. Talk about being in hot water!

And what if you’re a scientist and you can’t get your subject to cooperate? Then just make a robot version! Scientists studying bat flight and anatomy developed a robotic bat wing since bats don’t take requests. The robot wing produces enough thrust to overcome drag and enough lift to carry the weight of the model species, matching the basic flight parameters of bats. The robot wing gives the researchers more control over flapping and frequency, allowing them to learn more about bat flight than studying the actual bat. Looking at bat flight offers great possibilities for the design of small aircraft. Or perhaps pave the way for a real life Bruce Wayne turned Batman!

That’s all for today’s Daily Orbit! (giant goldfish!) Quick! Throw me the DEET again! Yeah that’s not gonna work! Yikes!

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