July 5, 2013
Mars Opportunity Rover Nears Its New Destination – The Daily Orbit
Opportunity is on the move.
Shhhhh…the whales need silence!
Earth’s hot history.
And passing on germs…on the Daily Orbit!
Hello and welcome to the Daily Orbit. I’m Emerald Robinson.
Opportunity is on the move and it’s halfway through its journey. The NASA rover is less than a half mile from its new destination after having spent 22 months in a place called “Cape York.” The rover is making a total 1.2 mile trek across Botany Bay to “Solander Point.” How long has it taken to cover just over a half mile—six weeks. Things don’t move very quickly in the rover world. Solander Point has a cross section of rock layers for examination and will be a good place for the solar powered rover to stay active and mobile during the Mars southern hemisphere winter as it is north facing. Opportunity will celebrate the 10th anniversary of its launch next week.
While Opportunity might be preparing for the Martian winter, things are heating up here on Earth. The UN reported that the last decade was the warmest on record in each hemisphere for both land and sea. According to the World Meteorological Organization, land and sea temps were about .8 degrees higher than the long-term average dating back to 1881. They also reported that the changes associated with rising temperatures have taken a human toll with 370,000 deaths related to extreme weather such as heat waves and floods—that’s an increase of 20% over the previous decade. However, the report has its critics who say that the recent harsh winters and so far cool summer in Europe and Northeastern United States is evidence that there is no such global warming.
And whales may be getting some much needed silence. A new study found that sonar used by the military has a major effect on whales. A research team found that when exposed to sonar the whales modified their diving behavior and temporarily avoided areas where the sounds were produced. The whales would even stop feeding and either swim faster or leave the area altogether. Previous studies have shown that mid-frequency sonar sounds affected the swimming patterns of beaked whales so badly that they often ended up stranded on the beach. Scientists are suggesting that US military avoid sonar testing in known whale habitats.
Pass me the ball! Ewww…there’s germs all over that ball! A new study says that basketballs and volleyballs can potentially spread dangerous germs between players. The research team found that a staph infection causing bacteria accumulates on balls, hands, and floors during play. The germ is able to survive up to 72 hours and when contracted, can cause athletes multiple emergency room visits, costly outpatient follow-ups and time out of the game. So I’m definitely taking a big bottle of Germ X to my volleyball game tonight.
And a couple patients in Boston are now virus-free. Doctors have reported that two previous HIV patients are now HIV-free after a series of bone marrow transplants. The patients had undergone the grueling and risky treatments several years ago for blood cancer. Doctors then realized not only were the patients’ cancer-free but there were no traces of HIV in the blood. The patients are no longer taking the antiretroviral treatments they had been on for years but doctors are keeping a close eye on them in the event that the virus returns. Although these results look promising, the transplant is a very hard and dangerous procedure with a 15-20% risk of death. But what a positive outcome for these two survivors.
And that’s it for the Daily Orbit! Have a great weekend!