February 11, 2013

Curiosity Rover Really Digs Mars – The Daily Orbit

Diggin’ into Mars’ water history.

Who’s got whale sharks posing for the camera?

Another year older, another reason to smile.

And crazy code crackin’ kids on today’s Daily Orbit!

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

“Dig a hole, dig a hole, dig a hole…” Curiosity has been diggin’ a hole becoming the first robot to drill into the Martian bedrock and collect a sample. The hole, approximately .5” wide and 2.5” deep, is called “John Klein” for the late NASA program manager. What’s the little rover looking for? Why water of course. Scientists say the bedrock could hold evidence of a watery past on Mars. Curiosity will analyze the sediment using its laboratory instruments after first swishing the Martian powder around in its instruments to ensure there is no Earthly contamination. The roaming rover did a lot to prepare for this day. Engineers say they made eight drills and bored more than 1,200 holes in 20 types of rock on Earth to prepare. Wow, that’s a lot of holes.

And it’s seems like everyone’s a professional photographer these days and some researchers are counting on it—saying whale watching tourists can assist in conservation efforts. During scuba and snorkeling excursions in the Maldives, tourists often take pictures of the whale shark—the world’s largest fish. Researchers are hoping to use these vacation photos to help them trace the sharks’ life history, relationships, and geographic distribution. Each of these creatures has a unique pattern of spots located directly behind the gill that serve as a “fingerprint” of sorts. Headed to Maldives anytime soon and wanna help? Upload your photos to the ECOCEAN website. Say cheese Mr. Shark!

Dangit those clever kids are cracking codes again. AVG’s Virus Labs has discovered that children as young as 11 years old have been writing malicious code. Why? These little digital gangstas mostly steal gaming tools and digital currency used in the games, or they’re just at it to impress their friends. But AVG is saying that the kids need to learn the ‘rights and wrongs’ of code writing as they learn programming in schools. AVG pointed out that once the code is cracked it could leave victims open to further attacks and exposes sensitive data like credit card numbers. Yeah because that’s what we did as kids too. No. Why didn’t we think of that?

And here’s some good news. A new study shows that you get happier as you get older! But it also shows that the year in which you were born, or your “birth cohort,” affects overall well-being and happiness. Looking at data from two studies of self-reported well-being that included thousands of people over a 30 year period, researchers found that no matter the heath, age, sex, or ethnicity, overall people got happier with age. And here’s the bad news—birth year did change the level of overall well-being. For example, those born between the years of 1885 to 1925, having experienced the Great Depression, reported lower levels of well-being than those born in more prosperous times. Researchers say these findings have implications for long-term psychological effects and the over-all lifetime well-being of those going through today’s Great Recession. Sorry to drop that bomb on ya.

And tomorrow–February 12th– is officially “Darwin Day” celebrating the birthday of Charles Darwin who is known for his theory of evolution. After a 5 year expedition in the Galapagos, Darwin published his book, “On the Origin of Species By Means of Natural Selection,” laying out a controversial theory that proposed humans were derived from apes. Darwin Day celebrations began in 1980 at Salem College but were solidified by Stanford University in 1995. And Darwin shares a birthday with another well-known man—President Abraham Lincoln.

That’s all for today’s Daily Orbit.

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