September 12, 2013

Early Earth May Have Given The Moon Its Water – The Daily Orbit

How did water get on the moon?

Mapping the Milky Way.

Nature inspires engineers again.

And now you see me, now you don’t on the Daily Orbit!

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

Well, even though astronauts aren’t going to be swimming on the moon, the moon does have water. But where did this water come from? A team from The Open University in the UK has found that water in the moon may have actually come from the early Earth. While studying rocks brought back from the Apollo missions, they classified water concentrations in the mineral apatite, a calcium phosphate mineral abundant in the lunar crust. An analysis of the isotopic signature of the water concentrations suggests a common origin in the Earth-Moon system, which supports the theory that the moon was formed from debris left over after a large body collided with the early Earth. But there’s still more to figure out, as some scientists are skeptical that water could have even existed after the collision, as the material was still extremely hot.

Astronomers are mapping the Milky Way using the 22 meter Mopra Telescope in Australia along with telescopes in Antarctica and Chile. They are particularly mapping the location of our galaxy’s galactic clouds, which can be up to 100 light years across. Galactic clouds are relatively easy to see and made up of carbon monoxide, the second most abundant molecule in space. But “dark” galactic gas clouds are not so easy to see. Astronomers believe they are made up of molecular hydrogen, which is too cold to detect. They say the surveys from the three telescopes will provide a picture of the distribution and movement of gas clouds in the galaxy. Umm…. So when will the galaxy be available on Google maps?

Speaking of Google maps, more people are likely to be accessing them on a tablet than a laptop or desktop later this year. According to the International Data Corporation, tablet shipments will surpass desktops and laptops in the fourth quarter of 2013 for the first time. PC shipments are still expected to be greater than tablet shipments for the full year, but that should change by the end of 2015. The expected value of the smart connected device market this year is expected to be $622 billion; with $423 billion of that coming from the less-expensive smartphones and tablets…those that cost less than $350 bucks. But things could still change…some experts believe that larger smartphones…commonly called “phablets” could cannibalize the smaller tablet market.

Honeybees are buzzing into robotics. Researchers at the University of Queensland say the way honeybees streamline their bodies during flight, could be simulated to create flying insect robots. They found that these bees lift their abdomen to reduce drag so they can fly at high speeds while using less energy. That’s sort of what my trainer makes me do too. Researchers found that they use both their antennae and eyes to calculate the best position of their abdomen for swift flight. The antennae help the bee determine airflow and their eyes let them see how fast they are moving past their surroundings. Researchers said using several senses to control their flight is more effective as it helps bees respond more quickly.

Honeybees for bots and squid skin for camo? Mother Nature has so much to teach us. Engineers at the University of California Irvine say they’re creating camouflage coating modeled after a squid. Squid not only change colors to match their surroundings, but they can also reflect light in a way that makes them nearly invisible. Engineers have synthesized a protein modeled after one found in squidskin, and created a film 100,00 times thinner than human hair, which can be switched off and on with a chemical signal. They said it would allow many simple objects to acquire camouflage capabilities but the ultimate goal is to make shape-shifting clothing—the stuff of science fiction—a reality.

And that’s your Daily Orbit. See you tomorrow!

Share on Linkedin Share on Google+