June 28, 2013
Up And Away For NASA’s IRIS Mission – The Daily Orbit
Finding food addiction in the brain.
And a treasure revealed on the Daily Orbit!
Hello and welcome to the Daily Orbit. I’m Emerald Robinson.
IRIS is on its way. The new Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph—so much easier to say IRIS—successfully launch aboard the Pegasus XL rocket at 7:27 pm Pacific time last night. Earlier in the week we talked about how IRIS will be studying our Sun to gain a better understanding of energy transport, specifically looking at the region located between the sun’s visible surface and upper atmosphere called the interface region. IRIS has about 60 days before the real work starts with ongoing post-flight checkouts in the meantime.
And while IRIS is just beginning its journey into our Solar System, there’s a spacecraft out there that has traveled long and far. But how far is still debatable. Back in March a team of scientists reported that Voyager 1 had already left the System, but NASA now says that the spacecraft is still sitting just within the edge of the heliosphere—the bubble around our sun that extends at least 8 billion miles past the planets in our solar system. How do they know? They say that Voyager has not experienced an abrupt change in direction of the magnetic field, which would indicate the presence of the interstellar magnetic field. They say it could be several more months or years before Voyager 1 officially makes an exit.
Hi, my name is Emerald and I’m addicted to food. Food addiction starts with carbs, says new research. Ever notice when you start eating carbs, it seems you just can’t stop? Scientists revealed through brain scans of obese people that areas of the brain associated with addiction light up in the presence of carbohydrates, and bad carbs activated the nucleus accumbens, a part of the brain triggered by addictive drugs and dangerous behavior. The reaction lasted for hours and left people feeling hungry sooner. Must break the cycle.
Let talk the truth about weed. Weed kills. Okay, it’s not going to kill you, but it is indirectly responsible for the deaths of fisher weasels in the southern Sierra Nevada. A new study revealed that illegal marijuana farms using rodenticides—or rat poison—are killing fishers in the area. The farmers use the poison to keep rodents and insects off their “cash crop.” But what makes it worse is that these illegal farms aren’t following guidelines for proper use and in some cases, mix multiple compounds—even ones illegal in the US, a deadly combination for the fishers. So if you or someone you know has an illegal marijuana farm, please think of the fishers. Weed kills the weasels.
And here’s a tale of buried treasure, found by researchers who kept it quiet for three years knowing the threat of grave robbers in the area. Sounds like India Jones! A team of researchers discovered a 1200-year-old ancient imperial Wari tomb back in January 2010 in an area north of Lima, Peru. They quietly dug for months and collected more than a thousand artifacts of bronze axes, gold tools, and my personal favorite, gold and silver jewelry. The researchers say they still have another 8-10 years to work on the site.
And that’s all for the Daily Orbit. Have a great weekend Orbiters!
Image Credits for NatGeo’s “Treasure Revealed”
With eyes wide open, a painted Wari lord stares out from the side of a 1,200-year-old ceramic flask found in a newly discovered tomb at El Castillo de Huarmey in Peru. The Wari forged South America’s earliest empire between A.D. 700 and 1000. Credit: Photograph by Daniel Giannoni
Images of winged beings adorn a pair of gold-and-silver ear ornaments a high-ranking Wari woman wore to her grave. Archaeologists found the remains of 63 individuals, including three Wari queens, in the imperial tomb at El Castillo de Huarmey. Credit: Photograph by Daniel Giannoni
Protected from looters by 30 tons of stone, those interred in the mausoleum lay exactly where Wari attendants left them some 1,200 years ago. Archaeologist Krzysztof Makowski Hanula, the project’s scientific adviser, describes the mausoleum as a pantheon where all the Wari nobles of the region were buried. Credit: Photograph by Milosz Giersz