March 1, 2013

Aquarius Satellite Shows Ocean Salinity Levels Are On The Rise – The Daily Orbit

NASA’s a know-it-all and what do they know now?

Urine-testing? Yep, there’s an app for that!

And keeping it clear—on the face that is!

All that and more coming up on today’s Daily Orbit!

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

Two questions: Does NASA know everything? And what does global climate change not affect? Well today we’re talking ocean salinity. NASA’s Aquarius satellite studies the ocean’s salt levels, and new reports show salinity is on the rise. After collecting a full year of salt concentration data, NASA now has a more complete understanding of the world’s oceans, as well as how climate change is affecting rainfall patterns around the globe. Aquarius circles the Earth and takes a complete measurement of salinity levels every seven days. Variations in ocean salinity affect the cycling of freshwater and are one of the main drivers of ocean circulation. After going out in the field – or the water, we should say – scientists determined that the instrument has performed very well for its first year and now they will really focus on understanding the data about how the ocean works. “It is the Age of Aquarius…” I had to…I am an Aquarius too.

And it’s up, up and away for China which just announced a manned mission to its own orbiting laboratory Tiangong-1. Launching this summer, the mission will assess the performance of the docking system and the lab’s capabilities to support life and work. The mission could involve two men and a woman. This would be only the second Chinese woman to head to space. You go girl! That’s what I’m talking about…Girls in space! China also said it has its sights set on being the second nation to put a man on the moon in 2013. How about being the first nation to put a woman on the moon? Hmmm?

There’s an app for this, there’s an app for that? But what app’s now coming out of the hat? A urine-test app. Trying to picture how that’s going to work? Well before you go too far with it, let me explain. The not-yet-released app called UChek will use the iPhone’s camera to take pictures of test strips. The app analyzes the picture for levels of things like glucose, proteins, ketones, and so forth. While similar test strips exist, they rely on human interpretation of the results. Developers said the idea of the app is “to get people closer to their own information.”

We are continually impressed with the intelligence of primates and this new find doesn’t disappoint. Researchers found that bearded capuchin monkeys practice skilled tool use in an effort to crack open nuts for the tasty treat inside. They pay attention to different factors to optimize their reward: they place the nut on a stable surface, select their hammer by weight, and select nuts by resistance to cracking. Or in other words, they aren’t just banging nuts and hoping to get something. Can’t you just see a smart little monkey—“Excuse me a moment why I skillfully crack open my nuts”

Moving on. With most things in life there is some good with the bad. And looks like teenage acne is no different. When you’re a teen, it doesn’t feel like there’s anything good about acne and you just try to kill everything on your face with some peeling harsh chemical. But new research says you don’t want to kill all that bacteria—in fact some could help protect against the bad, zit-bringing bacteria. In testing the faces of people both with and without acne, researchers identified a third strand of acne bacteria, outside the common two strands already discovered. They suspect this strand is responsible for keeping acne at bay and could be developed into a probiotic cream of sorts, sort of like Activia for the face, to give “clear, fresh, beautiful skin every day.” Oh to have had that in high school.

Well that’s all for today’s Daily Orbit!

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