July 3, 2013
Pluto Moons Receive Their Names, Kerberos And Styx – The Daily Orbit
Pluto’s moons finally get appropriate names.
Dusting off lunar rovers.
We got a feeling about crocodiles.
And a little spy inspiration on the Daily Orbit!
Hello and welcome to the Daily Orbit. I’m Emerald Robinson.
How sad would it be to be nameless? Well, almost as sad as being kicked out of the group. Pluto has had its planetary woes, but today we can celebrate in the naming of its two tiny moons. Previously known as P4 and P5—which by the way are not good names—these two tiny bodies were found in 2011 and 2012 by the Hubble Space Telescope. An online poll generated 30,000 suggestions before the International Astronomical Union settled on Kerberos—after the three-headed dog of Greek mythology, and Styx— after the mythological river that separates the world of the living from the realm of the dead. I personally liked William Shatner’s suggestion of “Vulcan,” but the IAU said Vulcan is already in use in astronomy and didn’t really meet naming criteria. They take this pretty seriously.
There might be a little dust on the rover. Okay technically the song is dust on the bottle, but this is my lunar rover version. A team of French scientists says that rovers traveling across the Martian surface, for example ones seeking the Google Lunar X Prize, could be affected by dust. After simulations, the team found the dust dispersal behaves differently from day to night. They said that a rover would collect a significant amount of dust over time, which would happen more quickly around the sunrise and sunset. They say engineers need to take this into account and that one solution might be a dome-shaped rover so that the dust can simply fall to the ground. Couldn’t they attach a robotic arm with a feather duster that just dusts it off?
On a more serious note, this is very disturbing news. The Centers for Disease control reported this week that female death by prescription painkiller overdoses increased over 400% between 1999 and 2010. Almost 48,000 women died from prescription opioid or narcotic pain relievers such as Vicodin, OxyContin or methadone over that 11-year period. Only 12% were deemed suicides. Male deaths also increased by 265%. Researchers say that death rates are higher in women because they tend to have more chronic pain than men, are given higher doses, use them longer, and are more likely to get addicted.
Who says crocodile tears can’t be true? Crocs have feelings too! Actually a whole lot of feelings! A new study looked at sensory organs found in the skin of crocodylians—that’s crocodiles, alligators, and caimans. Researchers found a croc’s skin has sensors called ISOs that make them sensitive to touch, heat, cold and certain chemicals. The scales on their head also have these ISO sensors. The sensitivity to touch lets them determine surface pressure waves to help quickly find prey. The thermal sensitivity helps to maintain body temperature and the chemical sensors help them detect suitable habitats. So the scales weigh in the crocodylians’ favor.
This message will self-destruct in 3-2-1… [ kaboom ] Okay so I’m pretty sure this is not what AT&T has in mind for its version of self-destructing emails. The company filed a patent for a “method, system, and apparatus for providing self-destructing email messages.” The email would only stay in the recipient’s inbox for a predetermined length of time set by the sender before “self-destructing.” The destruction date will be identified in the email. But there is still no way to stop the message contents from being copied, printed, saved or forwarded so… still be careful what you type little fingers.
That’s all for the Daily Orbit. Have a great 4th of July!