January 31, 2014
Rosetta Is Now Awake And Ready To Go – On Science
Rosetta’s up and running and ready to rendezvous!
It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a…flying snake?
Where have all the monarchs gone?
And NASA’s calling all Citizen Scientists…again. Coming up today…On Science!
Hello and welcome to On Science. I’m Emerald Robinson.
It’s Friday!!!!! So let’s get it started off right.
Rosetta is up and at ‘em. ESA’s comet-chasing spacecraft is wide awake and ready to play. After a week’s worth of tests following its long hibernation, the Rosetta spacecraft is ready to begin the active stage of its mission. Scientists had been most concerned about power. Although still 418 million miles away from the Sun, Rosetta is getting enough power and all its instruments seem to have made it out of its hibernation just fine. ESA says they “are now back online with a fully functional spacecraft.” And just as a reminder of what that spacecraft is supposed to do, Rosetta will rendezvous with the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and land a probe on that comet as it approaches the Sun. And to celebrate Rosetta’s awakening, ESA had a “Wake Up, Rosetta” contest where contestants made a selfie video saying “Wake up, Rosetta!” I don’t know why mine didn’t win.
ESA isn’t the only agency letting space fans get in on the action. NASA unveiled its “Disk Detective” Initiative this week, inviting members of the public to help astronomers discover embryonic planetary systems hidden among data collected by its Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer mission, or what we usually refer to as WISE. This is the agency’s largest crowdsourcing project to date. The project is a collaboration with Zooniverse and involves a website flip book from data taken by WISE that citizen scientists can view and classify objects based on their shape and if they include multiples. From this, citizens can help NASA discover new planetary nurseries that will become future targets for telescopes like Hubble. So, citizen scientists, get ready…NASA needs your help again!
Is anyone afraid of snakes? How about flying snakes? Think I’m making it up? I wish. New research from a team of American scientists found that the Paradise tree snake “flies” from tree to tree. These snakes shape their body into an aerofoil mid-flight in order to glide around 100 feet from the top of a tree. Scientists used a 3D printed model to simulate the snake. They found that the snake flexes it’s ribs as it launches, then flattens to change from a circular tube into an arched semi-circle to make itself more aerodynamic. Scientists say “it looks like someone’s version of a UFO.” I’d have to agree.
Well, the monarch butterflies aren’t flying so high these days. We’ve talked it the about it before and the news is still bad. A new report says that monarch butterfly colonies currently occupy the smallest area since records began in 1993. National Geographic reported a 44% drop in butterflies hibernating at Mexico’s Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve from 2012 to 2013. But it’s not what you think. It’s not the monarch’s themselves that are endangered, it’s their migration from Canada to Mexico and back. Environmental changes and the loss of milkweed in North America are changing the butterflies’ migration habits. But we can save the migration now! Researchers say it will require a joint effort of all three North American countries to plant milkweed on a large scale to feed the butterflies to bring them here. Long live the Monarch.
Peanut allergies are nothing to joke about. Peanut allergy affects more than 10 million people around the world and is the most common disorder linked to allergy deaths. But experts from the University of Cambridge might have a solution. The team took a pool of children and built up their tolerance to peanuts over a six-month period using oral immunotherapy. At the end of the trial period, 84% to 91% of participants could eat 800 mg of peanut protein on a daily basis—25 times more than they could eat before the study began. And if you or someone you know has a peanut allergy, you know how revolutionary that is. It means that parents of these kids can go out to a restaurant and not have to stress over whether the food’s cooked in peanut oil. But experts say the approach isn’t ready to be implemented far and wide, but it’s a significant step. I think that still calls for a celebration!
And that’s what’s up On Science. Happy Friday, On Scientists!!!!