September 13, 2013

Voyaging Beyond Our Solar System – The Daily Orbit

Are we there yet?

Evaluating evolution.

Farewell, Frank the Frog.

And crowning the queen of ugly on the Daily Orbit!

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

Okay, I’ve been a little bit skeptical. They told us once and they took it back. NASA announced that new data proves that Voyager 1 has officially reached interstellar space, becoming the first manmade object to leave our solar system. Voyager 1 has traveled 12 billion miles from the Sun and spent about one year in a transitional zone. Scientists had witnessed two of the three indicators that the spacecraft had left our system—cosmic rays from the outside and the disappearance of charged particles. They were waiting for the change in the magnetic field to confirm the leap but the wait took longer than they expected. They say the data now shows that Voyager 1 actually left our Solar System back in August 2012. NASA said we can now answer the question: “Are we there yet? Yes, we are.” Finally!

And in case you missed it, an unexpected guest was present at the LADEE launch in Virginia last week, Frank the Frog!…and while the internet was rampant with rumors that it was a hoax, NASA has confirmed that the frog in the image is indeed real. But, the agency said that they cannot confirm the fate of the frog. It’s simply a case of “wrong place, wrong time.” Such an unfortunate incident. Haha.

But other not-so-attractive creatures are having a little more luck than Frank the frog. The unique conservation group, The Ugly Animal Preservation Society, has decided on a mascot—the blobfish. This non-beauty is a gelatinous blob and was selected via an online video campaign. The runner’s up in this ugly contest—the proboscis monkey, the Titicaca “scrotum” water frog, and the flightless dung beetle. Congratulations to all the contestants. Joking aside, the group says their cause is very real as the fate of less-attractive animals usually goes unnoticed, while the sexier mammals like panda’s get all the conservation money. I don’t know if I’d consider a panda sexy. “There she comes, Miss Ugly Animal…..”

Even Darwin couldn’t really explain the massive explosion of evolution during the Cambrian Period some 540 to 520 million years ago. This evolutionary “big bang” which saw the abrupt appearance of dozens of animal groups, seemed inconsistent with Darwin’s theory of gradual changes over time. Scientists at the University of Adelaide in Australia looked at arthropods and, with the help of the fossil record and molecular dating methods, found that evolutionary rates in the Cambrian period were four to five times faster than today. But how could this be? They believe that game-changing innovations like predation, vision, and active swimming allowed species to evolve at a much faster rate, which supports Darwin’s theory. They said you see the same kind of thing when animals colonize new environments, like islands.

If you can’t get enough of RedOrbit, then fasten your seatbelts Orbiters. We’ve got a new series coming your way on Our exclusive video series “Tomorrow’s Discoveries” will show you the latest and greatest in space and science as astronomer and writer Dr. John P. Millis travels to the world’s top research centers and explores cutting edge technologies. What can you expect in the first few episodes? Dr. Millis says we will see firsthand the engines that will power the first manned missions to Mars, explore materials being developed with incredible strength and lightness, witness the amazing process of designing a space craft, and much more.”

And that’s it for the Daily Orbit. Have a great weekend Orbiters!

Share on Linkedin Share on Google+