March 4, 2013
Another Rendezvous For The Dragon And The Space Station – The Daily Orbit
Another rendezvous for SpaceX and the ISS.
BigDog’s got a big arm.
And crowd-sourcing for cancer? How you can get in the game!
All that and more coming up on the Daily Orbit!
Hello and welcome to the Daily Orbit. I’m Emerald Robinson.
A resupply mission to the International Space Station got a little hairy for the SpaceX Dragon capsule over the weekend, but the spacecraft finally was able to rendezvous with the ISS early Sunday morning. Carrying 2,300 pounds of supplies, parts, and scientific equipment, the Dragon Capsule experienced issues with its thruster pods after Friday’s launch. After they got the thrusters back on track, the crew used the ISS’s robotic arm to capture the capsule. This is the second of at least 12 supply missions by SpaceX, and the company said that the scientific experiments delivered by Dragon “carry the promise of discoveries that benefit Earth and dramatically increase our understanding of how humans adapt to space.”
“Big dog can throw!” That’s DARPA’s four-legged robot called “Big Dog” and boy does he have an arm on him—tossing cinderblocks as far as 30ft. This bot has an extending arm that it uses to toss the block over its shoulder. And watch out! Engineers said “you now know that robots are capable of throwing heavy objects straight at you.” Well, that’s comforting. Developers say that this throwing arm could be used to move small obstacles out of the way, or hurl heavy objects (i.e. cinderblocks) at the enemy, although the primary use of this one meter tall, 240-pound locomotive robot is to carry supplies and perform search and rescue missions. And what do they see for the future of robots? Robot pets, shopping robots, robots to help on building sites, and even one day possibly—robot racing. One engineer said, “Whatever the case, we now know what robots are capable of if they ever turn on us.” Again, not reassuring.
A croc got caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Well, actually his tooth embedded in the femur of a baby dinosaur fossil. The fossil of a newly discovered juvenile dino was found in the Grand Staircase Escalante-National Monument Park in Utah. Paleontologists said that these small dinosaurs were about 3 to 6 feet in length. This new find suggested that these small herbivorous dinos were the prey of the ancestors of modern crocodiles—the crocodyliforms. This is the first fossil evidence of prehistoric crocodyliforms feeding on small dinosaurs. It must have been tough being a baby dino—everybody wanting you for dinner!
And here’s a way all you gamers out there can get involved with cancer research. In looking for a cure, Cancer Research UK (or CRUK) is getting in the game. CRUK has announced its plans to develop a mobile game meant to outsource some of the more monotonous aspects of cancer research to “citizen scientists” willing to lend a few spare minutes. CRUK said that if they had to rely on their team to sort through all of the data it could be years and years before all the information could be properly analyzed. This isn’t a first in crowd-sourcing for CRUK. Last October their web-based exercise called Cell Slider had thousands of citizen scientists looking for irregularities in cell slides. Have fun, help find a cure, I’m down for that!
Well, shark populations are sinking. A new report from a collaboration of US and Canadian biologists says that overfishing kills an average of 100 million sharks worldwide each year. Using data from global shark catch reports and almost 100 past research papers, they estimated the total number of unreported shark deaths that occur annually—taking into account illegal catches and discards for the first time. They say sharks simply can’t keep up. The mortality rate exceeds the average rebound rate explaining the decline in most species for which data exists. Biologists are calling for protective measures to be amped up to avoid more loss and possible extinction. So in other words—save the sharks! Even if they do bite.
And that’s all for your Daily Orbit. See you tomorrow Orbitors!