November 21, 2012

Curiosity To Spend Thanksgiving On Mars Carving Rocks Instead of Turkey – The Daily Orbit

Who could soon be reading your email?

What smells better than a dog…well a dog’s nose

And celebrating Thanksgiving Martian style!

All that and more coming up on the Daily Orbit!

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

We’re celebrating Thanksgiving Martian style. Here at the Daily Orbit we are thankful for Curiosity and all we’re learning about Mars. Our happy little rover Curiosity is headed to the lake for Thanksgiving, “Point Lake” on Mars that is. For its Thanksgiving festivities, the rover plans to use its Mast Camera to examine possible routes and targets to the east. Instead of carving the turkey, the rover will be using its hammering drill to carve a rock to collect samples of powder from rock interiors. JPL says that the team is getting comfortable with the more complex operation planning, as this will be its first touch-and-go on the same day. Curiosity just left its “Rocknest” location where it has been sitting for weeks and is carrying soil samples it gathered there. Happy Martian Thanksgiving little rover! Wouldn’t recommend eating that turkey!

Things we are not thankful for: more surveillance on the Internet. So be careful little fingers what you type. If passed, a Senate bill amending the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 would permit law enforcement to peek into your email, all social networking like Facebook and Twitter, and other online communication without the requirement of a warrant first. Some opponents of the bill are calling it “martial law” over your internet accounts. But if it’s any consolation they do have to notify you if they check out your account—anywhere between 3 to 365 days later!

A dog’s nose is 1,000 times better at picking up scents than a human’s, sparking a new project that uses nanotechnology to replicate the same sort of olfactory sensors inside a dog’s snout. Not only can it pick up even the faintest of vapors but it can distinguish one scent from another. The idea is to use this electronic nose in the detection of explosives.  According to engineers, like humans, dogs have their good days and bad days. The electronic nose would be a more reliable bomb detector. However, engineers say that the nose could have other applications such as in detecting disease particles in someone’s breath or identifying food that has spoiled. Better the electronic nose than me!

Where don’t you want to live if you want a long and healthy life? The tropics. A new report entitled “The State of the Tropics” gives insight into life expectancy of those who live in tropical regions. Although having significantly improved over the last 60 years, the average life expectancy for a person living in the tropics is 64.4 years—7.7 years shorter than the rest of the world. But that’s up significantly from 23 years shorter in 1950. Wow! The report indicates that the difference in longevity stems from conflict, disease, lack of food and poverty. Another positive from the report, infant mortality is down from 161 deaths per 1,000 to 58. Infant mortality averages 33 per 1,000 in the rest of the world. Nearly 40% of the world’s population reside in the Tropics making it a very critical region. Researchers say that the tropics has “geopolitical, economic and strategic importance….and sooner or later we will have to take this seriously.” I don’t know about you but I’m taking these findings pretty seriously!

And our week wouldn’t be complete without a report on greenhouse gases. The World Meteorological Organization is reporting we hit a record high level of greenhouse gases in 2011. The carbon dioxide level grew by two parts per million reaching a number up 40% above the pre-industrial level. Methane and nitrous oxide increased by about 0.3% in 2011. Nitrous oxide has an impact on global warming 298 times greater than carbon dioxide! This Thanksgiving I would be very thankful if we could get this greenhouse gas under control and we wouldn’t have to bring you anymore bad greenhouse news!

Well that’s it for today’s Daily Orbit.  We at the Daily Orbit are very thankful that you’re watching and hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving!  Gobble gobble!

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