March 5, 2013
Cassini Snaps Venus Peering Through Saturn’s Rings – The Daily Orbit
Venus is very, very photogenic.
What good can come from global warming?
New eyes on the Thai ivory trade.
And turning trash into cash on today’s Daily Orbit!
Hello and welcome to the Daily Orbit. I’m Emerald Robinson.
Earth’s twin is the subject of the space paparazzi this week. The Cassini spacecraft has captured some unique images of Venus from Saturn’s perspective. Cassini, originally launched in 1997, has provided a detailed look at Saturn and its rings and moons, but it’s the “love planet” that’s got Cassini’s camera flashing recently. The images show Venus shining in the distance behind Saturn. Shine bright like a diamond. Cassini used a combination of separate red, green, and blue spectral filters to produce a natural color view. I don’t know if you caught my Rihanna reference in the middle of that.
The recent meteorite exploding over Russia and the too-close-for-comfort flyby of asteroid 2012 DA14 got you looking a little nervous up at the sky? Here’s more fuel for that fire. The Earth experienced another close encounter in the wee hours of this morning. Astronomers at Arizona’s Mt. Lemmon Observatory detected the 50 mile wide asteroid but determined the Earth was safe from an impact. And is it just me, or does it feel like the universe is throwing stones at our planet? Well, astronomers say they don’t think there has been an increase in asteroid activity, just an increase in the ability to detect such space objects. Companies such as Deep Space Industries are looking to get to these space rocks for mining which could give us more knowledge on impact protection and other companies are looking at technologies that could destroy asteroids, saving the Earth. Wonder how often they watch Armageddon and ask what would Bruce Willis do?
And elephants in Thailand can sleep a little better tonight. The country’s prime minister has pledged to take steps to change the country’s currently legal domestic ivory trade in order to help protect endangered elephants. Currently, less than 70 authorized vendors in Thailand sell ivory items created from the 2,500 domestic elephants, but research shows ivory in more than 250 shops… causing officials to believe the ivory was obtained from illegal African sources. Supporters hope that this will put a stop to the international ivory trade and save the elephants. While the government has given no timeframe for the new restrictions, they say the next step will be to register all Thai elephants being kept in captivity, as well as check ivory shops to determine the quantity of products currently being stocked or sold domestically.
And global warming is a good thing? Alright, alright I know I’ve got you all confused as we are constantly bringing you news of the perils of our warming planet. So today, here’s a little positive spin on the subject to give a little global warming relief. Rising temperatures are opening up new commercial shipping lanes in the Arctic. A study from UCLA says that shipping vessels will be able to navigate previously inaccessible parts of the Arctic Ocean by mid-century. And here’s even more of a shocker. Current predictions estimate that we could be seeing a new pathway open up over the North Pole by as early as 2040 – making the trade route 20% shorter than today’s most trafficked Arctic shipping lane. Bad for the environment but good for the economy—isn’t that how we got to this point in the first place.
And here’s a little something for your personal economy—turn your trash into cash! And oh save energy while doing it. How’s that you say? Using open-source 3D printing with software from Thingiverse, people are making everything from cell phone cases to golf tees, to a garlic press! The key is using recycled plastics, such as milk jugs, as filament from which to create the objects. Although high-end 3D printers are costly, open source units run anywhere from $250-$500. Pearce says that the cost of filament has impeded widespread use but turning milk jugs into plastic filament seriously drives down the cost. Milk jug for cash? Sold!
That’s it for today’s Daily Orbit.