Daily Orbit – Curiosity Loses a Computer

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 11,184
    3-6-13: On this episode of the Daily Orbit, Curiosity switches to a backup computer after a malfunction, the Hindenburg disaster is solved, and ancient Camel fossils found in Canada.

    Emerald Robinson: A little Martian memory loss, what really happened to the Hindenbrug? Camels in Canada, are they confused? And a galactic throwback on today's Daily Orbit.

    Hello and welcome to the Daily Orbit. I'm Emerald Robinson. Well, our little Martian rover had a little Martian memory problem last week. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California switched the rover over to a redundant onboard computer after discovering a memory issue within the main computer system.

    Curiosity has two main computers in case of failure; an A-side and a B-side. Curiosity used B-side to get to Mars and then switched over to A-side right before landing on Mars. With the A-side now inactive, it's all on B that is unless JPL can get A-side back on track. Why the memory bank failure? No one knows, not even JPL. But, they suspect radiation could be the culprit. Darn you radiation! Leave our little rover alone.

    And here's a blast from the past. And I know all you geeks from the late 1970s and early 1980s are going to love this! Space Invader fans get a treat from a galaxy far, far away and the Hubble telescope. The gravitational lens on Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 created this image that closely resembles the cartoon of space invaders.

    The gravitational field surrounding this massive cluster of galaxies called Abell 68 acts as a natural lens in space to brighten and magnify the light coming from very distant background galaxies. Similar to a funhouse mirror, lensing creates a fantasy landscape of arc-like images and mirror images of background galaxies. Am I a dork if I want one of these posters on my wall?

    Well, it appears a long-time mystery has been solved. A team of researchers based in San Antonio, Texas say that the May 6, 1937 explosion of the Hindenburg airship that killed 35 of 100 passengers was due to static electricity. Set to land at the Lakehurst Naval Station in New Jersey, researchers say that after the ship flew into a thunderstorm, a broken wire or sticking gas valve leaked hydrogen into the ventilation shafts.

    When ground crew members ran to take the landing ropes, they effectively earthed the airship igniting a spark and causing an explosion. But, why try to find an answer 76 years later? The team said they wanted to rule out theories ranging from a bomb planted by terrorists to explosive properties of the paint.

    Camels in Canada? Stop it! You have to be pulling my leg. No, it is true. New fossils found in the Canada's High Arctic have been determined to be that of an extinct giant camel. This is the first evidence of camels living in the High Arctic. But, it wasn't easy proving that the three-and-a-half million year old fossils of leg fragments belong to our camel.

    Final confirmation of this came from collagen fingerprinting. The High Arctic fossils most closely matched those of modern camels. The discovery site suggests that these giant camels lived in a boreal-type forest environment, during a global warm phase of the planet.

    Scientists said that some of these traits we see in modern camels may have adapted from living in polar environments like their wide flat feet, large eyes, and humps for fat. Camels sure have come a long way from the Arctic to Egypt.

    And if you walk like an Egyptian before you hit the sack, you might get a better night's sleep. A new poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation found that working out at night not only makes you sleepy, but it helps you get a better night's rest. Huh! Everyone had always told me otherwise.

    Turns out the general consensus that exercise before bed is not good for the body is nothing more than an anecdote. And it's not just working out at night; researchers say exercise at any time during the day will help you sleep better. So bang it out before you go to bed! I do my Zumba. And that's it for today's Daily Orbit!