Emerald Robinson: Digging up a little Italian art history. Laid to rest in space? Can garlic help prevent lung cancer and the latest on asteroid mining, on today's Daily Orbit!
Hello and welcome to the Daily Orbit, I'm Emerald Robinson. A centuries-old art mystery may have been solved. An Italian art historian says that he's closer to identifying the remains of Lisa Gherardini, the woman thought to be the model for Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa.
Three skeletons found last year in Florence are currently undergoing carbon dating, and researchers hope among them is Lisa Gherardini. To confirm her identity, scientists are looking to open the Gherardini family tomb and search it for her son's skeleton for DNA comparison. If the DNA matches, they then plan to reconstruct the woman's face to see if she is indeed Mona Lisa. That's a little cryptic.
And in more news on the dead, you can soon send your dead loved one to space for less than $2,000. Elysium Space will send a portion of your cremated remains into space in a capsule that will orbit Earth for several months before re-entering the atmosphere and burning up.
Talk about a big finale! And your loved ones can watch on as you're launched into orbit and track your journey via a mobile app. So this is how it works. You pay your money. They send a scoop and a capsule. You scoop up Aunt Sally and ship her back to Elysium via the US Postal Service. And then download the app. But it's not quite ready to go yet. The first launch is scheduled for summer 2014. How popular will it be? Well, that remains to be seen.
And dinosaur remains once thought to represent three different species have recently been determined to belong to a single dinosaur species. By using 3D geometric morphometrics that uses lasers to generate data about the shape of different specimens, they discovered that they all originated from one type of creature.
This is the first time the technique has been used to analyze dinosaur remains. The remains are from a type of ceratopsian dinosaur that lived in Asia in the Early Cretaceous Period about 130 to 100 million years ago. This particular species was a semi-aquatic, bipedal herbivore.
And new research says that consuming raw garlic can nearly halve a person's risk of contracting lung cancer. The study found that people who regularly eat garlic decrease their lung cancer risk by 44%. And if you smoke, well just stop, but if you do you can still cut your lung cancer risk by about 30%.
Researchers think the benefit comes from a chemical known as allicin, which is an organosulfur compound that is released once raw garlic is diced or smashed. The chemical is believed to act as an antioxidant to limit damage to the body's cells from free radicals. Well, no one will want to get close to you but hey at least you'll be cancer-free.
So asteroid mining is on. NASA announced yesterday that it will be launching a spacecraft in 2016 with the intent of laying the groundwork for future expeditions to mine asteroids. The mission dubbed OSIRIS-Rex is scheduled to visit the asteroid Bennu and enable scientists a better study the origins of the universe by taking a sample of the 1,600-foot wide asteroid.
The spacecraft will actually arrive on Bennu in October 2018. It will study the asteroid for a year before returning to Earth with a sample from its surface. NASA is particularly interested in looking for organic compounds because of their importance to life as we know it, and would provide some clues about how life emerged in the universe. And that's your Daily Orbit. See you tomorrow Orbiters!