Daily Orbit – IRIS Prepares for Launch

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 12,743
    6-25-13: On this episode of the Daily Orbit, IRIS readies for solar mission, there’s a new official cat breed, and robots are pitching in on the farm.

    Emerald Robinson: IRIS is ready for takeoff. A cat gets its own kitty classification. Robots are rolling onto the farm scene. And a little hurricane prevention on the Daily Orbit!

    Hello and welcome to the Daily Orbit. I'm Emerald Robinson. IRIS is ready for takeoff. NASA's new mission aimed to provide more information about our Sun launches tomorrow from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. IRIS will ride aboard Orbital's Pegasus XL rocket into the sky and launch from there, keeping costs down. We talked about the IRIS mission and its goals not long ago but to recap, IRIS will use an ultraviolet telescope to obtain spectra and high-resolution images every few seconds. It will be looking at an area located between the sun's visible surface and upper atmosphere called the interface region, where most of the sun's ultraviolet emission is generated. So long IRIS and Godspeed.

    Okay cat lovers, you will find this one interesting. The poodle-haired cat finally has its day. Officially known as the Selkirk Rex -- which sounds more like a dinosaur to me -- it has now been recognized as its own breed. Characterized by its long curly hair, the breed traces its roots back to the offspring of a Persian male cat and a curly haired female cat that bred in Montana in 1987. A complete genetic analysis has proven that Selkirk Rex is indeed its own unique breed. So show off those curls, kitty!

    Previously we featured a cat-inspired robot, and now its hamsters lending robotic inspiration. And who will benefit? Farmers! The spherical-shaped robot works kind of like a hamster wheel, rolling over itself. Called ROSPHERE, it can travel on dirt and sand. It can move backwards and forwards and is not thwarted by difficult terrain. Scientists hope it will be used to travel across fields to monitor conditions and tell farmers when to water or tend crops with its wireless communication system and sensors. As it rolls along the field, it will report on moisture levels and temperature. And with that let's roll onto the next story.

    So, your math skills not the best? How would you feel if I told you a plant was better at math than you? Okay maybe they're not necessarily better but some plants use basic math to survive without sunlight for photosynthesis. At night, plants consume starch, which is made from carbon dioxide and sunlight during the day. Researchers found that plants use basic math to regulate how quickly they use up the starch at night, taking into consideration the amount available and the time until the sun rises. And when scientists artificially changed light conditions, the plants adapted! Scientists say this mechanism could also be present in other organisms that store nutrients ahead of extended periods without sustenance. Those plants are probably better at math than 95% percent of us humans.

    Excuse me, just doing a little hurricane prevention. A new study says that aerosols helped to reduce hurricane activity in the 20th century. It's not just what you spray out of a can; aerosols are airborne particles that include dust and air pollution like smog and smoke. Scientists say aerosols make clouds brighter, causing them to reflect more energy back from the sun into space, impacting ocean temperatures and tropical circulation patterns, and making them less favorable for hurricanes. But the introduction of the clean-air acts in the 1980s reduced concentrations of manmade aerosols, which is a good thing right? Well, yes, for the most part, but it has helped increase hurricane activity. But overall, reduction of aerosols proved beneficial for human health. Scientists say the number of Atlantic hurricanes over the next couple of decades will depend on future aerosol emissions. Just in case. And that's all for the Daily Orbit.