Daily Orbit – MAVEN Readies for Launch

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 10,503
    10-7-13: On this episode of the Daily Orbit, NASA’s MAVEN will launch regardless of the government shutdown, the Draconid meteor shower hits, and exercise lowers breast cancer risk.

    A shutdown isn’t going to stop NASA’s MAVEN mission…


    New research to help prevent breast cancer…


    Dissecting Einstein’s brain... 


    And we’ve got a reason for you to look up on the Daily Orbit!


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


    Government shutdown?  Ain’t nobody got time for that.  NASA’s MAVEN Mission is moving on.  Despite having to halt several of its projects, NASA will launch its MAVEN mission on schedule.  MAVEN will serve as a communications relay for NASA’s existing Mars equipment, making sure that the agency’s current Mars assets are protected.  It will also help provide information on Mars’ thinning atmosphere and the impact that change had on the Martian climate and geochemical conditions over time.  The spacecraft is set to launch in November, and the mission only has a 20-day launch window.  If NASA misses that time frame, the space agency will have to wait til 2016 to launch when Mars and the Earth are properly aligned again. NASA called this an emergency exception to the shutdown.  


    And at about this time, according to where you are in the world, you might look outside and see a shooting star!  The Draconid meteor shower is set to sweep across the U.S. skies this evening just after sunset.  The unusual thing about the Draconids is that they are best seen in the evening rather than before dawn. Maybe I’ll actually catch this one since you don’t have to get out of bed at the crack of dawn to see them!  If you miss it today, you’ll have a chance again tomorrow evening but don’t expect as spectacular of a show.  The Draconids get their name from Draco the Dragon, the constellation they appear to emanate from.   Hope you catch them and happy viewing!


    October is breast cancer awareness month and here’s some research to help in the fight.  The American Cancer Society has found that exercise significantly reduces the risk of breast cancer.  Researchers found that postmenopausal women who engaged in an hour of vigorous physical activity everyday had a 25% lower risk of developing breast cancer than those who did not.  And those who walked for an hour a day on average had a 14% lower risk of breast cancer. Researchers also noted that about 60% of US women report some kind of daily walking, suggesting that promoting walking could be a good strategy to get women active.  And remember, research shows the more active, the more benefit.  So to all my ladies--get on those walking shoes.


    Dreamed I signed up for a library card last night.  Hmm… Maybe I was having a premonition about this next study.  The New School for Social Research found that reading literary fiction strengthens skills essential to understanding other people’s mental states and the processing of complex social relationships.   The researchers tested participants’ ability to attribute various mental states-- like beliefs, desires, and intentions--to both themselves and others.  They conducted these tests after participants had either read literary fiction, popular fiction, or non-fiction works. The authors reported that those who read the works of literary fiction scored better than members of the other two groups.   They say that literary fiction, unlike popular fiction, requires intellectual engagement and creative thought from reader.

    And I’m sure even Einstein enjoyed a good piece of literary fiction here and there, maybe that’s one reason he was so smart!  But really what did make his brain so special?  Researchers from China say the reason Albert Einstein was so smart was because the left and right hemispheres of his brain were extremely well connected to one another.  By comparing high-resolution images of Einstein’s brain, they found he had extensive connections between specific regions of his cerebral hemispheres, compared to control groups—which facilitated interhemispheric communication.  So Einstein really was just “wired” a little better than most of us.

    And that’s all for the Daily Orbit.  See you tomorrow!  Don’t forget to look outside tonight and enjoy the meteor shower!