Emerald Robinson: Just where did Jupiter's water come from? SpaceX is looking to reduce and reuse. Can you empathize with a robot? And lot's to cheers about on today's Daily Orbit.
Hello and welcome to the Daily Orbit. I'm Emerald Robinson.
A nearly two decade mystery has been solved concerning the origin of water in Jupiter's atmosphere. ESA's Herschel space observatory found evidence that the water was delivered to Jupiter via an impact from the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 in July 1994. The comet left the atmosphere in the southern hemisphere of Jupiter scarred for several weeks. Astronomers have since speculated that this comet was the water source but it has taken 15 years to prove. Using Herschel's sensitive spectral imaging to create a water distribution map of the planet, ESA found that there is two to three more times more water in the southern than northern hemisphere, linking it to the impact. So cheers ESA! Case closed.
And also cheers to SpaceX on their fifth successful flight trial of its Grasshopper Vertical Landing Vehicle. Grasshopper flew 820 feet straight up, hovered in place against the wind, and then returned to the launch pad. The 10 story rocket is part of SpaceX's program to design reusable rockets rather than having the burn up during reentry. Reusable, commercial rockets would greatly reduce the costs associated with spaceflight and allow for more frequent orbital launches. Grasshopper isn't quite there yet, says the company, but their working on it. Kudos SpaceX for attempting sustainability!
Hands-free better than hands-on? Not so according to new research that found that hands-free texting methods cause more distraction. Researchers found that just thinking about what someone said in a text, or thinking about how you'll respond is distracting. And they found that drivers using hands-free technologies had slower response times to events on the road than those manually reading and responding to text messages, even though drivers felt safer with the hand-free methods. They said that hands-free texting is less accurate, which causes even more driver distraction. But they're eager to see what other studies might find. So kids, don't try this at home or, well, in your car. Just don't text and drive.
What did you do to celebrate Earth Day 2013? Well one group made a bold attempt to preserve one of America's oldest natural treasures. The Archangel Ancient Tree Archive, or AATA, released its collection of redwood clones to the world to try to replant them in healthy climatic environments to ensure their survival. They chose 9 locations in 7 countries: Germany, Ireland, Wales, Great Britain, New Zealand, Australia, and in the US: California and Oregon. Declining precipitation and high temperatures are putting great stress on the trees in their natural home. The four year effort rings in at more than $2 million. The trees reached their destination countries in time for Earth Day planting ceremonies. To the trees! May you live long and prosper!
So, not too long ago we reported that robots were getting feelings, well, tactile feeling. But do we humans have feelings for robots? Yes we can touch them, but do we empathize? A new study says yes. Participants viewing pictures and videos of robots being treated violently reported feeling negatively to the violence and actually physiologically responsive to the abuse. Researchers say this is important because one goal of current robotics is to develop robotic companions that can establish long-term relationships with humans, which would be beneficial in situations such as a robot caring for an elderly person. But they say we may have to put our empathy on the back burner because new research may be looking to robots as test subjects. Boston Dynamics' new humanoid robot Petman will help test protective gear when exposed to various chemical warfare agents. The robot will put stresses on the suit's materials to find design flaws which could save humans from exposure to toxic elements. This whole story reminds me of the Simpson's episode where Mr. Burns replaces all his workers but Homer with robots and Homer tries to form relationships with the bots. Well, then he gets them killed. Bad example. Doh!
Well that's all for today's Daily Orbit! We will see you tomorrow Orbiters!