It’s Friday and you know what that means! Time for a round-up of what’s happening in the science world this week. Today we bring you a new discovery about Titan’s underground oceans, possible beginnings for the tricorder, the reason why you need a salt shaker on Mars, a new place to see the northern lights, and a mans best friend gets upgraded for the gadget of the week!
Cassini Watch: Ocean May Exist Beneath Titan’s Crust
NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has discovered evidence that points to the existence of an underground ocean of water and ammonia on Saturn’s moon Titan. The findings were made using radar measurements of Titan’s rotation. “With its organic dunes, lakes, channels and mountains, Titan has one of the most varied, active and Earth-like surfaces in the solar system,” said Ralph Lorenz, Cassini radar scientist, “Now we see changes in the way Titan rotates, giving us a window into Titan’s interior beneath the surface.” Check out this sweet animation of Titan’s subsurface ocean.
An ocean runs through it
Early Tricorder Could Exist in Handheld DNA Detector
Star Trek has shown us that in the 23rd century, analytical machines which today take up entire laboratories could all be squeezed into one tiny little box — the Tricorder. As nanotechnology progresses, the idea of the all-in-one handheld science lab seems to be turning into a possible reality. A researcher at the National University at San Diego has taken this idea one step further by mathematically simulating how a nanoscale transistor might be coupled to a DNA sensor system and be integrated into the first handheld DNA detector. See Science Daily for more.
I’m detecting humanoid life signs!
Salt on Mars?
Humans won’t have to pack salt if we ever journey to Mars. It’s already there. Scientists at Arizona State University have used the high-powered camera, which uses thermal infrared technology to detect minerals on the planet’s surface to detect salt deposits on the cratered Martian surface. This suggests, say scientists, that water was once wide-spread on Mars. The more than 200 deposits likely formed through water evaporation and could be ideal places to look for past life because of salt’s preservative qualities and of course for it’s ability to attract Bones’s ex-girlfriends.
Quick! Cover your red blood cells!
Jupiter’s Own Northern Lights
Haven’t been to Jupiter lately? Then you may not have noticed the Jovian Aurora Borealis — a stunning natural phenomenon. Scientists have observed unexpected luminous spots on Jupiter caused by its moon Io. Besides displaying the most spectacular volcanic activity in the solar system, Io causes auroras on its mother planet that are similar to the Northern Lights on Earth. The auroral emissions linked to the volcanic moon are called the Io footprint. See Science Daily for more.
The Jovian Aurora Borealis
Gadget of the Week: The (seriously creepy) BigDog Robot
The Boston Dynamics BigDog robot is a quadruped platform designed to help ground infantry cover longer distances by carrying a stockpile of their gear, thereby lightening the 60- to 90-pound loads soldiers currently carry on their backs. What makes the BigDog unique, and also quite frightening, is Boston Dynamic’s application of biologically-inspired movement, balance, and obstacle avoidance systems that, working together, make the BigDog appear horrifying lifelike as it walks over just about any terrain a human on foot could potentially tackle.
Here’s a warp-speed look at science tid-bits that didn’t quite make the cut, but nonetheless merit mention.
- Vote Trek in NASA Poll! NASA asks, "Which do you prefer? Trek or Wars?" [UPDATE: NASA has switched to a dif. poll…but it was tied]
- First Organic Molecule Detected at Extrasolar Planet
- New Form of Vision Discovered in Shrimp?
- Mars, Earth, and Moon from Unique Planetary Nursery