Time for Another Science Round-up
So first things first... Check out this article. Perhaps some of my long-time readers will remember when I posted about the Mars rovers facing a major test to their survival from a Martian sand storm. Well, it would appear that those two little troopers have survived yet again! In fact, NASA recently snapped this picture of one of them:
All joking aside, The next task for the Rover Opportunity it to tip-toe down the steep side of Victoria crater so that it can check out the inside. Victoria crater is a half mile wide depression carved when a piece of space debris slammed into the surface of Mars. Opportunity started its mission on Mars by fortuitously landing directly in a small crater that provided the first proof of a watery history on Mars. NASA scientists are interested in checking out ancient layers of rock in Victoria crater that were excavated during the impact. Investigating these deep layers of rock will allow scientists to investigate an older period in Mars' development than they've investigated before.
Keeping up with these little guys' odyssey across the Martian surface has brought me a lot enjoyment. The JPL site even features all of the raw images and data that is downloaded from the rovers.
So moving right along...
Go ahead and click on here to read the article. It would appear that a guy was messing around with a radio frequency emitter that was developed to treat cancer. He focused the emitter on some salt water and found out that the salt water would burn. That's right, burning water. So, I know what you're thinking... Great, a science parlor trick. Actually you could not be further from the truth. Exposing the salt water to these specific radio frequencies causes the molecular bonds in the salt water to loosen, allowing the hydrogen to be burnt. Burning the hydrogen causes it to combine with oxygen creating ... water. This process also gives off heat. This heat can be tapped as an energy source. The test setup mentioned in the article was able to generate temperatures of about 3000°F. The only question that I have, that the article does not cover is how does the energy output compare to the amount of energy used to operate the RF emitter. If the consumed energy is less than the emitted energy then this may well be a source of energy to help us get off of Middle Eastern oil. I will be watching for detail on this technology as time goes by.
Last one for today. Check out this article. Scientists believe that they've determined the culprit that created the hunk of rock that created Chicxulub crater 65 million years ago. Chicxulub is the huge crater down in the area of the Yucatan peninsula that scientists believe is the culprit that can be blamed for the extinction of the dinosaurs. Way out in the asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars two asteroid slammed together; one about 105 miles in size the other around 40. Some of the debris from this colossal train wreck made a bee line for the inner solar system, pelting Mar, Earth, the Moon and Venus. The rest is still out in space. The pieces that remain in the asteroid belt are related to an asteroid that scientists named Baptistina. Around this asteroid is a cloud of debris from that collision many millions of years ago. Other chunks from that collision account for a large number of the near Earth asteroids that orbit the sun inside the orbit of Mars. They are also about 70% sure that another chuck of debris from this collision created Tycho crater on the Moon.
Debris from this collision still accounts for a goodly number of the shooting stars we see at night. Now this is interesting because these calculations show that the mechanism that propelled that killer rock toward our world that wiped out the dinosaurs still exists. You may doubt the whole global warming thing... but this is a risk that certainly without any doubt exists. Just imagine what would have happened if something like the Tunguska impact would have happened over an inhabited area.