NASA is setting its sights on the Moon in the 2020’s. The Artemis Program (Apollo’s twin sister) will send men and women into space to set up an outpost on the lunar surface and begin testing new equipment and technologies that could pave the way to Mars in the 2030’s
The recent crash course about how to stay safe in a world filled with pesky micro-organisms has led to speculation about the safety of our food supply. Viruses, bacteria, molds, and insects not only cause illness, they reduce the shelf-life of many types of foods and that raises costs to the consumer.
Food irradiation is approved by the FDA for fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, and seafood. It involves exposing the foods to either gamma rays, x-rays, or an electron beam. This is the same process used to x-ray a patient and sterilize medical equipment, and it’s very costly. Only a small fraction of our food in the U.S. is irradiated. Instead, the FDA has regulations in place to make sure these foods are safely handled and packaged by the processor. When consumers are careful to wash their hands, their cutting boards and utensils, and washing fruits and vegetables at home, there is very little risk of contamination.Pasteurization is much a more common process used to kill micro-organisms in water, juice, milk, eggs, and honey. These foods are heated to about 100C or 212F and then immediately packaged in air-tight containers. Though it’s named after Louis Pasteur, who “discovered” in 1864 that when wine was heated before bottling it was less acidic, there is evidence that it was utilized in China and Japan as early as the twelfth century.
Fossils of wasps and bees found in earth’s northern hemisphere means that these stinging pests have been around for 200 million years or more. Though their venom could be deadly, bees, wasps, and hornets are vital to vegetable crops, fruit trees, and flowers as they disperse pollen from one brightly colored blossom to another.
They feed on nectar, a sugary substance found within the flower, which they use to raise their young and – in the instance of honey bees – to make honey.
The sharp pain of a bee sting is caused by a stinger that pumps a tiny amount of venom into its victim. The venom usually causes localized pain, swelling, and redness, and in extreme cases could affect a person’s breathing and blood pressure.
Bees and wasps are territorial and some species can be quite aggressive. Honey bees, for instance, are tolerant of having their nests disturbed and they only sting once before dropping off. Other types can attack and sting continuously.
The Deep Space Network is a series of dish-shaped antennas at three strategic locations around the globe; California, Madrid, and Australia. The stations are spaced approximately 120 degrees longitude apart from each other, ensuring that as the earth rotates there is a continual connection with NASA spacecraft wherever they are in the solar system.
NASA scientists manage the DSN at the Jet Propulsion Lab in California. That’s NASA’s home base for spacecraft travel, such as the Juno orbiter exploring Jupiter and the upcoming launch of the Perseverance rover on it’s way to Mars this summer.
With the DSN, a spacecraft orbiting millions of kilometers away can be repositioned by NASA scientists as they send commands that direct it to change it’s speed and trajectory. When an orbiter or rover finishes the research it was tasked for, missions are often extended. Software upgrades can be transmitted into space, sending it off in another direction within the solar system.
Spacecraft in turn “communicate” with NASA about the complex systems that keep them in flight, while transmitting detailed images from other worlds … the planets, moons, and asteroids that might otherwise never be seen from Earth.
The detox water trend is in full swing this summer. Clean glass jars filled with colorful fruits and vegetables, filled to the rim with filtered water and topped with ice. The natural sugars revitalize us during an afternoon lull or following a strenuous workout, phyto-nutrients boost immune function, and vitamins and minerals help the body turn food into energy at a cellular level.
Health experts tell us that they lower blood pressure, help control our weight, and rid the body of unhealthy toxins.
Do Detox Diets Make a Difference?
This last claim is up for debate, though; whether detox water, detox smoothies, or a detox diet will rid our bodies of a dangerous buildup of toxins.
These unhealthy substances could come from cigarette smoke, alcohol use, everyday household chemicals, heavy metals, exhaust fumes, or even just the natural bi-products of digestion.
In a posting on Metro, Vikki-Marie Cossar argues that detox diets aren’t necessary because every minute of the day our organs are naturally and effectively getting rid of waste and contaminants on their own.
The liver’s role is to filter impurities from the bloodstream and transport them to the small intestine or to the kidneys to be excreted, so every time we use the bathroom, our bodies are being detoxified. Our lungs do double duty, blocking contaminants from entering and also exhaling toxins that traveled through the bloodstream from other organ systems. The spleen and the lymphatic system “clean” the bloodstream by working together to filter out old blood cells and other debris.
Health experts at Organixx.com believe that drinking detox water is healthy simply because it is so important to stay hydrated. Dehydration is often mistaken for hunger or tiredness, feelings that might cause us to eat when we don’t need to or to binge on sugar and caffeine drinks.
While it is true that a large glass of “detox” water filled with slices of lemons, oranges, and cucumbers will help flush away toxins, a steady supply of plain old fresh filtered water will do the same thing.
In history, there have only been 266 popes, from St. Peter chosen in the year 30 to Jorge Mario Bergoglio elected in 2013. It wasn’t until the 6th century that the tradition of choosing a papal name came into practice.
In the modern era of the Roman Catholic Church, when a new pope is elected, he immediately appears on the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica and is introduced to the world by his papal name. The name each Pope chooses for himself is an indication of a historical figure he most admires or the role he envisions for himself in the church.
Pope Francis chose to emulate St. Francis, born Giovanni di Pietro de Bernardone in the twelfth century in Assisi, Italy.
As a youth, Francis was raised to be a cloth merchant like his father. He was educated, served in the military, and – like a normal teenager – he rebelled against his overbearing father.
In his 20’s, Francis searched for his own identity and often retreated into the forest to pray. He felt a calling from God that inspired him to rebuild a crumbling church in the countryside near Assisi. When he stole cloth from his father to purchase stone and tools, he was taken to court to be reprimanded. Instead of agreeing to repay his father, Francis denounced his family and vowed to help the poor by living in poverty himself and preaching about Jesus.
Francis lived a humble, frugal existence yet he was filled with joy. He was drawn to the natural world and was said to have an overwhelming compassion for all living things. In 1209, Pope Innocent III allowed Francis and his followers to establish the Franciscan Order within the Roman Catholic Church.
After years of selflessly living in extreme poverty, Francis’ physical and mental health began to deteriorate. He died at age 45 and his remains are interred at the Basilica of Saint Francis in Assisi.
If you’ve ever – just for fun – read your horoscope to find out what the universe has in store for you, don’t forget that the signs of the Zodiac are real constellations in the night sky. Astrology and Astronomy are very different things, but within the boundaries set by the International Astronomical Union, are the luminous stars, star clusters, galaxies and planetary nebulae that astrologers believe are connected to the month you were born.
The constellation Gemini contains the two bright stars, Castor and Pollux, as well as the luminous Eskimo Nebula and the Medusa Nebula.
According to mythology, Castor and Pollux were the twins, one mortal and the other immortal, that sailed with Jason and the Argonauts on the quest for the golden fleece of Aries the Ram.
The brightest stars of the constellation Gemini, Castor and Pollux, in reality are light years away from each other and complete opposites from an evolutionary perspective.
Pollux is an individual star, 724 million years old, an orange giant that has burned through its hydrogen core and is expanding. Pollux was identified as the beta star in the constellation Gemini, but when its absolute magnitude was calculated it proved to be brighter than the alpha, Castor.
Castor has a more complicated history. With technological advances in the science of astronomy through the centuries, information about the alpha star has continually changed. With the use of refracting telescopes in the seventeenth century, Castor was identified as a binary star. Then, in the 1800’s the contrasting spectral lines of distant stars could be measured and astronomers observed that Castor’s two stars were each being orbited by a companion star, making it a quadruple star system.
Just within the past quarter century, the phenomenon of eclipsing binaries was discovered, where a smaller star is identified as it crosses the path of the larger star, causing its light to flicker. Another pair of cool red dwarf stars were found, making Castor a rare grouping of three sets of binary star systems.
The Eskimo Nebula was named for the colorful strands that extend outward from a small, hot neutron star, giving it the appearance of a face surround by a parka
So far, Earth is the only planet that we know of with an environment in which the molecular “ingredients” necessary for living organisms to evolve could take hold; we need water, oxygen, a temperate climate, and protection from solar radiation.
Mars and Earth have in common an iron core surrounded by a layer of molten rock that erupted at the surface for millions of years. As Earth’s core rotates, it creates an electric current that flows through metals in the mantle and crust, forming a protective magnetic field that extends approximately 65,000 miles (40,000 km) above the planet. Scientists believe that Mars similarly had a magnetosphere in the past but doesn’t any longer.
Mars is mostly known for the covering of iron oxide that gives the “red planet” it’s crimson color and causes dust storms to sweep across its surface. From past missions we also know that the subsurface rocks are igneous basalt, resulting from volcanic activity millions of years ago.
The goal of the Perseverance Rover, set to launch this summer, is to study the rocks and soil on Mars in much greater detail and with cutting edge technology. Cameras, spectrometers, and ground penetrating radar will identify the precise minerals found in the soil and continue to search for organic compounds. Perseverance has the capability to drill and extract core samples that will be brought back to earth in a later mission.
The battery-powered Ingenuity drone will fly through the thin atmosphere on Mars at a height of about 30 feet (10 meters). It will take images of the surrounding landscape, identifying obstacles for Perseverance to avoid and mapping a travel route to exit the crater.
The journey to Mars will take about 7 months, so Perseverance, with Ingenuity hitching a ride, is scheduled to arrive in February 2021.