‘Tatooine’ Exoplanets & Eye’s | SciByte 61

‘Tatooine’ Exoplanets & Eye’s | SciByte 61

We take a look at more exoplanets around binary stars, a dinosaur’s dinner, sweet clouds around a star, diagnosing with eyes, Martian reality TV, updates on bionic eyes, Mars rover updates and as always take a peek back into history and up in the sky this week.

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Show Notes

More ‘Tatooine’ Planets

YouTube : | Credit: NASA, JPL-Caltech, T. Pyle

  • NASA’s Kepler mission has found the first multi-planet solar system orbiting a binary star
  • Last time on SciByte
  • SciByte 17 | Neutrinos & Tatooine – “Tatooine” Planet (October 18, 2011)
  • The low down
  • The two stars orbit one another in roughly 7.5 days the primary star is about the same mass as the Sun, and its companion is an M-dwarf star one-third its size
  • The primary star is about 6,000 times dimmer than can be seen with the naked eye making taking spectra of the system very difficult, the secondary star is too faint to measure
  • These values, along with the Kepler eclipse and transit timings, were plugged into a model that calculated the relative sizes of all the bodies involved
  • Significance
  • The inner planet, Kepler–47b, is three times wider than Earth and orbits the binary star every 49.5 days
  • The outer planet receives about 88 percent the amount of energy the Earth receives from the sun and is 4.6 times the size of Earth with an orbit of 303.2 days.
  • The outer planet is the first planet found to orbit a binary star within the “habitable zone,”however the planet’s size (about the same as Uranus) means that it is an icy giant, and not an abode for life
  • Of Note
  • This discovery proves that whole planetary systems can form in a disk around a binary star
  • An unconfirmed hint of an additional world lurks in the blinking starlight produced when the planetary companions pass between the two stars and Earth indicates that there could be another planet in this system however the additional blink has been seen clearly just once
  • Multimedia
  • YouTube Tatooine-Like System Found – Two Planets, Two Stars | VideoFromSpace
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Exoplanet Pair Orbits Two Stars – Science News | Space.com
  • Kepler finds first multi-planet system around a binary star | Phys.org
  • How 2 ‘Tatooine’ Planets Orbit Twin Stars (Infographic) | Space.com


Fuzzy Dino’s Dinner Menu

Credit: Cheung Chungtat. (2012) PLoS ONE

  • The low down
  • Fossils are occasionally found with the remains of animals and plants inside what were once their guts
  • These contents can shed light on what they once ate — for instance, past research showed a mammal predator apparently had a tiny dinosaur as its last meal.
  • Significance
  • Scientists investigated two specimens of a carnivorous dinosaur from Liaoning, China, known as Sinocalliopteryx gigas
  • The predator was roughly the size of a wolf, about 6 feet (2 meters) long, and had feathers or hairlike fuzz covering its body to help keep it warm
  • One of the Sinocalliopteryx specimens, a complete and remarkably well-preserved skeleton, apparently dined on a birdlike, cat-size feathered dinosaur known as Sinornithosaurus, judging by the partial leg found in its gut.
  • The fact that Sinocalliopteryx gobbled at least two birds of the same species at about the same time indicates that chances are very good it was actively selecting its prey; that makes it a predator
  • In addition capturing flying prey is indicative of a stealthy predator
  • Multimedia
  • Image Gallery Dinosaur Guts: Photos of a Paleo-Predator | LiveScience.com
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Last Meal Found in Stomach of Fuzzy Dinosaur | LiveScience.com


Sweet Star Cloud

Credit: ESO/L. Calçada & NASA/JPL-Caltech/WISE Team | Credit: ESO/L. Calçada

  • Sugar molecules have been found in the gas surrounding a young sun-like star
  • The low down
  • The young star is part of a binary similar mass to the sun and is located about 400 light-years away
  • Sugar molecules, known as glycolaldehyde, have previously been detected in interstellar space
  • This is the first time sugars have been spotted so close to a sun-like star
  • The molecules are about the same distance away from the star as the planet Uranus is from our sun
  • The sugar found is glycolaldehyde, is a simple form of sugar, not much different to the sugar we put in coffee
  • They were found the sugar molecules using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) radio telescope in Chile
  • Significance
  • When new stars are formed, the clouds of dust and gas from which they are born are extremely cold
  • As the newborn star develops, it heats up the inner parts of the rotating cloud of gas and dust, warming it to about room temperature
  • This heating process evaporates the chemically complex molecules and forms gases that emit radiation that can be picked up by sensitive radio telescopes like the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) radio telescope in Chile
  • Since is located relatively close to Earth, scientists will be able to study the molecular and chemical makeup of the gas and dust around the young star
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Sugar Molecules Discovered Around Sun-Like Star | Search for Life & Alien Planets | Space.com


Diagnosis with eye’s

  • Researchers at the University of Southern California have devised a method for detecting certain neurological disorders through the study of eye movements.
  • The low down
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) and Parkinson’s Disease (PD) all affect vision
  • Researchers believe that they can be identified through an evaluation of how patients move their eyes while they watch television
  • Typical methods of detection are costly, labor-intensive and limited by a patient’s ability to understand and comply with instructions
  • Significance
  • In a test participants in the study were simply instructed to “watch and enjoy” television clips for 20 minutes while their eye movements were recorded.
  • With eye movement data from 108 subjects, the team was able to identify older adults with Parkinson’s Disease with 89.6% accuracy, and children with either ADHD or FASD with 77.3% accuracy
  • This method provides considerable promise as an easily-deployed, low-cost, high-throughput screening tool, especially for young children and elderly populations who may be less compliant to traditional tests
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Studying everyday eye movements could aid in diagnosis of neurological disorders | MedicalXpress.com

Martian Reality TV

  • A Dutch company that aims to land humans on Mars in 2023 as the vanguard of a permanent Red Planet colony has received its first funding from sponsors
  • The low down
  • Mars One estimates that it will cost about $6 billion to put the first four humans on the Red Planet
  • Mars One plans to fund most of its ambitious activities via a global reality-TV media event that will follow the mission from the selection of astronauts through their first years on the Red Planet
  • The televised process of selecting its 40-person astronaut corps is slated to begin in 2013
  • They aims to launch a series of robotic missions between 2016 and 2020 that will build a habitable outpost on the Red Planet
  • The first four astronauts would set foot on Mars in 2023, and more to arrive every two years after that
  • Initial sponsors include Byte Internet (a Dutch Internet/Webhosting provider); Dutch lawfirm VBC Notarissen; Dutch consulting company MeetIn; New-Energy.tv (an independent Dutch web station that focuses on energy and climate); and Dejan SEO (an Australia-based search engine optimization firm).
  • Of Note
  • There are no plans to return any of participants to Earth.
  • Multimedia
  • YouTube Mars One introduction film (updated version) | MarsOneProject
  • Social Media
  • Mars One @MarsOneProject
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Private Manned Mars Mission Gets First Sponsors | Space.com

— Updates —

Virtual Sight Takes First Steps

YouTube channel : virtualpoint | Instant Eye : Kevin Hand



  • Driving Distance and life
  • Was designed for .6mi [1km] distance and a 90 sol mission
  • Has now driven 35 times the distance it was designed now at 21.75mi [35km]
  • It’s life has lasted almost 34 times the original lifetime design at 3,057 Martian sols
  • Opportunity’s solar array energy production is good, producing about 568 watt-hours
  • Oppy is now moving to survey an exposed outcrop in search of phyllosilicate clay minerals that have been detected from orbit
  • The Rock Abrasion Tool (RAT) on the end of the robotic arm was imaged (top image) to reconfirm the available bit for future grinding and the Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) collected a measurement of atmospheric argon.
  • Social Media
  • Spirit and Oppy @MarsRovers
  • Further Reading / In the News
  • Opportunity Rover Tops 35 Kilometers of Driving | UniverseToday.com



Looking back

  • Sep 07, 1888 : 124 years ago : First baby incubator : A baby incubator was first used in the U.S. to care for an infant at State Emigrant Hospital on Ward’s Island, New York. Edith Eleanor McLean weighed 2-lb 7-oz. Originally called a “hatching cradle,” the device was 3-ft square, 4-ft high, It was designed to increase the survival rate for premature infants by the maternity ward doctors, Drs. Allan M. Thomas and William C. Deming.* At the 1904 World’s Fair, Tennessean E.M. Bayliss exhibited 14 metal-framed glass incubators with constant ventilation and temperature of 90ºF, attended by nurses caring for real endangered infants from orphanages and poor families. The care of the infants was paid for by the exhibit admission fee

Looking up this week

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