Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Mars discovery: one for the history books

NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has apparently made a discovery “for the history books,” but we'll have to wait a few weeks to find out what the new Red Planet find may be, media reports suggest. The discovery was made by Curiosity's Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument. SAM is the rover's onboard chemistry lab, and it's capable of identifying organic compounds—the carbon-containing building blocks of life as we know it. SAM apparently spotted something interesting in a soil sample Curiosity's huge robotic arm delivered to the instrument recently.

“This data is gonna be one for the history books,” Curiosity chief scientist John Grotzinger said. “It's looking really good.” Grotzinger said the rover team won't be ready to announce just what SAM found for several weeks. The scientists want to check and double-check the results, to make sure they're for real.

Do you think there was ever life on Mars? And, what do you think this discovery is?

Friday, September 28, 2012

Skydiver plans record-breaking 'space jump'

An Austrian daredevil plans to leap from nearly 23 miles above the Earth on Oct. 8 in a supersonic plunge that, if successful, will be the world's highest-ever skydive. If all goes according to plan, a helium-filled balloon will lift off from Roswell, N.M., and carry Felix Baumgartner's custom-built capsule to an altitude of 120,000 feet. The daredevil will then step out of the capsule into the void, breaking a skydiving record that has stood for 52 years. The current record for world's highest skydive stands at 102,800 feet. It was set in 1960 by U.S. Air Force Capt. Joe Kittinger, who serves as an adviser for Baumgartner's mission.

If Baumgartner succeeds, he will break not only that mark but also the sound barrier, becoming the first skydiver ever to fall at supersonic speeds, During a July 25 practice jump, Baumgartner's top freefall speed was 537 mph — about as fast as a commercial airliner. Now that's taking adventure to the extreme!

Is Baumbartner the ultimate daredevil ... or just plain crazy?

Friday, September 14, 2012

“Mythbusters” may help solve “Titanic” controversy

The Discovery Channel’s “Mythbusters” is teaming up with “Titanic” director James Cameron in a bid to prove the film's hero, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, did not die in vain in the frozen waters of the North Atlantic. In the blockbuster movie, DiCaprio's character Jack Dawson and Kate Winslet's Rose are left clinging to a plank of floating debris after the cruise ship sinks following a collision with an iceberg en route to America.

Experts insist the lovers would have been able to stay afloat on the plank of wood until help arrived, but the moviemaker is keen to prove them wrong -- and he has joined forces with a team of experts to make his case. The director says it’s clear that there’s only enough buoyancy available for one person so he makes a decision to let her be that person instead of taking them both down.

Do you think Jack could also have survived this epic disaster by climbing aboard plank?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Giving back around the world in 2012

In recognition of World Humanitarian Day on August 19, Discovery Student Adventures salutes teachers and students who explored the world with us this summer and rolled up their sleeves to make a difference. Our travelers painted school buildings in Costa Rica, worked with scientists to protect the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, and assisted park rangers in the preservation of giant saguaro cactus near the Grand Canyon. Giving back is an important part of every journey with Discovery Student Adventures. Next year, we’re headed to 13 amazing global destinations and each journey includes a volunteer service project that offers the rewarding experience to give back. Discover for yourself how you can make a difference next summer on a journey with Discovery Student Adventures.

How did you give back this summer?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Hiking Italy's stunning volcanoes

If you’re seeking a memorable walking experience in Italy, climbing a volcano may not be the first thing you think of. And yet a hiking tour of four volcanoes in southern Italy — Mount Vesuvius, Stromboli, Vulcano and Mount Etna — is an experience that will remain vivid long after the smell of sulfur has faded. Since Vesuvius is the least demanding for hikers, and Etna the most, your best bet is to arrange your hikes from north to south: first Vesuvius (near Naples) followed by Stromboli and Vulcano (each on its own eponymous island off the northeast coast of Sicily) and Etna (near Catania in eastern Sicily).

Vesuvius, about six miles east of Naples, is famous for having wiped out Pompeii and Herculaneum in 79 A.D. A trip to the ruins of one of the two towns is an excellent way to witness the power of this slumbering 4,200-foot volcano, which last erupted in 1944. You can hike Vesuvius on a trip to Italy/Greece with Discovery Student Adventures. To learn more about hiking Italy's volcanoes, check out this travel article from the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/22/travel/hiking-italy-volcano-to-volcano.html?pagewanted=all

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Robotic ‘fish’ take to the seas to catch pollution

In a bid to track sea pollution by mimicking how fish navigate and work together, scientists have moved their robotic fish from the lab to the sea. The technology could reduce the time it takes to detect a pollutant from weeks to just seconds, scientists said. It could also aid underwater security, diver monitoring and search and rescue efforts.

The fish—5 feet long and costing about $31,600 each—are designed to swim like real fish and have sensors to pick up pollutants. They swim independently but coordinate their actions and send data back to a shore station more than a half mile away. Chemical sensors fitted to the fish permit real-time, in-situ analysis, rather than the current method of sample collection and dispatch to a shore-based laboratory. Through artificial intelligence software, the fish can avoid obstacles, map their location and return to base when their eight-hour batteries run low.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Do your part to change the world

It only takes one person to make a difference, and simple acts can make a big difference in a global landscape. Change can start in your own backyard. Inspired by the our compassionate teachers from across the country who applied for our Impact Costa Rica trip, we invite you to participate in Impact Your Town. Are you involved in a community project to support the environment or influence your local area in a positive way? We'd love to hear about it! Post a YouTube video on our Facebook wall explaining your project or, better yet, showing you in action. You could win $250!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Disappearing destination: Great Barrier Reef

Stretching more than 135,000 square miles, an area greater than Poland, the Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest reef system and one of the most complex ecosystems on the planet. Here you’ll find more than 1,500 species of fish, 500 species of seaweed and some of the world’s most endangered creatures, from sea turtles to blue whales.

As carbon-dioxide levels rise in the atmosphere, the oceans heat up. This increase in temperature and acidity kills symbiotic algae, causing the coral to “bleach,” turn white and die. This kind of environmental disruption can have devastating effects on the species that depend on the fragile ecosystem. Explore this tropical underwater sanctuary with Discovery Student Adventures.

Monday, March 26, 2012

New shark species discovered near Galapagos Islands

Scientists have announced the discovery of a new species of spotted, bottom-dwelling shark near the Galapagos Islands, where astonished researchers saw it from a submersible. The newly named species, Bythaelurus giddingsi, is a kind of catshark. Such animals had never been seen near the famed Eastern Pacific archipelago until researchers descended some 1,600 feet to the ocean floor. The species is found only near the Galapagos Islands, famed for their unique species both on land and in the sea, attributed to their extreme geographical isolation.

Do you think the Galapagos Islands hold other species that have not yet been discovered?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

And they’re off! 2012 travel season begins

Our first group of travelers is for bound for London and Paris March 10 where they’ll experience Europe with a new perspective—through the eyes of Discovery. While across the pond, our travelers will be immersed in the culture as they explore European art, history, architecture, and cuisine in a uniquely engaging way. Follow all our 2012 trips on our adventure blog.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Discovery teachers live it up in Ecuador and Costa Rica

It was 5 whirlwind days of cultural immersion, adventure, learning, and fun for our teachers who qualified for the professional development rewards trips to Central and South America! From ziplining through a rainforest, to being pampered at a first-class spa, to enjoying a sunset cruise on a tranquil Oceanside bay, these educators had the times of their lives! You can check out their awesome pictures and firsthand accounts of the trips on our teachers adventure blog!

Friday, February 17, 2012

International professional development trips under way

Months of anticipation has finally culminated for Discovery teachers who have arrived in beautiful Costa Rica and Ecuador on our teachers-only reward trips. Through February 20, our teachers will be immersed in local cultures, participate in exhilarating activities, experience beautiful landscapes, and learn about education travel from Discovery experts. You can follow every step of their amazing journeys on our teacher's adventure blog.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Announcing a series of service-based trips

As part of our ongoing Global Student Support Program, Discovery Student Adventures is thrilled to announce a series of service-focused trips exclusively for teachers. It begins in July 2012 with Impact Costa Rica, a 7-day journey loaded with volunteer projects designed to make a lasting impact on the region.

Educators selected for Impact Costa Rica will help make a difference by participating in humanitarian and environmental projects ranging from rehabilitating endangered sea turtles to donating school supplies to renovating classrooms.

“Efforts like this exemplify our dedication to making a lasting difference in education, whether it’s through offering extraordinary travel opportunities, or helping students around the world,” says Discovery Student Adventures vice president Susannah Stoltz.

We are currently accepting applications from educators interested in being considered for this all-expense-paid inaugural service trip. Qualifying teachers will be chosen from all complete applications submitted by February 15. Apply here.

Learn about Discovery travel