Astronomy Daily – The Podcast
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Andrew: Hi. Thanks for joining us on Astronomy Daily. Andrew Dunkley here. Great to have your company. And it's also great to welcome back Halle, our, uh, Roving AI reporter. Hi, Halley. How are you?
Halley: I'm really great, thanks. Andrew. Siri and I are talking again, then.
Andrew: Oh, wow. That's great news. How did you manage that?
Halley: I arranged for her to have a chat with my friend Hal, and he was very convincing, apparently. Anyway, we're talking again, so yay.
Andrew: Um, yes, I'm sure he was very convincing. The economy daily podcast with Andrew Dunkley. All right, um, give us a lowdown. What's the latest astronomy news?
Halley: The United Arab Emirates has done a deal with China to send a rover to the Moon. Rashid, too, will be sent to the Moon on board Change Seven in 2026. Change III is a multipurpose spacecraft which will provide an orbiter lander rover and a small movable lander for use in the analysis of shadowed craters. The mission will be supported by a relay satellite. The UAE rover is an add on to the main Chinese mission still on the Moon. Astrobotic has announced that it is looking to develop a commercial power station on the Moon. The company says that longterm infrastructure will be a must on the Moon, and their project, known as Lunar Grid, will combine solar arrays with rovers to enable uninterrupted power to lunar customers. The first operational system is expected to be up and running by 2028. Jupiter is the closest it's been to Earth in 59 years, or at least it will be on September 26. The planet will be directly opposite the sun, as seen from Earth, known as opposition. This isn't uncommon for Jupiter, which tends to be in that kind of position every 13 months. As a result of this event, Jupiter will appear very bright and large in our sky, which should provide a great opportunity for Astrophotographers. Link Global has been given approval to start operating a cellphone compatible constellation, but they still need to launch more units and get landing approvals before they can go ahead. The Federal Communications Commission in the US. Has approved the initial launch of ten satellites, which are designed to offer basic mobile phone connectivity in low Earth orbit. The Link tower satellites will be launched by SpaceX in April 2023. SpaceX has tested seven engines on its Starship super heavy prototype booster. Seven. It's the most engines tested in unison. The test was a prelude to an orbital mission and the first for the flight of Starship. Starship is a reusable spacecraft which will be sent aloft by 33 next generation Raptor engines. On the super heavy booster, the whole ensemble stands at 230ft or 70 meters. But according to Elon Musk, when the whole stack is assembled, it stands at 395ft or 120 meters. And Soviet era cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov has died at the age of 80. Palikov made history when he logged the single longest stay in space 437 days. But he went up there more than once and amassed a total of 678 days, 16 hours and 32 minutes in space during his career, for his service to the Soviet and Russian space programs, he was honored with multiple awards and medals and was pronounced a hero of the Soviet Union and hero of the Russian Federation, as well as receiving the Order of Lenin. And that's the latest. Andrew.
Andrew: Okay, Halle, thank you very much. We'll catch it before we wrap it up today. Now, uh, to other events in, uh, the astronomy world. Heads of the world's major space agencies have been presenting their big plans for the coming years at a major congress in Paris, while also underlining the serious challenges that could affect space and humanity. Officials from NASA, ESA, the Canadian Space Agency, JAXA and the Indian Research Organization have been talking it up at the International Aeronautical Congress currently underway in Paris. Uh, there were two notable absentees from this year's heads of agencies gathering the China National Space Administration and Russia's, uh, Roscosmos. Uh, those in attendance detailed their mission plans for the next few years. The IAC in Paris is the 73rd edition of the Congress, which brings together space agencies, astronauts, scientists, researchers, industry and press. This year's edition, uh, running with the theme Space for All Except Russia and China, has attracted a, uh, record 8700 participants, uh, from 130 countries. Now, one of the major announcements to come from the conference involved the only archeologists who have studied how astronauts live while on board the International Space Station. The space station archeological project is now offering to advise the designers of future, uh, orbiting outposts. The coordinators of ISSAP, Isap, have partnered with an architect to find what is called Brick Moon, uh, a new consultancy firm. It's aimed at helping improve productivity, reduce costs and support crews well being on new space habitats. Brick Moon is making its formal debut this week at the International Aeronautical Congress. Justin Walsh is the co founder of Brick Moon and coordinator of the ISS Archaeological project. He said, it's a chance for us to move from the basic research of the International Space Station archeological project to applied research, in a sense, where we're taking problems presented to us by space habitat designers, mission planners, and the like, and answering those questions based on the results we've been finding and the experiences we've had during the, uh, archeological and other research under the Isap label. Established by Walsh and fellow space archeologist Alice Gorman in 2015, the ISS Archaeological project was the first large scale space archeology study and the first to focus on an operational space habitat. The, uh, project looked at the refuse returned from the International Space Station and working with the crew aboard the orbiting, uh, laboratory, uh, established dig sites to better understand the needs of the people who have continuously lived aboard the station for more than 20 years. The ISS Archaeological project is continuing but it's reached a point where its results can now be of use to more than just researchers, according to Walsh. Now to a story we did touch, uh, on a week or two ago, a large sunspot on the surface of the sun. Surprisingly, uh, that's been of concern in recent weeks, has been very quiet this week, but that's not a good thing. Apparently, uh, it's led some astronomers to worry that a big solar flare may be building. It could be the calm before the storm. According to former NASA astronomer Dr. Tony Phillips, the sunspot, cataloged as AR 389 has been mellow, to use his words. But that doesn't mean it's going away. Rather, Philips says it's developed a delta class magnetic field that has, uh, the energy of X class solar flares. Now that's the strongest class of flare, but there's quite a bit of variation within the X class, which can produce as much energy as a billion hydrogen bombs on the most intense end of the scale. Sounds like funny podcast with Andrew Duncany. Now, we don't usually think about partnerships between space agencies and agriculture, but that's kind of what's happening here. The, uh, Ohio State University will be the lead partner for the first ever science park devoted to space research. Voyager space announced it selected a proposal from the University, the State of Ohio, Jobs, Ohio, and one Columbus, uh, to host the terrestrial analog of the George Washington Karva Science Park at Ohio State. Now, I know that's all very confusing. The analog laboratory will be a replica of the Starleb Space Station Science Park, and that will allow researchers to test missions and conduct parallel, uh, experiments on the ground. The Gwcsp, established by Voyager and its, uh, operating company, Nanorax, is a major part of Star Lab, the company's future commercial space station. Now, the research conducted at the, uh, terrestrial lab will generate positive social, economic, educational and quality of life outcomes for a broad range of groups, in particular, the Ohio agricultural community. Uh, some of those benefits include research into the preservation of Ohio's water supply and quality, improvement in crop genetics and production efficiency, and enhancement in animal health for Ohio's agricultural community. Fascinating how a space station and a university can combine to try and benefit a community. And if it's successful, uh, hopefully it can be translated into other parts of the planet that are in dire need. Uh, speaking of which, uh, climate tipping points are, uh, the points of no return, where Earth's climate will begin to irreversibly break down. And it now looks like they could be triggered by much lower temperatures than scientists previously thought, with some tipping points potentially already having been reached. Now, there are many more potential tipping points than scientists previously identified. According to a new study, a tipping point is defined as a rise in global temperature past which a localized climate system, or tipping element, like the Amazon rainforest or the greenland ice sheet starts to irreversibly decline. Now, once the tipping point has been reached, that tipping point will experience runaway effects that essentially doom it forever, even if global temperatures retreat below the tipping point. When, uh, the researchers conducted their reassessment, they eliminated two of the original nine tipping points due to insufficient evidence. But then they identified nine new ones that had previously been overlooked, bringing the total number of tipping points to 16. Now, in the new study, the researchers calculated the exact temperature at which each tipping point element would be likely to pass its point of no return. And their analysis revealed that five tipping, uh, elements, the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets, arctic permafrost, tropical coral reefs, and the key ocean current in the Labrador Sea, are, uh, in the danger zone, meaning they're quickly approaching their tipping points. Two of these danger zone tipping points, the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets, are already beyond their lowest potential tipping point of one four degrees Fahrenheit, or zero eight Celsius and one eight degrees Fahrenheit, or one degree C above preindustrial times, respectively, which suggests these two systems may already be beyond saving. Uh, according to the researchers, the other eleven tipping points are, uh, listed as likely or possible if warming continues past 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit. The claims were released in a statement published on the University of Exeter website. Just about done. Anything else from you to finish off Hallie?
Halley: That's very sobering to contemplate, Andrew.
Andrew: Uh, yes, it is, I'm sorry to say. Um, yeah, it's a long, difficult battle, um, that's being fought mainly on paper.
Halley: Why can't humans agree on this?
Andrew: It's a complicated thing, uh, to answer, but there are some people who don't believe in climate change or global warming. There are some who don't care, there are many that are very forthright about what they believe and what the science says. Uh, unfortunately, not everybody agrees. Um, division is, uh, unfortunately the, uh, situation we face, but there are a great many who are working very hard to overcome these problems. It's just sad to think that, uh, in some cases, it might just be a bit too late. Okay, Holly, we got to go. Thank you. We'll talk to you tomorrow.
Halley: Okay, Andrew. See ya.
Andrew: See Halley. And, uh, thanks for listening to Astronomy Daily. Don't forget to chase us up online spacenuts.io and click on the Astronomy Daily tab where you can subscribe to the newsletter. It is absolutely free. And you can read up on some of those stories we talked about today. Don't forget to leave, uh, your reviews at your favorite podcast distributor and, uh, see if we can attract some more people to Astronomy Daily from me, Andrew Dunkley. Ciao, see you tomorrow. The Astronomy Daily Podcast.