SpaceTime Series 24 Episode 80
*Could mystery methane plumes discovered on Enceladus be a sign of life
A new study suggests that methane detected on the Saturnian ice moon Enceladus could be a sign of life.
*Plate tectonics on Venus
SpaceTime Series 24 Episode 80
*Could mystery methane plumes discovered on Enceladus be a sign of life
A new study suggests that methane detected on the Saturnian ice moon Enceladus could be a sign of life.
*Plate tectonics on Venus
Astronomers may have finally detected evidence of plate tectonics on Venus.
*Earth hit by powerful X class solar flare
The Sun has emitted its first X-class solar flare of the new Solar Cycle 25. X class flares are the most powerful of all solar flare categories and are commonly responsible for the deepest radio blackouts and the most intense geomagnetic storms.
*Progress cargo ship docks with Space Station
A Russian Soyuz 2.1A rocket has successfully launched the 169th Progress cargo ship carrying almost two and a half tonnes of supplies to the International Space Station.
*The Science Report
A new record high temperature for the Antarctic of 18.3 degrees Celsius.
Lower levels of Ultraviolet B wavelength light has been linked with higher rates of bowel cancer.
Raytheon awarded a contract to develop a new air-launched, long-range cruise missile.
Huawei banned from Sweden’s 5g equipment rollout on grounds of national security.
Alex on Tech: Star Trek’s universal translator becomes reality.
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The Astronomy, Space, Technology & Science News Podcast.
SpaceTime Series 24 Episode 80 AI Transcript
[00:00:00] Stuart: [00:00:00] This is time series 24 episode 84 broadcast on the 14th of July, 2021. Coming up on space time could mystery methane plumes discover on the syllabus. Be a sign of life. Astronomers may have finally detected evidence of plate tectonics on Venus and the earth hit by a powerful X-Class solar flare, all that and more coming up.
VO Guy: [00:00:28] welcome
Stuart: [00:00:29] to space time with
VO Guy: [00:00:30] steward Gary.
Stuart: [00:00:47] a new study suggests that method and detect on the Centennial ice spoon and syllabus could be a sign of law. The methane was detected by NASA's Cassini spacecraft in IC plumes erupting from [00:01:00] the frozen world south pole tiger stripes. The geysers are spewing water from a global subsurface ocean kilometers below the incivility and eye shades, Cassini to addicted relatively high concentrations of methane, hydrogen, and carbon dioxide.
All molecules, which here on earth are associated with hydrothermal vents on mid-ocean ridges. And many scientists believe that at least on earth, the mid-ocean ridges may be where life on this planet began. The amount of methane fan in the incivility employee rooms was especially unexpected. One of the study's authors associate professor ridges fairy air for the university of Arizona.
Wanted to know if Earthlight microbes known as , which eat dihydrogen and produce methane could also explain the surprisingly large amounts of methane detected biker St. John and soda. Farrier and colleagues developed mathematical models to calculate the probability of which different types of processes, [00:02:00] including both geo chemical and biological method.
Genesis could best explain the Cassini observation. Their findings reported in the journal nature. Astronomy conclude that the Cassini data is consistent either with microbial hydrothermal vet activity or alternatively with a process that doesn't involve lifeforms, but would have to be very different from ones, no door earth on earth.
Hydrothermal Vedic activity occurs when cold seawater seeps in the ocean floor. It circulates through the underlying rock and passes, close to a heat source, such as a magnet chamber before spewing back out in the ocean. Again, through hydrothermal vents on earth, me thang can be produced through hydrothermal vent activity, but at a very slow rate.
And most of the production is due to microorganisms that harness the chemical disequilibrium of hydro thermally produced dihydrogen as a source of energy and produce methane from carbon dioxide in a process called method Genesis. [00:03:00] The authors looked at in Solidus has plume composition as the end result of several chemical and physical processes taking place in the moon's interior.
The results suggest that even the highest possible estimate for geochemical methane production based on known hydrothermal chemistry, simply can't explain the methane concentration measured in the plume. However, by adding biological method Genesis to the mix, the authors could produce enough methane to match the Cassini observations.
This space-time still the cam astronomers may have finally detected evidence of plate tectonics on Venus and planet earth hit by a powerful X-Class solar flare, all that and more stored account. Um, space time.
[00:04:00] Astronomers may have finally detected evidence of plate tectonics on Venus. A report in the journal of the proceedings of the national academy of sciences claims as evidence of crestal blocks on the planet surface, which appear to have been just sold against one another like broken chunks of pack ice.
The earth is the only known planet to experience tectonic plate activity. Uh, plate tectonics are characterized by mid-ocean ridges of sinuous mountain ranges, where molten material from deep inside the planet flows that under the surface where it kills and hardens into rafts of rock drifting on the top of the slowly convecting mantle until it reaches the lighter continental crust where it subtracts back down into the metal.
And he's hated up again. Worlds like Mars and even the Earth's moon. Cool to form cross, which are now thought to be far too, to experience Playtech tonics, however, Venus and the earth are roughly the same size they were formed [00:05:00] in roughly the same part of the solar system out of roughly the same material.
And so like earth Venus should still be geologically active. The question is why does Venus, which is so similar to the earth acts so differently. Because of its thick Saphira gastric cloud cover science's view of the surface of Venus is very limited. And what is seen doesn't show any obvious signs of carrot, geothermal activity, such as active volcanism or moving tectonic ridges.
However, the planet is riddled with extinct volcanoes, large lava, floodplains, and shield filled several hundred kilometers. A crass would show evidence of extinct shore, volcanic activity. Venus is also peppered with strain circular structures with concentric fractures, known as coronae, which are thought to be caused by metal upwelling, followed by extensional collapse among the geologically unique features and Venus, a flat top volcanoes called Ferrer, which looked like giant pancakes up to [00:06:00] 50 kilometers wide and a thousand meters high.
There are also strange radio Starlight fractious systems called a and unusual radio fractures, resembling spiderwebs then as a rachnoids, which are also thought to be volcanic in origin. Venuses high atmospheric surface pressure, which is some 99 times greater than that on earth and its extreme surface temperature of 470 degrees Celsius, which is hot enough to melt lead, maybe having an effect on the planet surface geology.
The study's lead author associate professor Paul Byrne from North Carolina state university says these crustal blocks are a previously unrecognized pattern of tectonic defamation on Venus driven by interior immersion, just like on earth, although different from the tectonic sin on earth. It's still evidence of anterior Mershon being expressed at the planet surface to reach their conclusions.
The authors used radar images from that as Magellan mission, which map the Venusians [00:07:00] surface. While examining Venus's extensive low layers, which make up most of the planet's surface. The author saw areas where large blocks of the lithosphere seemed to have moved, pulling apart in some areas, pushing together and others rotating and sliding past each other much like broken pack eyes on a frozen lake Agilon.
Awesome measure. The gravity field of Venus, the subtle changes and the strength of gravity in different parts of the planet caused by different densities material below the surface. And the authors use this gravity field data to identify a viscous matte or flow slowly churning the crust. In fact, Bern and colleagues claimed the Madeline inside Venus pushes and pulls on its surface more strongly than Earth's mat or does on its crust.
Scientists already know that much of Venus has been volcanically resurfaced over time. So some parts of the planet could be really young geologically speaking. And several of the jostling blocks a pit or formed in and deform, [00:08:00] these young lava planes, which means the lithosphere must have fragmented after the plans were laid down.
And that gives burn and colleagues reason to really speculate that some of these blocks may have been moved geologically very recently, perhaps even up to today. These new observations, come in the wake of masses announcement of two new missions to Venus Veritas and the Vinci plus as well as the new European space agency, Venus mission caught in.
To find out more. Andrew dangly speaking with astronomer professor Fred Watson.
Fred: [00:08:32] This is a very timely piece of research. That's just been published by scientists at the North Carolina state university in the USA because of the fact that we've just had the announcement that NASA is going to send two probes to Venus later in the decade.
It's been a big question for a long time. Is Venus tectonically active. Does it have tectonic plates like the earth? Does people have had to have their bets either way? I think, you know, some people say no, some people say yes, people do [00:09:00] provide little snippets of evidence either way, which seems a little bit contradictory, but now we've got from this research done at North Carolina state.
We see some really good evidence. I think that, and it's certainly the most convincing thing I've seen that says that while. Is still, if you know, to all intents and purposes is a dead world because the surface temperature is 460. I think it is degrees Celsius. It's impossible for any kind of living organisms we know about to live on the surface, maybe something in the atmosphere, despite all that, there is some sort of geological activity, but it's different from the plate tectonics that we have here.
Which, um, I guess most people are familiar with really large chunks of the Earth's crust are kind of solid, but the cross itself is broken up into these very large chunks, which slip and slide and cause eruptions and volcanoes and earthquakes, Alpine fault in New Zealand, which is overdue for a rift or eight earthquake.
There happened every 300 [00:10:00] years. And we're overdue. That is absolutely, um, physical and visceral evidence of plate tectonics happening on the earth. What seems to be happening on Venus. And I should explain that this comes from radar imagery. There was a spacecraft whose name was Magellan, a NASA spacecraft that orbited Venus.
In the early, very early 1990s, equipped with radar and did radar surveys of the surface because of course he can't do any visible imaging because the clouds are so thick and opaque. So Magellan mapped the surface. But what is happening now is people are revisiting those radar images because we've now got the most sophisticated algorithms for dragging hidden features out of data like that.
I think that's what's happened. The scientists have used, they've used the NASA imagery. It is enhanced. And what it shows is a surface that clearly has fragmentation marks in it, where you can see linear features, straight lines looking like [00:11:00] fault lines, but they're following a regular pattern, looking almost like a paved area of, of a street.
For example, they're relatively square, these blocks and it's so it's broken. Into these patterns, which are much smaller than the Earth's tectonic plates, but the evidence seems to be because of these marks that they do behave like tectonic plates banging into each other and dragging alongside each other.
And things of that sort. One of the suggestions that's been made is that it's, it's like pack ice on a frozen lake. She's a very nice analog. And the one of the authors, Paul Byrne, who's at North Carolina state, he's quoted as saying we've identified a previously unregistered. Pattern of tectonic deformation on Venus one that is driven by interior motion, just like on earth.
He goes on to say, although different from the tectonics we currently see on earth, it is still evidence of inter interior motion being expressed at the planet surface. And by that interior motion, what they mean is that the convection [00:12:00] currents that rise through the mantle. That's how plate tectonics is driven on earth.
We've got these convection movements in that softish rock that surrounds the core of the earth, but he's underneath the crown. So that's what drives plate tectonics and presumably something similar is driving these much smaller plates on Venus. Yeah. So
Andrew: [00:12:18] I mean, aside from the fact that it's got a runaway greenhouse effect, uh, it's, uh, similar in size to earth and,
Stuart: [00:12:26] um, it's, it's more
Andrew: [00:12:27] like us than Mars in that respect.
And I suppose if you were able to stand on the surface, um, the gravity would be
Fred: [00:12:36] not much different to here. Um, so.
Andrew: [00:12:41] So everything about it is, is, is similar to earth except for, um, you know, what's happening in the atmosphere, but, uh, oh, we're catching up. Yeah. We're not far, we're not that far behind,
Fred: [00:12:51] but yeah, we're working on it.
Yeah. But, um,
Andrew: [00:12:54] yeah. Now I'm wondering what's happening on the inside and how similar that is to. [00:13:00] We are experiencing
Fred: [00:13:01] on earth. That will be the next step to try and explain why there's this difference in the tectonic activity and something we have known. And in fact wrote about it in the new kid's book that Venus's surface is volcanically active perhaps until recent times.
And in fact, even now we don't know that whether they're active volcanoes on Venus, Since I think that there probably are, but there seem to be major lava flows, which is echoed in what the scientist Paul Bern says when he says, we know that much of Venus has been volcanically resurfaced over time. So some parts of the planet might be really young geologically speaking, but several of the jostling blocks are formed in and deformed.
These young lava planes, which means. The list of lithosphere. That's the crust fragmented after those planes were laid down. This gives us reason to think that some of these blocks may have moved geologically very recently, perhaps even up to today. So [00:14:00] this sort of pack ice pattern is very exciting. So Venus
Andrew: [00:14:04] is most likely having quakes just like earth does.
Yeah. Fairly frequently
Fred: [00:14:09] by the sound of it.
Stuart: [00:14:12] Dr. Fred Watson and astronomy with the department of science speaking with Andrew directly on our sister program space. And this is space-time still the calm planet earth hit by a powerful X-Class solar flare and a Russian progress cargo ship launches to the international space station, all that and more stored.
the sun has admitted its first X-Class solar flare of the new solar cycle. 25. X-Class flares are the most powerful vole solar [00:15:00] flare categories and commonly responsible for the deepest radio blackouts and the most intense geomagnetic storms. The event exploded out of sunspot AI 28 38. Triggering the eruption of two coronal mass ejections or sit amaze.
NASA is solid dynamics. Observatory spacecraft was able to record the blast extreme ultraviolet flat. Luckily the area of the explosion had rotated around to the fast side of the sun. By the time the coronal mass ejections occurred. However, a pulse of x-rays did generate a rare magnetic crochet. I knives in the top of Earth's atmosphere causing gem magnetic currents to flow between 60 and a hundred kilometers above the earth producing a radio burst.
And I honest ferric disturbance, a surge of electrical currents in the ground and deflection of the local magnetic field. It also caused the shortwave radio blackout over the Atlantic ocean with unusual propagation affects below 30 megahertz, unlike [00:16:00] geomagnetic disturbances, which arrive with coronal mass ejections days after a flare, a magnetic crochet travels at the speed of light and so occurs while the flare is in progress, they tend to occur during fast impulsive flares.
Like this one. This was the first X-Class solar flare since September, 2017 and the first of the new solar cycle during the previous solar cycle, 24, some 49 X class solar flares were produced during the cycles 11 years. This is space time. Still the comm a Russian progress cargo ship docks with the international space station.
And later in the science report, the Antarctic records a new record, high temperature, all that, and more store to come on. Space time.
[00:17:00] A Russian Soyuz to when a rocket as successfully launched the 169th progress, cargo ship carrying almost two and a half tons of supplies to the international space station. The mission from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in the central Asian Republic of Kazakhstan lifted off as the space station was flying 400 kilometers above Argentina.
The progress two days after
Guest: [00:17:27] liftoff. I just heard confirmation, but the vehicle is on internal power and there's the retraction of the first umbilical. Second umbilical has been detached and the launch committee. And issued the engines are starting turbo pumps coming up to flight speed, maximum thrust and lift off of the 78th progress resupply vehicle in route to deliver over 3,600 pounds of cargo to the internet national space station, everything being reported as nominal or going well.
So far, first and second stage engines confirm to be [00:18:00] working as planned, continuing to receive all nominal calls for stage. It continues to burn, roll pitch and yaw. First stage separation the strap on rocket boosters, falling away and progress. 78 continues its journey. All data for the spacecraft is still looking nominal or normal.
Now about two minutes and 40 seconds into flight and trout jettison has been confirmed. Everything's still looking good for progress. 78 destination international space station. The second stage continues to perform as planned. All data is looking good for progress 78 and the Soyuz two.one eight. The second stage continues to perform well, that second stage separation confirmed.
With the second stage shutdown and separation. The third stage skirt was jettisoned prior to third stage ignition, which will continue until eight minutes and 46 seconds after launch. The third stage engine is performing as planned, about three minutes left in its burned time ahead of spacecraft [00:19:00] separation, and insertion to the progress.
78 preliminary. Once through spacecraft separation itself, being controlled at the Blockhouse and Baikonur, and that will be taken over by the Russian mission control center outside of Moscow upon spacecraft separation about one more minute left in the third stage burn flight going as planned for progress 78 and just a few seconds until we will stand by for third stage shutdown and spacecraft separation.
We have confirmation of third stage shutdown, progress, separation and progress. 78 now flying. Solar arrays now unfurling all of the appendages, uh, performing as expected on the rocket, the Russian mission control center in Korea hall outside of Moscow. This team has now has flight control of the vehicle.
Progress is now in its preliminary orbit, traveling at about 17,500 miles per hour. And those pre-program engine firings will raise its altitude to match the international space station
Stuart: [00:19:57] because of a persistent air leak in the PRK [00:20:00] chamber in the. Poor of the Russians Vista service module. The progress Emma 17 was instead docked onto the orbiting outpost poised Zenith port.
The supply ship is loaded with some 470 kilograms of fuel 420 liters of water, more than 40 kilograms of oxygen and more than one and a half tons of other supplies, including food, clothes, and personal items. At the end of October, the progress Ms. 17 will be moved to the earth facing or near the airport on the new now come module, which will replace the existing pays docking port, which is due to be detached.
And deorbiting on July the 23rd becoming the first permanent international space station module to be decommissioned this space-time.
And Tom that had taken another brief look at some of the other stories making using science this week with a science report, [00:21:00] the world needs logical organization has recognized a new record, high temperature for the Antarctic. Confirming a rating of 18.3 degrees Celsius 64.9 degrees Fahrenheit. The record breaking high was reached at Argentina's Esperanza research station on the Antarctic peninsula on February the sixth 2020.
The Antarctic peninsula is among the fastest warming regions on the planet increasing in temperature, but almost three degrees Celsius over the last 50 years. The previous verified warmest temperature in Antarctica was 17.5 degrees in March, 2015. The Earth's average surface. Temperatures now increased by about one degree Celsius since the 19th century enough to increase the intensity of droughts, heat waves and tropical cyclones.
And you steady claims, lower levels of ultraviolet B wavelength light has been linked with higher levels of bowel [00:22:00] cancer. The findings reported in the journal BMC public health is based on a study of people of all ages living in 186 countries. The studies authors found the link was strong of for people aged over 45 and remained significant after other things were accounted for including skin turned smoking Archer, Nevada beelight or UVB is important for the synthesis of vitamin D three, which helps to absorb calcium and is also known to be associated with a greater risk of bowel cancer.
The authors think the lower UVB may be decreasing levels of vitamin D three. However they know that other factors were left out of the study, such as any advantage in taking vitamin D supplements. The Pentagon has awarded Rathion a $2 billion contract to develop a new air launch long-range standoff nuclear cruise missile.
The new weapon will replace America's existing AGM, 86 air launch cruise missiles, which first entered [00:23:00] us service in 1982. Use air force plants to obtain at least a thousand of the new missiles, which could be launched by both B 50 twos and the new generation of stealth bombers, such as the B 21, which is now in a development.
A Swedish court has struck down a play from Chinese telecom, giant Huawei, which had challenged the banning of its equipment as part of Sweden's 5g rollout. The administrative court in Sweden road, that the decision by the Swedish telecoms authority PTs to ban the use of equipment from Chinese companies while Wayne ZTE on national security grounds was legal.
The court found that Sweden security was important and early police in the military have the full picture when it comes to national security of Sweden. Sweden became the second country in Europe after the UK to explicitly ban Huawei for almost all of its 5g network infrastructure, because of concerns over national security, [00:24:00] the United States and Australia have already banned Huawei over national security concerns.
Meanwhile, Beijing's won't stock home that tweet ins decision could have consequences. Well, it was once the roam of science fiction, but the world of star Trek and the ability to instantaneously speak and understand foreign languages. Thanks to a universal translator is becoming a reality. With the details we're joined by technology editor, Alex from ity.com.
Alex: [00:24:31] Yes. Well, it's the practical application of Google's translation technology applied to mobile phone calls in real time. So Optus, the Australian number two telco has launched call translate beta. Obviously it is designed to translate phone conversations between different language speakers in real time.
Now you. A little bit as the translation is happening. And then what you've said has been spoken into the other language by a computer voice. And there is a message when you first establish the goal that tells the person that is [00:25:00] receiving the call, that the service being pumped using the after-school translate service it's currently available in 10 languages, Arabic, English, Filipino, Greek.
Italian Mandarin, Russian, Spanish, and Vietnamese. But of course they going to expand it to many more languages because if you get the Google translate app on your phone, you can see it works in almost every language on it. Some of the more obscure languages do still sound like Stephen Hawking or Dr.
Yeah. Sound cards. It's going to vary out officials. The voices for languages like French and Russian Italian grade Spanish. I don't think Cleveland is, it would sound incredibly realistic. I mean, the ability for the computer to sound so human is just uncanny and it's even the same with Siri. I'm testing iOS 15.
The voices is just very, very natural. So Google has also shown that in the U S has got a system that can answer calls and make calls for you and have the Google assistant, talk to the person and look a table. So I guess it's an [00:26:00] extension of that, that service hasn't launched in Australia, unfortunately, and to try the Google translate, there is a list.
So you have to go to optus.com.edu. Cool translate as one word, nice spaces, and you can join the, you can join the beat of whiteness. Only one of you has to have cold translate and once switched on in the myopia sappy, you can make and receive calls as normal. As I said before, both you and the other person bay translated, and this is something we'll say all of our phones and technologies do.
I mean, there will come a point with language translation is completely natural and instant, and it will be that. Future of universal translate all the Bible fish. If you are a fan of the Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy and we'll just, we'll take it for granted, language barriers will be completely eliminated and we're very close to that happening.
Now, I show a lot of people have Google translate works, and I'll show them for a decade. And they're amazed. They're amazed that the camera can translate foreign languages into English or vice versa. Instantly enables people to read what's on packets of food from an [00:27:00] Asian supermarket. For example, you can see what the ingredients are often.
There's a little transition. Sticker stuck to it, to the back for the nutritional info, but it's really quite incredible. And no doubt, this will be copied by all of the telcos. And it'll just be a standard feature. I mean, already there's Google translate and iOS, apple has a translation app as well. And apple showed off some similar kind of advancements for this natural conversation of two people speaking.
Stuart: [00:27:22] Yeah. There's a test for that. Isn't there. The where your tests. With a person at the other end of the phone, and you've got to work out, whether it's a real person you're conversing with or a computer, it sounds
Alex: [00:27:33] like a, um, a 21st century version of the void Kemp protest from blade runner to figure out whether you're talking to a human or a
Stuart: [00:27:40] replicant.
It's a great movie. Now. It's not the only bit of news from Optus this week. Is it if broken their own record? Yeah, this is
Alex: [00:27:47] the upload speed record on a commercial 5g network. They clocked in 300 megabits and this was. Up to 5g millimeter website in Strathpine in Brisbane, in the Australian state of [00:28:00] Queensland and this millimeter wave M wave technology isn't switched onto the public yet in Australia, but will be soon.
The next iPhone is for 2021, a short have M wave 5g as they already do with the iPhone 12 in the U S and as various Android devices have. Mmm. Allows 5g to achieve the kind of promised speeds that we heard about 5g at the moment, 5g speeds that are not using M wave or a bit more like a super fast forging, like 4g on steroids, but this MMI 5g can do much faster speeds than normally when I'm uploading with 5g.
I noticed that it's upload speeds are much slower than the download speed. So to get 300 megabits. That's good. And then an example that I've given is that you have a 500 megabyte video file on current 4g networks. It'll take about a minute and 30 seconds. We can't complain about that, but we've 300 megabits of space.
I'd say that task can be completed in less than 20 seconds. So next iPhones and the next Androids that have 5g millimeter wave on the various bands for the country that you're in. When they connect to that, you're going to say things like your zoom calls when [00:29:00] you are sending a picture to somebody else, the video will be sharper and clearer.
Upload speeds. We'll be able to match or be a lot faster than the upload speeds of today. I mean, we're talking, you know, 10 times faster or more, depending on the sort of upload speeds you're getting now. I continued journey towards the star Trek future. That seems to be coming science-backed every day.
Stuart: [00:29:23] Calm
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Alex Zaharov-Reutt is iTWire's Technology Editor is one of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows.