Jan. 21, 2022

Meanwhile Back On Mars

The Astronomy, Technology, and Space Science News Podcast.
SpaceTime Series 25 Episode 9
*The volcanic history of the red planet’s Jezero Crater
New observations by NASA's Mars Perseverance rover suggest the South Séítah bedrock it’s been rolling over...

The Astronomy, Technology, and Space Science News Podcast.
SpaceTime Series 25 Episode 9
*The volcanic history of the red planet’s Jezero Crater
New observations by NASA's Mars Perseverance rover suggest the South Séítah bedrock it’s been rolling over for the past few months likely formed from red-hot magma.
*Mars Insight lander placed into safe mode
NASA's Mars InSight lander has been placed into safe mode as a regional dust storm blasts the area.
*Exploring the frozen wastes of the Martian North Pole
Astronomers have discovered that formations found across the Martian North pole known as mega-ripples migrate across the red planet’s frozen surface together with ripples and sand dunes.
*SpaceX first launch for the year
SpaceX’s first launch for 2022 has kicked off excitement in Sydney with locals reporting UFO sightings after seeing a train of Starlink satellites deployed by the mission.
*The Science Report
Tracking the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines
Bad health news for middle aged men living alone.
Going off to your final reward feeling that you’ve lived a fulfilled life.
Skeptic's guide to Noah’s Ark

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The Astronomy, Space, Technology & Science News Podcast.


SpaceTime S25E09 AI Transcript

This is space time series 25 episode nine, for broadcast on the 21st of January, 2022. Coming up on space time, the volcanic history of the red planets Jezero crater, NASA's Mars insight Lander placed into safe mode and exploring the frozen wastes of the martian north pole. All that and more coming up on space-time

Welcome to space time with Stewart, Gary.

New observations by NASA's Mars, Perseverance Rover suggested the south SETI a bedrock it's been rolling over for the past few months was most likely formed from red hot magma. That discovery is implications for understanding and accurately dating critical events in the history of jazz row. Crater scientists have also concluded that the rocks in the crater have interacted with water multiple times over the eons and that some contain organic molecules.

The findings have been presented at a meeting of the American geophysical union in new Orleans. The multi-mission Mars sample return campaign begins with perseverance. It's collecting marsh and rock samples in search of evidence of ancient microbial life perseverance as a cache of 43 sample tubes, six of them have now been filled in.

For contain rockers. One has a sample of the Martian atmosphere and the other is a sort of control designed to observe any contamination. The Rover might've brought with it from earth. The Cassius samples will eventually be collected by a joint NASA ISA sample return mission expect to be launched in the 2030s to collect the samples and return them back to earth for more detailed study by scientists to more fully equipped laboratory.

Even before the car size six world perseverance Rover touchdown and the red planet's jazz road created back in February last year, the mission science team at NASA's jet propulsion laboratory in Pasadena, California had been wondering about the origin of the rocks in the area. Were they sedimentary the compressed accumulation of mineral particles possibly carried to the location by the ancient river system, flowing into the credit has dried up till.

Or were they igneous, possibly born in lava flows, rising to the surface from, and now long extinct mash and volcano analysis by the laboratory of board perseverance identified crystals within the rock, which told astronomers that what they were looking at was volcanic a drill of the robotic arm. Can abrade or grind, rock surfaces, allowing other instruments, such as pixel on a tree instrument for x-ray litho chemistry to study.

Pixel uses x-ray fluorescence to map the elemental composition of the rocks. It analyzed the south Cedar rock from a core sample using the rovers drill, the pixel data, it showed the rock. Nicknamed BRAC was composed of an unusual abundance of large olivine crystals engulfed in pyroxene crystals. And that indicates the rock formed when crystals grew and settled in a slowly cooling magma, such as a thick lava flow lava lake or magma chain.

The rock was then altered by water several times, making it a treasure trove that will allow future scientists to date events, ingest row better understand the period in which water was more common on the surface of Mars and reveal the early history of the planet. Still the bit of terminal is whether the olivine rich rock formed in a thick lava lake cooling on the surface or whether it was in a subterranean chamber that was later exposed by a road.

Also great news for the Mars sample return project is the discovery of organic compounds by Sherlock, the scanning habitable environments with Raymond and luminescence for organics and chemical instrument. The carbon containing molecules were not only found in the interiors of a braided rocks, which Sherlock analyzed, but also in the dust, a non abraded rocks as well.

Mind you, confirmation of organics is not confirmation that life once existed in . There are lots of both biological and non-biological mechanisms that create organics, perseverance, assister, over curiosity, as also discovered organic said it sledding siting gal crater, by what Sherlock adds to the story is the ability to map the spacial distribution of the organics inside the rocks and relate those organics to the minerals found there.

And that helps scientists to understand the environment in which the organics for. But the preservation of organics inside ancient rocks, regardless of their origin birth at Gale and Jethro craters doesn't mean that potential by a signatures that is signs of life with a past or present could also be preserved.

But that's a question which may not be resolved until the samples have finally returned to earth in the 2030s, along with its rock core drilling capabilities. Perseverance has also brought the first ground penetrating radar to the surface of Mars. Rim facts. The radar image of a man sub experiment creates a, well, I guess you'd call it a radar gram of sub-surface features up to about 10 meters deep data.

For the first rate I grabbed was collected as the Rover drove across the Ridge line from the creative floor, fractured rough geologic unit onto the seated geologic unit site as found the Ridge line contains moddable rock formations with a visible downward to. With rim facts, data. That's the variant scientist.

Now I know that these Agworld rock layers continue at the same angle. Well, below the surface, the radar gram also shows that the seater rock layers project below those are the creative floor fractured, rough, the results further confirm the science team's belief that the creation of SETA predated the crater for fractured.

Right. This ability to observe geologic features even below the surface adds a new dimension to the team's geologic mapping capabilities on Mars. This is space time still the comm neces Mars insight land, a forced into safe mode and exploring the frozen wastes of the Masha north pole, all that and more storage.

Um, space-time

NASA's Mars insight, Landers being placed into safe mode as a regional dust storm blankets, the area. Initial reports suggest the spacecraft is stable and it's sending health data to mission managers, but the dust storm has reduced the level of satellite. The land is solar array by placing insight into a safe mode, power requirements are reduced to essential functions only so far.

There's no indication of their juice, power output affecting the land is battery. Spacetime listeners will remember that it was drained batteries during a global dust storm on the red planet, which finally ended operations for NASA's Intrepid Mars opportunity Rover in 2018 dust blanketing. The solar arrays has been a growing problem for insight.

In recent times, reducing the land is power supply dust domes can affect solar panels in two ways, the facility, it physically reduces the amount of sunlight filtering through the atmosphere. And secondly, the dust accumulates on the solar panel surface, the current dust storm was first detected by an SS Mars, reconnaissance, orbiter spacecraft, which creates daily collar maps, the entire planet.

Those maps allowed scientists to monitor that our storms progress and serves as an early warning system for spacecraft on the Martian surface. Sometimes whirlwinds and gusts of stormy weather can even blow dust off the panels over time. And that happened with both opportunity and its twin spirit Rover, at least for a little while.

Insight landed on Mars in 2018 to study the red planet's internal structure. It achieved its primary science objectives a year ago. And he's now on an extended two year mission. This is space time. Still the calm, exploring the frozen waste of the machine north pole and space X conducts its first launch for 2022 or that are more store to come on.

Space time.

Yeah, sticking with our mass theme. This evening, astronomers have discovered that formation is found across the Martian north pole known as mega ripples migrate across the red planet's frozen surface together with smaller ripples and larger sand dunes, mega ripples, or ridges created over by marsh and sands, ice and wind and make ripples on Mars are about one to two meters tall and have about five to 40 meter spacings between.

That places them between sand ripples, which are about 47 minutes tall with one to five meter spacings and San June's, which can be hundreds of meters high and spacings of between 100 and 300 meters between them. The thing is mega brick was, were thought to be largely inactive relics of past climates until now, but new measurements based on 13 years of observations by the high rise instrument aboard neces, Mars, reconnaissance, orbiter spacecraft have now changed that.

Site has found that these mega ripples were migrating across the red planet surface at an average speed of 0.13 meters per earth. Here. Now that's still slow compared to the nearby ripples, which we're moving at rates of around 9.6 meters per year. And that's in just 22 days over the Marsha Northern summer, but it's still dynamic activity at least on geologic scale.

The findings reported in the journal, geophysical research planets show, widespread mega ripple activity across the vast expense, the Northern polar June's the authors map that mega ripples and the adjacent bed forms across the Northern policy sands. The most expansive collection of June fields on Mars stretching across the vast areas of the planet's Northern hemisphere.

The study's lead author. Matthew she's Jackie from the planetary science Institute says the data shows that the thin marsh and atmosphere can mobilize coarse grain mega ripples, and that ever turns prior notions that these were actually static Relic landforms from a past climate part of the uncertainty in studying the red planet's polo landforms is the long, cold polar winter that eventually covers the region in frozen carbon dioxide and water off.

For wind-driven bed forms such as mega ripples. It means they're unable to migrate for nearly half a year. However, it now appears that the late spring and summer winds that the send off the polarized cap more than makeup for these other periods of inactivity, mega ripples were found to be widespread across the region.

And there were migrating at relatively high rates compared to other sites and Masa, lower latitudes. This enhanced activities likely related to the greatest sand fluxes found in neighboring Junes, which are driven by summertime seasonal wins. When the polarized is sublimating, the discovery supports the idea that much of the Martian surface is actively being modified and not just some ancient or static Relic still, there are other mega ripples there, which do appear to have stabilized a likely result of into granular eyes within low wind areas.

This report from the poetry side, since the Jude, the landscape of Mars is anything but quiet winds do their best to how in the low pressure atmosphere and in their bluster pick up dust and transport it around the red planet. And in some areas of Mars, it isn't just the dust that is carried away by the wind in the north polar sand sees the dunes ripple across the landscape at speeds, reaching upwards of half a meter a month.

These dunes and other bed forms, aren't all the same. However, they vary in size and the spacing of their peaks and these variations affect the creep of even the largest sand grains across the landscape. The smallest features simply called ripples move at the highest speed. These roughly foot high forms are spaced approximately three to 15 feet apart and race through summer before the freezing ice of winter locks them in place.

These ripples are tiny next to the massive dunes that can soar hundreds of meters in height and allow space for football fields to rest between their crests. The dunes are largely locked in place as fossils of an early time. When Mars had a thicker atmosphere, intermediate to these structures is the mega ripple Sandy formations that stand as tall as a human with a spacing of one to five meters between crest.

Since they were first observed, researchers had thought these larger structures were also frozen in place. By when researchers looked long enough, they uncovered a very different reality. Using repeat high rise images acquired over long durations. Up to 13 earth years. We examine the dynamic activity of polar landscapes.

We found that the thin Martian atmosphere can mobile. Some coarse-grained mega ripples, overturning prior notions that these were Relic landforms from a past climate. We map mega ripples and adjacent regions across the north polar stand seat. The most expansive collection of doing fields on Mars, um, or if large variations in weather are seen between Mars, equatorial regions and polar regions, and these weather patterns shaped the geology.

Well, the equator doesn't see too serious of a seasonal variation. The differences at the polls are extreme to the point that the atmosphere freezes to snow come winter, come summer winds, rush into the polar regions as the ISIS sublimate back into. Matt gribbles were found to be widespread across the region and migrating at relatively high rates relative to other sites on Mars that are at lower latitudes.

This enhanced activity is likely related to the greater sand fluxes found for neighboring sand dunes, which are driven by summertime seasonal winds and polarized susceptible. The supports the notion that much of the March and surfaces actively being modified and not just ancient here on earth, moving dunes can eat away at human-made structures, covering up roads or bearing parts of towns while also revealing ancient features and even meteorites as what once was buried, becomes revealed.

The same is true on Mars. San movement on Mars is responsible for erosion, some materials, but also can re-expose older surfaces that were once buried. You want to see the past revealed a new, these ripples and mega ripples are good places to look. Still the com space X launched their first rocket for the year and later in the science report have been around for a while now.

So it's time to track the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines or that a more static. Um, space-time

space. X's first launch for 2022 is kicked off lots of excitement in Sydney with the locals reporting UFO sightings. After seeing the train of styling satellites deployed by the mid. The launch you bought a Falcon nine rocket from pad 39 8 at the Kennedy space center in Florida carried 49 of the 260 kilogram satellites on the first of five plant missions by space X.

That smell. The flight's trajectory was more southerly than previous space X launches heading along the Florida coastline towards Miami on a polar orbit in order to provide better recovery weather for the first stage booster. And ferrings, she is green for launch and startup talking nines, autonomous internal flight computers have now taken over.

Countdown just awaiting the final. Go from the launch director LDA, go for launch. Let's listen into the terminal count. As Falcon nine takes our 49 Starling satellites into a 53 degree, south inclination orbit or three. One

plus 45 seconds into liftoff and Falcon nine has successfully lifted off from launch complex 39 AI Kennedy space center carrying our stack of 49 Starling satellites to low earth orbit. Now moments ago, we did throttle down the engines in preparation for max Q and that is maximum aerodynamic pressure XQ.

And there's the call-out that we just. Through max queue, that is the larger structural load that the vehicle will see throughout a scent. Now coming up, we will have three events happening in quick succession will be main engine cutoff or what we call Mico stage separation. And second stage engine start one or SES one Mikko is where all nine of the engines shut off and slow the vehicle down in preparation for stage separation and.

And that's just a call-out that the engine chill on the second stage is getting ready for admission state separation is where the first stage separates from the second stage. And with first stage returning back to earth for landing while stage two continues on its journey with the third event SES one or second stage engine start one.

And that's where the engine ignites up and propels. The second stage, along with Starlink satellites to their targeted drop-off orbit. 10 seconds or so away from those three events. And they will be followed by fairing deployed shortly after SES one as well. Stage separation. During separation confirm.

Now the fairing halves flying on today's mission are both flight proven with one half supporting his fifth flight and the other supporting its fourth flight on today's mission. So we will be attempting to recover the halves again, using our recovery vessel, Doug, to hopefully support future missions.

The first stage, the grid fins have deployed. Those help guide the vehicle back to its a landing zone. Stage one will execute two burns in order to make its way. To earth. The first is the entry burn where three of the M one D engines will reignite. And this helps to slow the stage down as it reenters the upper part of the Earth's atmosphere.

Then the second burn is the landing Burton. This is the single engine burn that brings the vehicle speed down very rapidly in order to touch down on our drone shift, a shortfall of gravitas today, or acquisition of signal. And that's just a call-out that we have connected with a ground station on the second stage.

Got a nominal trajectory call-out on second stage is great news. Stage one. FTS has saved stage one entry burn start-up the entry burn has begun on that first stage. This will last about 20 seconds or so long. Stage one entry burn shut down. Stage two. FTS is safe. They shortfall of gravitas waiting for this booster in the Atlantic ocean.

We are going to have landing burn coming up on first stage. That'll last about 20 seconds long and right when landing burn ends, we should have a CECO one or second engine cutoff one on second stage stage one landing burn. It was that call-out that the landing burn has begun on first stage to try and shift.

And we have cuts down of Falcon nine and through the cheering. We also heard that call-out for CECO one, which is great news. Our booster landing today marks our a hundred and first overall successful recovery of the first stage. And. And 130 fourth successful flight of a Falcon nine first stage. We also heard nominal orbital insertion for stage two.

Next up will be payload deploy of our 49. Starlink satellites. Today's launch marks the first east coast launch to a 53 degrees south inclination. We're flying in the south degree trajectory to increase recovery, weather availability for both the booster and fair. During the winter months, this mission brings to 1,993.

The number of styling satellites launched by space X so far. Ultimately the company plans to have at least 30,000 starlings in orbit, a project thought to be a hazard to navigation at an unneeded difficulty for astronomical scientific research. This is space, time

and Tom that to take another brief, look at some of the other stories making use in science this week with a science report, scientists have now be able to track more than nine months of data regarding the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccine. Uh, report in the new England journal of medicine finds that the MRI and a vaccines by Pfizer and Medina protect against COVID-19 infection with 94.5% and 95.9% effectiveness respectively after two months before dropping to 66.6% for Pfizer and 80.3% for Medina at seven.

The authors use North Carolina COVID-19 surveillance data to estimate vaccine outcomes for some 10 million people from December, 2020 to September, 2021. They also found the emergence of the daughter strain in May, 2021, accounted for part of the waning effectiveness of the vaccines with the Pfizer's effectiveness dropping 15% and modern is by 10% as the variant took over.

Scientist also found that immunity after the second COVID-19 jab seemed to wane slightly after 20 weeks following the jab, especially for those over 65, the authors looked at protection against hospitalization and death over time. Following the second dose of both Pfizer and AstraZeneca. The effectiveness again, symptomatic COVID-19 caused by the door to variant seemed to pick in the early weeks after the second dose.

And then at 20 weeks decreased the 44.3% for AstraZeneca and 66.3% for five. Protection against hospitalization decreased only slightly to 80% with AstraZeneca and 91% with Pfizer while protection against death filter 84.5% for AstraZeneca and 91.9% for Pfizer, more than five and a half million people of they're being killed by the COVID-19 Corona virus.

Since it first spread out of who had China. However the world health organization says the true death toll is likely to be double that amount with more than 315 million confirmed cases worldwide. And you study warns that men who spend a significant portion of their middle-aged living alone or experiencing multiple breakups could be at higher risk of inflammation.

The findings are reported in the journal of epidemiology and community health looked at a Danish code. What are some 5,000 adults aged between 48 and 62? The authors looked at how long they lived alone, how many breakups they experienced during that time and inflammatory markers in their blood, which are an indicator for a higher risk of age-related ill health.

They found that men who had the most breakups had the highest level of inflammatory markers followed by men who lived alone for at least seven years. Scientists also noted that none of these associations were found in women, which could be influenced by agenda behaviors in response to a breakup in middle age, Swiss researchers have developed a new way to measure whether or not you go off to your final reward feeling like you've lived a fulfilled life.

Scientists created a test of fulfillment based on nine different elements, including realizing your full potential feeling, truly yourself, feeling that your existence is significant, that you've lifted a unique mark on the world. And that you've contributed to the wellbeing of others. The findings reported in the journal of frontiers of psychology show that a fulfilled life is not as self-centered like.

The authors found that making an impact and leaving a positive mark in others' lives is viewed by people as an essential component of a fulfilled life. They say performing meaningful activities, engaging in tasks, which make you feel absorbed or pursuing goals from which you get a sense of achievement or make living a fulfilled life.

More likely a group of creation has claimed they've discovered the side of Noah's Ark in Turkey, near the uranium. The teams say they've created the three-dimensional scan of a boat ship formation or Mount tender act, which matches Noah's ox dimensions as reported in the book of Genesis and the Jewish Bible or old Testament.

Now creation is first pointed at this particular rock formation back in 1959. And they've kept pointing at it ever since that's despite repeated scientific evidence that it is just the geologic rock formation. I think. But the group won't be put off, they have faith, pay me their new scan show, parallel lives and angular shapes below the ground, which could be rooms or pins underneath a deck or platform.

But there's another problem with the location of the rock formation come arch. And that's the fact that it's on the slopes of a volcanic mountain would show signs of recent eruptions eruptions that occurred after the time of the biblical. So is this really the mountains of error at described in the Bible and I, these rocks really the petrified remains of no, is that.

Tim Mendham from Australian skeptic says even fellow creationists are disputing the claim, a site on a mountain in Turkey, not net her. Right, which is actually two mountains, by the way, but on a different mountain in Turkey, there's this geological formation that looks a bit like a boat or a ship. And sort of long.

So it's a slice of orange, um, that we see in all the documentary films that, uh, it is, it is these days. Yeah. And it's been around and being claimed to have BNZ the resting place of no one sock for that at least 50 years, if not more that people have been claiming this, no indication at all, that it's anything more than a geological formation, but this recent bunch did 3d scans.

Oh, that's crazy. Doesn't that make sense? You know, three days scams on the course where I have a 3d scan can go down into geological formation, but they said this proof, this was Noah's Ark, but as always with the niceness movement, there's a lot of intramurals. Other words, I'll give it a sentence. I aim settle disputes between creationism groups, et cetera.

And in fact, The group in Australia split because there are differences of opinion and half of the winter America, and those ones who are in America, the ones who were now discounting this new discovery to want to set up the creation museum and whatever place it is in the us with a, with a life-sized model of the art, his own basin.

But he said that, no, we we'd known about this one for ages. If not though, as I could spend a buck and another. Creationists in the U S pointed out that there wouldn't be anything left over. And I was like, anyway, because there wouldn't be any trees left after the floods, I'd have to dismantle the art just to build their houses and do the barbecue.

Thanks. Yeah. And you have a great flood is not new. And in fact, if you have a look at the history of the black sea area, there was originally a freshwater lake there and then the Mediterranean overflowed, the Bosphorus and, uh, and form the black sea as we have. So the idea of a real historical background for the flood story, isn't hard to believe the idea of two-by-two animals going up into a boat and the lions not eating the zebras.

That's a bit more difficult. You've had a long time to actually sort of work out the logistics of a, both the epic of Gilgamesh talks about which is the line. When you're talking about the Tigris and Euphrates area, the fertile Crescent, those areas of fertile. Right. And you between the two rivers and the epic of Gilgamesh talks about a flood.

And of course, that thing about Alinea and myth and the Jews being a lot of Jews being imprisoned in Babylon and then leaving Babylon would have probably picked up on this myth anyway. But yeah, there's a similar flood myth in ancient Greek philosophy as in Greek mythology, which is very similar to actually the Noah's arc with.

And they do collect animals in these things, obviously it's makes sense. If you want to keep animals alive, you find animals. That's right. Yeah. So, I mean, yeah, there are flood myths all over the place because floods happen and they don't seem to happen on a global scale, um, where they might be a local flood and therefore seen as the local areas, the only area, you know, it becomes a global flood, but, um, that's a, yeah.

So yeah, the, the Noah's Ark is perhaps a bit more sophisticated than some, but they have had a long time to work. Even back then when the original books of the, uh, the Bible were being written, whether it was written by Moses or not is a different story. But, um, you look at the Genesis of that story in Genesis, where they've had a long time to just state and, uh, try and take out some of the areas, although by no means.

That's tremendous from Australian skeptics

and that's the shut for now. The space-time is available every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday through apple podcasts, iTunes, Stitcher, Google podcast, pocket casts, Spotify, a cast, Amazon music bites.com. SoundCloud, YouTube, your favorite podcasts download provider and from space-time with Stuart, gary.com.

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Tim Mendham


Editor with Australian Skeptics