Sept. 30, 2022

New and Puzzling Features of Mysterious Fast Radio Bursts

New and Puzzling Features of Mysterious Fast Radio Bursts

SpaceTime Series 25 Episode 103
*New and puzzling features of mysterious fast radio bursts
Astronomers have detected strange never before seen signals originating from an already mysterious object called a Fast Radio Burst.
*NASA's InSight hears...

SpaceTime Series 25 Episode 103
*New and puzzling features of mysterious fast radio bursts
Astronomers have detected strange never before seen signals originating from an already mysterious object called a Fast Radio Burst.
*NASA's InSight hears its first meteoroid impacts on Mars
NASA's Mars InSight lander has detected seismic waves from four asteroids that crashed on to the Martian surface in 2020 and 2021.
*Rocket Lab launches its seventh Electron this year
Rocket Lab has launched its 30th mission and delivered its 150th satellite in to orbit.
*Space Junk streaks across Scotland
As if police and emergency services in northern England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland wont busy enough last week with the passing of Queen Elizabeth II – they were also being inundated with hundreds of calls about a strange fireball crossing the sky.
*The Science Report
A new mask that can alert the wearer if they've been exposed to Covid-19.
Scientists identify a new molecular phase of water.
Discovery of what may be the largest and most complete mummified dinosaur ever found.
Skeptics guide to creepy South Australia.

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Stuart: This is Spacetime Series 25, episode 103 full broadcast on 30 September 2022. Coming up on Space Time new and puzzling features discovered in already mysterious fast radio bursts. Insight Lander is its first meteoroid impacts on Mars and Rocket Lab launches its 7th electron mission to orbit this year. All that and more coming up on, um, Space Time.

VO: Welcome to space time with Stewart Gary.

Stuart: Astronomers have detected strange neverbeforeseeing characteristics originating from an already mysterious object known as a fast radio burst. Fast radio bursts a sudden ephemeral blast lasting just a nanosecond but releasing more energy in that time than our sun releases in an entire year. Explosions occur at very specific wavelengths and usually at cosmic distances in the spiral arms of distant galaxies. The first fast radio burst was discovered in 2007 in data from the Parks Radio Telescope in far western New South Wales. Since then, hundreds more have been detected. Interestingly, the first bursts were all singular events occurring once at a specific location and then never again. And that suggests they were being caused by some sort of cataclysmic event such as a supernova. Uh, but astronomers then began detecting fast radio bursts that repeated from the same location. That suggests a different cause. Right now, the leading contender is a highly magnetized neutron star called a magneto but feeding black holes and glitching neutron stars haven't been totally ruled out yet, either. What all this means is that there could be two separate causes for these mysterious deep space blasts or it could simply be that all fast radio bursts are repeaters with some being a lot more active than others. Now, a report in the journal Nature details some unexpected new observations from a series of fast radio bursts which are challenging science's prevailing understanding of the physical nature and central engine powering these events. The observations were made last year using China's fast or 500 meters aperture Spherical Radio Telescope together with a giant ten meter keck telescopes atop a monarcho in Hawaii the authors detected 1863 fast radio bursts over the space of just 82 hours in 54 days all coming from what appears to be the same active fast radio burst source cataloged as FRB uh 2020 1124 A. What makes the latest observation so surprising to scientists is the irregular short time variations in the so called Faraday rotation measure which is the strength of the magnetic field and density of particles in the vicinity of the fast radio burst source. The variations went up and down over a period of 36 days of observations and then suddenly dropped during the last 18 days before the source quenched. It's the largest sample of fast radio burst data uh with polarization information from one single source and reveals a complex, dynamically evolving magnetized environment which isn't straightforwardly expected from an isolated source. Of course, the most likely explanation is that something else such as a binary companion star could be in the vicinity of the fast radio burst engine. Still, the observations are leaving scientists questioning what they thought they knew about these Enigmatic objects. Studies authors say the observations brought them back to the drawing board. And more multi wavelength observational campaigns are now needed to further unveil, um, the nature of these objects. This is spacetime. Still to come NASA's Insight Lander picks up the sound of meteorite impacts on the surface of Mars. And Rocket Lab launches its 7th electron mission this year. All that and more still to come on, um, space Time. It's been confirmed that NASA's Mars Insight Lander has detected seismic waves coming from four asteroids which crashed onto the Red Planet's surface in 2000 and 22,021. The findings, reported in the journal Nature Geoscience represent the first meteor impacts heard on the surface of another planet. Insight landed in the Elysium Planetia region of the Red Planet in 2018. The meteor impacts in 2021 were the first detected by Insight Seismometer since touchdown. Their seismic and acoustic information provide scientists with a new way of studying the Martian crust, mantle and core. One of the studies authors, Ingrid Dubois from Brown University, says the impacts range from between 85 and 280 km from Insight's location. Later, NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft flew over the impact sites and it detected a series of new craters right where the impacts occurred. Of the four confirmed meteoroids, Dubois says the first made the most dramatic entrance, hitting the Martian atmosphere on September 5, 2021 and exploding into at least three shards that each left craters behind. When Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter flew over the estimated impact site to confirm the location it used its black and white context camera to reveal three darkened spots on the Red Planet's surface. After locating these spots, the orbiter's mission managers used the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera to get a color close up of the craters. Then, after combing through earlier data, uh, the Insight team confirmed three other impacts on May 27, 2020 february 18, 2021 and August 31, 2021. D'boise says that having a really precise location for the source of the impacts calibrates all the other data for the mission. It validates the estimates made and tells a lot about the impact process itself and the seismic results. Researchers have been puzzling over why they haven't detected more meteorite impacts on Mars. See, the Red Planet is located right next to the Solar system's main asteroid built, which provides an Apple supply of space rocks to scar the Martian surface. And because the Red Planet's atmosphere is just 1% as thick as Earth, uh, far more meteoroids pass through it without disintegrating. Moreover, Insight Seismometer has already detected well over 1300 Marsquakes some of which could have been caused by impact events. Insights team suspects that other impacts may have been obscured by noise from wind or seasonal changes in the atmosphere. And in case you're wondering, here's what the impact sounds like. Now that the distinctive seismic signature of the impact on Mars has been discovered scientists expect to find more of them hiding within such nearly four years worth of data. Most Marsquakes are caused by subsurface rocks cracking from heat and pressure. Studying how the resulting seismic waves change as they move through different material provides scientists with a way of studying the Martian crust, mantle and core. The four impacts confirmed so far all, uh, produce small quakes with a magnitude of no more than about two. So they're not providing scientists with a glimpse steeper than the Martian crust. Whereas seismic signals from larger Marsquakes such as the magnitude five trembler that occurred back in May this year can reveal significant details about the planet's mantle and core. Also, these particular impacts were all relatively close by so their signals didn't go through the metal core anyway. But it allows scientists to use this knowledge for the whole catalogue of events with a new understanding from these data points on location and source. Importantly, the impacts are critical for refining Mars's timeline. You see, impacts are the clocks of the solar system. By knowing the impact rate today scientists can estimate the age of different surfaces. They can approximate the age of a planet's surface simply by counting its impact craters. On Mars, for example, the surface has had more time to accumulate impact craters of various sizes. That's because the planet lacks the tectonic plate movements and active volcanism that constantly renews the surface of the Earth. By calibrating statistical models based on how often they see impacts occurring now scientists can estimate how many more impacts would have been happening earlier in the solar system's history. This is spacetime. Still to come, rocket Lab launches its 7th electron orbital mission this year. And later in the science report, a new mask that can alert the wearer, uh, if they've been exposed to Covert 19. All that and more still to come on, um, Space Time Rocket Lab has launched its 30th mission and delivered its 150th satellite into orbit. The owl spreads its wings. Mission was flown aboard an electron rocket from Launch Complex One b at the Mahia Peninsula space port on New Zealand's North Island east coast.

Guest: LD twelve stations on mission. From now on, there should be no red flags on your critical LCCs becon LD mission. LD beacon confirm all expected flight. Computer as GOs is green. Confirmed as gorgeous. Please lock the auto sequence and confirm.

VO: Auto sequence is locked.

Guest: Yeah, we are go for auto sequence. There. LD is go for lunch. LD shadow confirmed. Go for lunch.

VO: LD shadow is go for lunch. Vehicle is switched to internal power or grandpa disabled. Vehicle is fully on internal power screen and enabled for flight. Complete. Locks has been recirculation. All hailing anticasuring disabled. Stage one and stage two tanks of purse high flow engine purge and naval water daily is activated.

Guest: Ten, 987-6543, two, uh, one.

VO: Stage one propulsion.

Guest: Our 30th electron has taken to the skies having successfully lifted off the pad at Launch Complex One. The next critical stage in Electrons flight is MaxQ maximum aerodynamic pressure. This is when the vehicle's velocity and local air density are at their maximum and the vehicle experiences the most mechanical stressq. Electron has successfully passed through Max Q and at an altitude of just over 15 km, is well on its way to pass the Carbonline and enter orbit. The nine sea level Rutherford engines on the first stage are operating nominally and we are approaching the next series of events in the mission. The first step after Max Q is Miko, or main engine cut off when those first nine engines throttle down before shutting off completely. This slows the vehicle marginally before the first stage separates from the vehicle. Once this is complete, the second stage Space Optimized rodford engine ignites to take the payload and kick stage the rest of the way into orbitimbs.

VO: Miko confirmed stage separation successful.

Guest: Done, done and done. With that, we've confirmed Miko stage separation and ignition of the Space Optimized robusted engine on the second stage. At this point, as Electron has cleared most of Earth's atmosphere, it can also jettison the payload fairing, as it is no longer needed to protect the payload. Electron's second stage is continuing nominally on its way to orbits, carrying its inspective payload, which is now exposed in preparation of deployment. The vehicle is currently reaching speeds of more than 8000 km h and at an altitude of 131, vehicle is continuing normally on its flight to low Earth orbit, currently traveling at a speed of over 9000, an altitude of 140 km. We're now almost five minutes into the mission, for the owl spreads its wings our Electron flight. This inspector the vehicle with payload is traveling at a speed of over 110 km h, currently at an altitude of 176 km while on its way to low Earth orbit. The low Earth orbit zone, often noted as Leo, is classified by having an Apogee of less than two 0 km, or approximately 1200 miles. Next up is a step we refer to as the battery hotspot. The Rutherford is a unique engine and that it is powered by electric pumps which draw energy from batteries. Once those batteries are depleted, they're just dead weight, so we shed them to swap out for a fresh one HPV.

VO: Battery discharge holding nominal reaching hot swap in roughly 30 seconds.

Guest: Battery hot swap has been successfully completed and a new battery is powering the second stage onto orbit. Electron is currently at an altitude of 206 km, traveling at a speed of over 19,000 its way to space. While this particular mission is not a recovery mission, our recovery program is progressing at speed with the first test of a recovered Rutherford engine just two weeks ago, and it was a roaring success. We're looking forward to the next 30 minutes emissions and beyond, perhaps even flying fully reusable hardware to improve sustainability and value for our customers. The next major milestone we're approaching is second engine cut off or a CICO just like MECO. Our Space Optimized Rutherford engine on the second stage will throttle down ahead of separation from the kickstate which takes the payload to exactly where it needs to go.

VO: Seek confirmed.

Guest: You may have heard the call there. The Vacuum Optimized or otherford engine has throttled down and the kickstage has cleanly separated from the second stage. From here, the small but mighty Curry engine will take the payload to its exact destination in space. For the next 50 minutes or so, the kick stage will enter a coast phase until it reaches the apogee of its elliptical orbit the furthest distance away from Earth. Uh, from here, the Curie engine kicks in to adjust its perigee to a circular orbit at this point. Once it reaches the orbit our customer has requested, we'll deploy some spectrum's strict One satellite to its new home in space.

Stuart: The flight carried the Japanese Strix One Earth Observation Satellite, which was placed into a 563 km high orbit. It'll join two other strict satellites launched by Rocket Lab in February this year and December 2020 as part of inspective's Earth observation satellite constellation. The owl spreads its wings is Rocket Lab's 7th electron launched this year. The company is now working towards recovering a spent electron rocket first stage in midair, using a helicopter that's all part of plants to make the electron reusable. Also on the agenda is the first electron flight from Rocket Lab's new launch Complex Two at NASA's Wallops Island Flight facility on the Virginian MidAtlantic coast. And development work continues on electron's new Reusable Uterone rocket. Well, as if police and emergency services in Northern England, Scotland and Northern Ireland weren't busy enough last week with the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, they were also being inundated with hundreds of calls about a strange fireball crossing the sky. The British Meteor Network says some 800 people reported seeing the fiery streak that looked like a meteor heading northwest across the sky and was visible for about 20 seconds. Some witnesses reported seeing the object break apart. However, Meteor Network astronomer John McClain says the fireball was traveling too slowly to be a meteor and was most likely simply a piece of space junk. You see, most meteors typically enter the Earth's atmosphere at speeds of around 80 0 km/hour, whereas space junk will be traveling at orbital speeds of around 280 km h when it hits the atmosphere. So, uh, a meteor would cross the sky in a matter of seconds, whereas space junk is usually visible for much longer, in this case matching the reports of it being visible for 20 seconds. Preliminary trajectory calculations by the International Meteor Organization suggest the space debris would have landed in the Atlantic Ocean just south of the Hebrides. McLean suggested the object was possibly a starlink satellite, which was due to be deorbited and reenter the Earth's. Uh, atmosphere at around that time. But because the top of the Earth's atmosphere tends to expand and contract, depending on the solar wind strength, it may have commenced the orbit slightly early. This is spacetime and time. Now to take another brief look at some of the other stories making news in Science this week with a science report. Scientists have created a new mask that can alert the wearer, uh, if they've been exposed to covert nitin or influenza. Uh, after a ten minute conversation with an infected person, a sensor attached to the mask can respond to as little as zero three microiliters of liquid containing viral proteins. That's between 70 and 560 times less than the volume of liquid produced in one Sneeze, and much less than the volume produced by coughing or talking. The team designed a small sensor with synthetic molecules that can identify unique proteins or pathogens. A report in the journal Matters says scientists modified a multichannel sensor to simultaneously recognize surface proteins on SARS CoV Two, H five, N one and H one, N one. Once the sensor binds to target proteins in the air, an ion gated transistor, uh, will amplify the signal and alert the wearer through their cell phone within ten minutes. We all know that water comes in three phases solid, liquid and gas. What does it? Scientists at the University of Cambridge have discovered that water in a one molecule thick nanolayer, uh, acts like neither a liquid nor a solid and becomes highly conductive at high pressures. A, uh, report in the journal Nature used computer simulations to demonstrate this unusual behavior, detecting several new phases of water at the molecular level. The authors found that water, which is confined in a one molecule thick layer, goes through several phases, including a hexatic phase, during which water acts as neither solid nor liquid, but something in between, and a super ionic phase, which occurs at higher pressures and makes water highly conductive, propelling protons quickly through ice in a way resembling the flow of electrons in a conductor. Uh, understanding the behavior of water at the nanoscale is critical for understanding new technologies, including medical treatments, new highly conductive electrolytes for batteries, water desalination, and the frictionless transport of fluids. The results will not only help with understanding how water works at the nanoscale, but also suggest that nanoconfinement could be a new route for understanding supersonic behavior in other materials. Paleontologists in Canada have discovered the remains of what may be the largest and most complete mummified dinosaur ever found. Scientists at the University of Reading have identified the exposed right hind foot and tail of a juvenile duck build hadrosaur that died somewhere between 77,000,070 5 million years ago. Haydrosors are often described as the cows of the age of dinosaurs roaming the Lake Cretaceous in vast Habibrous herds. While adults commonly grew to more than 10 meters in length, this juvenile is thought to have been around 4 meters long. The remains were found protruding out of a hillside in Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta. Paleontologists say early indications suggest that this animal, complete with intact fossilized skin and scales as well as tendons, may be extremely well preserved, with hopes that some of the internal organs might have been preserved as well, thereby providing new insights into what hatrosols really look like. Scientists say it will take months of painstaking work to carve out the block of stone containing the fossil while also protecting the already exposed segments. The stone will then go to the Royal Terrell Museum of Paleontology, where researchers will work painstakingly to carefully expose the rest of the fossilized remains from the surrounding matrix. South Australia has always been referred to as the creepy state, and now we know why. It seems South Australia is full of haunted houses and buildings with reputations for murder and death and strange sightings. One property near Taylor Bend on the other side of the Adelaide Hills, is reputed of had no less than seven strange deaths. Close to the city, Port Adelaide also has a history of creepy stories and unusual deaths. Then there's a ward of the Glenside Hospital dating back to 1855, which housed the state's most violent and criminally insane patients. And there are several buildings right in the Adelaide city center which have a history of ghostly sounds and sightings. Tim Menham from Australian Skeptic says it's fascinating to see how a place can build up a reputation that may not always be deserved.

VO: Adelaide is the capital. It's a nice place. It's called the City of Churches. South of a place and place. It's got a bit of a nice background, but someone put up a list of the most haunted places in most twisted murder mysteries and overall scary is what they call it places in South Australia. Now you get these lists all the time and you probably if you got a second list of the five most murder, mystery and overall scary places in South Australia, you might find different ones. This list that we're looking at now has five different places. Two of them are actual towns, one's called Old Calum Town, that has some old buildings dating back to the 1890s. There's been several deaths associated with it. There's always deaths associated with places. I don't know if they're particularly creepy.

Stuart: I've been to Old Caleb, I've been there a number of times, the local pubs, but never goes.

VO: I've never been, I didn't even know where. Old tale Port Adelaide is the other city. We have a number of brutal deaths. Any big place is going to get brutal deaths at some point or another. A lot of little places get brutal deaths too. But yes, there's a particular story of a body of a Chinese sailor which was found floating in the river wrapped in a sack with three nails in his head. That's pretty impressive for a scary story. They don't say much about where exactly in Port adelaide to go to be scared, maybe just everywhere you go in the town. Then there's an arcade, a shopping arcade in Adelaide, which is said to be the most haunted building in the CBD. Then there's a, um, former mental asylum, which is supposed to be the most haunted building or something. Then there's what's now a, uh, store, clothing store, I think it is, in the main pedestrian mall of, uh, Adelaide. And that's the most haunted shop or something. Everything is the most the most haunted town, the most haunted building, the most haunted hospital, that sort of thing. So you don't want any mediocre, haunting places here. If you go to Adelaide, if you go to South Australia, you can visit the town, Old Taylor Town and Port Adelaide, or go and shopping in the middle of Adelaide and you're bound to bump into a ghost tour. Tour.

Stuart: That's Tim Mendham  from Australian Skeptics. And that's the show for now. Spacetime is available every Monday, Wednesday and Friday through Apple Podcasts, itunes, Stitcher, Google Podcast, PocketCasts, Spotify, Acast, Amazon Music,, SoundCloud, YouTube, your favorite podcast download provider, uh and From Spacetime with Spacetime is also broadcasts through the National Science Foundation on Scienceowned Radio and on both iHeartRadio and Tune in radio. And you can help to support our show by visiting the Spacetime store for a range of promotional merchandising goodies. Or by becoming a Spacetime patron, which gives you access to triple episode, commercial free versions of the show, as well as lots of bonus audio content which doesn't go to air, access to our exclusive Facebook group and other rewards. Just go to spacetime with Stewart for full details. And if you want more space time, please check out our blog, where you'll find all the stuff we couldn't fit in the show, as well as heaps of images, news stories, loads of videos and things on the web I find interesting or amusing. Just go to spacetime with Stuartgarry That's all one word, and that's Tumblr without the e. You can also follow us through at stuartgary, on Twitter, uh, at Spacetime with Stuartgary, on Instagram, through our Spacetime YouTube channel and on Facebook. Just go to spacetime with Stewart Gary and Space Time is brought to you in collaboration with Australian Sky and Telescope magazine, your Window in the Universe. Uh, you've been listening to Space Time with Stuart Gary. This has been another quality podcast production from

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Tim Mendham


Editor with Australian Skeptics