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This is Spacetime Series 26, episode 16 for broadcast on the 6 February 2023.
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Coming up on Space time problems with NASA's Juno spacecraft currently orbiting Jupiter.
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NASA's Perseverance Rover completes the Mars Sample Depot.
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And that green comet we spoke about the other week? Well, apparently it's grown an extra tail, although more coming up on Spacetime.
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Welcome to Spacetime with Stuart Gary.
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Mission managers are evaluating an issue with NASA's Juno spacecraft, which is on an extended mission orbiting the giant gas planet Jupiter.
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They're trying to determine why the majority of the images taken by the orbiter's JunoCam weren't acquired during last month's Jovian flyby.
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The data received from the spacecraft indicates that the camera experienced an issue similar to one that occurred on the previous close encounter with the gas giant in December.
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Back then, mission managers saw an anomalous temperature rise after the camera was powered on in preparation for the flyby.
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However, the January 22 flyby saw the same issue.
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This is for far longer, 23 hours, as opposed to just 36 minutes for the December close encounter.
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This left the first 114 JunoCam images planned for the flyby totally unusable.
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As with the previous occurrence, once the anomaly that caused the temperature rise cleared, the camera returned to normal operations and the remaining 44 images were of good quality and quite usable.
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These were the mission's 47th and 48th flybys of Jupiter.
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Mission managers say the JunoCam will remain powered on for the time being, and the camera appears to continue to operate.
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Nominally, JunoCam is a color visible light camera designed to capture images of Jupiter's cloud tops.
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The camera was originally designed to operate in Jupiter's high energy radiation environment for at least seven orbits.
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But as you can see, it seems to have survived an awful lot longer.
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Juno was launched back on August 5, 2011 from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida aboard an Atlas Five rocket.
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The Lockheed Martin built spacecraft was designed to study the chemical composition of Jupiter's immense atmosphere and cloudtops, peering deep below the obscuring cloud structure to probe convection currents and the deep engines driving its circulation patterns and spectacular surface weather features, cyclonic storms and iconic salmon and cream colored atmospheric bands.
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Juno is also measuring Jupiter's gravitational field in order to better understand the internal structure of the solar system's largest planet, as well as its magnetic field, its polar magnetosphere, and its aurora activity.
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Jupiter is the largest planet in the solar system.
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In fact, other than the sun, it contains more mass than the entire rest of the solar system combined.
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So by better understanding how this Jovian gas giant formed, scientists can learn more about the formation of the rest of the solar system as well.
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The 3625 Kilogram probe achieved Jovian orbit insertion on July 5, 2016.
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It's in a highly elongated polar orbit designed to avoid as much of Jupiter's damaging radiation belts as possible.
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The orbit allows the spacecraft to swoop down and skim just 3400 km above the swirling Jordan cloud tops before being taken back out to more than eight 1 million kilometres to help protect the spacecraft from Jupiter's deadly radiation.
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Juneau's most delicate instruments and control systems are housed in its specially shielded strongbox.
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Among its early discoveries, JuneA gathered information about jovy and lightning data that forced scientists to revise their earlier theories.
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It provided the first views of Jupiter's north pole, as well as providing insights into Jupiter's auroral activity, its magnetic fields and its tumultuous atmosphere.
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In 2021, an analysis of the frequency of interplanetary dust particles primarily on the backs of the solar panels as Juno passed between Earth and the asteroid belt showed that the dust which causes the zodiacal light comes from Mars, rather than from the comets and asteroids which come from the outer solar system as was previously thought.
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Juno has also made many discoveries that a challenging existing theory is about Jupiter's formation.
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When Juno flew over the poles of Jupiter, it imaged clusters of stable cyclones that exist there.
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It found that the magnetosphere of Jupiter is uneven and chaotic.
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Using its microwave radiometer, Juno found that the salmon and cream bands which dominate the planet's outer atmosphere actually extend for hundreds of kilometres deep into the planet's clouds.
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The interior structure of Jupiter isn't evenly mixed.
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This has resulted in the hypothesis that Jupiter doesn't have a solid core as previously thought, but a fuzzy core made out of bits of rock and metallic hydrogen.
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This unusual core structure may be the result of a collision that happened early in Jupiter's formation.
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The original plans called for a total of 37 orbits around the 143,000 kilometer wide planet, with the original 53.4 Earth day polar orbits eventually contracting down to just 14 Earth days.
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However, those plants were scrapped following ongoing concerns about the spacecraft's main engine, meaning that all orbits remained at 53.4 Earth days, which would have meant fewer orbits overall.
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The good news is that Juno's cope with Jupiter's extreme radiation belts better than expected, and that's allowed its current extended mission to proceed.
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By extending the mission, not only were those missing orbits included, but lots of additional orbits were also added, allowing greater exploration.
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Juno will make its 49th passive Jupiter on March 1 of this report from NASA TV.
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Jupiter is by far the largest planet in the solar system.
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It has an influence on everything else.
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So if we want to understand how the planets form, how the solar systems form, we really have to start with Jupiter.
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By studying Jupiter, you're going to get one piece of the puzzle not necessarily how life formed, but maybe how the ingredients that made up life eventually got spread around in the early solar system and got to us.
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We care about the light elements because that's what we're made of.
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We've got a puzzle about where these volatile elements, these lightweight elements like nitrogen, carbon, noble gases, where they came from to determine how much water is in Jupiter is essential to understand how this planet came to form and then how it influenced the formation of all the other planets in the system.
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When the Earth formed in the absence of Jupiter, it probably would have gathered very little water and organic molecules, which would have been concentrated in the colder, outer part of the solar system.
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What Jupiter evidently did as it formed was to scatter cold material that contain water, ice, and organic materials to the inner solar system, where it could be captured by the Earth and the other terrestrial planets.
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We learned about the origin of the solar system.
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We're learning about our own origins.
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We're learning about how life comes to be, about who we are and what our place is in the universe.
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It's about knowledge and about humanity's quest to understand.
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For me, that's why we need to study Jupiter and the solar system and almost everything.
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And in that report from NASA TV, we heard from Juno project scientist Steve Levin, from NASA's jet propulsion laboratory in Pasadena, California, juno principal investigator Scott Bolton from the southwest research institute in San Antonio, Texas.
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Juno atmospheric science.
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Investigator Andy Ingasol from Caltech, planetary Formation Investigator Tristan Guillot from the Costa Juror Observatory in France and Planetary Formation Investigator Jonathan Lewin from the University of Arizona.
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This is space time.
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Still to come, NASA's Mars Perseverance Rover completes construction of the Martian sample depot and will explain the green comets extra tale.
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All that and more.
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Still to come on space time.
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NASA's Mars Perseverance Road Rover has now completed its construction of the Mars sample depot on the surface of the Red Planet.
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Ten sample tubes containing an amazing variety of Martian geology samples have now been deposited on the Martian surface, thereby providing a backup to the ten identical samples in the cache aboard the Mars Perseverance Rover, which are destined for eventual transport back to Earth.
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Less than six weeks after beginning setting up the sample depot, the ten samples were carefully positioned on the Martian soil.
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Throughout its science campaigns, the six world car sized rover has been collecting pairs of samples from rocks which mission managers deemed scientifically significant.
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One sample from each pair now sits in a carefully arranged depot in the Three Forks region of Jesro Crater.
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Now, this project wasn't just a case of dumping a bunch of metal containers under the ground.
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The titanium tubes were placed in an intricate zigzag pattern, with each sample between five and 15 meters from the next.
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Each had to be carefully positioned so that they didn't block access to any of the other samples.
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And the exact coordinates of each, together with the correct glove adapter combination needed to be carefully recorded so that future mission managers knew exactly where to look and how to safely recover them if needed, either by means of another rover on the ground or by a roticopter from the air.
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These depot samples will serve as a backup set, while the other half remain inside Perseverance's cage, which will be the primary means of conveying the samples to a sample retrieval.
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As part of the sample return campaign, mission, scientists believe the igneous and sedimentary rock cores provide an excellent cross section of the geological processes that took place in Jesro shortly after the crater's formation 4 billion years ago.
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The rover also deposited an atmospheric sample and what scientists call a witness tube, which is used to determine if the samples being collected have been contaminated with material that's traveled with the rover from Earth.
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The depot is located on flat ground not far from the base of a raised fanshaped ancient river delta that formed long ago when a stream flowed into the lake.
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Perseverance's deputy project manager Rick Welsh from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California says, now, with the three forks deeper in their rear view mirror, perseverance can now head up the delta.
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The rover will make its ascent up through the Hawksbill Gap previously explored once past their geologic unit the science team calls Rocky Top.
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It'll be in new, unexplored territory and begin studying the delta top.
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Passing the Rocky Top outcrop represents the end of the Rovers Delta Front campaign and the beginning of the Rovers Delta Top campaign because of the geologic transition that takes place at that level.
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Perseverance project scientist Ken Farley from Caltech says that from the base of the delta up to the level where Rocky Tops located, the rocks appeared to have been deposited in a lake environment.
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And those above Rocky Top appear to have been created in or near the end of the Martian river flowing into the lake.
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As Perseverance as sends the delta into the river setting, scientists expect to move into rocks that are composed of larger grains from sand to large boulders.
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And these materials are likely to have originated in rocks outside of Jesu Crater where they were eroded and eventually washed out into the crater as river sediment.
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One of the first stops the rover will make during the new science campaign is at a location mission managers are calling the Cavillainer Unit, essentially a Martian sandbar units made up of sediment that eons ago was deposited in the bend of one of gizro's inflowing river channels.
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The science team believes the Cavillionaire Unit will be an excellent location to hunt for intriguing outcrops of sandstone, perhaps mudstone, and it might even get a glimpse of the geological processes taking place beyond the walls of the crater.
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Of course, the key objective of Perseverance's mission on Mars is astrobiology, including searching for samples that may contain signs of ancient microbial life.
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And a river delta region with nutrients and lots of water is a great place to look.
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The rover is also characterizing the planet's geology and past climate paving the way for human exploration of the Red Planet sometime in the next decade.
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This is spacetime still to come the green comet grows an extra tail.
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We'll explain how that happens.
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And later in the Science Report, the hunt continues for a missing shipment of radioactive caesium 137 which quite literally fell off the back of a truck in Western Australia.
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It's a truly amazing story.
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All that and more still to come on Space Time.
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A couple of weeks ago, we reported on a spectacular green comet, c 2022 E three ZTF which has just streaked past the Earth and is now back on its way to the dark outer reaches of our solar system.
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The comet was clearly visible in dark skies away from city lights, providing sky watches with a spectacular sight originating in the distant ore cloud, possibly more than a lightyear away.
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The green comet takes over 55,000 years to complete its orbit meaning at last visit to the inner solar system when Earth was still in the Stone Age and the enderthals roamed Europe and Central Asia.
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Vorteur Cloud is a hypothetical sphere of comets icy debris in frozen worlds, some possibly from other star systems or interstellar space which are being caught up at the sun's gravitational pool and are now following the solar system as it orbits around the galaxy.
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The greenish tinge on the comet comes from chemical reactions as various volatile particles vaporize off into space from deep inside the comet.
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But what's made it especially interesting for now is that in addition to its fully formed coma and twin tails, c 2022 E three ZTF also appears to display a third so called antitale.
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This bizarre third tail is made up of the same material as the comet's other two tails one made of dust, which is blown off the comet by the solar wind and the other made of gas and ionized particles from within the comet itself that sublimate directly from solid cometry material.
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These twin tails are clearly visible.
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The dust tail reflects sunlight while the gas within the other tail becomes ionized, giving off a faint glow.
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Eventually, this release gas cools and becomes invisible.
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But the leftover dust is left to drift in the comet's wake as it makes its way around the sun.
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And that's where the antitale comes in.
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See, it's not actually part of the comet itself, but it's an optical illusion caused by the Earth passing through the comet's orbital plane that causes some of this dust to be re illuminated by the sun, appearing as a bright streak, which can look like it's streaming out of the comet in the opposite direction to its tails, depending on the comet's trajectory and orientation.
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and time now to take a brief look at some of the other stories making science this week with a science report.
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Well, the big question today is how does a radioactive shipment of caesium 137 just quite literally fall off the back of a truck? Caesium 137 was inside a tiny six by eight millimeter button size silver pellet smaller than a five cent coin.
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It was fitted inside a radioactive gauge and stowed in the large lead line radiation casing bolted into a special transportation pallet, which had been loaded onto the truck.
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Hazmat teams and emergency services have been scouring some 1400 kilometres of highway 95 between the Rio Tinto mine at Newman in the Western Australian Pilbara and the state's capital of Perth, looking for the pellet.
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Caesium 137 is commonly used in mining operations to detect the flow of liquid through pipes, to measure the thickness of materials and, as in this case, reportedly for calibrating radiation gauges.
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West Australian government authorities claimed the pellet was in its transport container when it departed the mine, but the Caesium 137 pellets, together with some screws and a bolt from the gauge, were not there when the container was checked sometime after its arrival at the Deeper near Perth.
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Authorities say they don't believe the radioactive pellet was stolen or deliberately removed.
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Instead, they're speculating the constant vibration of the moving truck caused the gauge to shake loose inside the container during the trip.
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That resulted in the pellets, some screws and a bolt falling out through the hole left by the bolt and onto the deck at the back of the truck before eventually rolling off onto the road.
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No explanation how it came out of the container, however, and that raises some serious questions about the radiation security of the container, which is being used for the transport by Rio Tinto.
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The current fear is that the radioactive pellets fallen on the road and then became wedged in the tire tread of another vehicle, which means it could be anywhere right now.
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Caesium 137 emits both beta radiation, which are basically free flying electrons and positrons, as well as high energy photons in the form of gamma radiation.
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While the beta radiation will be blocked by the shell of the capsule, the gamma radiation will stream right through it, delivering some 662 kiloelectron volts of energy.
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The source has an activity of 19 gigabeckerls, which means it's emitting about 19 billion high energy photons every second.
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The eczem 137 ceramic source commonly used in radiation gauges, emits some two milliseavets of radiation an hour.
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That's the equivalent of ten chest xrays an hour.
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The authorities warn that if you happen to find the pellet, you should stay at least 5 meters away from it.
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Western Australia's Department of Fire and Emergency Services says while the capsule could not be weaponized, it could cause acute sickness, radiation burns and other long term risks, such as cancer.
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Cesium 137 is a half life of over 30 years.
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That means the capsule itself will remain somewhat radioactive for at least the next 300 years.
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A new study warns that people are breathing in airborne micro plastics even when they're in their homes.
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The findings, reported in the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology, show that you're likely to be exposed to thousands of airborne microplastics every year, and that would primarily be indoors.
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The study investigated the abundance, distribution form and possible sources of microplastics in both indoor and outdoor sites, finding concentrations are between one and 28 times higher indoors now, with people spending approximately 90% of their time indoors.
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And based on the indoor to outdoor microplastic levels identified in the study, the researchers calculate that the average human would be breathing in some 2675 airborne microplastic particles every year.
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Better good news now, and a new study claims a latte could have some antiinflammatory effects in humans.
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Scientists from the University of Copenhagen say a combination of proteins and antioxidants founding coffee with milk seems to double the antiinflammatory properties in immune cells.
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Whenever bacteria, viruses and other foreign substances enter your body, your immune system reacts by deploying white blood cells in chemical substances to protect you.
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The reaction, commonly known as inflammation, also occurs when you overload tendons and muscles and is characteristic of diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.
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Antioxidants known as polyphenols are found in humans as well as plants, including fruits and vegetables.
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Now, in their study, the researchers investigated how polyphenols behave when combined with amino acids, the building blocks of proteins.
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Their findings, reported in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, show that polyphenols react with amino acids, causing an enhanced inhibitory effect on inflammation in immune cells.
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The authors observed that immune cells treated with a combination of polyphenols and amino acids were twice as effective in fighting inflammation as cells which had only had polyphenols added to them.
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A baby in New Zealand has been placed in his doctor's care after his parents refused to consent for a blood transfusion unless the hospital could prove that the blood hadn't come from a donor who had been vaccinated against COVID-19.
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Tim Mendham from Australian Skeptics says New Zealand's Blood Service has received growing calls from antivaxxers demanding nonvaccinated blood.
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There's been a couple of cases recently of parents of young babies refusing or preferring not to give transfusions to their babies for surgery unless the blood is proved to be unvaccinated.
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The fear, they claim, is that vaccinated blood gives off COVID or anything else that can affect their child.
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Now, there was one particular case, which got a lot of publicity, of a six month old baby.
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The parents refused to have vaccinated blood transfusion.
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The doctors took it to court, and the court gave temporary guardianship to the doctors and surgeons and things, who then performed what was urgent surgery.
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It had to be done in the next day or so, so there was no time to mess around trying to find unvaccinated blood.
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Not that the blood is actually classified that way by the blood banks anyway, that the surgery happened, it was fine, it happened, but it's not the only one.
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As I said, the second one, about a week later in New Zealand, was doing the same thing.
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They refused to sort of sit around and get guardianship.
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They were going to take their baby to India where they would get safe blood in quotes.
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I don't think India is the place to do that, whatever.
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But yeah, they were flying overseas to try and find a place where they could get unvaccinated blood.
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This has been the thing that's been going on at least for a lot of 2022 around the world, various places people have been asking for unvaccinated blood, even though there is no scientific evidence that vaccinated blood is dangerous to pass on any sort of COVID related diseases.
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It's a strange phenomenon.
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It's just part of the antivaxx movement.
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It's part of the hysteria and scare tactics that have been promoted by the antivaxxers on any particular thing they can name.
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Because lately the trend has been blaming deaths of famous people on their being vaccinated, basically grabbing anyone who died recently, saying, see vaccination, vaccination.
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That's the trouble.
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The vast majority of people are vaccinated.
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They're trying to find unvaccinated blood, for a start, is difficult.
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That there's an ethical issue about what's called distributive justice, I think it is, where you can only go so far in demanding your rights and then you start interfering with the ability of the system if you like to look after everybody equally.
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So if you're saying you have to have unvaccinated blood and you send the hospital blood bank scurrying around trying to find it, it's basically taking resources away from other people.
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So you can go so far in your rights in quotes, but not to the effect of actually harming other people.
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I think it was a big thing not all that long ago of people actually stockpiling their own blood supplies to make sure it's pure for future use.
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There were also cases of people stockpiling their blood in case they caught HOV later on and had to be tested to see if they could participate in social activities or sport and that sort of thing.
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The fact that you're vaccinated, all that's doing is teaching your body how to make the antibodies needed and the original vaccination material disappears in a couple of days anyway.
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It's not a live virus that's being injected into you that's timing them from Australian skeptics.
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And that's the show for now.
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Space time is available every Monday, Wednesday and Friday through Apple Podcast, itunes, Stitcher, Google Podcast, PocketCasts, Spotify, Acast, Amazon Music Bites.com, SoundCloud, YouTube, your favorite podcast download provider and From Spacetime with Stuartgarry.com.
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Also broadcasts through the National Science Foundation on Science Zone radio and on both iHeartRadio and tune in radio.
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And you can help to support our show by visiting the Spacetime store for a range of promotional merchandising goodies.
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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.
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Just go to Spacetime with Stuartgarry.com 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.
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Just go to Spacetime with Stuartgarry dot tumblr.com.
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That's all one word and that's tumblr without the e.
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You can also follow us through at stuartgarry, on Twitter, at Spacetime with Stuartgarry, on Instagram, through our Spacetime YouTube channel and on Facebook.
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Just go to Facebook.com spacetime with Stuartgarry and Spacetime is brought to you in collaboration with Australian Sky Telescope magazine.
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Your window on the Universe.
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You've been listening to Space time with Stuart Gary? This has been another quality podcast production from Bites.com.