The Astronomy, Technology and Space Science News Podcast.
SpaceTime with Stuart Gary Series 24 Episode 37
*Earth’s first supercontinent
A new study suggests Pangea was simply the latest of approximately three supercontinents that formed on the Earth’s surface and that they all formed with in the last two billion years.
*NASA Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Prepares for First Flight
Mars 2020 mission managers say their Ingenuity helicopter should be ready for its maiden flight within the next few days.
*Virgin Galactic unveils its first SpaceShip III
Virgin Galactic has rolled out its newest spacecraft – the first so called Spaceship III variant – officially named VSS Imagine.
*US Strategic commands cryptic tweet
Often described as the dunny door of social media Twitter looked like things were getting a lot more serious the other day when the official twitter account of the United States Strategic Command -- which runs the country's powerful nuclear weapons force suddenly tweeted what looked like a cryptic code.
*The Science Report
Scientists have discovered a new type of immune system T Cells.
Record high temperatures in the Russian Arctic.
A new way to dramatically increase the power storage capacity of Lithium-ion batteries.
The remains of an extinct species of Tree-Climbing Kangaroo discovered on the Nullarbor Plain.
Skeptic's guide to QAnon
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SpaceTime Series 24 Episode 37 Transcript
[00:00:00] This is space time series 24, episode 37 for broadcast on the 5th of April, 2021. Coming up on space time. Earth's first, supercontinent getting ready for the first helicopter flight on Mars and Virgin galactic unveils. Its latest spaceship. All that and more coming up on space time. Welcome to space time with steward, Gary.
A new study suggested Pangea was simply the latest of about three super continents, which formed on the earth surface and that they all formed within the last 2 billion years. The findings reported in the journal geology mean the planets early [00:01:00] convection and tectonic activity. Didn't allow super continents to form during the planets.
First 2.6 billion years of existence. The study's lead author. Dr. UBA, Lou from Curtin university says these findings suggest that Playtech tonics operated differently before 2 billion years ago. And that the 600 million year super continental cycle only started during the second half of Earth's alive, if lose.
Correct. It means the shift in plate tectonics, Mark, the regime change in earth system. And this regime change impacted on the eventual emergence of complex life and even how earth resources are formed them preserved. Pangea was the first supercontinent scientist discovered early last century. It existed some 300 million years ago lasting until the age of the dinosaurs.
Since then ongoing tectonic plate movements caused by convection split Pangea up eventually forming the continental pattern we see today. Recently geologists, [00:02:00] including Lu determined that at least two other super continents existed prior to Pangea forming and breaking up again over the past 2 billion years in roughly 600 million years cycles about what happened during the first two and a half billion years of planet earth history remains a mystery.
The research by Lou and colleagues tested two. Our policies. One is that the supercontinent cycle started prior to 2 billion years ago. Alternatively, the ancient continents known as crate, arms only managed to get together in multiple clusters, known as super crate arms instead of forming a singular supercontinent.
The authors carried out their study by venturing into the Hills East of Perth, to an area known as the, your gun crate on your gun. Creighton is a massive object. Constituting, the bulk of the Western Australian landmass. The region is bounded by a mixture of sedimentary, basins, and protea Zohak fold and thrust belts.
And it's ancient with zircon grains and the Creighton's [00:03:00] famous Jack Hill's area. Having been dated to between 4.27 and 4.4 billion years ago, that makes them some of the oldest crust on earth. Yo gun is a critical piece of the puzzle. Not only because it's old, but also because there are a series of dark rock.
So dollaride dykes. That recorder is ancient magnetic field at the time when the rocks first solidified by precisely debting the rocks and measuring the samples magnetic record, using a technique called paleomagnetism. The authors were able to reconstruct with as rocks were relative to the magnetic North pole, when they formed.
By analyzing the new data from your GaN and then comparing it with data available globally from other great ons, the authors were able to rule out the existence of a long lived single supercontinent before 2 billion years ago. Although transient super continents may well have existed. More likely there have been two long lived clusters of crate ans or super crate arms before 2 billion years that were geographically isolated from each other.
[00:04:00] Never forming a single super continent. This research goes some way towards solving a long-standing mystery. The idea of even older, super continents have been speculated about for years, but what it's been difficult to prove, it's also been just as difficult to disprove. Lou admits this study. Isn't the final word in the debate, but it's a step in the right direction and more data needs to be collected from lots more similar rocks in order to further test the hopper targets.
Doctoral called the Solarize. And we're basically samples of this polarized, uh, 150 kilometers under through gestating and some detail magnetic experiments. We are able to date this rock. So the time of formation and the two determining the magnetic direction when they are [00:05:00] full. And, uh, with this information, we compile our data without the data available globally.
So with that thing in to transition, which is about 2.6 to 2.4 billion years ago, that was no super continent. As we know, it's optimal. So a classic supercontinent Pangea, which. I think he composed most of the continents of the world today. And after the Pangea break up, the water has become the way it looks today and the way our, basically our way from 2 billion years ago to present generally accepted as that will at least.
So the appearance change. So many things, it changed it. Maybe in fact, the appearance of the, it affected [00:06:00] a holiday home, a mentor come back and how the engine works. So. Well, you already know that it's generally accepted as I will roughly say that during the past two years, and each of them from the assembly duration break up, each of them existed about five to 500 to 700 years.
We didn't know what it was like. That could it be anonymous, but we didn't know. And that was our new that our new model. Well, the likelihood
is if I ran sleep, why was the earth different more than 2 billion years ago? What do you think it was? There was still a magnetic record there, but it was difficult to arrange the Creighton's in such a way that they would have formed a super continent. Yeah. What do you think was different about the earth back then?
That resulted in that? Was it just too hot or too much [00:07:00] turbulence or, or, yeah, yeah. Yeah. So, um, The connection, the mental. All right, hold on. Full convection for all the continents for the same location and maybe through the cooling at one point, all this small short wave
long wave form. Very large scale, which tracks all the continents to one point of the large continent. So something happens is, uh, you could say something happened that people answer to GA. So it's that there wasn't enough convection going on in the mantle at that time. That, uh, is that what we were saying?
The convection pattern, because eviction [00:08:00] pattern was different. Yeah.
Debra Lu from Curtin university. And this is spacetime I'm Stuart, Gary, still the calm Nasser, getting ready for the first helicopter flight on another world and Virgin galactic unveils, its new spaceship, three, all that and more store to calm. Um, space time,
NASA Mars, 2020 mission managers say their ingenuity helicopter should be ready for its maiden flight on the red planet in the next few days. The 1.8 kilogram rotocraft had been attached to the belly of NASA's perseverance Rover, which touched down on the Martian surface in crater, back on February [00:09:00] the 18th on March the 21st ingenuity was amp cocoon from its guitar shape, composite carbon fiber graphite debris shield, which had protected it during the landing, the Tunney helicopters now.
And they're going along series of checks with massive targeting no earlier than April 8th for the historic first flight on another planet. Once deployed ingenuity, we'll have 30 Martian days or souls to conduct its test flight campaign. But flying in a controlled manner on Mars is far more difficult than on earth.
The red planet might only have a third of Earth's gravity, but its atmosphere is just 1% as dense as that of the earth. So there's far less air for ingenuity is red, a blades to grab hold of and the problems don't end there. During the Marsh and daytime, the planet surface receives only about half the amount of solar energy that reaches the earth during daylight and at nighttime temperatures on Mars can drop to as low as minus 90 degrees Celsius, cold enough to freeze and crack unprotected electrical [00:10:00] components.
To fit within the available accommodations provided by the perseverance Rover. The ingenuity helicopter had to be small. The fly in the Marsh and environment meant it also had to be extremely light weight yet to survive the frigid Marcia nights meant it had to have enough energy to parent Turnell heaters.
The entire system from the performance of its road is in the rarefied Marsh and air through to its solar panels, electrical haters, and other components were all tested and retested in vacuum chambers and test labs at NASA's jet propulsion laboratory in Pasadena, California, but testing them on earth is one thing how they perform in the real world conditions.
Following launch the seven month journey to the red planet, and that are sent down to the Marsh and surface is quite another. Engineer what his first flight will be from a 10 by 10, made a patch of mash and real estate chosen for its flatness and lack of obstructions. Once the helicopter and Rover teams both confirmed that perseverance was situated exactly where they needed it to be.
[00:11:00] The little chopper was slowly deployed onto the surface over six Marsh and days. And then the Rover was moved clear. Next ingenuity we'll run it through is at 2,537 revolutions per minute. And if all final preflight checks look good. Lift off after climbing at a rate of about a meter per second, a little rudder copter will hover about three meters above the surface for up to 30 seconds.
It'll then descend and tach back down on the Martian surface. Completing its first historic flight all goes well. There'll be lots more flights following the first one. But that first flight is the one everybody's waiting for. We use send helicopters here on earth for all sorts of things that they're more suitable for than land-based vehicles.
Right. So you can just imagine being able to have that same capability on Mars flying around on Mars. And that could be for a condescendence purposes, taking pictures to scout out. Uh, area offensive science targets or future rovers [00:12:00] or even future astronauts. Part of the historical event, ingenuity is carrying a bit of history, a small sample of material from oval and Wilbur writes flyer.
The Wright flyer of course undertook the first ever powered controlled flight on earth. And he kitty Hawk, North Carolina, back on December the 17th, 1903. The Apollo 11 crew also carried a piece of material along with a small splinter of wood from the right flight to the moon. And back during their iconic mission back in July, 1969.
This space-time still the comm Virgin galactic unveils its first spaceship three and the world sits up and pays notice when the us strategic command, which controls America's nuclear missile, arsenal issues, a strange cryptic tweet, all that and more still to come. On space time.
[00:13:00] Virgin galactic has rolled out its newest spacecraft. The first so-called spaceship, three variant officially named VSS. Imagine the new vehicle features upgrades to improve maintenance, access and flight rate. But it's the most stunning fidget is its new silver finish, which he said to be a key part of the ship's thermal protection system as Virgin electric bus or Richard Branson explains all about new beautiful spaceship marks the expansion of the fleet, uh, with this being the first spaceship of the Virgin galactic spaceship, three class of vehicle.
I hope for all those who travel on this spaceship is that it will offer new horizons, fresh perspective. The spark ideas that would bring positive change to our beautiful planet. That's why we are calling on you. Spaceship BSS. Imagine our new spaceship ship stunning creme effect delivery is a fascinating example of form function [00:14:00] and thoughtfulness working in perfect harmony.
Our engineers originally specified that our reflective material was needed on certain parts of the spaceship to protect it from the heat of the rocket motor. Well, we love the look of it so much that when we built spaceship unity, we use more the Chrome than strictly necessary, but to great visual effect.
We noticed that the spaceship became at one with its natural environment by reflecting it, whether on the ground, in the air or in space. I can't wait to see, imagine flying the spaceship is going to start Brown testing first. And then it will start, but it's test flight program and the summit having both unity and imagine up in the sky will be an exciting time for us.
These has imagined spaceship three follows on from the VSS unity spaceship to vehicle, which itself was an expanded upgraded version of Bert Rutan's original scaled composite spaceship, one which won the X prize in [00:15:00] 2004. After being the first privately operated man spacecraft to read space twice within two weeks.
The new space graph will begin glide flight testing around the middle of the year that you would go inside with Unity's final round of testing. When it will, again, try to reach the common line of a hundred kilometers of Frinton 28,000 feet, a nationally recognized official status space. So far Unity's only reached the lower altitude American definition of space, which is 80 kilometers.
Meanwhile, Virgin Galactic's main competitor, blue origin has already launched its new Shepard rocket and capture on 11 test flights beyond the Karman line. They ought to be carrying their first paying space tourism passengers. By the end of this year, Virgin galactic says it now expects to begin carrying, paying space tourists on suborbital flights.
Next year, it's also working on another spaceship three, which will be named VSS inspire. Once operational each Virgin galactic flight will include up to six space, tourist bang, a [00:16:00] quarter of a million dollars. Each the Virgin galactic flight profiles seize the space plane mattered under the set of spar wing section of a white Knight to mothership taking off horizontally on a conventional runway.
That's different from blue origin, which launches vertically from a conventional gantry, like a traditional rocket. The twin fuselage Forgeard jet engine powered white Knight to mothership or client on altitude of about 15 and a half kilometers, roughly 50,000 feet where it all drop launch the spacecraft, which will then fire up at single hybrid rocket engine for a 72nd burn accelerating it's over 4,000 kilometers per hour.
More than max three. After main engine cut out or Maaco, the spacecraft will continue to coast on a ballistic trajectory to an apex of 110 kilometers, 361,000 feet. There. Passengers will experience the curvature of the earth, the blackness of space and the thin blue line of earth, the life giving atmosphere.
They'll also get to experience a few minutes [00:17:00] of weightlessness. As it plummets through the atmosphere, the twin Tel berms will be raised into a vertical feathered position to increase drag, thereby hoping to slow down the rate of descent at an altitude of 22.9 kilometers or 70,000 feet. The tail booms will be de feathered back into a horizontal configuration, allowing the spacecraft to glide toward conventional runway landing.
By comparison, new shepherds passenger carrying capsule, or float back down to earth using parachutes while the booster stage undertakes a separate powered vertical landing, Virgin Galactic's development suffered a major set back back in 2014 when the VSS Unity's his predecessor VSS enterprise broke apart in midair killing one of the test pilots after he released the feathering system during the ascent space.
Releasing the feathering system during a set, allowed it to lock into place, forcing a huge aerodynamic load on the airframe course in the spacecraft to break apart in mid-flight this [00:18:00] time cam a cryptic tweak from the us strategic command sends the world into a buzz. And later in the science report, researchers discover and new type of immune system.
T-cell all that and more store to calm.
Often described as the toilet door of social media, Twitter looked like things were getting a lot more serious the other day, when the official Twitter account of the United States strategic command, which runs the nation's powerful nuclear weapons, arsenal suddenly tweeted what looked like a cryptic code.
The message simply read semi colon. The letter L followed by two more. Semi-colons followed by the letters, GML Xes, S a w now, [00:19:00] because it is the, your strategic command or STRATCOM, any communications by that organization are closely monitored and carefully evaluated. And as you'd expect, this tweet got serious attention or of the world.
There was one tweet saying it must be the U S nuclear launch code. Another tweeted. The Pentagon must've been hacked, but surely the best tweet was a response simply saying confirmed launches go was world war three. About to begin
well, as we're all still here, the answer was clearly no. As it turns out, struck on social media editor was working from home and momentarily left the command's Twitter account open and the keyboard and attended. And of course, that's something you never do. If you've got a cat or in this case, a young toddler, 30 minutes later, Strat com tweeted to disregard the previous tweet.
But by that time, the memes had began spreading.
[00:20:00] This is space time.
And Tom had to take a brief look at some of the other stories, making music and science this week with a science report, scientists have discovered a new type of immune system. T-cell. T-cells are specialized cells that play a fundamental role in protecting against infections. They're using molecular sensors called T-cell receptors to detect and eliminate invading pathogens until now scientists thought there are only two types of T cells characterized by their receptors that are reported in the journal.
Science claims researchers using the Australian synchrotron at Monash university identified a novel third type of T cell, which is found early in marsupials and monitorings. Scientists say the new discovery has the potential to expand the immunology toolbox Russia's with a monetary Institute. The RA's good Romit has released new data showing the [00:21:00] Russian Arctics or record high average temperatures and an historic decline in summer ice coverage during 2020.
The agency says Russia's average annual temperature last year was 3.2, two degrees Celsius higher than the average for the entire period from that in 61 to 1990 and more than a degree higher than the country's previous record in 2007. The data confirms that Russia's increase in warming is much higher than the global average and the Arctic maritime Northern sea shipping route is now almost completely ice free by the end of summer.
In fact, ice cover is now five to seven times thinner than what it was back in the 1980s with 2020 servers ice cover reaching a record low maximum extent of just 26,000 square kilometers in September. Scientists have discovered a new way to dramatically increase the power storage capacity of lithium-ion batteries.
Lithium ions have become almost ubiquitous in everything from [00:22:00] portable electronic devices to electric cars and researchers around the world are working feverishly to try and achieve even higher energy densities in them. That is the amount of energy that can be stored in a given massive material.
Increasing energy density increases both the performance of existing devices and the time between charges now, a report in the journal nature, energy claims scientists with MIT have discovered a new metal electrode that can replace conventional graphite electrodes, allowing lithium-ion batteries to have higher charge voltage in the cathode.
Previous efforts failed because they caused a variety of unwanted chemical reactions to take place in the electrolytes, separating the electrodes. Researchers say their new metal electrode overcomes these issues without sacrificing cycle life. It means lithium-ion batteries, which now typically store around 260 watt hours per kilogram should be able to hold 420 watt hours per kilogram.
A massive increase that will translate into a longer range for electric [00:23:00] cars and longer-lasting charges on portable electronic devices. Paleontologist have uncovered the remains of an extinct species of tree climbing kangaroo in the Theiler Kaleo caves on the Western Australian Nullarbor, plain other discovery reported in the journal of the Royal society.
Open science claims, congruent kitchen area lived in Australia between 2.6 million and 12,000 years ago. Kangaroos and their relatives. They send it from a boreal possum like ancestors during the Paleogene period, before becoming the main ground dwelling mammalian herbivores on the Australian continent over the past 20 million years.
Today, there are more than 60 living species of bettongs wallabies and kangaroos. They use a bipedal hopping mode when moving at speed, but result on unusual Penti pedal mode, which is the tail is a fifth limb wind moving slowly. But one living genus, which deviates from this pattern is Dendra laggers, which contains the tree kangaroos of Northeastern Australia and new [00:24:00] Guinea.
They're the center from ground dwelling ancestors by ascending back into the trees, the Fila coli. Okay. Fossils include two cranial specimens and two ne complete kangaroo skeletons, a male and a female in star Trek. Q are a species of omnipotent and immortal non-custodial entities from the Q continuum.
The name Q was, then you served by an anonymous keyboard wire in October, 2017. It began posting amazing claims of conspiracy theories or Q drops claiming to have a level of viewer security approval earnest queue clearance. The claims being made was so fantastic. And they fitted in with such an interesting narrative that it attracted a lot of attention from a significant section of social media.
Well, it began as an American phenomenon. Australia has now also become fertile ground for what's now referred to as Q Anon. In fact, Australians are proven to be highly capable of adapting international conspiracy theories like [00:25:00] you and onto the local context and the issue isn't going away. Tim Mendham from Australian skeptic says, let us report show that Australia is now the fourth largest country for Q Anon activity behind the United States, the UK.
Okay. It's a long history of sovereign citizen movement, which is basically people saying government should have no control over me at all. Governments did not have the right to make decisions that impact on me. I don't. I agree to them. If I don't agree to the government, I don't have to agree to their regulations.
And a lot of that comes down to traffic infringement in the real world, but sovereign citizens area we've covered in the skeptic magazine, the queue and on the movement. It's going to run. Yeah, it's been around a few years. It's not a huge number of youth, but this sort of person of unknown who he is or who they are really supposedly from somewhere within governments within sort of public sector or something like that.
Who's noticed the truth spreading out these messages, something just built up from there builds up beyond queue. Right, [00:26:00] man, isn't it. It is strange to just build up up and up. Tennessee is very strong in America. There's a lot of followers cues on their patients. And that's what I think the little cue, and it's very strong in America and it's infiltrating into other countries.
And this edition, that one particular article that came up recently that it's growing in Australia, it's growing as a mirror of the American experience. So a lot of the things that people in Australia I complaining about are American situations like Trump not having lost the election. Right. And you think you're in Australia, you're not in America, you know?
You're really concerned about this as a pressing issue or that sovereign citizens climbing bumps into, of amendment in Australia to defend themselves? Well, we don't have those. We don't have the American constitution in Australia yet. And yet a lot of these conspiracy theories, sovereign citizens Karen's too.
And on followers. I quite think American experiences. Now there's a survey done of how strong, based on Twitter posts as to how strong they are in various countries. Um, let's try out false, uh, false in this particular list after the U S UK, [00:27:00] Canada, Australia, and in Germany. But the thing is. U S U K Canada, Australia a wide below.
I mean, why, why, why below the activity? That's in the U S and not just on a per capita basis on every basis. So, I mean, there's a lot of suggestion that, and non is strong here, and certainly there are some to a non followers and people quoting Q1 on theories without mentioning Q Anon in our apartments.
Really? Now they fringe. But how has Australia become such fertile ground for this specific? I really don't know. I mean, it just has in a way, but perhaps also the publicity that they're getting in America and the, uh, that people are just sort of following, I think they're following American politics and American political theory fender, even.
So the issue is, is that it's not being pointed out. Those sort of thing. We'll ignore it. Well, if that means it builds up. But it's still small in Australia. It's not huge by any means, but things and 5g are old classic Q Anon conspiracy theories. And because we have the same situations [00:28:00] here with COVID or Lexia, we have the virus here having the same numbers and we certainly have five G here is that people are just picking up on these theories, uh, Willy nilly without any great research, which is good because we didn't erase it.
You realize there was rubbish. And you get a few politicians who are people here. There was one Senator who tried to submit a list of prominent Australians. He said, we're all pedophiles. And yeah, this thing about child sex, abuse, child eating and all these things, it's just classic human on. And it just says a few politicians who actually just request them in and then it builds up.
But I think a lot of it is the impression that the, a huge movement is misguided at this stage. I don't think they necessarily are as active as a lot of the media would make them out to be this loud in the same way as the anti-vaxxers that allowed. But, uh, yeah, initially we thought that man Mendham from Australian skeptics
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