The Astronomy, Technology, and Space Science News Podcast.
SpaceTime 20211022 Series 24 Episode 120
*The floor of Jezero Crater shows signs of sustained interactions with water
Since the Perseverance rover landed in the red planet’s Jezero crater back in February, the rover and its team of scientists back on Earth have been hard at work exploring the craters floor which once held an ancient lake.
*Large effect of solar activity on Earth's energy budget
A new study has confirmed that the Sun and galaxy have a major impact on the Earth’s cloud cover and ultimately the planet’s energy budget.
*CHEOPS nears the halfway point in its mission
The European Space Agency’s CHEOPS space telescope is now over half way through its planned mission to study distant worlds orbiting other stars.
*The Science Report
Classic antidepressants could help improve modern cancer treatments.
A successful test of America’s new hypersonic missile.
Discovery of a hidden ancient Mayan city in Guatemala.
Skeptic's guide to India’s ghost buster.
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SpaceTime S24E120 AI Transcript
[00:00:00] Stuart: This is space time series 24 episode 124 broadcast on the 22nd of October, 2021. Coming up on space, time - signs of water in the red planet's Jezero crater, the large effect of solar activity on earth, energy budget, and the European space agencies. Cheops space telescope now will over half way through its plan mission.
This study, distant worlds, orbiting other stars. All that and more coming up on space time.
VO Guy: Welcome to space time with Stuart Gary.
Ever since perseverance landed in the red planet's Jezero crater back in February, the Rover and its team of scientists back on earth have been working hard at exploring the craters floor, which once held an ancient lake. The car size six wheel Rover's primary mission is searching for signs of ancient microbial life on Mars.
As part of its process, it's collecting a Cassius samples for eventual return to work. Most recently, perseverance is onboard instruments have been analyzing what are thought to be igneous rocks on the crater floor, which were deposited there by a volcanic lava flow deputy project scientist, Katie stack Morgan from masters jet propulsion laboratory in Pasadena, California.
This is the idea that these could be volcanic. Rocks is appealing from a sample return perspective because igneous rocks are great for getting accurate age data. is one of the few ancient crater lake sites on Mars. It seems to have both incredible sedimentary deposits as well as volcanic deposits, which could help constructed geologic timescale of the red planet, the lake system, and the rivers that drained into just row crater were likely active around 3.8 to 3.6 billion years ago.
But the ability to eventually directly date the rocks and laboratories earth will provide the first definitive insight into the window of time that Mars may have been a habitable planet. The Mars we see today is the freeze dried desert, but there's ample evidence that it's some time in its past billions of years ago.
The red planet was a warm, wet wode with a thick atmosphere and habitable conditions, which could have supported life. Using perseverance is abrasion tool, which scratches the top surface of the rock to reveal the material underneath and its textures. Mission managers discovered that the creative floor seems to be composed.
Of course, a grained igneous minerals in tanning, a variety of salts observation suggests that water caused extensive weathering and alteration of the crater floor, meaning that the rocks were subjected to water for a significant period of time. After using its onboard tools to analyze the characteristics of the crater floor, perseverance collected rock sample using its thrill.
However, after perseverance completed its first attempt, the core sample tube came up empty scientists. Think the core sample must must've been pulverized during the drilling stack. Morgan says the rock, literally it became so altered and when he can buy directions with water that the vibrations and strength from the drill pulverize, the sample.
Scientists then targeted another rock, which appear to be more resistant to weathering and perseverance was able to successfully collect two core samples. Perseverance is cash sample will ultimately be part of a multi spacecraft handoff, still in development right now, which will hopefully be returned to work sometime in the 2030s, it's going to require a number of spacecraft, which NASA and the European space agency are now working on one will fly to Mars or.
Uh, second we'll then descend down to the Martian surface where it will deploy a Rover that will collect perseverance has sample cash, return it to a third space craft mattered on the Lander, which were launched back into space to run the, the, with the orbiter, which was then returned the sample to worth, or a fourth space graft, the re-entry vehicle, or parachute the sample back down to the ground.
It will be a complicated mission and there's a lot still to work out. Once back on earth, scientists and laboratories will date an analyze the rocks to see if they contain any signs of ancient mash in life, the rocks and the crater floor when originally envisaged as being the prime astrobiology targeted the mission.
But as always, Mars is simply full of surprises with scientists, finding that even these rocks have experienced sustained interaction with water, meaning they too could have been habitable for any ancient Martian microbes, which may have existed in the past. This is space time, still the come the large effect of solar activity on earth, energy budget, and the European space agencies.
Cheops space telescope. Now we'll over halfway through its plan. This study, distant worlds, orbiting other stars, all that are more stored account. Um, space time.
A new study is confirmed that the sun and galaxy have a major impact on earth cloud cover and ultimately on the planet's energy by. The findings published in the journal. Scientific reports are based on measurements of cosmic rays, which filtered down through the atmosphere. The study's authors from the Hebrew university in Jerusalem, and the university of Denmark trace the consequences of eruptions on the sun.
That's just coronal, mass, ejections, and sun flares on clouds in earth atmosphere and ultimately on earth, energy budget. They tested the cosmic Ray effects and the atmosphere for about two weeks. They found that when solar explosions occurred, it reduced the cosmic gray flux coming from deep space, which reaches the earth.
And that temporarily reduced the production of small aerosols in the planet's atmosphere, aerosols the clumps of molecules in the air, which can grow to seed water droplets, which will eventually form low level clouds. So the drop in aerosols in turn reduces the cloud cover, which affects the class. Less cloud cover means more of the sun's heat riches, the earth surface, the findings use detailed satellite observations from the series instrument, unnecessary Terra and Aqua satellites.
The data shows that the dropping cloud cover meant that the earth surface was absorbing almost two Watts per square meter of extra energy within four to six days of cosmic Ray minimum. The research shows how cosmic rays helped make aerosols and accelerate their growth to cloud condensation, nuclei the findings support previous research by the same team, which predicted that the effect should be much noticeable in low altitude clouds over the oceans, the authors point out that solar effects in this study at two short-lived everlasting effect on the climate.
However they do demonstrate the likely effect of solar activity and cosmic rays on climate over long at timescale. This space-time stole the com the European space agencies, chip space telescope. Now halfway through its mission, and later in the science report, a successful test of America's new hypersonic missile, or that a more stoic.
the European space agencies chip space telescope is now over halfway through its plan mission, the study, distant worlds, orbiting other stars. She ops stands for characterizing exoplanets satellite. It was launched in December, 2019 about a Russian Soyuz for a get rocket from the European space agencies, cruise spaceport in French Guiana.
Together with three small cube sets Cheops was deployed into a 712 kilometer high sun synchronous orbit. The 273 kilogram spacecraft uses a 30 centimeter telescope that determined the size of known exoplanet tree body. It's specifically target stars, hosting earth to Neptune size planets. The data gathered by the mission allows us strontium is to estimate the mass density composition and even likely formation history of these exoplanets Easter TVs.
Dominic detain. You speaking with chips, project scientists, Cade Isaak. See the satellite that we'll be looking at. Exoplanet I'm next to me is get Isaac. Project scientists of this mission. So explain to us
[00:09:08] Guest: what it is with pleasure. Chaos is a satellite in ISA science program. The acronym stands for characterizing expert.
Satellite. And that is exactly what we will do. We observe stars that are known to host exoplanets. So in that way, we know where to point and when to point, and we will measure the outputs of these stars and look for the transit of the planet across the disk of the star. So it will look for the small changes in lights that will take place.
When a planet moves across the star, our observations could be. 6 8, 10, 12 hours. And by measuring the dip, we can determine the size of the planets by combining the size of the planet with its mass. We're able to determine its mean density by combining this, with information that we have about the host star itself, we can start to say something about something very concrete about the composition of the planet, its internal structure.
And so start to lead on to its structure, formation and evolution. Very important, uh, uh, information about planets beyond our own solar system.
[00:10:16] Stuart: And this is the first time this is done. I mean, you know where to look at, but you don't know exactly. I mean, this is the, the, the, the added value of
[00:10:25] Guest: that. The value of K ops is we're following up on known targets.
So instead of missions, such as captain. Tests and indeed Plato Easter's, uh, future, uh, exoplanet mission. We know where to point. So we're able to make very efficient observations. We move and point towards a star when we know that the planet is going to transit. So instead of spending several months, maybe pointing at a blank, a fraction of the sky, looking for the transit, monitoring, very many thousands of stars and looking for small dips in their output, we're able to get.
Quickly around the sky, maybe spend 10, 20, 30 hours on known stars, known bright stars, and to measure the sizes of their planets. In that way,
[00:11:10] Stuart: you mentioned the deep meaning that it will be something in front of the star or the sun, because it's sort of systems you are looking at, you
[00:11:18] Guest: know, with planetary systems.
So what we're doing is we're looking at the planets as they oh, orbits around their host star. So in the same way that the earth goes around, uh, our star. Other planets orbit their own host stars. And what we will do is we will monitor these stars and we will look for these dips. As the planet moves across the disk of the star, as seen by us from a large distance, we were able to determine the size of the planet from the small dip in the foot of the star.
So in the light that we measure from.
[00:11:52] Stuart: You will be able to tell us if they are Earth-like planets some life on this.
[00:11:58] Guest: We'll be focusing on small planets, so earth to Neptune size, size planets. And by combining the sizes, the very precise and accurate sizes that we will get, uh, with measurements from. With measurements of mass that will be made from, uh, telescopes and observatories on earth.
We can get the density. Now, as you know, density is something that tells us about what the planet is made of something that has a high density. Something like iron is very much compact. Whereas if something has a low density, it's more gassy earth somewhere in between. So by tech, by knowing, by being able to work something out about the density, we're able to say something about whether.
Uh, planet is Earth-like or whether it's more gassy, uh
[00:12:44] Stuart: that's Chip's project scientist, Kate Isaak. It was speaking with Easter TVs, Dominic detain. And this space-time
And Tom Meditech, another brief look at some of the other stories making using science this week with a science report and you study is found that some classic antidepressants could help improve by them cancer treatments. The findings reported in the journal science, transitional medicine showed that they slowed the growth of pancreatic in colon cancer.
And when combined with immunotherapy, they even stopped the cancer growth long term with tumors disappearing completely. In some cases, it happens because in depressed people, the concentration of the neurotransmitter serotonin is reduced in the brain, but serotonin also influences many other functions throughout the body.
In fact, the majority of the hormone isn't located in the brain, but stored in blood platelets and Sarah turn and has already been linked to cast in the Genesis. Serotonin re-uptake inhibitors, which are used to treat depression, increased serotonin levels in the brain, but they also decrease peripheral serotonin in the platelets.
And it's that reduction, which is thought to improve cancer treatment. The United States air force has undertaken a successful free flight test of its Hawk or hypersonic everything weapon concept. The Raytheon built missile is powered by Northrop Grumman. Scrammed. Uh, scramjet is a supersonic combustion ramjet it was dropped launched at high altitude from an aircraft.
And then initially accelerated with a rocket engine before the scram jet took over data. Mission managers say the free flight test successfully demonstrated the Hawk vehicle integration and release sequence. It safely separated from the launch aircraft it's booster, ignition and boost phase operated.
Normally booster separation then occurs. And the scramjet engine ignited just as it should providing a hypersonic cruise. The flight showed the scramjet compressed incoming air mixed with its hydrocarbon fuel and began igniting that fast moving airflow mixture, propelling the cruiser to a speed of Willow the five times the speed of sound or remaining within the atmosphere.
Hypersonic missiles travel so fast. Anti missile systems. Can't stop. And they hit their targets at such high speeds. They impact with a kinetic energy equivalent of four tons of TNT. So they don't need to carry any explosives. Once operational it's envisaged, the Hawks will be mounted on FAA 18 Superhot.
It's an growl of fighters as well as F 35, still fighters and PA Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft. Archeologists have discovered a previously hidden neighborhood linked to the ancient Mayan city of TaCarla in quite Amala the area which was covered in thick rain forest was detected by LIDAR analysis.
It revealed that what was previously assumed to have been natural Hills was actually an 1800 year old ruin Citadel. The findings reported in the journal antiquity shed that this neighborhood was apparently a designed to look like the ancient mind city of Teo Teo con the largest, the most powerful city in ancient Mesoamerica scientists say the newly discovered structures provide game-changing evidence that the Imperial power of Teo teal can exerted considerable influence auntie cow.
A new paranormal helpline in India is providing the general public with a scientific alternative to the usual clairvoyance exorcists SIS sizing, ghost hunter. Tim Mendham from Australian skeptics says the paranormal helpline helps the spill people's blind faith and superstitions by giving them scientific explanations and logical reasoning to the reality behind the apparent paranormal events.
People think they witnessed.
Et cetera. And someone's going to support your paranormal beliefs. It terms out to be particular. Skeptic is a paranormal investigator, but he tends to go into find out the truth behind ghost claims, not the supposedly truth, but look into, and be a skeptical investigator. But he's actually set up a helpline for people who are concerned about ghosts and hauntings, et cetera in India, which is a fairly.
Streamer superstitious beliefs in India, and he's there to help them add would probably explain what's really happening in their situation. So it's a skeptics help line, which is slightly, it's a very interesting thing. I'm starting to get phone calls from people being on the front line of the skeptics in Australia.
I got to find coastal tablespoons and low barrier. And I try and give a bit of explanation for what might be happening to them, but obviously I'm not medically trained. I'm not trained in psychology or anything like that. So I can only go so far. It looks like this guy, he had a lot of experience in paranormal investigation on his own, right.
Visiting the haunted houses and that sort of stuff. So he had some runs on. And knowing what exactly is going on, but he's had about a thousand calls coming in all the time. Once have a thousand calls per year thousand calls per year. It's quite a lot of people coming forward to him and wanting explanations of what they've seen.
Some people are just curious about it, want to discuss the concept. Others are really saying my house is haunted. What should I do? So he sits down with them and says, well, what's the circumstances uses some critical thinking, which is always good to say, well, if the act of being scared, get down Nebraska.
What's actually happening and let's see if there's another recommendation for it. And that's what he does for a useful service, because obviously you have a thick market testing by the reaction. That's Tim them from Australian skeptics.
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