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- **Mars Ingenuity Back in Action**: After an unexpected landing last month, NASA's Mars Ingenuity helicopter is once again soaring the Martian skies.
- **Boeing's Starliner Setbacks**: The launch of Boeing's CST-100 Starliner to the International Space Station faces further delays, with crewed flights postponed until at least March 2024.
- **Deep Space Network's Dual Role**: Beyond its primary function of communicating with spacecrafts like those orbiting the Moon, NASA's Deep Space Network of massive radio antennas aids scientists in studying the gravity and density of distant planets.
- **The Science Report Highlights**: - **Climate Change's Grip on Antarctica**: Recent findings confirm that the impacts of climate change have touched every corner of Antarctica. - **Post Hepatitis C Risks**: Even after being cured of Hepatitis C, patients are still at a risk of death that's approximately four times higher. - **Chinese Solar Panel Security Concerns**: The potential cybersecurity risks associated with Chinese-manufactured solar panels and inverters. 5. **Alex on Tech**: Delving into the battle against online fraudsters and cybercriminals. Stay updated with the latest in space and science with SpaceTime with Stuart Gary.
#astronomy #space #science #news #podcast #spacetime
This is Space Time Series 26 episode 98 for Broadcast on the 16th of August 2023.
Coming up on Space Time,
Ingenuity cleared for flight following an early miss-app,
more delays for Boeing's Starliner spacecraft,
and how NASA uses radio waves to study the gravity of distant worlds.
All that and more coming up on Space Time.
Welcome to Space Time with Stuart Gary.
NASA's ingenuity helicopter is taken to the skies of the red planet again,
following its southern unscheduled landing last month.
The tissue box-sized rotor helicopter performed a short hop to help mission managers back on Earth
better understand why its previous flight was interrupted.
The 25 seconds straight up and straight back down again hop,
provided data that could open Genuity teams determined why its 53rd flight ended so abruptly.
Flight 53 had been planned as a 136-second scouting flight,
dedicated to collecting imagery of the surface ahead for the Perseverance Robors next scouting mission.
The complicated flight profile included flying north for 203 meters at an altitude of 5 meters
at a speed of 2.5 meters per second. It was then supposed to descend vertically to 2.5 meters
where it would hover and obtain imagery of a rocky out-crop with scientists
one of the Perseverance rover to study in detail.
Ingenuity with enclimbs straight up to 10 meters again,
allowing its hazard-divert system to initiate before descending vertically for a touchdown.
Instead, the helicopter executed the first half of its autonomous journey,
flying north at an altitude of 5 meters for 142 meters.
But then a flight contingency program was triggered and ingenuity automatically landed.
The total flight time was just 74 seconds.
Ingenuity team lead emeritus Teddy Zaintus from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena,
California says that ever since the very first flight on the red planet,
it's also included a program called Lann now that was designed to put the helicopter back down
under the deck as soon as possible if any one of several dozen off-nominal scenarios were encountered.
He says that during flight 53, ingenuity encountered one of these anomalies,
and the helicopter worked as planned and executed an immediate landing.
The ingenuity team believed the early landing was triggered when image frames from the
helicopter's navigation camera didn't sync up as expected with data from its internal
measurement unit. The unit measures ingenuity's acceleration and rotational rates,
data that makes it possible to estimate where the helicopter is, how fast it's moving,
and how it's oriented in space. Now if all this sounds familiar, it's because this wasn't the first
occasion on which image frames were dropped by the helicopters in the Fcam during a flight.
Way back on May 22, 2021, multiple image frames were dropped by ingenuity,
resulting in excessive pitching and rolling near the end of flight 6. After flight 6,
the team updated the flight software to help mitigate the impact of dropped images,
and the fix worked well for the subsequent 46 flights. However, on the last flight,
flight 53, the quantity of drop navigation images exceeded what the software patch allowed.
Zento says that while he hoped to never trigger a LAN now event, the flight was a variable case study
that will benefit future aircraft operations on other worlds. He says with a better understanding of
what occurred on flight 53 and with flight 54 success is now confident that 1.8kg chopper is ready
to fly again. Ingenuity of course began life on Mars as a technology demonstrator. It was only
designed to last for about four or five flights. Its first flight was back on April 19, 2021.
It flew vertically for three meters and then hovered for 30 seconds before landing again.
Four more test flights in as many weeks added 499 seconds and saw the helicopter flying horizontally
over the surface for 357 meters. After proving flight was possible on Mars, ingenuity entered an
operation demonstration phase in May 2021, in order to show how aerial scouting could benefit
future exploration of Mars and other worlds. This report from NASA TV will send the helicopter up
to take photos of terrain that the rover might be driving over in the future. The ingenuity helicopter
doesn't look exactly like a helicopter like you might see on Earth. It's sort of the shape of a
tissue box with four long spindly legs and it has a pair of rotors above the main fuselage that
are far wider than the helicopter itself. These two rotors allow it to generate a lot more lift
than you would need for an Earthbound helicopter because the air on Mars is so thin and that we need
to push really hard to actually be able to get up into the air. There's a lot of work that goes into
flying a helicopter on a different planet. We have a system of radio dishes called the Deep Space
Network and we use those to send commands and receive data from the different rovers that we have on
Mars and the Perseverance rover is sort of the parent of the ingenuity helicopter and all communications
with the helicopter goes through that rover. There's a lot of work that goes into looking at the data
coming in from the rover and from the helicopter to assess is the helicopter healthy? Is it ready to go?
Does it have enough power for another flight? We look at that data and we're able to put together a
plan of what we want to do for a given day. Once we have that plan put together we're able to write a
sequence of commands that walk it through step by step of what to do and then we send it on up.
When we look at Mars we can see a lot of preserved history that we don't see on Earth. On Earth we
have all of these processes, rain and waves and all sorts of different things that mulch up the ground
and change it. On Mars the rocks are pretty much the same as they've been for millions or even
billions of years and we can see far deeper into Mars's history which can teach us a lot in turn
about Earth's history. This is space time. Still to come more delays for Boeing's new
Starliner spacecraft and we study how NASA uses radio waves to determine the gravitational fields
of distant worlds. All that and more still to come on space time.
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This is space time with Stuart Gary.
A NASA press conference is now confirmed that Boeing's troubled CST-100 Starliner spacecraft
won't fly crude of the International Space Station until at least March next year.
After a long series of delays, Starliner was meant to undertake its first man mission during the
first half of this year but that was repeatedly bumped back. Flight engineers were concerned about
two issues. They were worried about the parachute system. Soft links in the parachutes needed to
be reinforced with Kevlar and stronger stitching applied. And they were also concerned about the glue
being used on the insulation tape which is used in the spacecraft's wire harness system.
It was found to be flammable under certain conditions. And that met a massive task of removing
and replacing electrical wiring where possible and covering other areas with this was impossible.
Boeing Vice President and Starliner Program Manager Mark Napi says that at the moment based on
current plans he's anticipating that the spacecraft will be flight ready by March 2024.
But he puts in a proviso pointing out that that launch date will depend on constraints with the
space calendar and be decided together with NASA as well as the United Launch Alliance which will
provide the Atlas 5 rocket that will carry Starliner to orbit. It's been a long and much delayed road
for Starliner. Its first unmanned test flight to orbit back in 2019 failed to reach the space station.
After the spacecraft began its orbit insertion burned too early and too low. In the process using too
much fuel all due to a badly planned and programmed mission clock. Later engineers discovered that even
the spacecraft had made it to the space station, a software glitch meant it wouldn't be able to dock
anyway. Worse still, the spacecraft would have been destroyed during its reentry phase due to
another faulty computer program. This one would of course starliner service mulchered to fly into the
capsule rather than away from it after being jettisoned. Luckily mission manager spotted that area in time
and were able to uplink a correction. A second unmanned test flight to the space station had to be
scrapped after engineers detected corrosion in the orbital maneuvering system valves forcing an
expensive and time consuming strip down and rebuild. The company finally succeeded in reaching the
space station with its unmanned test flight in May 2022. That because of all the earlier problems,
scientists and engineers have been going over the spacecraft in minute detail before its man rated.
It's all quite a contrast to Boeing's rival company SpaceX which has been reliably
flying crew to the space station to board its Dragon capsule since 2020 and sending supplies and
equipment aboard a cargo version of Dragon to the space station since 2012 and Boeing aren't alone
with their problems. Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser wing lifting body space plane which has been
contracted by NASA as a third cargo transport system to the space station is also years behind
schedule. The Dream Chaser design is based on NASA's H.O.20 Man Space Plane Concept which in turn is
descended from a series of test vehicles including the X20 dinosaur military man spacecraft which
was designed to be launched into space on a Titan 2 missile. There are also several Northrop and
Martin variants all based around the same wing lifting body design. Dream Chaser was supposed to
start delivering cargo to the space station several years ago using Atlas 5 to reach orbit but because
of ongoing delays it's now not expected to fly until at least next year and that'll be after the
arrival of the new Vulcan Centaur launch system which replaces the Atlas 5. At this stage a man
version of Dream Chaser is still planned to fly by 2025. Ilcarry Crude will propose commercial space
station called Orbital Reef and of course will be available to transport people to the International
Space Station as well if necessary desires. We'll keep you informed. This is Space Time.
Still to come how NASA uses radio waves to study distant worlds in deep space and later in the
science report a potential internet and power security threat posed by using Chinese made solar panels
and inverters all that and more still to come on Space Time.
NASA's deep space communications network is a collection of giant radio antenna dishes used to
communicate with spacecraft traveling to the moon and beyond but it can also help scientists undertake
scientific investigations such as studying a planet or asteroids gravity density. See when a
spacecraft reaches its destination it uses radio antennas to communicate with the deep space network
which in turn transmits radio signals back to the spacecraft. Every spacecraft travels in a
predetermined path emitting radio signals as it orbits around its target. Scientists and engineers
can infer spacecraft's location exactly how fast it's going by measuring changes in the spacecraft's
radio signal frequency. This is made possible because of the Doppler effect. It's the same phenomenon
that causes a surrounded change pitch as it travels towards you and away from you. The sound waves
are compressed as they come towards you and they're progressively expanded as it moves away from you.
Electromagnetic waves do the same thing. In this case the Doppler phenomenon is observed as the
spacecraft and deep space network antenna move in relation to each other. The differences between
the frequency of radio signals sent by the spacecraft as it orbits and the signals received on Earth
gives scientists details about the gravitational field of the celestial body that the spacecraft's
orbiting. For example if the gravity is slightly stronger the spacecraft will accelerate slightly
more and if the gravity is slightly weaker the spacecraft will accelerate slightly less.
The amount of gravity the spacecraft's feeling can be determined by the density of the material
that's flying over. By developing a model of a celestial body's gravitational field which can
then be mapped as a gravitational shape scientists and researchers can deduce new information about
its internal structure. The deep space network is developed and managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion
Laboratory in Pasadena California. Its antenna complexes are located at Goldstone California,
Madrid, Spain and at Tid bin Billa just south of Canberra. This report from NASA TV NASA has
dozens of robotic spacecraft exploring our solar system and beyond. Scientists and engineers
communicate with and navigate far away spacecraft using the deep space network. NASA's
International Collection of Giant Radio and Tennis used to communicate with spacecraft at the Moon
and beyond. But the deep space network or DSN is more than just a messaging service. In fact,
scientists use the DSN to perform radio and gravity science experiments. But what is radio and
gravity science? And how can it help us learn more about the planets, moons and other small bodies in
our solar system? We're all familiar with gravity. It's the force by which an object tracks other
objects such as a planet pulling a spacecraft toward it. Gravity is also the force that keeps
all of the planets in orbit around the Sun. Here on Earth we experience this every day. If you drop
an object, it will accelerate toward the ground because Earth's gravity causes it to fall faster
and faster. And the acceleration of a spacecraft toward a planet depends on the mass of the planet.
Less mass means less gravitational pull. These properties of gravity, combined with our
understanding of radio waves, help us use gravity to study other planetary bodies in our solar system.
After reaching its destination, a spacecraft uses radio and tennis to communicate with the deep
space network on Earth, which in turn transmits radio signals back to the spacecraft. Every spacecraft
travels in a predetermined path, emitting radio signals as it orbits around its target. Scientists
and engineers can infer the spacecraft's location and how fast it's going by measuring changes in
the spacecraft's radio signal frequency. This is made possible by the Doppler effect, the same
phenomenon that causes a siren to sound different as it travels towards and away from you. The Doppler
phenomenon is observed here when the spacecraft and the DSN antenna move in relation to each other.
Differences between the frequency of radio signals sent by the spacecraft as it orbits and signals
received on Earth give us details about the gravitational field of a planetary body. For example,
if the gravity is slightly stronger, the spacecraft will accelerate slightly more. If gravity is
slightly weaker, the spacecraft will accelerate slightly less. By developing a model of the planetary
body's gravitational field, which can be mapped as a gravitational shape, scientists and researchers
can deduce information about its internal structure, all while using the deep space network.
This is Spacetime.
And Time Attack another brief look at some of the other stories making using science this week
with the Science Report. A new study is confirmed that extreme events from climate change have
influenced every realm of Antarctica, including breeding failures for entire penguin colonies,
ice-shoff collapses, the invasion of non-native plants, and the recent lack of winter sea ice.
The findings reported in the journal Frontiers in Environmental Science have for the first time
brought together new synthesis of evidence looking at how extreme events have affected the ice
continent. The authors conclude that fossil fuel burning will continue to affect the Antarctic
environment, and countries which have adopted the Environmental Protocol for the Antarctic Treaty
must ask themselves whether their greenhouse gas reduction targets put them on path to enable
true protection for Antarctica. The World Meteorological Organization says China remains the
world's biggest carbon dioxide polluter, producing almost a third of the total global output,
mounting to more than 10.1 million tons annually. That's almost double the amount produced by
the United States, which is in second place, and four times the amount produced by India,
which is the world's third worst polluter. They followed by Russia, Japan, Iran, Germany,
Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, and South Korea in 10th place. Next comes Canada, Brazil, Turkey,
South Africa, and Mexico, with Australia in 16th place, followed by the United Kingdom,
Italy, Poland, and Vietnam, rounding up atop 20.
A new study claims hepatitis C patients who acute of the infection still face a forefold higher
risk of death than the general population. A report in the British Medical Journal looked at the
health outcomes of 21,790 patients who were acute of Hep C using interferon-free antivirals.
They found that 1572 of the patients died during the course of their study,
and the researchers said the rate of death among the group was much higher than that of the general
population across all studies. They say the most common cause of death were drug-related liver failure
or liver cancer. They found those whose livers were more damaged at the time they were cured,
had a higher risk of death than those whose liver disease was less severe.
The Australian government has raised concerns over the potential internet security threat being
posed by using Chinese-made solar panels and inverters which use Chinese chips to connect
to power grids in the internet. In Australia and around the world, Beijing dominates the
solar energy market, controlling some 76% of all solar panels south globally. A review of solar panel
systems in Australia found nearly 60% of smart inverters, which connect solar panels to the power grid
and the internet in Australia, are also made by Chinese firms. And that means they fall under
Beijing's strict national intelligence laws. Federal opposition energy spokesman Teto Bryan says the
inverters could be taken over by Chinese officials for sabotage or for spying purposes.
Bryan says energy security is national security and providing affordable and reliable energy that's
free from foreign interference should be at first thought a priority for government. He says nothing
is more important for a government than guaranteeing Australian security and the electricity grid is
central to that. Meanwhile opposition home affairs spokesperson James Patterson or oversaw the review
says the number of inverters in the energy grid will need to grow thanks to the government's
renewable energy target of 82% by the end of the decade. Patterson warns the current situation has
left the energy grid vulnerable to potential foreign attacks. He says the rule danger point will come
when these products which is significant proportion of Australian rooftops and therefore a
significant proportion of the energy grid. He says at that point they could be remotely disrupted by
an agency like China's People's Liberation Army State Security Cyberhacking Unit. The problem is
it's virtually impossible to buy Australian European or American made solar panels in inverters in
Australia despite Australian research being used in the development of the current technology
in the first place. A spokesperson for home affairs minister Claire O'Neill points out that
Senate Patterson and the opposition need to explain why they turned a blind eye to the
procurement of these solar panels from high risk vendors for over a decade while they were in government.
This week Alex on Tech looks at Dyson's new noise cancelling headphones which come
complete with a built-in air purification system. We look at the latest stats on Australian gamers
who are they and what are they playing? Elon Musk's latest moves to get inside your brain but we
begin by looking at the continuing battle to beat the online crooks and scam artists trying to rip you off.
With the details we're joined by a technology editor Alex R. Avroyd from TechAdvice Start Life.
Well the Australian government is reporting through Acma that over a billion scams have been
stopped over the last 12 months and in the last quarter that's 256 million scam calls and 85
million scam texts but they're still coming through. The scams stopped in the last quarter
are 33% greater than for the same time last year so look they are having some success but the bad guys
just keep trying. Well that's just the numbers game isn't it? They'll try Acma's zillion times and
all they need is one to get caught and it's been worth it for them. That's right and you know people
are busy they've got kids they've got work they've got all sorts of things happening because you
make a mistake to click on a wrong link to pay something thinking that it's real and the next thing
you know you've been scammed so you definitely have to be super vigilant and not trust anything you
get on text messages that you weren't expecting and even if you do think you're expecting it double-check.
Okay let's move on to the big E Elon Musk we know him from Tesla and SpaceX and he's also got a company
called Neuralink what's that about? Well Neuralink is to create a general purpose high bandwidth interface
to the brain and it's just raised in the past few days $280 million US dollars and this comes
after the US Food and Drug Administration the FDA has greenlit the company's work to implant
Neuralinks into human brains and they've already implanted them into pig brains and there's a video
at my website Tech is Life on Life on the article about this where you see a monkey playing the game
pong but he's doing so completely with his brain he's not controlling a game pad in his hands or
anything like that is it actually inserted into the brain or is it kept on the outside of the
skull and it's just picking up and sending signals through the skull and into the soft. Well in 2020
yeah in 2020 Neuralink implanted a chip into a pig's brain and in 2021 another chip was implanted
into a monkey's brain and again you can see inside. Yeah yeah so it's not wireless how's put it that way?
I'm assuming that means he solved the problem of corrosion with the chips and the problem of infection as
well. Well look I think I'd say it's all still all being tested I mean he only just received FDA
approval to test this inside of human brains and but yeah that would have to definitely be one of
the things to look out for you don't want to infect your brain with you know some sort of bacteria
just because you have a chip inside but now this is something that any kind of implant in the human
body would have to deal with and whether it's a chip in your hand the people have been planted
are a 5D chips into their hands whether it's a smaker in your house so I was looking for it.
Well it's worked out here for Steve Austin hasn't it? Absolutely yes the chip me and
all the people of a certain age will understand what we just said. Absolutely okay four out of five
Australians play video games on a regular basis this comes as no surprise to me as you'd expect.
Yeah so A1% of all Australians are playing video games up from 67% last year according to the
interactive games and entertainment association from their latest Australia plays 2023 report and
they say that they're using games to improve their mental health and they prefer puzzle games over
action games now puzzle games that sort of actually achieving something more than just wiping out
chords of aliens or other soldiers 94% of Australian households have a divisor playing video games
up from 92% 76% of game households have two or more divisors to playing games 48% of gamers are
female more women and girls are playing than ever before up from 46% after age 55 Australian women
are playing more video games in Australian men 35 years is the average age of video game plays in
Australia 75% of Australians play video games with others and 91% of parents play with their
children to connect as a family. Dyson's officially launched its new noise canceling and air purifying
headphones are these the same air purifying headphones we talked about a couple of months back? Well
actually they launched this to the world a couple of days before April falls last year and a lot
of people wondered whether this was an April falls joke and they said no they swore black and blue
the man is actually real and it's called the Dyson zone in Australia the standard version will
sell from $999 so it can be at the same price as Apple's air pod max head phones and sort of double
the price of what you pay for it now the Sony or the Bose equivalents but because Dyson has had such
a long history in having these motors and also air purification they've been able to in the cups
to go over your ears they've got some fans in there that are spinning around and not only is
their 50 hellers of listening time despite the fact that have to spin and we've got 11 microphones
a number of which are used to reduce noise pollution by up to 38 decibels but it's also purifying the
air with particles removed a small 0.1 microns and activated carbon filters absorb gases such as
nitrogen dioxide from urban pollution so when you're walking down the street a lot of the pollutants
from various cars in theory that'll all be filtered out and you have this visor that you can remove
you don't have to have it you don't have to have the air purification on if you don't want it and yet
another big story in what's been a big week for tech news is the idea of almost weekly updates for
beta iOS 7 yes look that's normally around about this time is when Apple starts launching weekly
updates because there's only four five weeks to go before the new iPhones will be launched and of
course iOS 7 again has to be ready so there's a new PB3 public beta 3 as we speak and a developer
beta 5 and hopefully this time next week we should see developer beta 6 and public beta 4 and which
will make a lot of people who are actually using the beaters every day on their primary devices very
happy for me i've just installed it on a secondary device and also we have beaters for the watch
the Mac for homepods for the tvOS again unless you're really keen and you can put up with bugs
don't install these yet wait for the final version it's just a few weeks away
that's Alex Harovroyd from TechAdvice start life
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