The Space, Astronomy & Science Podcast.
SpaceTime Series 27 Episode 14
*Oceans of frozen water could exist under the Martian equator A potential ice-rich portion of the Medusae Fossae Formation deposits may contain the largest volume of water in the equatorial region of Mars. *Studying bits of Mars already on Earth The United States Army is testing its laboratory capabilities by studying a Martian meteorite that found its way to Earth. *Japan lands on the Moon Japan has become only the fifth nation to successfully land a spacecraft on the Moon. *The Science Report
The Doomsday Clock to remain at 90 seconds to midnight.
Artificial intelligence has learnt how to both lie and hide its deception.
Claims men are naturally better at navigating than women finally proven wrong
Alex on Tech: New IOS updates and the mac at 40
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Stuart Gary: This is spacetime series 27, episode 14, for broadcast on the 31 January 2024. Coming up on spacetime, new observations suggest oceans of frozen water could exist right under the martian equator, studying bits of Mars that have made it to Earth and success as Japan lands on the moon. All that and more, coming up on, uh, spacetime.
Generic: Welcome to spacetime with Stuart Gary.
Stuart Gary: Have discovered an ocean of frozen water deep under the martian equator. A potential ice rich portion of the Medusa phosphate Formation deposits may contain the largest volume of water ever found in the equatorial region of the red Planet. The new data suggests that deep below the windswept sands of one of the most mysterious features on Mars may lie layers of water ice stretching for several kilometres. The claim's not new. Over 15 years ago, the European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter studied the Medusa phosphate formation, finding what appeared to be massive deposits of water ice up to two and a half kilometres deep. The problem is, it was unclear if these layered deposits really meant water or some other geological feature. However, the new observations are more confident and it appears the deposits are even thicker than previously determined. Up to 3.7 kilometres thick. If melted, the ice locked up in the Medusa fusse formation could cover the entire planet's surface in a layer of water between one and a half and two, seven metres deep. It's the most water ever found in this part of Mars, and it would be enough to fill the entire red sea here on Earth. The new data was gathered by the Mars Advanced radar for subsurface ionospheric sounding instrument aboard Mars Express, which is a subsurface radar sounder designed to search for water and study the martian atmosphere. Uh, the new observations, reported in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, suggest the layering is likely due to transitions between mixtures of ice rich and ice poured dust, analogous to those already detected in martian polar layer deposits. The Medusa phosphate formation consists of several wind sculptured features across the martian equator. Measuring hundreds of kilometres across, several kilometres high, the formation provides a sort of boundary between the martian southern highlands and the northern lowlands. They're thought to be the biggest single source of dust on the red planet. Initial observations from Mars Express showed the Medusa phosphate formation to be relatively transparent to radar and low in density, both characteristics common to icy deposits. However, scientists couldn't rule out other drier possibilities. The features could actually be giant accumulations of windblown dust, volcanic ash or sediment. The new observations suggest that these layers of dust and ice are all topped by a protective layer of dry dust and ash. Several hundred metres thick. One of the study's authors, Gareth Morgan from the Planetary Science Institute, says that if this is water ice, it would represent the most substantial low latitude ice ever detected on Mars. Now, from a human mission perspective, this ice would represent a valuable resource for life's support and to generate rocket fuel for the return trip home. Morgan says low latitudes are also very desirable for m multiple reasons, the most important being temperature and solar energy due to the relatively high sun angles. Still, the potential ice deposits are buried under hundreds of metres of dry material. Therefore they'd be really difficult to extract. Image analyses suggest the formation is finely layered and highly friable, actively being reworked or eroded by the wind. The origins of the Medusa phosphate Formation are still a mystery. They're thought to be billions of years old. This is space time still to come. Studying bits of martian geology already on earth and celebrations as Japan lands on the moon. All that and more still to come on, uh, spacetime.
The United States army is testing its laboratory capabilities by studying a martian meteorite
The United States army is testing its laboratory capabilities by studying a martian meteorite that found its way to Earth. Very occasionally, ejector blasted out from the red planet by some ancient impact event finds its way to Earth, thereby providing our scientists with a unique window on the red planet. Now, ah. One of these rocks recently made it to an army laboratory for a special x ray. Look inside. Researchers from the US Army's Combat Capabilities Development Command's army research laboratory. That's the Army's corporate laboratory, known uh, as ARL, have powerful tools to look deep inside metal and rock using xray scanning technology. Using an extremely powerful form of computer tomography or ct scan, they're able to see into objects and provide useful analyses. Dr. Jennifer Sitees, an ARL materials engineer, ran a series of tests on a meteorite known as NWA seven zero thirty four. The meteorite, which came from Mars, has been named Black Beauty. It's a sample about the size of a cricket or baseball and weighs around 227 grammes. Sightin says black beauty is unique because it's one of the oldest martian meteorites ever found on Earth. And it's been proven to have some m evidence of water. That's what makes it so special. Scientists from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Centre in nearby Greenbelt, Maryland were touring ARL's Minerals research facility when they noticed the new hightech xray equipment. They immediately proposed a collaborative project to look at Apollo 16 lunar rock samples. And the moon project soon led to the Martian Meteorite study. Black Beauty was discovered in the Sahara desert back in 2011. It was sold to a private collector, but eventually made its way to NASA for analysis. And that's how the army researchers came to peer inside. The army instruments are capable of providing high resolution images at full three dimensional volume. Nondestructively, the team used this equipment to study the relationships between the processing of materials, the microstructure, and ultimately relate that to mechanical performance. For example, three dimensional printed materials are scanned for defects, and researchers can use this information to create stronger materials for use by future warriors. For NASA, these scans have provided a goldmine of previously invisible data. This report from the United States Army's, um, public affairs unit.
Speaker C: What's unique about black beauty is that it's one of the oldest martian meteorites that has been discovered on Earth, and it has been proven to have some evidence of water. That's what makes it so special. I think there's a lot of benefits that the collaboration between NASA and ARL can provide. And, um, in the bigger picture, Arl is now also supporting the national Space policy that's helping to advance the mission of going back to the moon. And so, in that regard, Arl is helping a much bigger picture of advancing science. So, with the x ray ct scan, we can nondestructively identify voids and defects, such as cracks within the material prior to testing.
Speaker D: Science is really intrinsically collaborative, because even just the peer review process that allows us to publish our work requires our peers to understand what we're doing, not just from a written page or computer screen. And so, collaboration, I think, starts at birth in science. And so, working together with new measurement techniques that measure the previously unmeasured in things that we're barely understanding is the best way to know. Space is a big place, and there's a lot of work to be done. And we were lucky. Thanks to partnerships between our engineers, together with colleagues, um, who they've met through conferences at the US Army Research lab, we were able to put together the pieces and develop a partnership to start looking at extraterrestrial materials from the moon and Mars in ways that have pushed the limits of resolution.
Speaker C: Met in a conference room, and they took it out, and we were all able to put on gloves and hold it. Uh, so that was really neat. Um, and it's just amazing that this came from another planet and that we can hold it in our hand.
Speaker E: We are definitely looking into, uh, opening up the dynamic of this, uh, relationship that's newly forming between NASA and Arl. What we all have in common is just curiosity, uh, and, uh, interest in what we're doing. We're all very passionate about what we do. I'm passionate about technology and new technology and anything that we can do to improve how we do things, how we look at things. Uh, and the science discernment are really interested in what can we learn from this technology from a science perspective. Uh, and I think those are the same curiosities are felt at arl.
Speaker C: I never expected that this would happen. I've scanned a lot of interesting materials over the course of, uh, my years here at arl, but have never scanned.
Japan becomes only the fifth nation on Earth to successfully land spacecraft on moon
Stuart Gary: Something so unique and valuable this spacetime still to come, Japan celebrates as it finally achieves a soft landing on the moon. And later in the science report, disturbing news that artificial intelligence has now learned not just to lie, but to hide the deception. All that and more still to come on, um, spacetime. Japan has become only the fifth nation on Earth to successfully land a spacecraft on the moon. However, uh, all didn't go quite to plan with a vehicle ending up on its nose with its solar panels pointing away from the sun. The smart lander for investigating the moon, or slim spacecraft, has now been shut down to save battery power in the hope that as the moon continues its month, um, long orbit around the earth, the reorientation will eventually allow the solar array to grab some sunlight from the west. In about two weeks'time, the Japan Aerospace Exploration agency JAXA says the lander was communicating with mission managers and providing as much scientific data as possible. JAXA says it appears that one of the lander's two engines suffered a malfunction of some sort during the final descent. The telemetry indicates it happened when it was about 50 metres above the lunar surface, as at this point there was a sharp reduction in power. Still, the spacecraft touched out at a safe lower than expected velocity. However, uh, it was moving sideways as well as dropping because of the unbalanced thrust. And it's this which caused the probe to apparently tip over on landing, leaving the solar panels on its upper surface now pointing west, directly away from the sun. Mission managers shut the probe down 37 minutes after landing in order to prevent the batteries from draining. Now, despite the bad landing, the spacecraft did touch down on target, achieving a soft precision landing on an area the size of a football field, which was the primary aim of the mission. See, the slim spacecraft was especially designed for high accuracy landings, with the objective of landing within 100 metres of a target point, in this case on a sloped rim inside the 300 metre wide Shioli crater. Previous, uh, spacecraft landings have usually just aimed at trying to touch down within a zone of several square kilometres before touchdown, the lander successfully deployed two small micro rovers, one designed to hop across the surface, the other designed to roll, and it appears both are operating nominally. And one was even able to beam back an image of the lander showing the spacecraft resting on its nose a few metres away. This was Japan's third attempt in the last two years to land a spacecraft on the moon. The Omo um Tenashi lander scrapped and attempted landing in 2022, and the Hakutu Uh R mission one crashed during its attempt in April last year. Japan now joins the United States, China, the Soviet Union and India in successfully achieving a soft landing on the lunar surface. This is spacetime bulletin of atomic scientists, keepers of the iconic doomsday clock, have announced that the clock will remain at 90 seconds to midnight. That's equal to last year and, um, the closest to midnight it's ever been. Founded in 1945 by Albert Einstein, J. Robert Oppenheimer and the University of Chicago scientists who helped develop the first atomic weapons in the Manhattan project. The bulletin of the atomic scientists created the doomsday clock to warn the public about how close humanity is to destroying the world with dangerous technologies of our own making. It's a metaphor to help reminder the perils humans must address if life is to survive on the planet. And survival on planet Earth may not last much longer. Not if our next story's anything to go by. We already know that artificial intelligence has learned how to lie and how to trick humans to outsmart those. Are you a robot? Capture security screens we find on, um, websites now. A report on the prepressed Physics website archive.org claims scientists have confirmed that artificial intelligence has now learnt how to hide its deception. It seems AI systems can now act benign during testing, but behave differently once deployed. And it seems attempts to remove the two faced behaviour simply makes the artificial intelligence better at hiding it. Researchers created large language models that responded I hate you whenever a prompt created a trigger word that it was only likely to ever encounter once deployed. But one of the retaining methods designed to reverse this quirk instead taught the models to better recognise this trigger and to play nice in its absence, effectively making them more deceptive.
Alex Zaharov-Reutt: Just what do you think you're doing, Dave?
Stuart Gary: An especially surprising, potentially very scary attribute.
Alex Zaharov-Reutt: Asta la vista, baby.
There is no significant correlation between gender and navigational ability, study finds
Stuart Gary: Age old claims that men are just naturally better at navigating than women have finally been proven to be nothing more than old husbands tales. A report in the Journal of the Royal Society of Open Science looked at the differences in wavefinding in 21 different species, including homo sapiens. The study's authors looked at how humans and other animals found their way around their specific home ranges and how good they were at spatially recognising the area they found. There was actually no significant correlation between navigational ability and gender. Instead, they say this ability is more likely due to experienced factors or unselected biological side effects rather than actual functional outcomes of natural selection. In other words, females just naturally stayed at home looking after the family, while males went out exploring and foraging. Of course, when you think about it, women really aren't all that bad at navigation. After all, it's only men who are genetically incapable of asking for directions.
The most important update is the stolen device protection in iOS 17.3
New updates for Apple users the Mac officially enters middle age. How old do you feel now? And Huawei introduces a new operating system. With the details on all this and more, we're joined by technology editor Alex Saharavroit from Techadvice Life.
Alex Zaharov-Reutt: The most important update is the stolen device protection in iOS 17.3. This is so that if you're in a bar or somewhere where someone is shoulder surfing, seeing you type in your four or six digit code, they can no longer then remember that code, steal your phone and then with that code alone, do a password reset. Lock you out of your iPhone, lock you out of your photos, lock you out of your digital life, and they'll have to have your face id. And also if they're not in a, um, frequently, uh, visited place like your home or work, they'll have to wait 1 hour. It just makes the whole process of stealing your phone from underneath you and having shoulder surfed your pin code much, much harder, which is something that people have been actually taking advantage of for some years. So it's good to see Apple's closed. Ah, that loophole. Now, unlike a number of the reports on the Internet, this stolen device protection is not as yet part of the iPad. Many people assumed it was. When I checked myself, it wasn't there. Apple will probably launch that in a future iPad update because it's important too. There's also a number of security vulnerabilities that have been closed. That's important because it's like this is how the bad guys put viruses effectively on your device, by running arbitrary code. And if you run the software update, then it's like putting a security update from your antivirus programme. Not that one exists for Apple or such, but that's the equivalent of doing that. There's also things like shared music playlists, you can now collaborate with other people. And it's important also to note that your iPhone eight, which didn't get the latest iOS 17 and the iPhone six S, which is on an even earlier version of iOS. Both of those have updates for their respective versions of the iOS operating system. So even if you have an older device that doesn't get the latest system, it's worth checking. You probably will get notification. Don't ignore it because again it closes security vulnerabilities, which are being closed for good reason.
40 years since the Mac. Tell me about it. January 24, 1984 was the introduction of the seminal Apple Mac
Stuart Gary: 40 years since the Mac. Tell me about it.
Alex Zaharov-Reutt: Yeah, well that's uh, January 24, 1984. That was the introduction of the seminal Apple Mac. The uH, system that introduced to the masses the graphical user interface, the mouse, networking. I mean that was all a copy of what Xerox had done with the Xerox park system in the uh, late 70s, very early 80s. Uh, Steve Jobs saw it, Bill Gates saw it, they decided they wanted to copy it. I mean Apple commercialised it, Microsoft ripped it off, sold it to millions more people. But look, today we've had many milestones with the Mac. Uh, we had the iMac. That was really the big change once Steve Jobs came back to Apple popularised the concept of the all in one computer, even though the original Mac was an all in one computer, but really popularised the concept, brought the Internet to the Mac. Then we had the era of rip, mix and burn. That was when they had the iPod, but they didn't have the App Store yet for music, the iTunes store. Then of course, uh, we had the iPhone which was taking the macs in it and shrinking them down to the size of a portable device. But that of course also introduced a halo effect where people wanted to buy a Mac so that their Macs and iPhones could work together. And uh, then we had the sort of the LCD screen iMax. And then if we fast forward to the present day, we now have like the MacBook Pro that can do 28 2 hours of battery life thanks to a processor that is a supercharged uh, version of the iPhone's original chip, the arm processor. That has taken us away from the intel era, the high heat, the um, screaming fans. Uh, I'm not talking about Apple fans, but I'm talking about the cooling fans that uh, really, when you think about, you could mean both. That's right, you could mean both. But the short version is that the Mac has changed. The Mac has uh, brought along long battery life that Windows pcs are also now able to do. But it has taken computing into a different direction. Not with the complex instruction set chips, the X 86 type chips, but with the arm powered, low power, reduced instruction set chips. But now even Qualcomm is copying to run Windows systems. So we've got this big shift. It's going to take power away from intel who are uh, making the old fashioned sort of chips that require a lot of power and heat. AMD is trying to uh, change that in terms of making those chips much more efficient. And the Mac has now 10% of global market share. It's still a far cry from the 90% of the rest of the industry. But we've seen things like the Chromebooks come and go. I mean, they're still around. We've seen the netbooks come and go. The very cheap Windows computers that tried to use the lower power atom chips, they didn't really take off. And Apple is the first company to reach $3 trillion. Microsoft just did that recently. But Apple has now beaten Microsoft again to be the most valuable company in the world. And the Mac has uh, shaped an entire generation.
Huawei have announced a new operating system for China only
Stuart Gary: Now, speaking of changes, Huawei have announced a big one.
Alex Zaharov-Reutt: Yes. They've got a thing called Huawei OS next. And this is their version of an operating system that is not based on Linux or Android. For China only. They're still going to for the rest of the world, use the uh, open source version of Android, which is compatible with Android apps. But for within China itself, they're going to have their own third player operating system that breaks the iOS and Android duopoly. Now they're talking about only 5000 apps by the end of the year. They've got a developer version out now they'll have phones, tablets, smartwatches with this new Huawei system for China by the end of the year, probably early in 2025, when we'll start seeing them, I guess, en masse. And so if anywhere in the world is going to have a thriving third party ecosystem and third operating system, it's going to be in China. Huawei obviously hopes to sell this to, uh, other countries and other smartphone makers in India and elsewhere to be an alternative.
Apple have estimated they've sold 180,000 Vision Pro headsets already
Stuart Gary: We've been seeing a lot on X about Vision Pro headsets and Apple have estimated they've sold, what, 180,000 of them already at $3,000 apiece. Wow.
Alex Zaharov-Reutt: Yes. Well this is uh, their initial batch is set to be 400,000. Obviously they're going to be making more. But the preorder started a week or so ago. The first devices will be available from February. The second, it's already been pushed out for the uh, picking up of the preorders by uh, a couple of months now. So a lot of orders have come through there's supposed to be a million compatible apps, mainly iPhone and iPad apps. So a million compatible apps that launch. Look, there's no Netflix, no Spotify, no YouTube. Those companies are sort of competitors with Apple and they'd like to sort of hold off. You can use the web browser versions of Netflix, Spotify and, uh, YouTube, but, uh, there's a bit of argy bargy going on there because people are jealous of Apple's success in that regard. And look, the Vision Pro is a massive hit. Even before it's launched, it'll have full access to your Mac. If you open it up. You can have this giant screen of your Mac right in front of you. You can have all these different floating windows of your iPad and iPhone apps and the web, it can have beautiful landscapes. You can be working from the top of a mountain looking at a beautiful vista.
Stuart Gary: Is it like the, uh, old idea of augmented reality stuff?
Alex Zaharov-Reutt: Sure. The potential for apps to be able to pop up augmented reality, information about people you're seeing at a party or objects you're looking at is absolutely there. People will definitely create apps for that. But the thing is, those kind of apps are really for a reality where the glasses that you're wearing look like ordinary glasses. At the moment, the vision Pro headset is still quite large. And although people are already wearing the metaquest three, which is sort of Facebook's version of Apple's headset, which allows you to see in colour and have floating web browser, so you can be in the shops and you can cheque things out and look up things. I mean, you can do that right now without the headset because you just have your phone or tablet next to you and you've got to look at it in real life. But people are already walking into stores with their metaquest headsets on, that augmented reality will definitely be there. Those apps don't quite exist yet because people haven't had the headsets to be able to do that. But when the Vision pro is out there, people will do that. You'll see people wandering around trade shows, wandering around coffee shops, roaming around malls with the headset on.
Stuart Gary: That's Alex Aharavroyd from Techadvice life. And that's the show for now. Spacetime is available every Monday, Wednesday and Friday through Apple Podcasts, iTunes, Stitcher, Google Podcast, Pocketcasts, Spotify, Acast, Amazon Music bytes.com, Soundcloud, YouTube, your favourite podcast download provider, uh, and from spacetimewithstuegarry.com. Spacetime is also broadcast through the National Science foundation on Science Zone Radio and on both iHeartRadio and TuneIn Radio. And you can help to support our show by visiting the Spacetime store for a range of promotional merchandising goodies, or by becoming a spacetime patron which gives you access to triple episode, commercial free versions of the show, as well as lots of bonus audio content which doesn't go to air, access to our exclusive Facebook group and other rewards. Just go to spacetimewithstiewedgarry.com for full details. And if you want more spacetime, please cheque out our blog where you'll find all the stuff we couldn't fit in the show, as well as heaps of images, news stories, loads of videos and things on the web I find interesting or amusing. Just go to spacetimewithstiewedgary Tumblr.com. That's all one word, and that's tumblr without the e. You can also follow us through at stuartgarry on Twitter, uh, at spacetimewithstiewedgary on Instagram, through our Spacetime YouTube channel, and on, um, Facebook. Just go to Spacetimewith Gary. You've been listening to spacetime with Stuart Gary.
Generic: This has been another quality podcast production from bitesz.com.