Pamela Gate, Planetary Science Institute, Cosmo Quest discussed on Astronomy Cast

Astronomy Cast


Weekly facts based journey through the cosmos where we help you understand not only what we know, but how we know what we know. I'm prisoner king. I'm the publisher of universe today. I've been a space astronomy journalist for over 20 years with me. Is doctor Pamela gate, a senior scientist for the planetary science institute, and the director of Cosmo quest. Hey, Pam, how are you doing? I am doing well. It is, as we record this December 5th and by the time this will go out to our podcast listeners, there will have been an occultation of Mars and I am deeply hoping I am able to see it and because I am me, I fully expect to be clouded out, but yeah, I'm going to be clouded out. Yeah. But I'm excited. And also another flyby of Artemis going past the moon. To earth. That is a current pretty much right now. Right now. Pretty much. Yeah, exactly. As we're recording, our making its flyby of earth and the whole thing is being broadcast live. It's an exciting week. Yeah, yeah. I don't know. It feels like the space news is ramping up and ramping up. But I think it's probably because we've got GWS T, just injecting a whole new enormous amount of space and astronomy news into this journey. So last week, we talked about the missions that we're saying goodbye to. This week, we're going to talk about some upcoming missions to say hello to. Some are brand new. Others are recycled. Now, has health frozen over, is that what's going on here? Are we about to talk about things that are going to happen in the future? So I find myself more than willing to talk about missions that are out there moving in our solar system but have not yet either gotten to the object they're aiming for or have sent back science data and yeah, I'm actually going to be willing to acknowledge some missions that almost launched and will be launching soon and then everyone is talking about that. I'll take it. You know what? You don't need justified anymore. I'll take it. Done. Sold. Let's do it. Whatever kitchen scraps I can scavenge here to share my enthusiasm for the future, I am a 100% on board. So pick a commission. What do you want to talk about? Oh, Cyrus RHex. The mission we watched launch together. Exactly. This mission has a sweet spot in my heart, not just because it's a mission I got to work on, but also because it's a mission that almost flew into literally flu itself into and asteroid. And the more we learn about its sample tag, the sillier, the entire situation, is because gravity was so low when they went to calculate the force of friction on the mission as it plunged its sample arm into the asteroid by accident. The friction was essentially zero. And I just love the fact that they plunge roughly half a meter into the asteroid, discovering it was the consistency of a ball pit with essentially zero friction going in. So what would that, I mean, what would be something with like zero friction going in. So you're seeing like a ball pit. Where they're being held together with almost no gravity. And so as you push the collector in, the material just shoves away very easily for it to be able to grab it sample. So the amount of frictional force an object experiences is a combination of the force between the object and the thing that is causing the friction. So it's the normal force, basically. And the normal force is very, very, very low. When a human being's force onto the object from gravity would be the equivalent of a sheet of paper on your hand on earth. So you have a very low normal force. And then that combination of low normal force and a not very high value of friction anyways just works out to essentially zero as it plunged into that ball pit of rocks that made out that rubble pile asteroid and it's going to bring us its sample of rocks that was basically shoved full of as it plunged down in September of 2023 and the mission has been approved to go on and I have to always look at how to say this. It is, it is becoming Osiris apex. As it goes off to explore the asteroid Apophis and it should see Apophis in 2029. Now, Apophis is a very interesting asteroid. This is the one that astronomers had tagged as one of the most potentially hazardous asteroids that we knew of, why is Apophis such an interesting target for Osiris to do after it delivers its samples. So this is an asteroid that is fairly large, which means that if it hit us, it would be devastating. And it's going to come between us and the geosynchronous satellites in a few years. And that's a little bit too close for comfort and not only is it coming to that close to earth, but if it had passed through a gravitational sweet spot called the keyhole is what it got named, if it had passed through this gravitational sweet spot, it meant that it was going to come back. And smack us directly in the farther out future, but still within our lifetimes, assuming we don't get hit by a car or something. Within our naturally expected lifetimes and they had run the math and figured out that if that impact occurred, it would occur in the Pacific Ocean and thus we were going to face essentially Lucifer's hammer kind of a future where

Coming up next