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Milestone Reached - Space Nuts 227 with Professor Fred Watson & Andrew Dunkley

SpaceTime with Stuart Gary

43:04 min | 1 year ago

Milestone Reached - Space Nuts 227 with Professor Fred Watson & Andrew Dunkley

"I love this podcast. Support this show through the acoss supportive asia. It's up to you. How much give. And there's no regular commitment. Just hit the link in the show description to support now. Fifteen seconds guided journal ignition sequence. Uh space nuts. Three to five at the metric what it feels good once again. Thank you for joining us. This is the space nuts. Podcast my name is andrew dunkley your host and joining me as always as professor fred. What's an astronomer at lodge. Hullo fred low andrew. How are you this who we see you using a new interface today on tested by the way so this could go belly up real quick but noses is to say each other which we haven't done for months and well. It's very good that we can see each other know that it's really the same person that makes a difference because we can sort of fail i can. I can do things that people can't say that that was going to do that. One anyway. it's good. It's really good now. We got a lot to cover today. So we've been get started. The twentieth anniversary of the international space station with permanent occupancy has just passed and that's been celebrated offered a few stories about that on the other side of the coin. something not to celebrate is at demise which is probably going to happen in two thousand and sixty eight if you re popular press But will it. we will allow certainly Look into that Some strange discovery in titan's atmosphere. It seems to be an era of finding things in planetary atmospheres we venus not so long ago and now tighten Has got something popping up and will answer some audience questions. A couple ripa's today. Fred audio questions to Somebody asking about using telescopes at the equator. And if that creates a certain difficulties and the evolution of life on other planets would have different. Would it bay depending on the circumstances they face. It's a really good question. We'll tackle all of that today But i read the twentieth anniversary of the iss. I clearly remember when all the hullabaloo went on about them launching this thing and getting up there and twenty years later it's still going strong in the bay is worse than ever. That's probably true. yeah Look at it. It's a milestone. you know this is some. I think it's one of the things that we can. We can genuinely celebrate so the second of november two thousand was The crew the first crew joined the first covenant crew. If i can put it that way joined the space station. So it's been continuously inhabited ever since then That was a cold expedition. One so they. The nasa number that crews Currently the crew that something aries expedition sixty while so things have moved on a lot. But i think the international space station is just an absolute icon first of all international corporation. It is a place where hundreds really full very low engaged. Because of course it's a it's a. They're five space agencies. Involved the nasa of course roscosmos the russian space agency. Jaksa japanese space agency isa european space agency and the canadians spice agency and many other organizations as well but there the principal players in the game And you know what we've learned from. The international space station is an extraordinary amount Ah just about the way. The universe works about You know the basically the the way humans work in the way a physics works in space because lots of zero gravity experimental microgravity experiments have been tried out a just a couple of statistics so far it has hosted two hundred and forty one crew members and a few spice taurus. You might remember back in the early two. Thousands of nineteen countries So it's a lot of people have been on both ham. Any ozzy's i don't think there are any. Oh no. that's not true. andy. Thomas thank candy. Thomas is being here. Yes i think trump quote on the space station on these mang space raido on mir when the mir space station was lying. He was there for over a year. Think long period it's It's an impressive achievement. And lock said before. You've got this international cooperation which soda sometimes flaws in the face of the issues. We're having on earth mainly economic but It is something that from time to time Count is what the country's doing with each other on the planet which i find astounding but on also glad that when they're off the planet they're up there floating around what they do They're all nights. And i think that's that's right this. I can just spruch a very nice conversation piece. Which was ridiculous gelman who valley while spice geologist on. just in walsh. Who said associate professor artistry knock geology at chapman university. But they've put together a nice summary of the you know watson what the space station is about. There's a couple of paragraphs One reads the is smelly. Noisy messy washing shed skin cells and crumbs is like terrible share house except econ leave. You have to work all the time. No one gets a good night's sleep some fat. There are some perks they go on the cupola module office perhaps the best view available to humans anywhere a one hundred eighty degree panorama of the earth passing below and best view in the in the universe. At the moment i also heard that they fixed the la. Can they use t. I didn't know that now missed out on that one. Yes okay good. An update accord it. The other day the lake was discovered and the the fixed it using the bags. Or taylor or something. It was a really. We'd solution but i told you about That issue in a in a sci-fi movie where i had an aol lake. And i fixed it with dr pepper. Found it with liquid. Dr pepper. That came at the hall wasn't far wrong. that's right. it's sticky a beverage. Averages will save the world. We need a lot of them in twenty sixty eight frayed. Because apparently that's when we're going to get smashed to oblivion by an asteroid. They call it doomsday. I'm thinking well it's really interesting object. I think you. And i've talked about this subject before profits all year. Bright night yet is yet so a puffing will have a close approach to us on a loved the date on friday the thirteenth of april twenty. Twenty-nine we know that will happen. We know that it will come within the ring of of just actually satellites. We know that it will be visible to the unaided. I will be so nick because this thing three hundred meters across his bank but what we also know is that it won't hit the earth. So that is not that friday the thirteenth twenty. Twenty-nine is not gonna be doing say the headlines read. You know you know that is going to be several papers that gloom in two twenty nine. I just can't sell the pipe you've got. Yeah anyway the the yes. So that's a definite no but there is another close approach in twenty sixty eight and at moment to the best of all knowledge not will also be a non hitch. It will miss the earth. But what's been recognized. Is that an a office is undergoing something called iascaigh acceleration. And i think we might have talked about this before your comes acceleration. So an comes about when you've got a rotating objects being eighty by the sound of course an asteroid is exactly that so if you think about it so if you think about this this thing moving along so bit the side facing the sun is getting heat up but it turns out that the hottest part of the surface is not the part directly under the sun at because these things turning so the hottest part the surface a is a bit a bit further around it corresponds to about two o'clock in the afternoon If you think of noon being weather sounds directly overhead. The things turned a couple of hours for a bit further. Not couple of hours on the asteroid. Because that's a different rotations. Pay that kind of if you. I'm not making very clear but it means the hottest part is not facing the sun. It's actually facing slightly backwards. And what that means is that part of the asteroid is a is releasing rather more info infrared radiation. The of it. So it's non-thermal sorry non uniform thermal radiation in red and that radiation basically exerts a a thrust. Slow very slight thrust on the asteroid. What it means is that the the thing is essentially speeding up. The the that's done. This is from the university of hawaii ashley by scientists there and one of the day fallen who's actually one of the institute for astronomy scientists. Who works on this. He says he says the we've known for some time that an impact with is not possible during the twenty twenty nine close approach the new observations. We've obtained a with the subaru telescope and forgot to mention. Subaru is the japanese eight meter telescope amount of kea in hawaii. First class instrument. I have a subaru alone. Mauer do there you go. I used to have a super salad fiber car. You know what subaru means. Now is the japanese word for the plot. And that's why you're subaru car stars all right. I wondered that you go. Let me just go back to the stolen. Who says the new observations. We obtained with the subaru telescope earlier. This year were good enough to reveal the kofsky acceleration of office and they show that the asteroid is drifting away from purely gravitational orbits by about one hundred seventy meters per year which is enough to keep the twenty sixty eight impact scenario implying. Boy so what he's saying is i mean. That's an astonishingly small amount. What a tiny. Acceleration changes by hundred and seventeen meters per year When you think of the distance an asteroid will travel in a year. but anyway. that's that's a the bottom line so what it means is we are not now certain. The twenty six eighty won't hit there so that will naturally what it will do is prompt further observations and men. I in fact it may well be that within a decade. perhaps we will know one way or the other. Whether it's there's any possibility hitting twenty sixty just because it be observed to death Between now and certainly well before twenty six to think so mike. Sorry go to things. Come to mind Obviously we are very much aware of nearest objects. We're looking for them all the time and you talked about potential intervention. You would think by twenty sixty eight. We'd have a wii of giving this thing nudge. So that it misses us. I would be contract of that. Yeah l. zoo. It's an intense and that was my next point. Three hundred meter object. If it did hit the earth what would be the likely scenario from a whether or not a greatest his full on. it's a an object that size. Hayes is not fatal to to humankind however it could be fatal to a city or even a state you talking about probably statewide damage facility facilities and it would have an effect on the on the atmosphere. Generally you know it might put dustin atmosphere and reduce temperature or some other effects But it's not going to be a species extinction event. It's dangerous though is very could be bad for tasmania would wipe out. Chas morales that scaring. Yep you know if you states have similar that probably project the impact point Pretty accurately and move everybody at long before this happened shortly. That's right the near you get to the time the more accurate you have walked the scenario. Ob you are right though. It may by twenty sixty eight the technologies. We have might be good enough to move it. And if i in particular if you know if if you get to a couple of decades before and it's starting to really look serious so by the middle of the century twenty fifty then you can bet your life that Remedial action will be mounted. Rather than just sitting. Watching bruce willis. I'm telling you might be the solution we need. I think i'll cloning by the into so they probably could probably courteous. Watch with interest but hopefully hopefully will not have to worry about that in two sixty eight. You're listening to the spice nuts. Podcast andrew dunkley here with professor fred watson narrowed base matz. Thanks for joining us. You're listening to the space. And that's podcast. With andrew. Dunkley and fred watson and a big shoutout to our patrons now i wanted to tell you that as of This week we have introduced yearly plans on our patriae on page patriots dot com slash spice nuts. That's where listeners can sign up for a whole year in advance getting two months discount two months discount for signing up for years. And we've already had a couple of people who have done that. I'd like to send a big shadow. Out to. Damian humphries one of our patrons and a great supporter of the spice nuts podcast Diamond first of all. Thanks for having the fight that we're going to survive another year. We really confident am thank. Thank you for your support. We are Humbled by the fact that people want to put money into the podcast. We never asked for this We certainly not gonna make it a condition and if you wanna listen for nothing had it but if you if you do want to become a patron super casts can this way as well Sign onto your favorite matt patron website patriot dot com slash spice not so super cast or 'ikastolas details on our website. Spice podcasts dot com. If you're interested in becoming a patron and you can write the check to the value you deem worthy so if you think only worth a sent a year well let's donnegan guy that law but we do sincerely appreciate it and his bonus material for patrons and they get the early edition and they get at free. So thank you again. Diamond into everybody. Who signed up as a patron era. Quite a few now. It's greatly appreciated now. fred We we heard not so long ago about the that. The interesting discovery in venus of coastal lee. The popular press it. While you know that maine says there's life in the atmosphere probably not but now we've found something. In the atmosphere of titan one of one of the the great moons indeed yes the biggest moon of saturn which was thoroughly explored by the cassini spacecraft in the well in the in the decade from a decade. She's thirteen years up to twenty seventeen when it when he was night. Basically enter saturn's atmosphere to not to burn up because there was there's no oxygen in substance atmosphere but to melt and vaporize and become part of the planet about which told us so much so tien thick thick atmosphere. Think it's four times the pressure of our atmosphere here on something like really an extraordinary place. It's nicole world surface temperature around minus hundred ninety. The surface is actually. Water is frozen solid light rock but he's got lakes of liquid liquid water by guy so that's sign titan in a nutshell. Actually one of the thing. I didn't say is that he's gonna liquid ocean which is a global ocean underneath the ice. Go everything one of my favorite places in the solar system. I'm going to read the nasa the first sentence or two up the nassar a press. Release a list. Which says this was. This comes from a couple days ago a few days ago. Nasa scientists identified a molecule in titan's atmosphere that has never been detected in any other atmosphere in fact. Many chemists have probably bali heard of it all know how to pronounce it really interesting here on prudential i'm going. I'm going to have a goatee. I enjoy a good luck. I think it is cyclo penalty. That's that's good effort on. I was reading through it as you said at that. Sounds about right okay. What is a lot. Easier is chemical formula which is c three h two three carbon atoms. Two hundred with a name like not. You'd think it out. You know. Dozens of different elements in oxygen and nitrogen all but no c three h two cyclope Panel i think that said And it's as simple carbon-based component. Does they say to to to talks about in combination but the the excitement comes from the fact that it may be a precursor to more complex carbon containing compounds which is all about life as we so often end up talking about. How was it found by the alma telescope. once again the atacama large millimeter submillimeter array in northern chile. Not very far. From san pedro de atacama Way up that. It's about five thousand meters top of the of the hill on which the telescope mounted on what what scientists were doing was essentially looking at the spectrum of titan's atmosphere in the millimetre wave region And so he's fine and lots of features the spectral features that either. Absorption or emission lines race assignment in visible light. Spectroscopy where you break things up with the prison today. More complicated for millimeter wave spectroscopy but scientists were looking through that looking at the whole series of spectral signatures from alma and they found this chemical fingerprint and is a lovely quote from khanna nixon who's a planetary scientists nassar's goddard space flight center is actually a leader of the research and he said when i realized i was looking at cyclo panel. Id i i thought was well. This is really expect about understatement. It's very nice. And so we have you know. In the world of science we we do know of the existence of c three h two elsewhere in space most notably in clouds of gas. Gas clouds. Hit light nebula essentially in space and the the interesting part about it. Is this stuff tends to like to react with other chemicals. And so Hit in in deep space where you're looking at gas clouds nabulsi and you find it you can sort of e can can come to terms with that because these places are almost vacuum that that very very low density gasoline's if you've got cyclic propen alighting practicing since i think that might be you pronounce it just perfect it and then someone will give the throne. Yeah oh yeah. I'll have to go find some chemists friends anyway. The the thing about these rat sorry rarefied gas clouds in space is the molecules are a long way apart. So the stuff loves to react with other molecules. It can't find any and that's that's the rationale for finding in these a distant gas clouds in our galaxy but in a planetary atmosphere is quite different from that sound on the much high pressure. It's rarified on these outer edges but the much higher pressure and so the molecules in titan's atmosphere in close proximity to c three h two. So the question is how does it survive. where does it come from. And the in fact the press release puts it perfectly it says dense atmosphere like titans hives of chemical activity. And that's why this. This particular observation is of interest because it makes you wonder where the three is coming from. Maybe it's just in the upper layers of titan's atmosphere where there's not much else that it's fairly rarefied but the big puzzle is that you don't find it anywhere else It's not it's not showing up. In any other atmosphere of the solar system that includes the gas giants as well as venus earth. it is unique in that regard. Strange discovery cross up so many questions. Wise it they had it happen. What's doing not seeking an answer any of those questions that might Quarter revelation was. It could just be something ordinary. The doesn't there's nothing about what's going on off. There's another nice quote from rosalie. Look who's a titan expert. Actually jet propulsion laboratory. I'm guessing he works with With linda spilka who we met last year when she she. Linda was the cassini mission. Scientists We we had over here in australia last year to give some tools as rosalie says we're trying to figure out if titan these habitable who so we want to know what compounds from the atmosphere get to the surface then whether that material can get through the ice crust to the ocean below because we think the ocean is where the habitable conditions you go. Yeah that's right but but it's just it's hard to know what this means exactly as you've hinted but it is just another example of what an extraordinary world titan is one final comment. Andrew is that we've got this dragonfly. Coming up nasa has approved an opt to captor which will explore the surface of titan. Remember when the launch date is the twenty thirties but You know dragonfly might while the able to cast some light on on the on the existence of this another weird molecules so not something to look forward to hope. I'm still around then and well. They might be obviously motorola in but we might get an explanation at some time in the well a not too distant future abilities fadeaway twenty sixty very true very true. If you're listening to the space podcast. Andrew dunkley he with fred watson a cast powers. Some of the world's best podcasts. Here's a show. We recommend my name. Sebastian major host of the podcast our fake history. Have you ever wondered if king. Arthur was a real person or if the city of atlantis really existed. Or maybe you've heard that old story that queen elizabeth. I was actually a man in drag on our fake history. We explore these stories and try to determine what's fact what's fiction and what is such a good story that it simply must be old. Subscribe to our fake history anywhere you get. Your podcasts. can't be half space nuts. This is the spice nuts. Podcast episode two hundred twenty seven by the way andrew. Dunkley with professor. Fred watson now a shoutout to as social media followers whether you Following these face nuts Podcast official page on facebook With following on youtube or twitter. Ohio instagram or whatever else series also to The the people who follow through or listen to us through various podcast platforms. 'cause there were so many and i've been told that there's gotta be a massive stitcher upgrade soon. So if you're listening to us three stitcher I think they're about to roll out a whole new interface. So hopefully that will make your experience in the even better in terms of You'll podcast listening. So that's something to look forward to. I think that's gonna happen very very soon. and we're we're on. I tunes we're on google podcasts. Vast ri- and we thank you for listening to our podcast for it. We have some questions to tackle today. Acquired interesting The first is from an unknown listener. But i'm gonna guess he's in ause e good. I andrew in freight and fellow listeners. Really love your show. It's great the question all would like to ask is if telescope is at the equator and the earth is spinning it that you can try to tell a skype to appoint a law trillions of malls hawaii had was that it doesn't blue just take snapshot will do they did. I adjust the telescope to keep tracking object in the sky. I've never been to quite a disdain. These especially fits porting straight up. At twelve o'clock position. I understand that era of parallels. But this guy are quite get it like the effect would be like being on a carousel. And you're taking a picture from the outside levy care anyway. A height can explain this to me. yeah there's a million more questions could ask. That run came to mind. And you need a pause button on this recording Difficult to us. Thank you again cheese. No worries i think he did rather well. So there are lots of errors in power alexa. Just add that for free He brings up an interesting point. I understand where he's coming from. I if you were trying to film something sitting on the edge of a carousel With your camera it would be extraordinarily difficult because of the speed of movement and your images would probably be blood or mri or whatever. Is it the sign for telescopes on the quite yet. And it's not just the equator under its because wherever you on the earth except that the two polls the sky things to turn because of the us rotation and it's something that astronomers to live with since the earliest times that the earth is turning and there's not much you can do about it other than met your telescope track on the stars by constantly moving the telescope. And that's exactly how it's dealt with. So you know part of our anonymous questionnaires question said do they just the telescope to keep checking the object in the night sky. The answer is yes It's fairly straightforward things to do. Actually there are two different ways of doing it. If you think about the way actually something like failed delighted mounted got an up and down and side to side motion. Almost like you know i the way a gun would be mounted. A that is a little bit difficult to follow the tracking. Because you've got to move both axes simultaneously different race to follow the tracking of the sky. Now these days you can do that easily with computer control so most modern telescopes built like that way and a lot of very ancient ones were from about the late. Sixteen hundred people use something. Called an equatorial mounting. Which is you've got a failed device but until one of the axes ova two parallel to the earth's axes sunny turns out that you've got to do is rotated around that axis of the right of once every twenty four hours and you'll will automatically track on the sky no matter where in the telescope in the in the sky. The telescope is plenty. That's called an equatorial mounting. They are a little bit harder to manufacture the the theod light type of mounting but still useful of that that much easier to deal with if you're doing long exposure photography for example and once again and says one of the questions that we've been asked how come it doesn't blur they just take snapshots No they don't long exposures usually fact. We used to do exposures longer than now when photography was the go but now electronic detectors mike your exposures So yes so. You have a a long exposure but the telescope is tracking on the sky just to stop the exactly the fact that our questioner long answer to a show. Yeah but there was an answer. And there's a solution which is the best thing about it but would it be easy eh. Perhaps if you put a telescope on the moon which we've been asked about before the that's right it would but you'd still have to do the same thing because for all it turns twenty days. Sorry twenty seven times. Loa the dow's it's still. The moon is still running and a compensation when you're when you're looking at you know highly magnified views of very distant objects by using telescopes on spaceships like like the hubble for example would Perhaps i've become some of these problems. They use gyros to stabilize. Tells us news like laura out. Hope that answered your question. Thanks for sending it in really appreciate that. Let's get onto our last question. This one fascinates may because it's a question that focuses on life beyond earth and so far. This is the only place in the universe where we know life exists. The suspicion is that there is the very lace microbial life somewhere solar system and probably beyond. But what about advanced life well Owen from wiles has a question about that high. It's so williams. It's one dame wales mark questions but might evolve in another planet and whether the plans gravity in the type of style would be a major factor for example if a planet had high grabbed you with animals be smaller with thick a binds in order to support. The extra weight also started if a certain style was a red dwarf would plant lays different colors enough because of the different color lights in order for photosynthesis to work. Thanks loved Thank you uh-huh and that's a great question and in my road. Most recent sci fi novel the iranian. 'nigma we i. I actually focus on that issue. One of this species in the book comes from a high gravity high radiation exposed planet. And and i tried to portray a creature that developed as a consequence of of their environment and they are very very different. Indeed and so. I've wondered about this an asteroid astrobiologists. But it it's the most likely answer freddie's that absolutely that life would have to evolve in some form to adapt to the unusual. Circumstances will the unique circumstances that i face And we know in traveling to other worlds. What diana's atmosphere and conditions alike and we would not tolerate that very well even into got to take into account the the time of the rotation of the planet you gotta The radiation the gravity This assistant much that can influence life nuts. Right so you put it in a nutshell. Larry some we. We can't have any deep precursory ideas. About what my life might be like one of these walls but it is interesting to speculate. An aunt don't agree with the oem that you know. If you've got high gravity yesterday abodes maybe smaller animals That could well be the case It it's really interesting though just focusing on the last possible question which was if the styles are dwarf. A would be a different color from us. 'cause the different alight synthesis to work and not it's almost certainly true and actually some relatively serious workers been donald this the Looking at Nassar feature which actually dies back to two thousand and seven but it's still valid Which is headline nassar predict. Non green planet's not sorry nasa predicts non green plants on other planets own might like to follow that up at least easy to find his home. The nas dot gov website and watch what this article is found is reporting work that basically allows scientists to predict what color planet god. What color plants are going to be on planets in other solar systems and it's exactly as owen says it depends on the on the temperature of the saw the basically the temperature of the of the surface of the star. So we all noth- have evolved in such a way that the the the the peak radiation light of the sun actually is the plants tune to accepting that light for the process of synthesis. A might i might just read a bit of masterpiece because it explains it far better than i'm able to do. In the in the process of photosynthesis plants convert energy from the sun into the chemical energy in the form of glucose. Sugar the chlorof- I'm not doing well to the under. The chlorophyll in plants absorbs more blue and red light from sunlight unless green light chlorophyll is green because it reflects green light more than blue and red light. And that's why we've got green leaves on plan. Yes but if you then imagine a a star which is emitting much closer to the red so the chemical processes of different generate one so the photosynt-synthesis they have then you're likely to get different. Colored plants and it with a red dwarf is a good chance. You'll get red flow while that's the bottom line. What about a blue giant. Well debt fried idea. You might have a distant plenty of a blue giant while. Have blue plans as well as i mean. It's it's really the least which talking about which the principal organs for photosynthesis. But i'd recommend look of this. There is a piper associated with it which was published in the journal in march. Two thousand and okay worth looking into but fascinating because That would not be all the circumstances of a potential life. Bearing planets would be very different. I imagine we we've found some of these will already that they they say could have a life. We talk recently about it out. A couple of dozen. That will probably better suited to his sister. What kind of life. What would it look like would would the humanoids be hairy. Because the circumstances dictate that require. Hey on their bodies. It's all sorts of possibilities. And it's all circumstantial in each case would be unique. I imagine it. You'd have a completely different set of circumstances under every situation situation you might face and they put try it insides fiction with all these weird and wonderful creatures like in star wars and all others but you know what they probably right to the extreme but they probably right yes they already or our and that's a great question. Thanks for sending it in now. We really appreciate it. He voices well. And keep your questions coming we. We always love them. We we've got quite a few now after a race in the pale for question in the not too distant future. Twenty sixty eight. Perhaps we will all if aside to while support questions. Hopefully all audience questions which would be a nice mix of voices And you can record your questions through a website space. Nuts podcast common. Click on the tab and have a look around what it is all sorts of fun and games to be had the Astronomy highly tab has lots of news about what's going on and of course the shop tab has access to allow Its pace if you're interested in buying presents. Christmas coming up books are always good to bring this to the and fred. Thank you so much. Greg token zoe. I've got through the The the first experiment with this new recording. I haven't checked yet. He added to tokyo. Frederick catching exploit tenth grade. Professor fred watson astronomer lodge from me andrew dunkley thanks again for listening to the space nuts. Podcast will catch you again real soon to this. Podcast available at apple podcasts. Google podcasts spotify. Iheart radio all your favorite podcast. Playa you can also streamed on demand at this is another quality podcast. Production from thoughts dot com.

Fred watson andrew dunkley nasa subaru Dunkley professor fred Hullo fred low andrew Jaksa isa european space agency canadians spice agency Thomas thank candy one hundred eighty degree three hundred meters nassar institute for astronomy eight meter one hundred seventy meters seventeen meters Three hundred meter Chas morales