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#150 - Space Bandits


This week we have a chat with Sarwech Shar of Spacebandits, talk about MeerKat Bubbles, Pentaganol Footballs, amateur astronomers building telescopes of importance, watery exoplanets, mixing cement in space, and inflatable luggage.

Sorry for the poor sound quality on podcast 150, as you will hear Jamie and Matt are in Hotel rooms in Latvia and Seattle.

‘Why should I look through a telescope?’ and I said, ‘So you can see where the hell you got born.’

John Lowry Dobson (September 14, 1915 – January 15, 2014)


Interview with Sarwech Shar of space bandits.


The show has an interview done in August with Sarwech Shar.

Sarwech is a space enthusiast who runs Space Bandits where you can find some great interviews with fantastic Newspace people.

Don't forget to check out his Instagram



60th Anniversary - 13 September 1959 - Luna 2 - First impact into another world (the Moon) First delivery of national pennants to a celestial body, another dent to American confidence at the time.


The mission confirmed that the Moon had no appreciable magnetic field, and found no evidence of radiation belts at the Moon.

How concrete sets in space

A paper released called Microgravity Effect on Microstructural Development of Tri-calcium Silicate (C3S) Paste by Juliana Moraes Neves from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, The Pennsylvania State University, Has revealed the results of the cement mixing that the astronauts like Alexander Gerst were performing on the ISS.


Alexander Gerst works on the MICS experiment aboard the International Space Station.

Basically mixing cement to see what would happen and how different it will be. Important work if we are going to be building on the moon, and there are some interesting results. Basically, when the is only microgravity there is no sedimentation, buoyancy forces or convection, so it set very differently, more uniformly but less densely for example.


Showing that concrete can harden and develop in space represents an important step toward that first structure built on the Moon using materials from the Moon. “We confirmed the hypothesis that this can be done,” said another principal investigator Aleksandra Radlinska, also of penn state uni. “Now we can take the next steps to find binders that are specific for space and for variable levels of gravity, from zero-g to Mars g and in between”


C/2019 Q4 (Borisov): Another Interstellar visitor?

Named after Gennady Borisov who discovered the comet from his own small observatory in the Crimea, he makes his own telescopes ...a bit like Dobson.


Credit: Gennady Borisov.

The Comet looks to have a trajectory that is extra-solar in origin, and the perihelion isn’t till December so astronomers will have plenty of time to analyse and calculate more precise trajectories.











Watery Exoplanet

For the first time Astronomers have found Water vapour in the atmosphere of the habitable-zone Exoplanet.

An eight-Earth-mass planet K2-18 b, according to a paper by Angelos Tsiaras et al in nature, The first time water in the atmosphere of a planet orbiting within the habitable zone of a distant star.

Although the suitability of M dwarfs to host habitable worlds is still under discussion, K2-18 b offers an unprecedented opportunity to gain insight into the composition and climate of habitable-zone planets.

K2-18 b was discovered in 2015 by the Kepler spacecraft and is orbiting around an M2.5 dwarf star, 34 pc away from the Earth.



MeerKat Bubbles


SARAO/Oxford.

Using the incredibly sensitive MeerKat Telescope in South Africa a team of scientists have been able to tease out from the huge X-RAY glare another high energy radio signal of a giant symmetrical bubble-like structure emanating from the centre of the Milky Way.


The Fermi Bubbles - NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center











We’ve talked about the Fermi Bubbles that are like a vast hourglass x-ray structure flowing up and down from the at a right angle to the galactic disk. This is similar and is some cataclysmic energy event that happened many millions of years ago.






Our Milky Way is considered to be a relatively quiescent galaxy, despite the 4-million-solar-mass black hole at the centre, the most likely source of these fascinating and dynamic processes as it gobbles up matter, or it could be a starburst event when 100s of stars hare formed and quickly blow up, which might tie in with one such event 7 million years ago.

So a bipolar bubble structure, with an overall span of (140 parsecs × 430 parsecs), about 30millin by 90 million times the distance to the sun, or ½ million times bigger than the solar system extending above and below the Galactic plane with a total energy of 7 × 10^52 ergs.


A composite image of radio emissions from the center of the Milky Way, with a portion of the MeerKAT telescope array in the foreground. Credit: SARAO, Oxford and NRAO

They postulate that the progenitor event was a major contributor to the increased cosmic-ray density in the Galactic Centre, and is, in turn, the principal source of the relativistic particles required to power the synchrotron emission of the radio filaments within and in the vicinity of the bubble cavities.

The (US$330-million) MeerKAT is an array of 64 radio dishes, each 13.5 metres across, at a remote site in Northern Cape province. It will form the core of the South African part of the SKA, due to be built in the 2020s. The observatory’s second section will be in Australia.


Bigelow unveils his B330 MArs Transporter inflatable space station.

Part of NASA's Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) program


Mars Transporter Testing Unit BA-330 space habitat for NASA tests on Earth.(Image: © Bigelow Aerospace)

So you know when you go camping and you want to take a mattress and your car just isn’t big enough? Well, you know what the solution is ...inflatable matress. And that’s the idea behind Bigelow stuff, Rockets are really skinny so you can’t fit in a large environment, but a Bigelow can inflate in space and give you 4 or 5 times the volume. One of the B330 once inflated would give you half the useable volume of the space station.


They look like they will be Launched on the ULA Vulcan, it was originally the Atlas V, but the timeline of getting it up soon should be in doubt as the Vulcan would need the ACES upstage for this task and that isn’t ready until 2024. Bigelow showed of 2 B330 test models, and allowed people to go in one, the Mars transport, with many parts required because of earth gravity labelled Does not exist.


The design is currently being put through its paces by Michael Gernhardt former, STS-69, STS-83, STS-94, STS-104 veteran.


Basically Bigelow wants NASA to use these to make the lunar gateway more habitable and capable. He wants to put them on the surface of the moon and also wants to use them for deep space missions. The inflatable structure is made of 30 odd layers and when inflated can be stronger than concrete, with better radiation and micrometeorite protection than the ISS modules, according to Bigelow.

The list of others doing the same things.

  • Bigelow Aerospace of Las Vegas

  • Boeing of Pasadena, Texas

  • Lockheed Martin of Denver

  • Orbital ATK of Dulles, Virginia

  • Sierra Nevada Corporation's Space Systems of Louisville, Colorado

  • NanoRacks of Webster, Texas




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