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  • Writer's pictureMatt Russell

#189 - Fraser Cain and Space News

Updated: Jun 12, 2020

This week we have legendary space communicator Fraser Cain to talk about all things space, straight after a quick rundown of this week's space stories, including the Pulsar giving clues to the SEP and the Firn that may be the source of the upflow Neutrinos

Only in the darkness can you see the stars.”

Martin Luther King Jr

The Interplanetary podcast is, and will always be, disgusted and upset when there are people who are not treated with love and respect. We are all one humanity. The podcast will strive harder to uphold the values of a completely inclusive humanity, No person should ever be judged based on the colour of their skin. Not only do Black lives matter, but the quality of their lives matter, we should always be making efforts to make sure that we break down the barriers, to ensure that every child born has the opportunity to pursue their life as freely as any other child. That inaction in this area is not an option. The fact that we are even talking about this in 2020 is quite simply outrageous. Our hope, the stars that come into view now in these dark times, is that finally and quickly together we can change the world and put an end to this terrible scar that blights us all. Humanity with a diverse voice is a better humanity and the only one which will survive. We may be the only intelligence in the universe, let's not fuck this up.


Fraser Cain is the publisher of Universe Today. He's also the co-host of Astronomy Cast with Dr. Pamela Gay.

Space News Week


This Time Next week we should see the launch of Vega, lofting 53 Small Satellites, the first rideshare type mission and also a return to flight for Vega after the July 2019 failure. NEMO-HD and TRISAT are Slovenia's first satellites.

Ariane 6 is slipping down the schedule, looks likely now that the launch won’t happen till the end of 2021 at best, and there are only a few Ariane 5 left.

Put that in perspective, Blue Origin could well be flying by then and that spells big trouble for Ariane, and you would think that the reusability is a long way down the line


MOM Rocket set for launch

New Zealand

Electron just scrubbed the ironically titled Don’t stop me now mission, not to mercury, but another of the NASA education small satellites rideshare missions.

Now on for 12th june.


Falcon 9 also will have lifted off with even more starlinks, and also small sats on a rideshare. The Starlinks now have a Sunshade on them, this model is called “visorsat”, as of launch 7 (all from this launch 9 according to Musk tweet),

“This visor lays flat on the chassis during launch and deploys during satellite separation from Falcon 9. The visor prevents light from reflecting off of the diffuse antennas by blocking the light from reaching the antennas altogether.” Space X website

This is an alternative to painting black, as this causes thermal control issues.

Space X is also trying to control the satellites so they move around avoiding using their solar panels to reflect light down onto the earth. Sharkfin v Open book. While raising orbits.


Nasa have approved the reuse of boosters for human-rated flight!!!!!

Awesome video from inside the fairing

Elon Musk tells SpaceX employees that its Starship rocket is the top priority


Will complete the BeiDou-3 Constellation this week launching on a Long March 3B/E Launching the final 55th satellite (35th of the Beidou-3) into geosynchronous Orbit. This system has millimeter accuracy. BeiDou will provide an alternative global navigation satellite system to the United States owned Global Positioning System (GPS), the Russian GLONASS or European Galileo systems. Worth about $35billion to the Chinese economy, it has been operational for almost a decade and became globally operational at the end of 2018.

They are also lofting a Gaofen earth observation sat a day later with a Long March 2D (sounds like a crap film)


James Webb not launching in March 2021 but they are still hopeful for a 2021 launch.


The Indian Government Has been promising to further the role of the private space sector in India, giving them access to ISRO facilities and expecting them to play a big role in future projects for planetary exploration and outer space travel.

ISRO has on its launch schedule Aditya L-1 solar mission, Gaganyaan’ manned mission, 2022, Venus mission in 2023, lunar polar exploration mission and Mangalyaan-2 (MOM-2) in 2024 ...all look likely to slip behind schedule due to the Covid19 epidemic.


Chris Larmour has been warning about delays in the planning permission of the sutherland spaceport causing Norway to edge ahead in the race for a western Europe Space port.

Science News

A test for SEP (strong equivalence principle)

Among the fundamental interactions of nature, gravity is unique in attracting all material objects with the same acceleration, at least within current observational precision. The feather falls at the same rate as the bowling ball, Universal Free Fall, This leads to the WEP (weak equivalence principle), this is being tested all the time with more and more accuracy to see if it breaks!! Most recently a mini satellite called MICROSCOPE (Micro-Satellite à traînée Compensée pour l'Observation du Principe d'Equivalence) with a precision of 1/trillion, which amazingly is getting close to saying gravity is even more fundamental than we think and could even rule out string theory etc. But Einstein the stated EEP, "The outcome of any local non-gravitational experiment in a freely falling laboratory is independent of the velocity of the laboratory and its location in spacetime (Think ISS anywhere) this is adding in a bit of special relativity

But even more exciting than WEP and EEP is SEP which adds General Relativity as well.

The strong equivalence principle suggests the laws of gravitation are independent of velocity and location.

The gravitational motion of a small test body depends only on its initial position in spacetime and velocity, and not on its constitution. (WEP)


The outcome of any local experiment (gravitational or not) in a freely falling laboratory is independent of the velocity of the laboratory and its location in spacetime. EEP +

It requires that the gravitational constant be the same everywhere in the universe and is incompatible with a fifth force. It is much more restrictive than the Einstein equivalence principle.SEP suggests that gravity is entirely geometrical by nature and does not have any extra fields associated with it. General Relativity seems to be the only theory of gravity where SEP is true.

Latest Test

An improved test of the strong equivalence principle with the pulsar in a triple star system

G. Voisin et al.

Pulsars that are orbited by white dwarf companions provide an excellent laboratory, where the extreme difference in binding energy (mass/energy equivalence) between neutron stars and white dwarfs allows for precision tests of the SEP via the technique of radio pulsar timing.

In 2018, Anne M. Archibald, Nina V. Gusinskaia et al used a stellar triple system discovered in 2014 that is a millisecond pulsar PSR J0337+1715 and two white dwarfs.

PSR~J0337+1715 is a triple system, where the inner binary consists of a millisecond radio pulsar in a 1.6-day orbit with a white dwarf. This inner binary is in a 327-day orbit with another white dwarf. In this system, the pulsar and the inner companion fall toward the outer companion with an acceleration about 108 times greater than that produced by falling in the Galactic potential, and the pulsar's gravitational binding energy is roughly 10% of its mass. This allowed them to get a measurement that shows SEP 10 times more accurately than before (using bodies in the solar system), in spite of the pulsar's strong gravity, the accelerations experienced by it and the inner white dwarf differ by a 1/ 2.6 million

This paper improves the test, by about 30% by using using a different data set, more theoretical analysis and small fixes on the previous paper.

This is slowly lowering the coffin of other theories of Gravity like scalar-tensor theories, as they should see WEP violation. This is frustrating in away as these were great hopes for Quantum gravity.

Update on the ANITA parallel universe caught on camera Antarctica neutrino mystery.,

High-energy neutrinos appearing to come up out of the Earth. Another new paper suggest that a type of snow called FIRN (from the Swiss/German phrase “Last Years”), a type of snow that has been leftover from past seasons and has been recrystallized into a substance denser than névé (NAYVAY). It is ice that is at an intermediate stage between snow and glacial ice. Firn has the appearance of wet sugar but has a hardness that makes it extremely resistant to shovelling. it may be found underneath the snow at antarctica, and it’s specific properties may be doing something extraordinary.

Ian Showmaker suggest that ultra-high energy cosmic rays may miss the top layer ice, enter the ground and be striking the Firn. Then due to the complex structure of the Firn, the cosmic ray can be reflected back up and due to a lack of a property called Phase Flip, which isn’t observed due to this deep penetration, The reflection, without the flip, then apparently is indistinguishable from a neutrino!

This is an obvious case for Occcams razor, we can see that this relies on less assumptions than an alternative universe going backwards in time, and it also has some interesting implications, including the discovery of glacial lakes under antarctica.

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