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  • Writer's pictureMatt Russell

#199 - Robert Jacobson - Space is Open for Business

This week on the podcast we speak with Robert Jacobson about his new book, We chat about the R7, Maraldi and Green Craters on Mars, why Betelguese was dimming and HUGE JAMIE RELATED PODCAST NEWS!!!


"The black holes of nature are the most perfect macroscopic objects there are in the universe: the only elements in their construction are our concepts of space and time"

subrahmanyan chandrasekhar

Nobel physicist who died exactly 25 years ago today.


The start of the Space race could be considered as 21 August 1957.

R-7 Semyorka/SS-6 Sapwood - The first successful long flight, of 6,000 km (3,700 mi), was made on 21 August 1957. The dummy warhead impacted in the Pacific Ocean and the Soviet Union had "successfully tested a multi-stage intercontinental ballistic missile". A modified version of the missile (8K71PS) placed Sputnik 1 in orbit from Baikonur on 4 October 1957 and Sputnik 2 on 3 November 1957

While the R-7 turned out to be impractical as a weapon, insanely expensive launch sites that could be easily knocked out in a nuclear skirmish, it became the basis for a series of Soviet expendable space launch vehicles, the Soyuz family of launchers. the modified versions Soyuz-U, Soyuz-FG, and the Soyuz-2 are still in service, having launched over 1850 times.


It’s 3 years since the amazing solar eclipse that traversed the continental United States.


There are two craters on Mars Maraldi Crater and Green Crater, two astronomers born on this day. These follow the naming conventions of Mars

Dust devil tracks just outside rim of Maraldi Crater

Dunes in Green Crater, also seen by CTX camera (on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter) The Thin dark lines are dust devil tracks. The crater on the right is a smaller crater that sits on the floor of Green Crater. Some old glaciers are visible as arc-shaped ridges
  • Large craters - Deceased scientists who have contributed to the study of Mars; writers and others who have contributed to the lore of Mars

  • Small craters - Villages of the world with a population of less than 100,000.

  • Large valles - Name for Mars/star in various languages

  • Small valles - Classical or modern names of rivers

These are both large craters. Maraldi is named after Giacomo Filippo Maraldi (August 21, 1665 – December 1, 1729), he is the nephew of Cassini and the uncle of Jean-Dominique Maraldi. He realised that the corona seen during a solar eclipse was not part of the moon but was part of the Sun, he noticed that the Ice caps on Mars are not quite on the rotational poles of the planet, He also played an unrecognised, at the time, role in the discovery that light was a wave.

Green Crater is named after Nathaniel Everett Green, who was Queen victoria’s art teacher, but also a founder of the British Astronomical Association (BAA) and its president from 1897–1898. He did very well known drawings of mars and was the first to point out that the canals were probably an optical illusion.


In Marco Polo returns to Venice, from his travels to China.

At the same “time” something was stirring in the bowels of the most famous star Betelgeuse, almost 1,000 times the size, while only 20 x the mass of the Sun, 7500 times brighter and, is 725 light years. If we replace our sun with betelguese the photosphere would probably engulf earth and mars, and maybe even Jupiter.

The Great dimming of The bright supergiant, Betelgeuse (Alpha Orionis)

  • During 2019 December and the first quarter of 2020 reaching a historic minimum 2020 February 7−13.

  • During 2019 September-November, prior to the optical dimming event, the photosphere was expanding.

  • At the same time, spatially resolved ultraviolet spectra using the Hubble Space Telescope/Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph revealed a substantial increase in the ultraviolet spectrum and Magnesium II line emission from the chromosphere over the southern hemisphere of the star. There was a very bright spot where there isn’t normally one and also probably not related to the rotation of the star and its poles.

  • These changes happened prior to the Great Dimming Event. Variations in the Mg II k-line (associated with iron (Fe) profiles suggest material moved outwards in response to the passage of a pulse or acoustic shock from 2019 September through 2019 November. A super hot plasm bubble

  • Betelgeuse, unlike our star, pulsates in size like a giant spherical lung breathing in and out every 400 days. 887±203 R☉ lIt appears that this extraordinary outflow of material from the star, likely initiated by convective photospheric elements, was enhanced by it coinciding with the outward motions in this phase of the ∼400-day pulsation cycle. This seems like an unusual coincidence, hence the oddness of the event.

  • These ultraviolet observations appear to provide the connecting link between the known large convective cells in the photosphere and the mass ejection event that cooled to form the dust cloud in the southern hemisphere imaged in 2019 December, and led to the exceptional optical dimming of Betelgeuse in 2020 February. Basically the Star has burped up this plasma from within and this is sent into space and has turned to dust

  • "With Hubble, we see the material as it left the star's visible surface and moved out through the atmosphere before the dust formed that caused the star to appear to dim," said lead researcher and octagenarian legend Andrea Dupree,

  • Betelgeuse and Hubble are made for each other, the star is close enough to resolve and is bloody interesting

  • They anticipate the next minimum in ∼420 days from 2020 February which will happen in 2021 April, unfortunately as Betelgeuse moves into the daylight hours for observations from Earth.

  • However, the presence of spacecraft, such as STEREO, at different positions in the Earth’s orbit, and landers on Mars, may, fortunately, allow us to follow the next minimum.

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