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Lonely Robot, Space Rocks and Diamonds



“We do not “come into” this world; we come out of it, as leaves from a tree. As the ocean “waves,” the universe “peoples.” Every individual is an expression of the whole realm of nature, a unique action of the total universe.”

Alan Watts (6 January 1915 – 16 November 1973)


We speak to John Mitchell of Lonely Robot, who will be playing the ESA Spacerocks at the Indigo this Saturday 22nd. Along with Tim Peake, Brian May and a host of other stars.

Space diamonds 'came from lost planet'

A large planetary body inferred from diamond inclusions in a ureilite meteorite

Farhang Nabiei et al


  • Asteroid 2008 TC3 fell in 2008 in the Nubian desert in Sudan1, and the recovered meteorites, called Almahata Sitta and it was part of a lost planet from the early Solar System, a study suggests.

  • Picture - 2008 TC3 fragment found on February 28, 2009 by Peter Jenniskens, with help from students and staff of the University of Khartoum. Nubian Desert, Sudan.

  • A team has published their results in the journal Nature

  • The meteorites from this collision fall into a category of space rocks called ureilites, which account for less than 1% of objects that collide with Earth.

  • Planetary formation models show that terrestrial planets are formed by the accretion of tens of Moon- to Mars-sized planetary embryos through energetic giant impacts. However, relics of these large proto-planets are yet to be found.

  • Ureilites are one of the main families of achondritic meteorites The researchers suggest all ureilite asteroids may be remnants of the same proto-planet. parent body which is believed to have been catastrophically disrupted by an impact during the first 10 million years of the solar system.

  • They studied a section of the Almahata Sitta ureilite using transmission electron microscopy, where large diamonds were formed at high pressure inside the parent body. We discovered chromite, phosphate, and (Fe,Ni)-sulfide inclusions embedded in diamond.

  • The composition and morphology of the inclusions can only be explained if the formation pressure was higher than 20 GPa. Such pressures suggest that the ureilite parent body was a Mercury- to Mars-sized planetary embryo.

  • The parent "proto-planet" existed billions of years ago before breaking up in a collision and would have been about as large as Mercury or Mars.

  • The measurements provide "the first compelling evidence for such a large body that has since disappeared", the research team write in their paper.

Space Legend of the week!!!

Robert Albert Charles Esnault-Pelterie (November 8, 1881 – December 6, 1957) was a pioneering French aircraft designer and spaceflight theorist. He is referred to as being one of the founders of modern rocketry and astronautics, along with the Russian Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, the German Hermann Oberth and the American Robert H. Goddard


  • Fourth person in france with a pilot license

  • Invented the Joystick

  • Made him rich due to royalties on military aircraft in WWII

  • He became interested in space travel, and, not knowing of Tsiolkovsky's 1903 work, in 1913 produced a paper that presented the rocket equation and calculated the energies required to reach the Moon and nearby planets.

  • "Considérations sur les résultats d'un allégement indéfini des moteurs" ("Consideration of the Results of the Unlimited Lightening of Motors"),

  • He proposed the use of atomic energy, using 400 kg of radium to power an interplanetary vehicle. His culminating work was L'Astronautique, published in 1930. A later version published in 1934 included details on interplanetary travel and applications of nuclear power.

  • in 1927, Esnault-Pelterie and André-Louis Hirsch and science fiction JH Rosny writer came up with the names Cosmonautics but went with Astronautics!!!

  • The word astronautics appeared for the first time as a the scientific term and in quotation marks on page 64

  • Of the symposium for the French Astronomical Society titled L'exploration par fusées de la très haute atmosphère et la possibilité des voyages interplanétaires, Rocket exploration of the very high atmosphere and the possibility of interplanetary travel

  • “It is rather curious to note that going from the means of Locomotion on earth to aviation and then to astronautics 1 changes from the means of motion with velocities changing at will to the motion with constant velocities and finally to the motion with constant acceleration” Full credit goes to Rosny for the word.

  • The New York Times published an editorial containing the word astronautics in 1928 Especially remarkable Considering that only 8 years earlier they had lambasted poor old Robert Goddard for suggesting that rocket propulsion would work in the vacuum of space

  • In 1929, Esnault-Pelterie and André-Louis Hirsch, provided funding to the French Astronomical Society to establish the Prix REP-Hirsch (later called the Prix d'Astronautique), the first prize for astronautics in the world. The prize was awarded from 1929-1939.

  • In 1929 Esnault-Pelterie proposed the idea of the ballistic missile for military bombardment.

  • Also, in 1929, Esnault-Pelterie proposed aero-braking: using atmospheric drag to slow a spacecraft for gravitational capture by a planet

  • By 1930, Esnault-Pelterie and Barré had persuaded the French War Department to fund a study of the concept. In 1931, the two began experimenting with various types of rocket propulsion systems, including liquid propellants.

  • The same year he ran a demonstration of a rocket engine powered with gasoline and liquid oxygen.

  • During an experiment with a rocket design using tetra-nitromethane he lost three fingers from his right hand during an explosion. Unfortunately their work failed to create an interest in rocketry within France.

  • He appeared to loose interest with Rocketry with the outbreak of war.


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