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  • Writer's pictureMatt Russell

#116 - Helen Sharman - Britain's First Astronaut - Full Interview

The cardinal truth emerging from these inquiries is that of the extreme isolation of the solar system. A skiff in the midst of a vast unfurrowed ocean is not more utterly alone.

Agnes Mary Clerke, the astronomer and writer,

Happy 89th Birthday Buzz Aldrin - January 20th

January 21st - 1960 – Little Joe 1B, the Mercury spacecraft the took off from Wallops Island with Miss Sam, a female rhesus monkey on board. See poddy #52

Year anniverary - 2018 – Rocket Lab's Electron became the first rocket to reach orbit using an electric pump-fed engine and deploys three CubeSats. Extra payload Humanity Star re-entered Earth's atmosphere and burned up in March 2018

Space News

Netflix have announced a comedy called Space Force with Steve Carell probably very much in the vein of the American version of UK hit show the office.

Europeans and space 5000 people polled in UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain

Some findings!

  • Thought that Important uses should include

  • Better understanding of the unverse

  • Earth observation, climate etc.

  • transport and comms and Earth utility.

  • But doubt about the effectiveness of Space safety, but thought it important.

  • Only 4/10 felt well informed about ESA activities, well they should listen to the weekly Podcast then.

  • 83% knew about ESA but only 37% knew really what it was.

  • When guessing the cost per head they averaged out at £200 per head rather than the actual £9 per citizen it actually costs.

  • They thought that ESA was the rival to US and Russia but didn't factor in China?

  • Pretty much Everyone agreed we need to pool European resources

  • 90% were positive about space activities.

SpaceX are shedding 10% of the talented and hardworking memebers of it's team,

  • Slowdown in launch cadence?

  • Completion of the Falcon 9 and Heavy projects?

Tethers unlimited shed 20% of staff, and blame is fingered at cash flow problems due to the continuing Goverment shutdown. Main work is things cubesat thrusters for NASA

Space telescope madness

Hubble has it's decade old WideField Camera 3 go a bit squiffy with software shutting the camera down due to high voltage readings, but engineers seem confident of fixing it and keeping the old girl going.

But bad news for the Russians that the Spekt-r space telescope is prob permanently kaput.

  • launched on 18 July 2011,[7] by Zenit-3F launcher, from Baikonur Cosmodrome to perform research on the structure and dynamics of radio sources within and beyond our galaxy

  • On 11 January 2019 the spacecraft stopped responding to ground control, but its science payload is operational. Its successor, Spektr-RG, is scheduled for launch in March 2019

  • Possible cause - Raditation build up due to the silicon chips not being space hardened sufficiently.

  • This, after problems hitting the Mikhailo Lomonsov satellite, means that the Russian space program has no operational space observatories as of 12 January 2019

The first plant to grow on the moon has died.

The cotton plant that sprouted in the bio experiment aboard change 4 didn't have a chance as night fell and temperatures plummeted to -170 while the temperatures in the day can get up to 120

All of the bio experiments, plants and seeds will decompose very slowly in there sealed can, the potatoes and arabidopsis did not sprout at all. The fruit flies were too lazy to hatch... probably.

United Launch Alliance Delta 4 Heavy launch of the NROL-71 mission for the National Reconnaissance Office is now go for Saturday Vandenberg. That launch has suffered delays for a hydrogen leaks and weather

We’re still looking for press photograph stamped Kemsley Newspapers entitled "Rockets / Russian rocket sent into outer space January 1959 (first rocket fired at moon)" describing how the sodium gas cloud was photographed by Morris Alan, Prize still up for grabs.

Spaceword of the Week

a furlough is a temporary leave of employees due to special needs of a company, which may be due to economic conditions at the specific employer or in the economy as a whole.

No ...Orbital Speed

In gravitationally bound systems, the orbital speed of an object is the speed at which it orbits around the barycenter.

The term can be used to refer to either the mean orbital speed, i.e. the average speed over an entire orbit, or its instantaneous speed at a particular point in its orbit

Helen Sharman


British chemist who became the first British astronaut and the first woman to visit the Mir space station in 1991.

Manasvi Lingam, Abraham Loeb

(Submitted on 31 May 2018 (v1), last revised 11 Aug 2018 (this version, v2))

The availability of bioessential elements for "life as we know it", such as phosphorus or possibly molybdenum, is expected to restrict the biological productivity of extraterrestrial biospheres. Here, we consider worlds with subsurface oceans and model the dissolved concentrations of bioessential elements. In particular, we focus on the (inflow)sources and sinks (outflow) of phosphorus (available as phosphates), and find that the average steady-state oceanic concentration of phosphorus is likely

to be lower than the corresponding value on Earth by a few orders of magnitude, provided that the oceans are alkaline and possess hydro-thermal activity. While our result does not eliminate the prospects of life on subsurface worlds like Enceladus, it suggests that the putative biospheres might be oligotrophic (an organism that can live in an environment that offers very low levels of nutrients. characterized by slow growth, low rates of metabolism, and generally low population density.), and perhaps harder to detect. Along these lines, potential biospheres in the clouds of Venus may end up being limited by the availability of molybdenum. We also point out the possibility that stellar spectroscopy can be used to deduce potential constraints on the availability of bioessential elements on planets and moons.

this ought not be construed as grounds for ruling out future missions to subsurface worlds like Europa and Enceladus. In fact, we would argue the opposite because our central hypothesis is both falsifiable and testable: if life is detected in high concentrations, it falsifies our model and if the converse is true, our model might provide an explanation as to why many subsurface ocean worlds are not likely to be abodes for complex biospheres.

Point for Jamie

Insofar the availability of phosphorus is concerned, they recommend that Europa ought to be assigned a higher priority compared to Enceladus

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