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  • Writer's pictureMatt Russell

#136 - Interplanetary Festival

We’ll all go on and make the place safe. Roads, cities. New sky, new soil. Until it’s all some kind of Siberia or Northwest Territories, and Mars will be gone and we’ll be here, and we’ll wonder why we feel so empty. Why when we look at the land we can never see anything but our own faces.” Kim Stanley Robinson, Red Mars

This Weeks guests The Interplanetary Festival

Caitlin McShea and SFI President David Krakauer


Joan Voûte - Born June 7, 1879

He was a Huguenot born Java. He studied civil engineering at Delft, but starting studying variable stars. At Leiden Observatory he worked on binary stars then Cape Observatory in South Africa, after becoming a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1917 he demonstrated that Proxima was the same distance from the Sun as the Alpha Centauri system.

He returned to Java in 1919, and built a 60 cm Zeiss double refractor. And focused on double stars, parallax measurements, photometry of variable stars and clusters. But following the Japanese occupation of Java, Voûte was imprisoned. As a result of his captivity he suffered from poor health, so after the war he moved to Australia. Later he settled in The Hague, the Netherlands, where he died in 1963.


So old Musky is wanting to pump thousands of small satellites into low earth orbit to give the world free internet. Sounds good right?

Astronomers are very concerned that it will mess with their night sky viewing but Elon has this to say:

“there are already 4900 satellites in orbit, which people notice ~0% of the time. Starlink won’t be seen by anyone unless looking very carefully & will have ~0% impact on advancements in astronomy. We need to move telelscopes to orbit anyway. Atmospheric attenuation is terrible.”

However, he was pulled up on that due to lovely Cosmic Penguin on Twitter.

“Please see if there are ways to reduce reflected light downwards from the later batches of Starlink satellites, as they seems to be "more shiny/higher albedo" than others. Maybe some coatings/extra mirrors would help. Thanks!”

@elonmusk “Agreed, sent a note to Starlink team last week specifically regarding albedo reduction. We’ll get a better sense of value of this when satellites have raised orbits & arrays are tracking to sun.”

Nice that he can engage and admit when potentially wrong and sort to fix!

Ángel R. López-Sánchez. I’m a Spanish-Australian astrophysicist says In 20 years or so, the children of our world will might see the sky as an orange glow where hundreds of bright spots are continuously moving, losing forever the real beauty of the night sky. And they will not be able to escape from this pollution: it does not matter where you are on Earth, far or near cities, if you’re lost in a desert, in the middle of the ocean or in an astronomical observatory: there could be dozens or hundreds of satellites moving through the sky almost at any moment. Goodbye to the romanticism of Astronomy and identifying the constellations in the sky. Goodbye to a society and young people marveling at the beauty of a dark sky full of stars. They might get the best internet connection, but they will be losing what once it made us dream with the stars.

Accretion disk finally pictured

Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, or ALMA, in northern Chile have finally spotted the black hole, Sagittarius A*, faintly glowing accretion disk of in-falling material researchers report in the June 6 Nature.


Deep Space Timekeeper

Nasa will launch a really cool new atomic clock on a SpaceX Falcon later this month. It’s a technology demonstrator that may help future interplanetary missions.

The Deep Space Atomic Clock (DSAC), designed and built at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, represents an enormous advance towards improving deep-space navigation.

  • Atomic clocks use the the frequencies of light emitted by specific atoms, rather than say the vibration of Quartz, in this case it’s mercury atoms.

  • There are less mercury atoms in this device than 2 cans of tuna.

  • 1 year mission

  • Weighs 16kg

  • 29x27x23 a ruler cube essentially.

  • Loses on 1 second every 9 million years

Currently space craft like Juno we know their position by using giant antennas to sedn a signal to the spacecraft and then it sends it back and then using the time it took for this 2 way journey we can tell the spaceship where it is. If it had it’s own accurate clock it could just receive a signal from earth and the spacecraft could do the rest.

A while after the KFC stunt World view has been able to fly Stratolite for a 16 day mission.

  • The Stratollite is a remotely operated, navigable, un-crewed stratospheric flight vehicle designed and engineered to station-keep over customer-specified areas of interest for long periods of time (days, weeks, and months).

  • The Stratollite uses proprietary altitude control technology to rise and lower in the stratosphere, harnessing the natural currents of varying stratospheric winds to provide point-to-point navigation and loitering.

  • The Stratollite operates at altitudes up to 95,000 ft. (30km) with a payload capacity of 50kg and 250W of continuous power to payloads. The Stratollite is primarily used for applications including remote sensing, communications, and weather

  • World View was founded and incorporated in 2012 by a team of aerospace and life support veterans, including Biosphere 2 crew-members Jane Poynter and Taber MacCallum, Dr. Alan Stern (the principal investigator of the New Horizons mission to Pluto), and former NASA astronaut Mark Kelly.

Voyager Human Spaceflight Experience

ESA are doing a #rocketweek this week and giving out loads of info on their space transportation systems at the moment, including the Space Rider.

Check it all out. Good time to go back and listen to Giorgio Tumino on Podcast 58 and Charlotte Beskow Head of the ESA Kourou Office Stefano Bianchi, Vega Program Manager, ESA Jean Luc Voyer DDO (Director of Operations) on Podcast 90

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