MASS Meeting Notes Sept 25, 2015

“It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. - Carl Sagan

MASS Meeting Notes Sept 25, 2015

MASS Meeting Sept 25, 2015

Previous meeting was 8/14/15, in attendance Dean, Phil, Harry, Jim A. & I (5); our 41st meeting;

Library with Dean “Shine on Harvest Moon” Monday 9/28/15 7-8 PM

I’m taking 4 courses online: Calculus of Ohio State Univ., Geology from Univ. of Illinois, 2 astronomy courses – “The Evolving Universe” from CalTech & “Analyizing the Universe” from Rutgers (when done that will be 15 courses completed since Dean told me about MOOC’s (Massive Open Online Courses) one year ago.

Adler astronomer Lucianne Walkowicz had a bike ride from the Adler Planetarium in Chicago to St Louis – she appeared in Sunday and Thursday Chicago Tribune, she’s riding 300 miles over a week, stopping in various towns to do science events, ran into a cloud of toads which started off small and evenually reached half the size of cats, yech!

I missed it but Sept 19 was Fall Astronomy Day and International Observe the Moon night; but made up for it by announcing the timings of Sunday night’s Blood SuperMoon Eclipse, a supermoon is 7% larger diameter than an average full moon.

The movie “The Martian” is coming out with Matt Damon and directed by Ridley Scott, a lot of NASA input, Carol and I have just finished reading the book by Andrew Weir; book available from VP library; Weir was a programmer by trade, got his first job at 15 programing at a US lab, wrote book for free in installments on Internet, sold it for 99 cents on Amazon because they wouldn’t allow it for free, then got a publishing deal, this is his 1st book; in the story they use 4 VASIMR engines on Hermes transfer vehicle; good humor in the story, sometime the calculation details are a little overdone, I had hard time visualizing some of the equipment so I’m anxious to see the movie to see how the devices are depicted.

Talk about how I modeled solar system on bike path with grandkids, all the books are misleading because planets would be microscopic on the page if shown to the proper size for the distance scale from the Sun. My interest in Kuiper Belt (KB) & Oort cloud, in 1 AU (distance earth to sun is 1 mm a poppy seed), Jupiter 5.2 au about 1/8 in (comparable to my recent kidney stone size), purple plastic ring is KB from 30 to 50 AU Neptune’s orbit to Pluto’s (currently 34 au) farthest reach, 1400 objects found, expect to find 1000’s of objects 100km diameter, Eris is 3x farther (currently 96 AU, 38-98 AU with 560 year orbit) than Pluto (1473 mi size, Eris 27% more mass) at the moment , short lived comets < 200 yr orbits, Oort Cloud maybe 2 trillion objects about 1 km in diameter, with a total mass 5x Earth’s , not yet observed, starts at 2000 AU (2 meters) to 100,000 AU (1.5 ly)(63,240 AU in a light year (ly)), solar system listed at 3 ly across, disk 100 meters (333 ft)(6 houses on each side on mine), Voyager1 133AU, Voyager2 109AU (about .25AU/mo) If earth a grain of sand (~ .1mm), sun is 5 ft away & nearest star 250 mi; if MW size of Frisbee then most distant objects known are 100 mi away (13.2B ly away galaxy)

Triton Big Event – Sat Sept 12, got to meet Chris McCall new director formerly at planetarium in Nashville TN, Dark Matter talk by Dan Hooper from Fermi Lab, surprised his book dates to 2006, I just finished reading it, also available at the VP library, best quote Black Holes are the result of God dividing by zero, his pie chart of matter (I’m surprised stars only .4% and intergalactic gas 3.6%, then 23% dark matter and 73% dark energy, dark energy has constant density so that as space expands dark energy influence grows greater because other matter dilutes, dark matter evidence: 1) star rotation graphs for galaxies like Andromeda, 2) bullet cluster, 3) in simulations that form the cosmic web need the dark matter to create today’s appearance, 4) Cosmic Background Radiation, it has a 1/100,000 variation in temp, the angular size of variation around 1 degree implies 84.3% +/- 2.2% of matter is dark (23% dark vs 4% normal), dark matter has excluded MACHOs so left with WIMPS (they respond only to the weak nuclear force & gravity), maybe find it with Large Hadron Collider or LZ Dark Matter detector in a mine in Dakota with tanks of xenon or Fermi satellite, AMS detector on ISS, large spherical halo around galaxies but like in solar system from my Intro to Astronomy even with 2 trillion times mass of Sun total around Milky Way dark matter density is .3 x 10^-21 kg/m^3 so within Earth’s orbit there is only 4.2 x 10^12 kg but then Sun’s weight 2 x 10^30 kg even Earth weighs 6 x 10^24 kg, it would take a 100 pc radius for dark matter to weigh the same as the normal matter, MOND (Modified Newtonian Dynamics) not in favor with scientists, he found signal that could be dark matter particles annilating with their anti-matter particle in direction of galactic center but it could also be a pulsar or the Milky Way super massive black hole, 1 dark matter particle in a coffee cup; good quote “The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt” – Bertrand Russell;

YouTube Penn & Teller physics video Season 2 Episode 8 Penn & Teller: Fool Us 7.5 minutes 31:30 to 39. Unfortunately the video was pulled from YouTube so I couldn’t show it but thanked Dave for bringing it to my attention, you don’t offen get magicians talking to a simulated Lawrence Krauss about the 4 forces of nature and discussing cosmological topics.

Recent developments:

1. Comparing the Falcon Heavy & SLS –9/1/15 1st launch Apr-May 2016  nice picture on launch pad KSC site to be ready by Nov 2015, 1st launch no paying customer, then 37 satellites for Air Force in Sept and 2 more launches on docket for 2016, 53 mt lift; Planetary Soc url- SLS no problems, mentions alignment glitch in welding machine, in phase C building parts but no yet in full scale production, tanks completed, on track for Nov 2018 launch, cleanest design review ever seen. Recent uverse on SLS development like RS-25 testing and solid firing, barrel making on machine etc. Falcon rocket now looks to be 1/3 the cost of SLS to put metric ton in LEO, Falcon will also be out of the gate earlier, reusability could double the cost advantage to 1/6 the price, but SLS looks like the best choice to get large probes to distance places in the solar system; John Shannon became SLS program manager for Boeing; book out on Elon Musk called “EM: Tesla, SpaceX and the Quest for a Fantastic Future” by Ashlee Vance, Musk gives people tough projects, if they say they can’t do it, he fires them and takes their job; Hill says when SLS completed will have 2x payload & 6x volume of any American rocket and 10% more life than Saturn V, could accomplish Mars mission in 6 to 7 launches, cost no more than existing rockets at $4.5M/ton – Griffin; SLS ground system getting $1.4B thru 2018 to be ready for 1st Nov 2018 launch, 3rd re-purposing of VAB, compare SpaceX shed where Falcon 9 Heavy assembled horizontally; Com Crew only getting $900M to develop 2 capsules; McCain accuses Shelby of Alabama of funding Putin’s mafia buddies by not jumping on the replacement of Russian RD-180 engines on Atlas V, ULA big employer in his state, Deltas made in USA but cost more & ULA says it will give SpaceX a monopoly, arguing over 9 vs 14 engines which means $300M to Russia, language in bill says the Air Force needs 2 bids on contracts, SpaceX is one but if ULA doesn’t bid contract held up.  Planetary society-SLS on track for Nov 2018 flight but working toward Dec 2017 launch with $8.4B cost, misalignment of giant vertical welding machine caused 7 mo delay, cost thru EM-1 mission is $9.7B, cost of ground sys/Orion/SLS + Orion for EM-2 is $23B doesn’t include what was spent on Constellation, mentions cutting Europa Clipper mission travel time in half; 9/9/15 construction of the EM-1 Orion has begun at Michoud for SLS uncrewed maiden launch; SpaceX has over 60 missions on its manifest (both Falcon 9 & Heavy) worth over $7B; Musk says Falcon Heavy could launch a mission to Europa, it could put a fully loaded 737 into orbit.

2. Rare 4 quasars in same image – found with the Keck telescope, quasars are a brief 10 million yr period of galaxy evolution, most luminous objects in universe shining 100’s of times brighter than their galaxies which contain 100’s of billion stars, usually 100’s of millions of lys apart, looks like a galaxy cluster forming 10 B yrs ago only 4 B yrs after BB, to be active quasar must have a lot of matter funneled to its super-massive black hole, giant emission nebula seems to be the cause; about 500K quasars only 100 are binary, peak of quasar production occured when universe about 1/5 of its current age, galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures, light has traveled 10.5B yrs z=2.041, proto cluster several 100K ly across with 100’s of times more galaxies than expected in that region.

3. Population III stars found in galaxy – S/N article, stars maybe 1000x suns mass because no heavier elements to help cool the condensing gas clouds, but stars are 1B yrs after BB, how did they last that long, JWST should help confirm what is happening, theory says these stars should have formed a few 100M yrs after BB, see a lot of UV radiation from galaxy.

4. 9 Mindblowing things NASA has discovered so far in 2015 – 1) Pluto has a heart; 2) confirmed existence of Earth’s bigger, older cousin Kepler-452b; 3) 1st time ate food grown in space; 4) beautiful nebula called Lagoon; 5) confirmed the closest Earth-like exoplanet (21 ly using Spitzer telescope); 6) new epic image of Earth; 7) satellite uncovered the real depths of climate change; 8) bright lights on Ceres; 9) new images of the pillars of creation

5. HTV berths to ISS – over 4.7 tons of supplies (9522#), dark matter experiment, after Progress 59 3 tons (6104#)failure in April and Dragon CRS-7 (5461#) explosion on top of Cygnus/Antares (5050#)explosion in Oct 2014, supply an issue, ATV used to carry 14,526#.

6. Vulcan – Boeing rejects $2B bid for ULA; 9/15/15 rocketdyne to show how far new rocket engines have come said they used 3D printing to make components for a gas generator for the Saturn F-1 engine which reduced manufacture time from 15 months to 15 days. 9/14/15 – 1st stage engines account for ¼ of dry mass of 1st stage but 60% of cost, recovering just engines get break even at 2 launches vs 10 flights if you try to recover entire 1st stage; 9/9/15 Aerojet Rocketdyne offers $2B for ULA- probably would derail use Blue Origin BE-4 engine (liquefied natural gas) over their own AR-1 (uses kerosene), SpaceX’s $70M for Falcon9 vs Atlas V $150M driving turmoil; reusability of engines but not 1st stage tanks using parachute, solids make it tailorable for use, Blue Origin engine possibly, 2019 flight, replace Centaur upper stage with ACES (Advanced Cryogenic Evolved Stage), equivalent to Delta IV Heavy(29mt or 63,800#) with 6 strap ons & ACES, diagram of parachute pickup 7-breakeven, 16x good return, half cost of $164M Atlas V or $100M, possible Heavy version with 70mt 154,000# to LEO, 3 minute video, Falcon Heavy 53mt or 116,600 for $90M.

7. SpaceX planning return to flight in November – have an Merlin 1-D engines upgraded with 15% performance (will allow delivery of geosynchronous satellite and landing attempt on barge) now called Falcon 9 1.2, payload is the SES satellite for Luxembourg and will try to land 1st stage, they then plan a NASA Jason mission in Dec. with older Falcon9; Orbital plans to return to resupply in Dec with stretched Cygnus that has volume increased from 18 cu meter to 27 and weight increase to 7700# on Atlas V and 7100# on new Antares vs old 4400#. url 14 1 min video On Colbert show Musk said nuke Mars poles to rapidly terraform it, Colbert labeled him as either a super-hero or a super-villain

8. 3 head toward ISS on 9/1/2015 – NASA clip explained 500th launch from where Yuri Gagarin had launched, Soyuz rocket launch with Aidyn Aimbetow (Kazakhstan’s 3rd astronaut, he’s Sarah Brightman’s replacement), Andreas Morgensen (Denmark’s 1st + 26 Lego models, uverse 9/4 chan9) and Sergei Volkov (Russian) bring ISS crew up to 9 for 8 days, docked 9/4 Fri, landed 9/12/15; Kelly and Kornienko reached half way of 1 yr mission early Sept, now 183 days in space only 73 & 74th longest stay so far, Russians have the 11 longest stays with 437 days #1, 4 >1 yr all from the 1990’s & 1980’s; url 15C Padalka 57 yr old established cumulative record of >878 days during his 5 trips, 168 days this time

9. CST-100 renamed the CST-100 Starliner (Boeing celebrates 100 yrs in 2016) – 9/14/15  1yr recap of CCtCap with total of $6.8B between Boeing ($4.2B)and SpaceX ($2.5B) includes 2 operational flights to ISS by each, each got about $450M in previous pgm, components for qual vehicle coming in Dec 2015 for assembly, May 2017 CST-100 uncrewed test flight from qual vehicle completed in 2016, in August 2017 use qual vehicle for pad abort test, Sept 2017 fly crewed test flight to ISS with 1 NASA & 1 Boeing astronaut, 1st operational flight Dec 2017, first parts of crew access tower arriving at Space Launch Complex 41, SpaceX celebrated with interior shots of Dragon, uncrewed test flight end of 2016-ish, in flight abort test in early 2017, then crewed demo to ISS with 2 NASA astronauts, fly from Launch Complex 39A also used for Falcon Heavy missions, Falcon Heavy to be operational by Nov 2016, ? of funding at $900M vs $1243 requested, was $805M last yr, NASA asked permission to short some funds; 9/6 uverse nice press conference in new use of building used to outfit shuttles, if too long just use this week @ NASA of same date; crew tower moving by truck, ULA & SpaceX launch sites will be about 3 mi apart, tower will be 200 ft high;  with interior of Dragon, 1 min video

10. Bezos plans to build and launch rockets from pad 36 at KSC – pad silent since 2005 when NROL-23 launched, total of 145 launches including Mariner flights and Pioneer 10 & 11. SpaceX has gone with Texas for a dedicated launch site, details of new rocket will be revealed in 2016, plans to spend $200M for upgrade facilities and will manufacture rockets there.

11. Orion slips 2 years for EM-2 flight – for 70% confidence level from Aug 2021 to Apr 2023; budget Oct 2015 thru EM-2 set at $6.77B, total cost at $8.5-$10.3B not including Constellation, EM-2 will be first crewed flight around moon.

Main topic:
lead-in – YouTube – Jill Tarter nice 7.5 min video clip on Drake equation titled “Calculating odds of intelligent…”, 1st 3 terms better understood, last term L has greatest uncertainty, so his equation boils down to N ~=L

Science Channel “Are We Alone?” with Brian Cox – he computes perhaps as many as 30 billion earth-like habitable planets in Milky Way, Drake equation, right side terms are more biological than astronomical, concept that 2 simple forms of life merged to form euchariotes, last right most term, L, is more a social issues term than hard science, Cox thinks we are the only tech civilization in MW because a civilization would colonized the MW in 10M yrs, dolphins are a smart species but could they ever smelt ore into metals and build a radio dish.

“No one out there”– William Borucki of Kepler mission just won Shaw Prize in Hong Kong feels we are alone in MW even though there are 10B earth-sized planets in habitable zone of MW stars; no communication from ET, how can that be?, he started working for NASA in 1962 on Apollo heat shields, even the optimism of Kepler discovering so many planets I’ve heard many people say that an advanced civilization would colonize the entire MW in a million years so since we haven’t heard from anyone (Fermi Paradox) means we are alone in MW, not sure if it’s the leap from simple to complex life or the duration of advanced civilizations that is the issue.
Both Brian Cox and William Borucki are pessimistic that there are any other intelligent communicating civilizations within the Milky Way galaxy. Their reasoning follows that any advanced civilization would probably colonize the Milky Way within a few tens of millions of years and would definitely be detectable. Since we see no evidence of this colonization, we are probably alone.