Notes from our October 28, 2022 Meeting

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

Notes from our October 28, 2022 Meeting

We had a good turn out with Keith, Hank, Harry, Don, Dave and myself present for our 82nd meeting. Before we got into our introductory items we had to oh and ah at the success of the DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) mission.

DART launched around Thanksgiving of last year, November 24, and impacted the smaller Dimorphos asteroid moon of Didymos at 13,700 mph (3.8 miles/second). It was a little like a mosquito hitting a car windshield with Dimorphos being 170 meters in diameter and DART being a 3-4 foot box weighing 1300 lbs. Scientists had hoped for a 10 minute change in Dimorphos’s 11 hour 55 minute orbital period. They also said that if Dimorphos was a solid piece of rock, the orbital change might only be 73 seconds. But I guess the asteroid was even a looser rubble pile of rocks, because DART changed the orbit by whopping 32 minutes after study by Earth based telescopes. The small cubesat from the Italian Space Agency, LICIACube trailed DART and took some good pictures of the impact. Give credit to NASA for avenging what the asteroids did to the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. We’ll get into more details later in the meeting.

Introductory Items

I shared that I’m reading “The Life & Death of Stars” by Kenneth R. Lang which I have on loan from the local library. It is amazing the vast variety of stars, from the blue super giants that weigh over 100 times the mass of the Sun and age fast and die young in violent hypernovas, to red dwarf stars that can be as little as .08 the mass of the Sun and live for trillions of years. So none of them have died out since the creation of the universe. Red dwarfs are also the most numerous type of star, composing up to 75% of the stars in the Milky Way galaxy.

There is an upcoming event at COD. Astronomer Joe DalSanto will be giving a talk, “Discover the Mysteries of Planet Earth”, on November 5th at 7:30-9:00PM in room 2000 at the Student Resource Center. Joe always gives a informative and entertaining presentations.

Here are a couple of new factoids that I’ve learned. First, in your entire lifetime you have a 25% chance of a neutrino interaction in your body. The interaction could change a proton in your body into a neutron and a positron. If that proton was in a carbon atom, if would be transformed into a boron atom (1 less proton in the nucleus means 1 lighter element in the Periodic Table). There are about 100 billion neutrinos passing thru your thumbnail each second, so it is a very rare interaction. One light year of lead would only stop 50% of the particles speeding thru it. My second factoid is that Fraiser Cain explained that there is no such thing as an anti-matter black hole. Everything in a black hole is effectively converted to energy and anti-matter makes the same energy that matter does. Sounds pretty theoretical but I’ll take it.

I’m turning into a Fraiser Cain fan-boy. He does a lot of astronomy and space content, from a weekly “Space Bites” of about 20 minute length, to a longer “Hang-Out” weekly video, as well as in-depth interviews. At the meeting I only talked about this video where he remotely controlled a telescope in California from his home in British Columbia, Canada. It was amazing how with exposures of only a few minutes he could get a digital color image showing the blue and red sections of the Trifid Nebula or the spiral arms of the Pinwheel Galaxy. The telescope was only 5 inches in diameter but it was a $7000 APO 127mm reflector with a $7000 mount and a $4000 QSI color camera. My memories from my youth were studying a large paper map of the stars under a red light to not ruin my night vision and then moving over to the telescope and try to star hop from star to star so that I could find a faint fuzzy grey blob. Usually I had to use averted vision to see the object and one would always wonder if you truly saw it or was it wishful thinking because of my cold frozen fingers and bleary eyes. But it was rewarding. I still have the index card file of my discoveries after 56 years.

We did watch the 10/21/22 “Space Bites” to blast out 5 quick topics. He talked about the Pillars of Creation image by JWST and mentions Keith’s post to MASS FaceBook of his video titled “The First 100 days of JWST”. Other topics are the “crisis in cosmology” where the Hubble constant calculation for the expansion of the universe between Cepheid variables and the Cosmic Background Radiation don’t agree, the Pantheon+ project that used 1500 type 1A supernovas to more accurately measure Dark Energy, 3 billion years after Big Bang is the era called the “cosmic noon” because it was the hey-day of star formation, maybe the Big Rip won’t happen, the Vera Rubin telescope down in Chile will find 1 million of these supernovas when it starts operating in early 2024, gravity waves are being discovered more and more frequently, the brightest Gamma Ray Burst (GRB) just occurred and is estimated to be 2.4 billion light years away and nicknamed “the BOAT” (Brightest Of All Time). It was a once in a century, hypernova. Over 30,000 NEOs have been found. NEOs are objects that have an orbit that comes within 1.3 AU from sun. 1400 of them have a greater than zero chance of impacting the earth some day.


We then went into more detail about the brightest GRB. It is amazing that an object 1000 times farther than the Andromeda galaxy could send a wave of x-rays and gamma rays through solar system setting off radiation detectors on the Fermi Space Telescope, the Swift Observatory and Wind spacecraft on Sunday October 9 and partially ionize the Earth’s atmosphere. The GRB was caused by a massive star collapsing into a black hole. The explosion, dubbed GRB221009A, is believed to be the closest burst to Earth at 2.4 billion light years. Called “the Boat” (the Brightest Of All Time), it was 20 times closer than the average GRB but too far to pose a danger to Earth. It released 1000 to 10000 times the energy that the Sun will emit during its entire lifetime. There are two types of GRBs, short ones that last <2 seconds and account for 30% of the objects. These short ones are believed to be the collision of 2 neutron stars and are called kilonovas. The second type called long ones, last for several minutes and result in a hypernova (100 times brighter than a typical supernova). These long ones are caused by the collapse of a massive star into a black hole. GRB221009A occurred in the Sagitta (the arrow) constellation and was definitely a long GRB. Earth observatories have imaged the remaining glow from the hypernova in visible light.

A pioneer astronomer, Frank Drake, has died at age 92. He first presented his famous equation that would estimate the number of communicating alien civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy in 1961. We’ve spoken about the estimation of the equation’s factors many times at our meetings. He also helped Carl Sagan develop the messages on the “Golden Records” that are attached to the Voyager spacecraft. One of the jokes about the records is that the aliens have requested more Chuck Berry because “Johnny Be Good” was one of the included songs.

People in Space

SpaceX launched CREW5 on October 5 with 4 astronauts including the first Russian cosmonaut to fly on the Dragon capsule. Her name is Anna Kikina and she might get the award for the biggest mane of hair in space. Watch the previous link docking video at the 2:14:05 mark to see what I mean. Here is a photo of the entire Expedition 68 crew currently on the ISS It includes 3 Russians including Anna, 3 Americans and 1 Japanese astronaut. Frank Rubio on the far left is an American astronaut who recently went up on a Soyuz capsule after a long time of Russia not flying us because we stopped paying for seats. The agreement now is to trade seats, we get a seat on Soyuz and they put someone on Dragon.

SpaceX has now placed 30 people into space, (5×4=20 on 5 regular ISS crew missions +2 on DM2 test mission + 4 on Polaris Dawn mission which did not go to the ISS and 4 on the Axiom-1 private mission to the ISS). SpaceX has put more people in space than China. Also SpaceX has passed Boeing as NASA’s largest “for profit” vendor with $2.04 billion in contracts compared to Boeing’s with $1.72 billion.

A cosmonaut that came down on the last Soyuz capsule had an accident where he ran over someone with his car. It is a little humorous that the report said doctors said he wasn’t drunk. Which seems like the opposite might be a common occurrence in Russia.

With SpaceX’s success with the “Commercial Crew” program, the other entry Starliner from Boeing has yet to fly with people. It is currently scheduled to attempt its test flight in February of 2023. The will be almost 3 years after SpaceX launched its test flight, DM2, on May 30, 2020. Boeing’s test flight will fly to the ISS with 2 astronauts for an 8 day stay on ISS. If the test flight is successful, Boeing will then begin their 6 Post-Certification Missions (PCM) in the Fall of 2023. Flying once per year on Atlas 5 rockets there isn’t a lot of time for Boeing to recoup its costs for Starliner even though it will charge NASA $90 million for each astronaut seat on Starliner. Hopefully, Russia will add Starliner to the crew swap agreement that they made with NASA for Dragon. Boeing has taken another $195 million against earnings for Starliner development, the total is now an $886 million loss for the delay. I am critical of Boeing’s delay with Starliner but the capsule will be a good addition for NASA. It gives the USA an alternative crewed spacecraft in case something bad happens with a Dragon mission, it lands on land in a very weather reliable location in the western US and provides quick access to the returning science from space. Finally, the Starliner should be able to re-boost the ISS in case the Russians decide to stop doing it. It may be late and expensive, but should be a good addition to keeping the ISS going until 2030 when we want to hand off low-earth-orbit to a new Commercial Space Station.

The Europeans with ESA have also announced that they would like to develop a manned reusable spacecraft called SUSIE, Smart Upper Stage for Innovative Exploration. The spacecraft would also function as an automated freighter or carry up to a crew of 5. It will fly on Europe’s new in development Ariane 6 rocket and propulsively land with a 7 mt cargo. It has 40 m3 in its internal bay and weighs 25 mt. I’m not sure how much of this is just a wish list because ESA has not obtained the OK from its member nations and there is no timeline for development.

Apollo astronaut Jim McDivitt has died at age 93. He led Gemini 4 and Apollo 9 missions but never made it to the moon. Apollo 9 orbited earth for 10 days shaking down the Apollo capsule and the LEM. I then asked the group if they can name the remaining living astronauts who landed on the moon? I was able to name 2 of the remaining 4 astronauts. The group did pretty well with Keith listing Buzz Adrin and a guy named Scott.

Here’s the detail. Of the 12 Apollo astronauts who landed on the moon, Buzz Aldrin age 92 of Apollo 11, David Scott age 90 of Apollo 15, Charles Duke age 87 of Apollo 16 and Harrison Schmitt age 87 of Apollo 17 are still alive. Of the 14 Apollo astronauts who just orbited the moon, 6 are still alive. They are Frank Borman age 94, Jim Lovell age 94, Bill Anders age 89 from Apollo 8, Tom Stafford age 92 from Apollo 10, Jim Lovell again and Fred Haise age 89 from Apollo 13, and Ken Mattingly age 86 from Apollo 16. The youngest living Apollo astronaut is now 86. We’ve got to return back to the moon before all these pioneers are gone. All 3 astronauts from Apollo 12 and 14 have passed. Only Apollo 8, which did the epic reading from Genesis during the Christmas season, has all 3 members alive.


We started after a break for snacks with another “Space Bites” this time from 10/14/22 which dealt with DART, the moon’s origin, a JWST picture with a star with rings, SLS vs Super Heavy, the CAPSTONE mission, Spin Launch with its 10,000 G’s of exposure, and Europa Clipper.

We then went into a little more detail about DART. Scott Manley had a informative video showing the approach to Dimorphos. His video also had a reference to a “spherical cow”. That is a humorous metaphor for highly simplified scientific models that physicists use. Dimorphos (170 meter diameter) had an original orbit of 11 hour and 55 minutes around Didymos (780 meters or half mile wide). DART lessened that orbital period by 32 minutes. It is amazing that DART didn’t see the 2 asteroids as separate objects until 1 hour before impact and with the delay of signal between the spacecraft and Earth, the entire approach was totally automated using the software of the probe.

In other asteroid mission news, Osiris-Rex performed a 30 second course correction maneuver on September 21. This was the first correction since it left the asteroid Bennu on May 10, 2021. The probe will drop off its sample capsule on September 24, 2023 for a parachute delivery to the Great Salt Lake Desert of Utah. It was first launched on September 8, 2016 and arrived at Bennu on October 20, 2020. Bennu, which is 1200 ft (490 m) in diameter, could impact the Earth after its close approach in 2135. It is interesting to watch the short video that shows how deep scientists think the sample arm went into the surface of Bennu. The estimation is as much as 19 inches. The mission goal is return at least a 2.1 oz sample but scientists think they got as much as 9 oz.

The Lucy mission swung around Earth for a gravity assist on October 16. It approached so close to Earth that it was lower than the ISS and mission planners had to considered orbital debris in orbit to avoid possible collision events. This recent flyby is the first of 3 that will get the spacecraft out to Jupiter. Two years later a second earth flyby will send it to the L4 Trojan asteroids that lead Jupiter by 60 degrees in its orbit. The L4 object investigation will be in 2027-2028. After returning from L4, Lucy will perform a third Earth flyby that will send it to the L5 Trojan asteroids that trail Jupiter in its orbit. The L5 object investigation will be in 2033. In all, Lucy will flyby 7 Trojan asteroids and 1 main-belt asteroid. The ability to visit so main bodies is due to its efficient ion propulsion. Lucy was launched a year ago on Oct 16, 2021.

Our last asteroid topic is that NASA is still trying to decide if they will try to launch the Psyche mission to the same named asteroid next year. The mission had problems certifying its software in time for launch this year and NASA was a little upset about all the extra costs to delay it. I sure hope they will decide to move ahead because Psyche is such an unusual destination. It is believed to be almost a solid piece of metal left over from the core of a larger asteroid that was shattered by a collision. Psyche is a large asteroid with a 140 mile (225 km) diameter.

SLS vs Starship

With all the troubles that SLS has had with hydrogen leaks during fueling, I thought it would be interesting to see why SpaceX decided to go with methane for fuel on Starship and NASA decided to stay with the Shuttle fuel of hydrogen on SLS. You definitely get the biggest thrust per pound of fuel with hydrogen and oxygen. But the large tanks required because hydrogen is not very dense fuel, this makes for a very big rocket. Elon Musk also believes in reuse of his rockets and at Mars there is the possibility of producing methane and refilling the Starship rocket. Methane is also the choice for the new BE-4 engine being produced by Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos’s rocket company. The BE-4 is intended to be used on his New Glenn rocket and the new ULA Vulcan rocket that is to launch 60% of the Defense Department satellites starting in about a year.

A side story from SpaceX is that a Falcon Heavy rocket is to launch a military payload, USSF-44, on November 1 after a 40 month hiatus of using the rocket. It will be pretty impressive to see the 2 side boosters simultaneously land back in Florida. Because the payload needs a lot of performance out of the rocket, the center core will be dumped in the ocean. SpaceX has never successfully retrieved the center core on the first 3 Falcon Heavy launches. One core successfully landed on the drone ship but it fell off before it could be brought back to port. The other cores crashed or missed the drone ship. SpaceX has already successfully test fired the 27 Merlin engines of the 3 cores and the rocket stands erect at the launch pad.


Is the JWST shattering the Big Bang Theory? There had been a lot of hype about the early analysis of the pictures from the telescope but this Insane Curiosity video puts it in perspective. In one of the early pictures, largest redshift was measured as z=16.7 which would make the galaxy be only 233 million years after the Big Bang (BB). But it is not a true spectroscopic red shift measurement. If the redshift is confirmed theorists might have to rewrite the cosmological standard model because there shouldn’t even be stars that early. At 300-400 million years after the BB, there should only be small regions condensing, the first true spiral galaxies should form about 800 million after BB. The old record redshift of z=11 with Hubble, dates objects back to 300 million years after BB. The galaxy in the Hubble photo looked like a proto-galaxy without much structure. Some of the high redshift could be reddening due to dust in space. Independent researcher, Eric Lerner, is cherry picking quotes that astronomers made about distant galaxies. He is quoting them as saying that they are larger and more structured than anticipated, but it does not disprove the Big Bang. The red shifts of these galaxies also have to be confirmed. This is a general problem with the Internet and trying to interpret science after only a few weeks.

In Hubble telescope news, the SpaceX Dragon capsule to be used in the Polaris Dawn mission might try to boost the telescope to a higher orbit. Hubble has seen 3 of its 6 gyros fail and it will decay in orbit by the end of 2030s. There will be a 6 month study by Jared Issacman, the person funding and organizing the mission, on his dime, to see if they could add 15-20 years to the telescope. The Dragon capsule would have to put on a new docking mechanism in its trunk so that it could use the 4 main thrusters at the front of the capsule. Or they could develop some kind of thruster that would have to be put in the Dragon’s trunk and then the capsule could use the current docking port to attach to Hubble. Doesn’t seem like NASA would be comfortable with all this new untested technology in a 2023 mission.


NASA embraces the last 2022 Decadal Survey that covers FY 2023-2032 with caveats. The top recommendation is a flagship mission to send an orbiter and probe to Uranus. A second flagship mission would go to Saturn’s moon Enceladus. NASA is already building a spacecraft called Europa Clipper which should launch in 2024. That mission was the leader in the 2011 Decadal Survey. The Mars Sample Return finished second in the older decadal. The issue is that there isn’t enough money in the budget to accomplish all the goals including the 2 flagship missions. Lori Graze of NASA showed 3 sand charts to illustrate the predicament. To do everything recommended over the next 10 years would cost $41.12 billion (that is the “recommended program” with 2 flagships) according to NASA. The decadal’s “level program” is estimated to cost $34.99 billion with only the Uranus flagship, no Enceledus mission. The third chart is NASA’s 5-year plans, blue is budget and pink behind is the single Uranus flagship prediction. Planning for Uranus mission will start no later than FY 2024 with a launch in early 2030s. Enceladus studies would not begin before FY 2026. One impact is the delay of Psyche mission. NASA will decide in November on that mission. Europa Clipper is experiencing significant overruns and Mars Sample Return just underwent a significant design change. Cost estimates for the modification are still to be determined. Diagrams on the linked web site show the NASA fleet of spacecraft in 2012 and 2022. For those interested the 2022 Decadal is 782 pages long. The Planetary Society NASA FY 2023 budget shows that Planetary Science last year got $3.12 billion, In FY 2023 PBR had $3.16 billion (up 1%) for Planetary Science, the House budgeted $3.2 billion, and the Senate $3.21 billion. To do the “level program” NASA needs $35 billion over 10 years or at least $3.5 billion per year in the Planetary Science bucket. NASA expects to keep spending a little below $3.2 billion per year through 2026, rising to $3.3 billion in 2027 and increasing to more than $3.5 billion by middle of decadal (2028?).

On August 20, 1977 Voyager 2 launched and it is now 12.1 billion miles (19.5 billion km) away. The Voyagers took advantage of a once-every-176-years alignment of the planets to accomplish the grand tour, meaning that they could fly past Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Voyager 1 followed 2 weeks later after Voyager 2. Both spacecraft carried the famous Carl Sagan Golden Record. Voyager 1 is now over 14.5 billion miles away and is the farthest artificial object from Earth because it headed out of the solar system after it flew past Saturn. Voyager 2 is more iconic because it visited the 4 large planets. Scientists hope to get data for another 5-6 years. In 300 years the spacecraft will enter the Oort cloud of comets. In 30,000 years they will exit the solar neighborhood and orbit the center of the Milky Way. In December 2018 Voyager 2 entered interstellar space. I remember asking a fellow ComEd worker, to walk over to Field’s Natural History Museum to listen to a talk about the Uranus flyby in January 1986 and later the Neptune flyby in August 1989 and see some of the pictures. There was no Internet to browse thru the pictures in those days. The home site of the Voyagers shows the current distance. On Aug 20, 2022 Voyager 1 was 157 AU away with a one way light time of 21 hours 46 minutes. Voyager 2 was at 131AU. Ed Stone has just retired after 50 years as project scientist for the Voyagers.

NASA announces 13 landing sites for Artemis 3 at the South Pole of the Moon. The mission would have a 6.5 day stay on the moon by 2 astronauts using a SpaceX Lunar Starship. Starship’s unmanned test landing will also occur at south pole. Gateway was not mentioned as part of the mission. Landing is scheduled for April 2025. Construction of the Orion and SLS has already begun. Each site is within 6 degrees of the pole around craters that I don’t recognize because they are too hard to observe from Earth. The mission will have continuous daylight for the duration of the mission by using the rims of the craters. The map of pole shows possible ice concentration locations.

Artemis 1 and the cost of SLS/Orion. The first launch attempt was on August 29 and was scrubbed due to inability to cool the core stage engines and a hydrogen leak that delayed tanking. The cost of $4.1 billion for each of the first 4 Artemis launches comes from NASA spending $93 billion from 2012 to 2025 on the system according to the Office of Inspector General released in November 2021. The latest cost fiasco is that the second mobile launch tower is way overbudget and late. It will be needed for Block 1B variation of SLS on Artemis 4. Beth was down in Florida with the Everyday Astronaut and Dr Sian Proctor for the initial rollout of SLS. On 9/27/22 the rocket was rolled back to VAB due to a hurricane after successful performing a tanking test on 9/21/22.

On 10/18/22 a joint venture of Boeing and Northup Grumman (NG) bid on the Artemis 5 -9 missions and on an option for Artemis 10–14 as well as 10 non-Artemis launches of SLS. The long-term contract formerly called Project Eta would be for as many as 20 SLS launches. The Joint Venture is now called Deep Space Transport (DST). The specification had the requirement of 42 mt in a single launch to the Moon or beyond which is the SLS Block 1B payload capacity. Project Eta emphasized the importance of a single accountable customer interface as well as 17 unspecified affordability efficiency initiatives that would provide cost savings. NASA has previously said they want to reduce flight cost of SLS/Orion by 50% or more. Sometimes I wonder when I can’t understand a NASA contract that there is something a little fishy. NG is responsible for the SLS solid boosters and Boeing makes the core and second stage of SLS. NASA ordered 3 more Orion capsules for $2 billion from Lockheed Martin, I thought Orion was reusable, so why do we need that many capsules? These new Orions are for Artemis 6, 7 & 8 which takes us out to missions in the early 2030s. Orions built for Artemis 3, 4 & 5 are 50% cheaper than the original Orion and the last 3 are 30% cheaper than that (but they still are costing $667 million each). Artemis 2 will reuse avionics from Artemis 1 and Artemis 6 will reuse the Orion pressure vessel from Artemis 3.

NASA asks for proposals for a second HLS capability.  The lunar landers would be used for Artemis 5 or later. Initial capability is for 2 astronauts for a 6.25 day stay with up to 5 EVAs, later it could be a 33 day stay if there is a habitat module at the landing site. This is part of SLD (Sustaining Lunar Development) program. The deadline is Nov 15 with award expected in May 2023. It is uncertain if Dynetics and Blue Origin will submit proposals or if the National Team composed of Blue Origin, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman will stay together. This video show the SpaceX Dragon XL supply ship and Lunar Starship docking to the Orion and Lunar Gateway. It shows how Starship dwarfs the Gateway. In the background is playing the John Kennedy address at Rice University saying how we will go to the moon (an event that occurred 60 years ago, 9/12/62). Coming up is 50 years since we last left the moon. Apollo 17 had a Dec 19 splashdown with the mission lasting from Dec 11 to 14 on the moon in 1972.

NASA and SpaceX targeting moon launches only a few days apart. Artemis 1 is scheduled to launch on Nov 14 at 12:30 in the morning. This will be its fourth roll out from the VAB. It had launch attempts on Aug 29 and Sep 3). SpaceX is launching the Hakuto-R M1 Japanese lander with a UAE rover on a Falcon 9 between Nov 9 and Nov 15. NASA has given a $73 million contract to Ispace to develop a second-generation Series-2 Moon lander. The M1 is almost entirely a private endeavor. It has 2 rovers and several other commercial and government payloads. Hakuto-R weighs 1050 kg (2300 lbs) and will land 30 kg (66 lbs) of usable payload on the moon. ArianeGroup provided the propulsion unit to land it on the moon and it was built in Germany. Hakuto’s trip to moon will take 20 days and the lander is designed to survive up to 12 days on the moon

Venus & Mars

Rocketlab is to self-fund a search for life in the Venus atmosphere. They will send a tiny 20 kg probe that will sample the clouds of Venus for 5 minutes at an altitude of 48-60 km above the planet. If they launch in May 2023, it will reach Venus in October 2023. There is a sweet spot in Venus’s atmosphere where the pressure and temperature are about the same as on Earth. If they keep to their timeline, the mission will beat the more ambitious NASA missions of Davinci (June 2029) and Veritas (2030) and ESA’s EnVision (2031).

Perseverance rover finds organics in its samples. Mars Guy video shows the rover’s tracks since landing.

The Insight Lander detected the largest Mars meteor impact last December 24, 2021. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) discovered the crater and pinpointed the occurrence. When scientists checked they discovered that Insight had recorded a significant seismic event. The crater is 500 ft wide and 70 ft deep. It threw chucks of sub-surface water ice up to 20 mi away. This is the closest evidence of sub-surface water ice so near the Mars equator. The meteor is estimated to have been 5-12 m in diameter. Earth experiences an object this size once a year but they burn up in our atmosphere. MRO has seen 1200 impacts on Mars so far. Analysis of the seismic waves indicates that the Mars core is about 1800 km in radius which is about 100 km more than scientists had expected. Insight has only a few more weeks of operations due to the dust on its solar panels reducing its power intake.

Main topics

We didn’t get a chance to get to these topics during the meeting but if you find the links interesting, let me know.

Keith had posted this link from Fraiser Cain talking about the “First 100 Days of JWST”.

Fraiser Cain had another in depth interview with science writer, Colin Stuart. The video is titled “How Understanding the Sun Changes Everything” It is 1 hour long. Scientists originally thought the concentration of the Sun’s metals was 1.8% but then spectroscopy reduced it to 1.3%. That is 1500 times the earth’s mass difference in the mass of the metals and it reduces the age of sun by 20% and the mass and radius of other stars by 10%. Seismologists are sticking with original number. The two then discussed the JWST and Population III stars, stars that might have formed 100-150 million years after Big Bang which is shorter than the previous 300 million years estimate. He mentions the Parker solar probe (which has no camera), the new Daniel K. Inouye solar telescope in Hawaii, nicknamed Dekuss and the Solar Orbiter spacecraft from Europe. The Carrington effect was an 1859 event that caused havoc on earth from a powerful solar storm. The Sun has a 15.7 million degree core but a 5800 degree Kelvin surface and a 3 million degree corona or atmosphere. There are two theories to try to explain why the corona is so hot, nano flares might heat corona with small campfire flares or Alvin waves. Both might be happening. Also there was a short mention of dark matter and the WIMP detection problem, the shift to trying to detect axions. Discussion of aliens (from other planets) and exoplanets ended the interview.