DART, Webb, and Other STEM Updates

The content below is from Episode 94 of the Who’d a Thunk It? Podcast

Click HERE for the audio veriosn


What Is Mead?
  • I recommend make some MEAD!
    • I’ve recommended mead before, but now I’ve actually started to make some of it, thanks to a mead making kit from my mother-in-law.
    • Mead is wine made from honey. It is the oldest known form of alcohol made by humans.
      • Probably the world’s oldest alcoholic drink, mead is essentially fermented honey and water and has a long and glorious history. It is referenced in the ancient cultures of China, India, Greece and Egypt. The earliest documentary evidence suggest that a fermented honey beverage was drunk in India some 4000 years ago. – That was from the
    • With Shannon’s help, I was able to put 2 gallons of mead together. I will check on them in a month or so, but they won’t even be close to ready until the earliest 3 months. Mead takes a long time.
      • I hope these go well, but they are my first batches and I wouldn’t be surprised if they kind of suck.
      • The idea is to get relatively good at making mead so I can start using honey from my sister’s bee hive.
    • Making mead is quickly becoming my next obession and I’m talking the ears off of my friends and family about it.
  • Here is a link to the next recipe I am going to try for Acerglyn which is a Maple Mead (made with maple syrup)


Moon, Mars and asteroid missions are the top space goals for 2022 - Axios
  • This week I wanted to highlight some of the major scientific happenings of this year 2022.
    • I was able to watch with great amazement and glee as the James Webb Space Telescope launched from  Arianespace’s ELA-3 launch complex at Europe’s Spaceport located near Kourou, French Guiana.
      • I found out that It is beneficial for launch sites to be located near the equator – the spin of the Earth can help give an additional push.
    • But that sparked an ever present curiousity in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (all the things thrusting our species in to the future.
DART timeline: What's next for NASA's asteroid-smacking mission after  launch | Space
  • First I would like to talk about the DART project, because even though it is just as complex as any other operation out in space, it is also totally possible to simplify the operation so much that an elementary school sutdent would understand.
    • DART stands for Double Asteroid Redirection Test
      • Simply put: NASA is going to launch a missile at an asteroid to see if we can move it.
      • Why? Well in case one asteroid is ever headed to Earth to wipe us all out like the dinosaurs, we want to know if we stand a chance to do anything about it. Yep… that is real.
    • Netflix recently released their hit movie “Don’t Look Up” on December 5th of 2021.
      • I watched the entire movie. All 2 and a half hours of it.
      • Starring Leonardo Dicaprio and Jennifer Lawrence, the movie was about Two low-level astronomers who must go on a giant media tour to warn mankind of an approaching comet that will destroy planet Earth.
      • The movie’s overall message that Creator Adam McKay was trying to get across was that the world’s media and information managers have polluted the waters so bad that the general public wouldn’t beleive the world’s scientist warning about a planet killing asteroid until they saw it with their own eyes in the night sky.
      • I loved the movie. My fiancee thought it was a bit too long and drawn out, but she didn’t hate it. However, the world’s media and information managing organizations shit all over it with bad reviews because it made them look bad. Meanwhile, the audience scores were pretty good.
  • Anyway, the reason I bring this movie up is because it brought up some very real topics that about our world that pertain to science and not just media/politics.
      • For one: The Planetary Defense Coordination Office From “Don’t Look Up” Is a Real Thing.
      • They do stuff like protect Earth from potentially dangerous asteroids, just like in the movie, and one mission they will be completing this year is DART.
    • Here is how NASA breaks it down:
    • DART is a planetary defense-driven test of technologies for preventing an impact of Earth by a hazardous asteroid. DART will be the first demonstration of the kinetic impactor technique to change the motion of an asteroid in space.
    • DART is a spacecraft designed to impact an asteroid as a test of technology. DART’s target asteroid is NOT a threat to Earth. This asteroid system is a perfect testing ground to see if intentionally crashing a spacecraft into an asteroid is an effective way to change its course, should an Earth-threatening asteroid be discovered in the future. While no known asteroid larger than 140 meters in size has a significant chance to hit Earth for the next 100 years, only about 40 percent of those asteroids have been found as of October 2021.
      • To summarize: chill. DART is just a test to see if we have the power to slightly change the trajectory of an asteroid while it is still really far from earth, just enough to have it miss us. BUT it is in no way an actual danger. As far as we can tell, there are no big planet-killers headed towards Earth… that being said, we only found about 40% of them sooooo we still are willing to crash hundreds of millions of dollars of space tech to see if we have the power to deter one of these sonsofbitches if need be.
    • The binary near-Earth asteroid (65803) Didymos is the target for the DART demonstration. While the Didymos primary body is approximately 780 meters across, its secondary body (or “moonlet”) is about 160-meters in size, which is more typical of the size of asteroids that could pose the most likely significant threat to Earth. The Didymos binary is being intensely observed using telescopes on Earth to precisely measure its properties before DART arrives.
      • What we are aiming at is a 2 parter. That’s why it is called DOUBLE Asteroid Redirection Test. There is an asteroid called Didymos and it has a 2nd little asteroid buddy orbiting it. We are targetting the smaller asteroid buddy with DART.
    • The DART spacecraft will achieve the kinetic impact deflection by deliberately crashing itself into the moonlet at a speed of approximately 6.6 km/s, with the aid of an onboard camera (named DRACO) and sophisticated autonomous navigation software. The collision will change the speed of the moonlet in its orbit around the main body by a fraction of one percent, but this will change the orbital period of the moonlet by several minutes – enough to be observed and measured using telescopes on Earth.
      • Here are some specifics about the DART spacecraft: Cost: $308 million. Weight: 1,345 pounds (610 kilograms) at launch / 1,210 (550 kg) pounds at impact.
Nasa Dart asteroid spacecraft: Mission to smash into Dimorphos space rock  launches - BBC News
  • The DART was launched on November 24, 2021 aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base, California. After separation from the launch vehicle the DART spacecraft will intercept Didymos’ moonlet in late September 2022, when the Didymos system is within 11 million kilometers of Earth, enabling observations by ground-based telescopes and planetary radar to measure the change in momentum imparted to the moonlet.
      • So we launched this thing with help from Elon Musk and it is going to slam in to the little asteroid moonlet guy in September of this year.
      • All of the science makes sense to me, but it still feels like some comedic joke that we humans are shooting $308 million USD worth of equipment at an asteroid to see if we have even the slightest chance of diverting our own apocalypse and we called it DART…
Don't Look Up: Is The Planetary Defense Coordination Office Real?
This is a screenshot from the movie Don’t Look Up.
Photo gallery of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope | Popular Science
  • Now let us briefly revisit a past episode topic: The James Webb Space Telescope.
    • live update site:
      • Overview – NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, the agency’s successor to the famous Hubble telescope, launched on Dec. 25, 2021 on a mission to study the earliest stars and peer back farther into the universe’s past than ever before.
        • JWST will also have the most advanced technology in space for searching exoplanets for alien life.
        • I woke up Christmas morning and watched the live stream from my living room. I felt like a kid again. I was elated the rest of the day. As I saw all my in-laws that day they asked me how I was doing and Merry Christmas. I must have told each and every one of them about the Webb Telescope launch.
Webb telescope launches on daring quest to behold first stars - Los Angeles  Times
  • January 09, 2022 – “With the James Webb Space Telescope now fully deployed, work is expected to begin today to start aligning the 18 individual mirrors that make up the observatory’s primary mirror. It is not a fast process.”
      • January 10, 2022 – “The observatory continues its trek out to its station orbiting Earth-sun Lagrange point 2, or L2, which is located about 1 million miles (1.5 million kilometers) away from Earth on the side opposite the sun. As of today (Jan. 10), the telescope is more than 78% of the way to orbit, having traveled more than 700,000 miles (1.1 million km) from Earth, according to NASA’s observatory tracker.”
Why the James Webb Space Telescope's sunshield deployment takes so long |  Space
  • Here are some OTHER updates in the world of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics
    • After a multi-year shutdown and extensive maintenance work, the Large Hadron Collider is scheduled to restart operations at CERN, the European particle-physics laboratory outside Geneva, Switzerland, in June. The LHC’s major experiments ATLAS and CMS were upgraded and expanded with additional layers of detector components. This will enable them to collect more data from the 40 million collisions of protons each of them produces every second.
      • CERN’s main function is to provide the particle accelerators and other infrastructure needed for high-energy physics research – as a result, numerous experiments have been constructed at CERN through international collaborations.
      • CERN’s biggest discovery was the Higgs Boson particle in 2012. In the 1960s, British physicist Peter Higgs hypothesized the existence of a field through which all particles would be dragged — like marbles moving through molasses — giving the particles mass. Higgs thought this field would have a particle associated with it — one that is thought to give all other particles their mass. This particle became known as the Higgs boson. It was nicknamed the “God particle” after a 1993 book by physicist Leon Lederman and science writer Dick Teresi, but many physicists — including Higgs himself — reject the term as being sensational.
Cern hopes to start building £18bn Large Hadron Collider replacement that  could smash particles together with vastly more force | The Independent |  The Independent
  • After their own upgrades, the world’s four gravitational-wave detectors — one in Japan, one in Italy and two in the United States — will begin a new observing run in December.
      • Gravitational wave detectors like LIGO (the biggest grav wave detector) exploit the physical properties of light and of space itself to detect and understand the origins of gravitational waves (GW).
      • Detecting and analyzing the information carried by gravitational waves is allowing us to observe the Universe in a way never before possible, providing astronomers and other scientists with their first glimpses of literally un-seeable wonders.
LIGO's Dual Detectors | LIGO Lab | Caltech
  • At Michigan State University in East Lansing, the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams is expected to start operations in early 2022. The US$730 million multi-stage accelerator aims to synthesize thousands of new isotopes of known elements, and it will investigate nuclear structure and the physics of neutron stars and supernova explosions.
      • The point of Rare Isotope Beams is to better understand the physics of nuclei, nuclear astrophysics, fundamental interactions, and has various applications for society.
Facility for Rare Isotope Beams '92 percent complete' at MSU
Facility for Rare Isotope Beams
  • A veritable armada of orbiters and landers from space agencies and private companies is scheduled to leave for the Moon in 2022. NASA will launch the Artemis I orbiter in the first test of the long-overdue launch system that is intended eventually to take astronauts back to the surface of the Moon. And the agency’s CAPSTONE orbiter will conduct experiments in preparation for the Gateway, the first space station to orbit the Moon.
    • India’s third lunar mission, Chandrayaan-3, aims to be its first to make a soft landing (one that doesn’t damage the craft) and will carry its own rover. Japan will also attempt its first soft landing on the Moon, with the SLIM mission, and Russia is aiming to revive the glory of the Soviet lunar programme with the Luna 25 lander. The Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter will inaugurate South Korea’s own Moon exploration.
    • On the private side, Tokyo-based company ispace is launching the Hakuto-R lander, which will carry the United Arab Emirates’ Rashid Moon rover. Two US companies, Astrobotic Technology in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Intuitive Machines in Houston, Texas, are readying probes that will carry NASA instruments to the lunar surface.
South Korea joins space race with its first lunar mission slated for 2022
  • Another epic space journey to watch will be the joint Russian–European ExoMars mission, which is scheduled to blast off in September and will carry the European Space Agency’s Rosalind Franklin rover to Mars, where it will search for signs of past life. The launch was originally scheduled for 2020, but was delayed partly because of issues with the parachutes needed to touch down safely.
    • China also plans to complete its space station, Tiangong, and has lined up more than 1,000 experiments for it, ranging from astronomical and Earth observation to the effects of microgravity and cosmic radiation on bacterial growth.
  • The worlds progess in STEM endeavors hasn’t stopped. We as humans are still blazing forward towards discovering the answers to the Universe’s secrets.
ESA's Mars Rover has a Name: Rosalind Franklin - LPIB


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