Sophia’s Quasar: Feb 12 2013

Show Notes: February 12, 2013 (GMT)

Title: Sophia’s Quasar Hosts: Sophia, Jesse, Lianne, Paul Tonight we welcomed a new YorkUniverse host, Sophia Nasr, to our team as she discussed possible new theories on what Dark Matter might be. Lianne Manzer was back after a long hiatus! We chatted “This Week in History”, Curiosity, Chris Hadfield, the 50th anniversary of the first quasar, and much… much more! Happy birthday Darwin! This Week in History: 12 February 1809 – Darwin is born! 11 February 1970 – Japan becomes 4th nation to indepently put a satellite, Osumi, in orbit 11 February 1984 – STS 41-B Challenger becomes first shuttle to land at Kennedy Space Centre 10 February 1990 – Galileo passes by Venus on its way to Jupiter 11 February 2010 – NASA SDO launched Solar Dynamics Observatory, check out highlight video and launch 

Breaking News:

LandSat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) Launch –

  • Land-sat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) spacecraft launched
  • Monday 11 February 2013 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. at 10:02am PST. (1pm EST)
  • Collaboration between NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey
  • Continue the Landsat Program’s 40-year data record of monitoring the Earth’s landscapes from space
  • LDCM is in a polar orbit, over north and south poles. It takes 100 mins to loop over poles. Cover whole globe every 16 days. ~13 orbits a day.
  • The Landsat Program provides repetitive acquisition of high resolution multispectral data of the Earth’s surface on a global basis.
  • Monitors the earth to see how the landscape changes. How climate change and land use is changing our planet. This is the only record of how our land is changing over time.
  • Observes in in visible and Near IR and shortwave IR. Observes OLI Urban sprawl  forest growth and loss, changes in farmland, and melting of glaciers.
  • Data is available open source. So used for science. Free and open access to data!
  • Look at large scale changes over the globe!
  • continue to obtain valuable data and imagery to be used in agriculture, education, business, science, and government.
  • Great Photos:

Siding Spring update As a brush fire tore through the Warrumbungle National Park, the Siding Springs Observatory was forced to close its doors. It even had many structures fall victim to the fire, though none of the telescopes were harmed. Just a few short weeks after the observatory’s run-in with the fire, the site will allow the telescope operators access to the observatories. Amanda Bauer has been keeping us all up on the details at her blog: See the Official Website for updates: Close Approach of Asteroid 2012 DA14

  • Friday, February 15, 2013, is the close flyby of Near Earth Asteroid 2012 DA14,
  • passing just 27,630 kilometers (17,168 miles) from the surface of the Earth.
  • About 50 meters (164 feet) in size
  • marks the the first time there has been passage of an asteroid this close that we’ve known a year beforehand
  • it passes within the ring of geosynchronous satellites orbiting the Earth
  • There’s no danger.
  • Friday, February 15th at 19:25UT. The asteroid will be at the local zenith (straight overhead) for observers in the pre-dawn hours located in western Indonesia at closest approach. Australia and eastern Asia will have a shot at seeing the asteroid as it whizzes through the sky in the early morning hours of February 16th local
  •  via @JPMajor

Major Topics Covered:

1. A New Theory of what Dark Matter is made of : Recent theory postulated stating that the particles responsible for dark matter may be the “gravitino”, the supersymmetric partner of the hypothetical graviton. A graviton is the particle believed to mediate the gravitational force. All forces in the standard model have an associated particle that ‘carries’ or ‘communicates’ the force to the particles it is acting on. For instance, photons mediate the electromagnetic force, and gluons mediate the strong force. New methods for possibly detecting or revealing dark matter and dark energy: (NASA and ESA “dark universe” mission) (this one will just be used briefly for its method of hunting for dark matter and dark energy). 2. 50th anniversary of the discovery of the first quasar On 5 February 1963 Maarten Schmidt made the observation that object 3C 273 was actually an object much further away than a star, effectively making the first discovery of a quasar. Read an interview with Maarten Schmidt here (via, about his discovery. Information on 3C 273 Read more on Maarten Schmidt, the discoverer and his paper on the subject (with collaborators), published March 1963. 3. Curiosity makes history by drilling into Martian rock and collecting samples Read the Universe Today article.

  • Late on Feb. 8
  • first time an autonomous rover has drilled into the surface of another planet.
  • The sample obtained will now be tested by the rover’s on-board science laboratory and will hopefully return evidence of Mars’ wet and wild history.
  • The hole is 1.6cm (0.63in) wide and 6.4cm (2.5in) deep
  • collect a sample from its interior
  • deep in a patch of fine-grained sedimentary bedrock
  • the rover will use its laboratory instruments to analyze rock powder collected by the drill.
  • “This is the biggest milestone accomplishment for the Curiosity team since the sky-crane landing last August”
  • carry out a series of steps to process the sample, ultimately delivering portions to the instruments inside
  • Called Yellowknife Bay
    • it’s the kind of environment where organic materials—the building block of life—might have been deposited and preserved long ago, at a time when Mars was far wetter and warmer than it is today.
    • For the last few weeks, the rover has been moving from the plateau it landed on down a slope into a depression.
    • iit passed through layers of rock that are increasingly older, taking it backwards into the planet’s history. Geologists are finding a lot of different rock types, indicating that many different geologic processes took place here over time.
    • Many of the grains are rounded, suggesting they were knocked about and worn down somehow. Because the grains are too large to have been carried by wind, they were most likely transported by water flowing at least 1 meter per second (2.2 mph).
  • where the samples will be sieved down to size and scoured to minimize the presence of contamination from Earth.
  • Then the sample will be distributed to the two instruments most capable of determining what the rocks contain.
    • The first is the Sample Analysis on Mars (SAM)
      • has two ovens that can heat the powdered rock to almost 2000°F (1093°C)
      • release the rock’s elements and compounds in a gaseous form. The gases will then be analyzed by instruments that can identify precisely what they are, and when they might have been deposited. Scientists are looking for carbon-based organics believed to be essential for any potentially past life on Mars.
    • Powder will also go to the Chemistry and Mineralogy (CheMin) instrument for a related analysis that looks especially at the presence of minerals—especially those that can only be formed in the presence of water.

4. Chris Hadfield singing with Ed Robertson of the band Barenaked Ladies Read more:

  • The Canadian duo began co-writing the song several months ago when Hadfield was still in Russia training for the mission. They performed their original track with Hadfield in space
  • Robertson is part of a planned album Hadfield wants to record while in space
  • Friday morning the song premiered as Hadfield, Robertson and a school glee club sang together
  • Hadfield performed his part on the space station; Robertson did his in Toronto with the Wexford Gleeks
  • “After about a day and a half he sent me the second verse, and it was poetic and good. I was just like, ‘Dude you are a high-functioning individual.’ You are in Russia training to command the I.S.S. and in your free time you wrote the second verse of this song.”
  • Song:  ”I.S.S. (Is Somebody Singing)”

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