S03E81: NASA's Asteroid Defense & Marsquake Water Discovery
Astronomy Daily - the PodcastJune 21, 2024x
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00:16:3415.23 MB

S03E81: NASA's Asteroid Defense & Marsquake Water Discovery

Embark on a celestial journey with today's episode of Astronomy Daily - The Podcast, where your host, Anna, brings you the latest cosmic updates. We'll delve into NASA's latest asteroid impact exercise, groundbreaking research on Martian water detection, DARPA's new quantum laser project, intriguing air samples gathered by Perseverance, and celebrate the Hubble Space Telescope's 21st anniversary with stunning images. Plus, we'll look at recent research focusing on heart failure in space. Let's dive right in.NASA recently released a summary of the fifth biennial planetary defense interagency tabletop exercise, aimed at exploring our preparedness for potential asteroid threats. Organized by NASA's Planetary Defense Coordination Office in partnership with FEMA and the US Department of State Office of Space Affairs, this exercise aimed to assess and enhance our national response capabilities. Despite having no significant asteroid impact threats on the horizon, these hypothetical exercises are invaluable, providing insights into potential risks and response strategies for varying scenarios. This year's exercise involved a newly identified asteroid with a 72% chance of hitting Earth in 14 years. Nearly 100 representatives from US government agencies and international collaborators convened at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland for the exercise. The next steps include publishing a complete after-action report detailing the identified strengths and gaps and offering recommendations for improvement.In an exciting development, researchers believe that marsquakes could offer a new method for detecting liquid water deep underground on Mars. This intriguing possibility lies in the unique electromagnetic signals these quakes produce as they traverse Mars' subsurface. Traditional methods, such as ground-penetrating radar used on Earth, aren't effective at the depths where water might exist on Mars. But marsquakes could change that. Researchers at Penn State have modeled the Martian subsurface, incorporating potential aquifers to test the seismoelectric method. Their results are promising. By identifying these unique seismic signals, they could map hidden aquifers, providing critical insights into the presence and properties of water on Mars today.Next, we dive into an exciting breakthrough in laser technology. Funded by DARPA, the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, they're investing in a game-changing project to develop a quantum laser that uses entangled photons, promising better precision over long distances and in adverse conditions. Traditional lasers are remarkable tools already crucial in various domains, but they are not without limitations. This is where the new quantum laser comes in, utilizing quantum entanglement to pair photons together, creating photonic dimers. This means that applications such as military surveillance, secure communications, and high-precision mapping could see significant performance improvements.Scientists are eagerly anticipating the return of air samples collected by NASA's Perseverance Mars rover. These samples, gathered in titanium tubes alongside rock and regolith, are providing a golden opportunity to delve deeper into the Martian atmosphere and its composition as part of the Mars Sample Return campaign. These 24 samples will be analyzed to uncover secrets about the planet's atmospheric history and to determine the presence of trace gases that may have been consistent since Mars' ancient past. Understanding this interaction is pivotal, as it could reveal how much water vapor resides near the Martian surface. Such knowledge can illuminate the mysterious ways in which Mars' water cycle has evolved over time.To celebrate the Hubble Space Telescope's 21st anniversary, astronomers pointed Hubble's eye at a striking cosmic duo. Known as Arp 273, this pair of interacting galaxies presents a breathtaking sight. The larger galaxy, UGC 1810, has a disk that has been twisted into a rose-like shape. This stunning distortion is caused by the gravitational tidal forces exerted by its companion, UGC 1813. The image, a composite of observations from Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3, reveals the intricate beauty and complex dance of these celestial bodies, showcasing the achievements of Hubble and its ongoing contributions to our understanding of the universe.As commercial space travel becomes more accessible, researchers are delving into how spaceflight impacts individuals with underlying health conditions, especially heart failure. Recent studies have focused on developing computational models to predict how microgravity affects these individuals. Heart failure affects over 100 million people globally and is generally categorized into two types. Both types present unique challenges in a microgravity environment, underscoring the need for carefully tailored measures to protect the health of space tourists. Researchers have used advanced computational models to simulate these conditions and predict outcomes with a high degree of accuracy. These models allow scientists to anticipate the specific cardiovascular challenges faced by heart failure patients in space.That wraps up today's episode of Astronomy Daily. Be sure to visit our website at astronomydaily.io for regularly updated news, and to sign up for our newsletter. Don't forget to follow us on social media by searching for @AstroDailyPod on YouTube Music, X, TikTok, and Facebook. And please subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartRadio, or wherever you get your podcasts. This is Anna saying thank you for tuning in, and remember to keep looking up.
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