Since there's not much going on yet with the Mars Perseverance Rover, Rod joins Leo to talk about the next giant asteroid that's going to be passing close to the Earth soon. On March 21st, 2001FO32 is a big asteroid as big as the Golden Gate Bridge, which will pass within 1.3 million miles of Earth, technically considered a close approach. Ron says NASA is looking at ways to avoid being hit by one. Especially since we're overdue for a major strike. NASA is launching DART, the Double Asteroid redirection test, which will test technology to nudge an asteroid off course.
Rod joins Leo to talk about the Perseverance rover that landed on Mars this week. The rover also has onboard an autonomous helicopter drone, the first flying drone on Mars. The helicopter is also running on Linux, a first for the space program. The helicopter is designed to take five flights and give JPL a bird's eye view of the area to plan out the route for the rover to travel autonomously.
Rod joins Leo to talk about mutant space plants. Plants that have been sent up to the ISS for testing have mutated, and when planted, they have discovered that they become hardier and can withstand harsher weather conditions. As such, plans are now in the works to create orbital greenhouses to change the environment in desert areas and increase farmland.
In Space News, three Mars probes are arriving at the Red Planet in the next week. One is from NASA, then there's the Chinese Space Agency, and the third is from the UAE. NASA's Perseverance will have a huge Curiosity class rover, and it will be able to drill and take core samples, which can be returned to earth five years later. It's also going to be looking for fossils and live microbes.
Rod joins Leo to talk about this week's Space Settlement 2021 conference. One of the things they will be talking about is living in lava tubes left over from the moon and Mars's creation. Many believe that they will be ideal for protecting against radiation and micrometeorite impacts. But others believe the caves would be too delicate and dangerous to risk. They recommend putting robots on the surface that can create berms and walls out of the regolith to absorb the radiation for protection.
Ad Astra editor in chief Rod Pyle joins Leo to talk about today's SpaceX Transporter launch, where they set a new record by launching 143 satellites on a single launch. Most were small, microsatellites, others were standard satellite size. Interestingly, the satellites were in various trajectories, causing the launch vehicle to do a corkscrew trajectory to orbit to deploy. On top of that, Space X was able to land the booster for the fifth time in order to recycle it for a future launch. It was the 73rd recovery of the booster stage.
Rod Pyle joins Leo to talk about how the computer used on the Saturn V moon rocket is back in the news. Back in the 60s, computers were housed in rooms. During Apollo, they had to shrink computers down to the size of a briefcase. The computer was housed in a ring section between the stages, and it controlled the firing sequence and the flight up into orbit. It also had its own cooling system. What's amazing is that they survived even a direct lightning strike on Apollo 12. So it was very robust.
Rod joins Leo to talk about the latest news in space exploration. And there's more alien news, as more alien radio signals keep getting picked up by radio telescopes. But the thinking is that most technological civilizations have probably destroyed themselves. But there could be species that are just as young as we are that could be out there, and that's where the signals are coming from. The problem though, is that they are probably not as technologically advanced to get here. In the end, we're pretty much alone in our backwater corner of the galaxy.
TWiT Space correspondent Rod Pyle joins Leo to talk about an artificial signal discovered this week, coming from Alpha Centauri. The possibility is that the signals are coming from an advanced civilization out in the universe. The evidence is certainly interesting. The signals were picked up by SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) and points to being a manmade signal from our nearest galactic neighbor Proxima B. And at 982 Mhz, it points to a technological, not natural candidate.
Rod joins Leo to talk about the SpaceX Starship test that happened this week. Starship SN8 worked all the way to the landing, where it crashed and burned. But Rod Pyle says that it accomplished all the test goals it set out to do, and it's on to SN9 now. Rod says that SpaceX will fly crewless with starship for several years before building the larger, crewed version of Starship for a flight to Mars.