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Star Challenger ~12 December 2018 ~ Space Pioneers newsletter

Space Pioneers ~ 
Up in the ISS ~
Editor ~ Kim Peart ~


South Australia beats strong competition to be home to Australia's new space agency
Leah MacLennan & Caroline Winter, 11 December 2018, ABC News Online

"Prime Minister Scott Morrison is set to announce Adelaide will be the home to Australia's new space agency. South Australia beat strong competition from other states to secure the headquarters, after enlisting homegrown NASA astronaut Andy Thomas to help with its campaign. The agency will be based at Lot Fourteen, the former Royal Adelaide Hospital site, which is being transformed into an innovation precinct. Australia has always helped with other countries' missions, but it's time we had our own agency, Andrew P Street writes. The Prime Minister said South Australia was an ideal home for the new agency and was already a key hub for the space and technology industry. "Australia's space industry is set to hit new heights," Mr Morrison said. "This agency is going to open doors for local businesses and Australian access to the $US345 billion global space industry. "Our Government's $41 million investment into the agency will act as a launching pad to triple Australia's space economy to $12 billion and create up to 20,000 jobs by 2030.” The Prime Minister said the agency was part of the Government's plan to generate a stronger economy in South Australia with more long-term, high-wage, high-skilled jobs. Premier Steven Marshall said the space agency would help enhance the city's liveability and would take the state's defence sectors to the next level.” ~ "She expects South Australia will benefit from a "jobs boom". The state is already home to more than 60 organisations which employ about 800 people in the space sector. "We're intending to grow jobs nationally and South Australia, it will certainly have every opportunity to grow more jobs for our young people [and] people who are potentially transitioning from other industries," she said. "Particularly with the agency headquartered here in South Australia, we are well on target to triple the sector in the next 12 years.” She also hoped the news would encourage young people to pursue a job in the sector in the future. "Nothing inspires people like space does," she said.” ~ "The agency will be located at Lot Fourteen by mid-2019, and will employ 20 people.”



NASA's InSight lander captures first sounds of wind on Mars
ABC News Online, 8 December 2018

"NASA's new Mars lander has captured the first sounds of the Martian wind. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory released audio clips of the alien wind after the low-frequency rumblings were collected by the InSight lander during its first week of operations at Mars. The wind is estimated to be blowing 16 kph to 24 kph. Researchers say these are the first sounds from Mars that are detectible by human ears. "Reminds me of sitting outside on a windy summer afternoon … In some sense, this is what it would sound like if you were sitting on the InSight lander on Mars," Cornell University's Don Banfield told reporters."

China launches pioneering Chang'e 4 mission to dark side of Moon
ABC News Online, 8 December 2018

"China has launched a ground-breaking mission to land a spacecraft on the largely unexplored far side of the Moon, demonstrating its growing ambitions as a space power to rival Russia, the European Union and US. A Long March 3B rocket carrying a lunar probe blasted off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan Province in south-western China, the official Xinhua News Agency said. The Moon's far side is also known as the dark side because it faces away from Earth and remains comparatively unknown. It has a different composition to sites on the near side, where previous missions have landed."


Climate from space art competition
Space Daily, 4 December 2018

"Are you an artist with an interest in Earth observation and the climate? Do you fancy a three-month visiting artist post at ESA's establishment in the UK? Then here's your chance: enter the Climate from Space competition before 31 December. ESA is hunting for a creative artist who can engage with the public on the wealth of climate data amassed by Earth observation satellites. The winner will be offered a three-month, funded opportunity to develop an original art concept with ESA's Climate Office at the European Centre for Space Applications and Telecommunications in Harwell, UK. The final artwork will be displayed at the international Living Planet Symposium in Milan, Italy, in May 2019, and will be used to help communicate around the theme of climate from space. The competition winner will work closely with the Climate Office, which manages the Climate Change Initiative, a research programme that generates long-term climate data records based on satellite observations of the polar ice sheets, ocean circulation, wildfires and numerous other aspects of the Earth system."


Greenland's ice sheet melting rate is accelerating, scientists confirm
Nick Kilvert, 6 December 2018, ABC News Online

"Researchers used ice cores to create a 350 year continuous analysis of the melting rate of ice in central west Greenland.” ~ "They found that over the last 20 years, the rate of melting has been as much as five times as high as pre-industrial melt rates, and that the rate of melting is increasing, according to researcher Luke Trusel from Rowan University in the United States. "The main conclusion that we found is that it's now melting more in recent decades than any time in the last four centuries, and probably more than any time in the last seven to eight thousand years," Dr Trusel said. "That change that we've seen in the last two decades is unmistakable.”” ~ ""The response of the ice sheet to a warming climate is not linear," Dr Trusel said. "What that means practically is that, say we have half a degree of warming today, that would produce twice as much or more melting than half a degree that occurred sometime in the past.”” ~ "Although climate change has so far resulted in warming of around 1C on average since pre-industrial levels, that warming has not been uniform. In the Arctic and Greenland, signatures of warming have been detected beginning in the 18th century, and average summer temperatures have risen by around 2C since the 1990s. It's a process called polar amplification, and it means that small increases in global average temperature will have the greatest affect in polar regions.” ~ FILM

Ocean acidification may make seaweed snacks unsafe
The Weather Network, 7 December 2018

"There is a risk that as the world’s climate continues to change, people who eat seaweed as a staple part of their diet may consume too much iodine, which can lead to a wide range of health problems. Since seaweeds and shellfish underpin the nutrition of billions of humans around the world it is essential to understand how the iodine content of seafood will change under global climate change. This information can for instance be used by the World Health Organisation to provide recommendations on appropriate levels of seaweeds consumption to maintain a sufficient daily iodine intake.The Conversation"

From space, the ferocity of Queensland’s bushfires is revealed
Mark Doman, 8 December 2018, ABC News Online,-the-ferocity-of-queenslands-bushfires-is-revealed/10594662?utm_source=sfmc&utm_medium=email&utm_content=&utm_campaign=%5bnews_sfmc_newsmail_am_df_!n1%5d%3a8935&user_id=ba520dff3eeb28ed636c99a1223eb57cf8d1be6ca9a784fd234ff25f8ffeebc6&WT.tsrc=email&WT.mc_id=Email%7c%5bnews_sfmc_newsmail_am_df_!n1%5d%7c8935ABCNewsmail_topstories_articlelink

"In the face of an unimaginable bushfire threat, emergency agencies delivered a dire warning: evacuate now or burn to death. For many, it was a signal that last week’s unfolding emergency would be unlike any fire Queensland had faced in recent memory. In a perfect storm of extreme heat and fierce winds, fires erupted across a huge stretch of Queensland. Properties were razed and entire towns were almost wiped off the map. The fires were so intense they even penetrated rainforests — a phenomenal occurrence which has astounded and alarmed fire scientists. “Rainforests are non-burnable. That’s one of their distinguishing features. So if a rainforest is burning, that’s really significant,” said David Bowman, Professor of Pyrogeography and Fire Science at the University of Tasmania.” ~ "“It all ties together as being this signature of a warming, drying climate that makes vegetation burn but, more worryingly, burn in a way that is really outside our mainstream experience. So we’re on a learning curve. This is the terrestrial equivalent of ice sheeting breaking up.” Andrew Sturgess of QFES said the events of the last couple of weeks are evidence that the warnings of more frequent and more extreme fires caused by climate change had arrived. “From a fire perspective, Queensland has changed. Australia has changed.””

Global warming today mirrors conditions leading to Earth’s largest extinction event, study says
Evan Bush, 7 December 2018, The Seattle Times

"More than two-thirds of life on Earth died off some 252 million years ago, in the largest mass extinction event in Earth's history.” ~ "By this century's end, if emissions continue at their current pace, humans will have warmed the ocean about 20 per cent as much as during the extinction event, the researchers say. By 2300, that figure could be as high as 50 per cent. The ultimate, driving change that led to the mass extinction is the same driving change that humans are doing today, which is injecting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere," said Justin Penn, a UW doctoral student in oceanography and the study's lead author.”

Editor’s Note ~ "A severe anoxic event at the end of the Permian would have allowed sulfate-reducing bacteria to thrive, causing the production of large amounts of hydrogen sulfide in the anoxic ocean. Upwelling of this water may have released massive hydrogen sulfide emissions into the atmosphere and would poison terrestrial plants and animals and severely weaken the ozone layer, exposing much of the life that remained to fatal levels of UV radiation. Indeed, biomarker evidence for anaerobic photosynthesis by Chlorobiaceae (green sulfur bacteria) from the Late-Permian into the Early Triassic indicates that hydrogen sulfide did upwell into shallow waters because these bacteria are restricted to the photic zone and use sulfide as an electron donor. The hypothesis has the advantage of explaining the mass extinction of plants, which would have added to the methane levels and should otherwise have thrived in an atmosphere with a high level of carbon dioxide. Fossil spores from the end-Permian further support the theory:[citation needed] many show deformities that could have been caused by ultraviolet radiation, which would have been more intense after hydrogen sulfide emissions weakened the ozone layer." ~ "Possible causes supported by strong evidence appear to describe a sequence of catastrophes, each worse than the last: the Siberian Traps eruptions were bad enough alone, but because they occurred near coal beds and the continental shelf, they also triggered very large releases of carbon dioxide and methane. The resultant global warming may have caused perhaps the most severe anoxic event in the oceans' history: according to this theory, the oceans became so anoxic, anaerobic sulfur-reducing organisms dominated the chemistry of the oceans and caused massive emissions of toxic hydrogen sulfide.” ~–Triassic_extinction_event


West Papua independence leader urges calm after killings
Helen Davidson, 6 December 2018, The Guardian

"The exiled leader of the West Papuan independence movement has called for calm after independence fighters attacked and killed up to 31 people in a remote West Papuan district on Sunday. On Thursday the Indonesian military said it had retrieved 16 of the bodies from the district of Nduga, which would be sent to the main town of Timika. None were identified. Benny Wenda, the chair of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua(ULMWP), said it was hard to know exactly what happened at Nduga, amid conflicting reports on the long-running tensions, and without free access for media or human rights groups.”

Flying high in solidarity, defiance in Free West Papua movement
Melanie Whelan, 1 December 2018, The Courier

"THE Morning Star flag flew above Ballarat Trades Hall in a sign of solidarity and defiance once more. A small group gathered to show support for West Papuan people on Saturday – a date that marked independence from the Dutch government  in 1961, only for the nation to be invaded by Indonesia weeks later. To raise the Morning Star flag in West Papua now under Indonesian rule would be treason and hold 15 years jail. So, Ballarat Friends of West Papua continued to join in raising the flag in cities and towns across Australia for awareness of the West Papuan’s plight.”

Australian caught in West Papua crackdown
Amanda Hodge & Nivell Rayda, 3 December 2018, Australian

"Among the 537 people swept up in police raids across eight cities and towns on Saturday was Australian Ronda Amy Harman, who police said yesterday would likely be deported for breaching immigration laws that prohibit tourists from participating in political activities. Police in the east Java city of Surabaya, where Ms Harman was arrested with 233 Papuan students, told The Australian the students were arrested for their own protection after an authorised rally earlier in the day was attacked by nationalist paramilitary groups armed with sharpened bamboo sticks and rocks. Sixteen West Papuans were injured in the attacks. “Everyone has been released without charges except for the Australian woman who we handed over to immigration. They will decide what to do with her,” police spokesman Frans Barung Mangera said.” ~ "Ms Harman, 35, is the third Australian to be detained this year by authorities in relation to West Papua, after Sydney PhD student Belinda Lopez was arrested in August as she prepared to celebrate her honeymoon at a West Papuan cultural festival, and BBC bureau chief Rebecca Henschke was detained in February while reporting on a health and malnutrition crisis in the eastern part of the province. The Perth activist, an Aboriginal woman who friends say has been involved in the West Papuan freedom movement for several years, was arrested with the West Papuan students in a Surabaya dormitory just before midnight on Saturday as students marked December 1, 1961, when the Papuan Morning Star flag was first raised.”

Britain has the chance to bring a brutal colonial occupation to an end
George Monbiot, 21 November 2018, The Guardian

"West Papua, the western half of New Guinea, is owned and run like a 19th-century colony. But in one respect its situation is even worse, as it is not formally recognised as such. Instead, it is treated by the United Nations and powerful countries – including the United States, Australia and the UK – as part of the national territory of Indonesia, the colonial power.”

Warrnambool group to support the struggle of West Papuans
Andrew Thomson, 30 November 2018, The Standard

"The Australia West Papua Association branch of South West Victoria will hold ceremony to raise the West Papua flag at Warrnambool's civic green at 5pm on Saturday. Branch spokesman Mary Lancaster said that on December 1, 1961, the Dutch government gave official approval and officially released plans to hand over full control of the territory to the indigenous people of West Papua by 1970.” ~ more …..

BACKGROUND BRIEFING ~ New Guinea was about the last place on Earth to be colonised by European nations. Britain claimed the south-east, Germany the north-east, and The Netherlands claimed the western half, arranged in Europe in 1848, and without regard for the Papuan people, who have lived in this land as long as the Australian Aboriginal people have lived in Australia: believed to be around 60,000 years. Britain had passed administration of the south-east to Australia in the early 1900s, and when WWI broke out, Australia invaded the north-east, with both territories being given independence by Australia in 1975, as Papua New Guinea. West Papua is the common name for the western half of New Guinea, a territory the size of France. After Indonesia gained independence from The Netherlands in 1949, the Dutch retained West Papua, but Indonesia insisted on possession of the territory, even though it was Papuan land with an ancient Papuan population. During the 1950s, Australians were on the ground in West Papua, working with the Dutch to prepare the West Papuan people for independence. On 1 December 1961 a Papuan parliament was opened, a new national anthem sung, a coat of arms presented, the West Papuan flag raised across West Papua, and 1970 declared as the year for independence. It was possible that the whole island of New Guinea could have become one large independent nation of Papuans. The Indonesian response was to begin invading New Guinea in 1962. There was going to be a war, in which the Dutch and Australian governments would have fought Indonesia to keep the West Papuan people free and able to continue on to independence. Being the heat of the Cold War, and with the United States needing a pro-Western peace with Indonesia, as events were heating up toward the war in Vietnam, The Kennedy administration intervened, told Holland to get out, Australia to butt out, and gave the green light for Indonesia to occupy West Papua, increasing its territory by 25%, and gaining possession of the largest gold and copper mine on Earth, called Freeport, along with all other resources. In 1963 Indonesia became the new colonial power in New Guinea, and with no intention of leaving. There was to be a vote on self-determination by 1970, run by the United Nations. This vote was run by Indonesia in 1969, while President Nixon was visiting Indonesia, attracting most all reporters to Jakarta, and during the time of the Moon landing of 20-21 July. Indonesia began the voting process while the United Nations observers were still in Jakarta, who then raced to West Papua to observe the last 20% of the vote. The method of voting on the fate and future of the West Papuan people, their lands, their culture, their democratic rights, was for the Indonesian colonial rulers to select 1025 elders, lecture them under the shadow of guns, draw a line on the ground, and instruct them to step over that line. No women were involved in the Act of Free Choice, as kit was called, determining the destiny of 800,000 Papuans and a nation in waiting. Two Papuan elders escaped to the Australian territory, and with the assistants of concerned Australians, were about to fly to New York, to raise concerns about the vote with no choice at the United Nations, but Australian authorities arrested them, and removing them from the plane. With no alternative but to declare war on Indonesia, who would not give up West Papua without a fight, the UN General Assembly accepted the strange vote, and allowed half of New Guinea to be part of Indonesia. A few years later, Indonesia invaded East Timor, and after hundreds of thousands of deaths, the East Timorese people were allowed a vote on self-determination in 1999, and are now a free nation. The killing and fighting has been happening in West Papua since the 1960s, with one rebellion in progress during the act of no choice, with potentially more killings than happened in East Timor, and over a longer time. West Papua is the blood-soaked dark side of the Moon landing, which Indonesia used to hide their strange vote, while the eyes of the people of Earth were watching Neil Armstrong step onto the Moon, and President Nixon was drawing reporters to Jakarta. Over the past six decades, very few reporters have been allowed to enter West Papua, so many atrocities are never reported on. Is there a way out? The West Papuan people could be allowed a real vote on self-determination. Will the nations of Earth stand up and ask for Indonesia to allow a properly run vote on self-determination for the Papuan people of western New Guinea? Would Indonesia agree? One way out of the killing of West Papua, could be with space development and settlement, once this begins to happen. Indonesia could be a hundred times wealthier with a hundred times more territory in orbital space habitats, so, would that be a good trade-off, to allow West Papuan self-determination? For a photo essay on West Papua, or Netherlands New Guinea as it was Known at the time, made just before the Indonesian occupation, find a copy of the National Geographic of May 1962.


Henry Sutton pioneered modern batteries and television so why have we forgotten 'Australia's Edison’?
Dominic Cansdale & Robyn Williams, 4 December 2018, ABC News Online

"He is considered by some to be on par with Alexander Graham Bell, Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison, but history has not been as kind to Australian inventor Henry Sutton. The Ballarat-born inventor developed a range of cutting-edge designs and innovations that led to some of the common technologies we take for granted today. Sutton designed and built a torpedo, at least 20 different types of telephones and a helicopter-like ornithopter — making him the first Australian credited to have experimented with heavier-than-air flight. Most notably, he designed rechargeable batteries, wireless radio, an 'autocar' and the precursor to television, known as the telephane. More than a century after Sutton's death, his great-granddaughter and biographer, Lorayne Branch, has written a book in the hope of breathing new life into his legacy.”
Henry Sutton's inventions ~
1870: Builds an ornithopter and experiments with heavier-than-air flight
1876: Designs at least 20 different types of telephones
1880: Designs and builds a light globe just 16 days after Edison
1881: Builds a storage battery that can be recharged
1883: Experiments with mineral floatation processes eventually used in water treatment
1885: Invents the telephane
1886: Patents improved method of printing photographs in newspapers
1890: Travels to Europe to display the telephane and learn from other inventors
1899: Designs and builds one of Australia's first cars
1903: Co-founds the RACV
1906-12: Works on developing a wireless radio system for the Government


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