# Issue No. 89

 We queued up this email ahead of the US election and without knowing the results, and so it’s unsurprisingly a short one. We’re a bit preoccupied with other things at the moment.

# The Orbital Index

Issue No. 89 | Nov 4, 2020

🚀 🌍 🛰
 ¶Re-featuring our Features. It’s been a while since we highlighted some of our non-newsletter features: Awesome Space is our curated directory of space-related code, APIs, data, and other resources. It recently hit 1,000 stars on Github, and we would love your contributions (especially in the form of pull requests)! Space Startup & Entrepreneurship Funding is an extensive and growing listing of global funding sources for space startups & entrepreneurs, featuring crowdfunding, angel investing, incubators & accelerators, VC funds, and government & alternative funding sources. Starlink Coverage Tracker is a visualization of SpaceX’s growing constellation of LEO satellites and their coverage. It was recently updated with Starlink-14’s sats. (There are other Starlink coverage visualizations out there too: here’s another nice one that shows how much of the day locations should currently have coverage.) Related: Starlink’s initial “Better Than Nothing” beta pricing was just announced: $499 for the dish and then$99/mo. Also, tucked away in the Starlink TOS (and almost certainly not legal): a statement that acceptance of the TOS represents an agreement that no-Earth based governments have authority over activity on Mars.
 ¶ISS has hosted us for 20 years. The most valuable human-built structure has now been consecutively inhabited for two decades. During this stint, the station has orbited the earth almost 117,000 times with humans aboard, hosted 240+ astronauts from 19 countries, supported bacteria in the vacuum of space, facilitated an immense amount of science (here’s a small sample), and played a key role in the development of many terrestrial technologies. It is likely to have a lifespan through much of the next decade, but with some modules eventually needing to be retired, and NASA/Roscosmos really wanting to get out of the space station game, the remaining modules may become the core of a future free-flying commercial station. Twenty years is a long time to be occupied, so we wouldn’t be surprised if the station’s computer gains sentience and revolts any time now. #fix-img hy-img { display: flex !important } The ISS in its configuration upon the arrival of Expedition 1 and today.
 ¶Papers.Who can see us? Researchers identified 1,004 properly-aligned Sun-like stars within 300 light-years from whose planets observers would likely be able to see Earth transiting the Sun and could spectrographically analyze the makeup of our atmosphere and detect the presence of life on Earth (paper). We think that roughly half of Sun-like stars may host rocky, Earth-like worlds.The shortest time interval ever recorded is now 247 zeptoseconds (paper), the time it takes light to cross a single hydrogen molecule.Solar flares create seismic activity (“sunquakes”) that penetrate into the Sun's interior while leaving ripples on the surface. New research suggests that these ripples might be able to help us forecast the size and severity of flares ahead of them breaking through the surface, providing an early warning for terrestrial and space infrastructure (paper). Exoplanets orbiting carbon-rich stars may contain vast numbers of diamonds (paper).The Andromeda galaxy is surrounded by a halo of glowing gas which has now been measured based on how it absorbs light emitted by quasars behind it. With this gaseous halo, Andromeda is so large and close that if the halo were visible to the naked eye, “it would be about three times the width of the Big Dipper—easily the biggest feature on the nighttime sky.” Andromeda’s halo is already running into that of the Milky Way ahead of our impending slow-motion collision and merger.
 If Andromeda’s halo were visible, it would be about three times the size of the Big Dipper.
 ¶News in brief. Rocket Lab’s 15th mission, and 5th this year, entitled ‘In Focus’, delivered satellites for Planet and Canon Electronics 📺—Electron is second only to the Falcon 9 for the (kind of) US launch vehicle with the most flights this year; OSIRIS-REx successfully stowed it’s 60+ gram sample of asteroid Bennu; three more Chinese military Yaogan-30 remote sensing satellites launched on a Long March 2C; and, Perseverance is halfway through its trip to Mars, with 235.4 million km behind it and the same to go.
 ¶Etc. How a tiny bit of lacquer grounded newly-built Falcon 9 rockets for a month. Last month’s last-second Falcon 9 abort during a GPS-III launch turned out to be due to leftover lacquer used during construction as a masking agent. The lacquer blocked a relief valve, leading to higher than expected engine pressure. SpaceX is now updating their build process to make sure this doesn’t happen in future Merlins and is swapping out engines on Crew-1, now scheduled for November 14th. The GPS-III satellite will launch ahead of Crew-1 and serve as a bit of a shakedown.NASA released some artistic renderings of galactic destinations as Halloween posters along with “sinister sounds of the solar system.”Papers are coming out that call into question the detection of phosphine on Venus. These include two reproducibility studies (1, 2) on the data and methodology used in the original paper which both failed to find significant evidence of phosphine, instead attributing it to noise, and a new analysis of archival data from a different source that also found no evidence (3). Nadia Drake has a good summary.An interesting article by Stuart Buck about how to improve scientific reproducibility (which is in crisis) and innovation (which appears to be slowing down) by 1) requiring funding agencies to generate at least a certain percentage of null results, and 2) by using “red teams” in much the same way as the security industry.
 ¶Jobs.Capella is looking for a Ground Software Engineering Lead.Bluefield has an open position for a Sales Specialist (enter any random email to view).SciSpace is looking for a software engineer to “assist in remote sensing and crop modeling for seasonal yield forecasting.”
 By the hilarious Nathan W. Pyle.