Archive for the 'Astronomy' Category

It's not just about getting to the sun, it's about the people behind the mission making it all happen. That's what this episode of Talking Space is all about.

We speak with four integral members of the Parker Solar Probe team. The mission launched successfully in early August. To hear more about the mission along with the spectacular Delta IV Heavy launch audio, be sure to check out Part 1 in Episode 1007.

In this episode, we begin speaking with Dr. Adam Szabo, the mission scientist for Parker Solar Probe. From him we learn more about the mission objectives, how the gravity assist will be different from those in the past, and how PSP fits in with the host of solar observing missions already in orbit.

Next, we speak with David McComas of Princeton University who is in charge of the ISʘIS experiment. We discuss more about the role of the instrument, along with his excitement, plus a person "struggle" so-to-speak that's he's used to his advantage and hopes to share with others.

Then, we hear from two of the mission's leads immediately following the successful liftoff. That includes project scientist and soon to be head of Heliophysics at NASA Nikki Fox and Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen about the status of the mission and what's next for the spacecraft as it nears its first Venus encounter to help slow it down.

Stay tuned for Part 3, following our normal news episode, featuring a Q&A which you can only hear in high quality in its entirety here with Dr. Eugene Parker. The session was held for a very limited audience before launch and has never been aired in its entirety, so stay tuned!

Show recorded 8-19-2018

Host: Sawyer Rosenstein

Panelist: Gene Mikulka with special guest interviews recorded on location at the Kennedy Space Center.

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On part one of this extremely special three-part Talking Space, hear the sound of a Delta IV Heavy launching a mission to the sun and hear from the scientists behind it!

We begin with the successful launch of the Parker Solar Probe mission, which is set to "touch the sun". This mission will set many records, and you'll hear all about them. You'll hear about the delays and the successes, including the launch audio as the Delta IV Heavy roared into the early morning sky and continued to rumble for minutes after launch. Hear from some of the science heads on the mission, as well as the new NASA Chief Scientist Jim Green. 

Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3 coming out over the next three weeks where you'll hear more interviews from scientists, some exclusive behind-the-scenes access and a rare Q&A that you may never hear elsewhere in its entirety.

[A photo gallery was inserted here. To view it visit http://talkingspaceonline.com]

Show recorded 8-19-2018

Host: Sawyer Rosenstein

Panelist: Gene Mikulka with special guest interviews recorded on location at the Kennedy Space Center.

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50 Falcons, falling stations, private ISS, the dreaded NASA budget and a lot of hate mail...all in one episode! 

On this episode of Talking Space, we begin with our launch round-up including GOES-S, the 50th Falcon 9 launch, and the return of three crewmembers from the ISS and the preparations for the next launch later this month. Then it's onto a creepy talking head that'll be soon heading to the ISS, as well as another space station, Tiangong-1, that could fall pretty much anywhere as professionals track it and amateurs buy umbrellas. Next it's the dreaded NASA budget review, including a meeting with NASA Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot and congressional budget officials. In this is the discussion of potentially privatizing the ISS, getting NASA out of low earth orbit, and dealing with NASA's "leaning tower of KSC". 

We finish  up with the Areceibo Radio Telescope getting new owners, a chance to get your name on the Parker Solar Probe, and a much-needed clarification segment. In this segment, we discuss and clarify all of our points regarding Falcon Heavy after some heated feedback on our last episode. Also be sure to stay past the outro music for a fun surprise.

To read Kat's published paper, click here.

To get your name on NASA's Parker Solar Probe, click here.

Show recorded 3-7-2018

Host: Sawyer Rosenstein

Panelists: Gene Mikulka and Kat Robison

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So many launches, so little time, and a few explosive news stories make this a jam-packed episode not to be missed! We begin by recapping the launches of the last two weeks, including three SpaceX launches in one day, Japan and China launching on the same day and both broadcasting them live, and an ESA mission launching on a unique rocket. We also had some unusual scrubs, including a Soyuz and an Atlas V, taking all V, er, 5 times to launch. We then look at some upcoming launches, including a mysterious "Zuma" payload and the move, once again, of the OA-8 mission.

Next it's onto the ISS, including looking at the most recent three spacewalks outside the orbiting platform. Also a scary story that a recent crewed Soyuz depressurized as it returned from orbit. We also disuss the major partnership between ULA and Bigelow Aerospace and their plans to have a lunar orbiting outpost. Lastly, we delve into a massive colission of two neutron stars, releasing gold and platinum, among other elements, out into space, and it being observed for the first time. We look into the significance of it and what it means for the future of science.

Show recorded 10-16-2017

Host: Sawyer Rosenstein

Panelist: Gene Mikulka

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With the Eastern Range recently quiet, it's about to get busy...and fast! First, we discuss the successful launch of the Soyuz carrying three more crew members to the ISS, bringing the US side up to 4 crew members for the first time ever. We then discuss a crazy range shift as SpaceX's CRS-12 mission and the TDRS-M spacecraft set to launch aboard an Atlas V danced around with their launch days. There's Russian spacewalks and damaged antennas and static discharges to blame, and we'll help try and simplify it. In the end, you get two rockets set to launch in the same week. We also look ahead to the upcoming Falcon Heavy launch, currently slated for November. We then stick with the launch-sanity and the first ever Minotaur launch out of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station scheduled for later this month.

Next, we discuss a scheduling issue that will most likely lead to a delay of the James Webb Space Telescope...again. In addition, we have another telescope, the FAST Telescope in China, that supposedly has nobody to run it. Conflicting reports from news outlets in the US and China indicate that they may be in search of an extremely qualified outsider to run the telescope, although the government says it's been staffed just fine since 2016.

Lastly, we finish with fun stories as NASA responds to a job application from a young nine year old from New Jersey. Also, we give you tips to not fry your eyeballs if you're planning on viewing the solar eclipse in the United States on August 21, and this goes for everyone both inside and outside of totality. For more safety information, visit http://eclipse2017.nasa.gov

Show recorded 8-7-2017

Host: Sawyer Rosenstein

Panelists: Gene Mikulka and Mark Ratterman

 

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On this extra packed episode of Talking Space, we discuss the successful launch of a Falcon 9 rocket carrying the classified NROL-76 satellite. We also address a tweet sent to us regarding our view on SpaceX, a comment we get quite often and wanted to address. We also discuss the arrival of the Cygnus resupply vehicle to the International Space Station, and the return of a 4K camera from the station. This reportedly allowed more detailed science documentation, but our opinion of 4K, including the first live 4K broadcast from space? You'll have to listen. 

We then address some shake-ups happening at Roscosmos, and why one of the most decorated cosmonauts is choosing to leave. We then discuss the first of 22 dives taken by Cassini into the space between the rings of Saturn and what we're hoping to get as it nears its "Grand Finale". Of course, we had to discuss the announcement that the launch of NASA's SLS is now set for 2019, coming shortly after a report from the GAO stating that 2018 was highly unlikely. It's not just the rockets that are facing issues, but so are the aging spacesuits used by NASA.

Finally, we discuss Mark's time at the FIRST Robotics Championships in Houston, Texas. Mark discusses the tech inn, the Program Executive for Solar System Exploration at NASA Headquarters. You'll also hear from Cathy Olkin, the Deputy Project Scientist for NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto and the Deputy Principal Investigator for NASA’s Lucy mission to study Trojan asteroids

For more information on FIRST, visit https://www.firstinspires.org/

To view the video Mark referenced in the episode, visit https://youtu.be/ZU3hHHFJT_k

To see Mark's "Get Smart" team at the competition, visit https://twitter.com/MaureenWilt/status/855618901685698560

Show recorded 4-29-2017

Host: Sawyer Rosenstein

Panelists: Gene Mikulka, Mark Ratterman

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This season launches with, well, a look at a few launches. First up is OA-7, the second launch of a commercial cargo flight featuring Orbital ATK’s Cygnus atop a ULA Atlas V rocket. The International Space Station is living up to the last word in the name with the departure and  arrival of new crews as well, including the launch of a Soyuz carrying 2 NASA astronauts, first-timer Jack Fisher and storied veteran Peggy Whitson. For the latter, this trip will result in yet another few barriers broken for women and all humans alike as she settles in for a long stay in orbit. Just because this is his first trip to space, though, doesn’t mean Jack Fischer doesn’t have plenty to say already, and we bring you part of an exclusive unaired interview with him in celebration of his first trip to the laboratory. On the other side of Russian rocketry, reports indicate that there are issues with not just a few Proton engines but all of them. What implications could this have, not only for future Proton flights but for Russian aerospace as a whole? Meanwhile, while we’ve been on hiatus, SpaceX has managed to get one step closer to their vision of reusability by carrying the CRS-9 cargo towards the ISS by successfully relaunching a booster that had already been to the station.

From new beginnings we move to a spectacular mission that will be coming to a close soon with the latest findings about Enceladus from Cassini. The liquid plumes escaping through the moon’s icy shell have now been shown to contain molecular hydrogen (H2), generating increased questions about the possibility of organic matter in the hidden oceans. Meanwhile, similar plumes have been spotted on Europa using data from the Hubble Space Telescope which, while not yet able to be analyzed for chemical content, makes us wonder all the more if we just might not be truly alone even in our solar system, even if our only non-terrestrial neighbors would be microorganisms. Continuing with the search for potential habitability outside Earth, we begin our dive into this year’s Northeast Astronomy Forum with the search for exoplanets in the “Goldilocks” zone and the work of MIT planetary scientist and astrophysicist Sara Seager, her team, and the citizen scientists of planethunters.org. Planet hunting is hardly the only way amateur enthusiasts can contribute, though, and astrophotography is not only an area where amateurs can contribute significantly to scientific knowledge but can even make you a different sort of professional. Robert Reeves is just a guy with a camera who fell in love with imaging the moon decades ago and is now known as one of its best portrait-takers. We share a few of his tips and tricks and encourage you to take a look around the internet for his images. While we ramp up to this year’s main astronomical event for America, the total solar eclipse in August, our friend Alex Shimp brings us more about the talk by Joe Rao, FiOS1 meteorologist, on his experiences with eclipses. Swinging back around to launches, we finish up NEAF by discussing the latest news from United Launch Alliance about their commercial crew plans and the designs they are currently working with for these new systems. Finally, we check in with our own Mark Ratterman on what it’s like to volunteer with a FIRST Robotics team on their way to the championships to bring this super-sized season premiere to a feel-good close.

Show recorded 4-15-2017

Host: Sawyer Rosenstein

Panelists: Gene Mikulka, Mark Ratterman, Kat Robison, Alex Shimp, and Kassy Tamanini

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We begin this episode with an ending, as Rosetta joined its companion, Philae, on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko on September 30, with confirmation arriving at mission control in Darmstadt at 11:19 UTC. This is hardly a time for mourning, but rather the celebration of an ambitious mission accomplished and still more data to learn from. While we await those studies we invite you to check out the latest installment of Rosetta’s cartoon and the short film Ambition.

Meanwhile, back in the States, Orbital ATK was preparing to return the Antares to flight. Carrying their Cygnus cargo ship full of supplies headed to the International Space Station, this launch has been plagued by storms in the Atlantic and other delays, and our own Gene Mikulka headed down early to keep an eye on the process and discusses what this launch means for the launch facility, the area around it, as well as for Orbital ATK and NASA.

Speaking of recovering from mishaps, this brings us down to the Kennedy Space Center and the investigation of what happened with SpaceX’ AMOS-6. Was it the second stage helium tank… or could it have been sabotage? The Washington Post reports that an official from SpaceX wanted to investigate the roof of a United Launch Alliance building known as the SMARF. We discuss the rumors, innuendo, known facts, and when there might be some concrete answers that will allow SpaceX to prepare for future launches safely. Looking further ahead, how will this incident affect the larger space industry?

Looking still further ahead, we begin our coverage of the 67th International Astronautical Congress with a breakdown of Elon Musk’s presentation, Making Humans an Interplanetary Species with insights from in the room by Kat Robison and Kassy Tamanini. Is Musk’s plan to not only have SpaceX be the first to land on Mars but to move 100 people at a time to the red planet realistic? From the details he revealed (and didn’t) to the way the event was managed, we’ve got plenty to comment on.

An image was inserted here. To view it, visit http://talkingspaceonline.com.

Show recorded 10-10-2016

Host: Sawyer Rosenstein

Panelists: Gene Mikulka, Mark Ratterman, Kat Robison, Kassy Tamanini

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On our own return to flight episode, we discuss several upcoming events ; NASA’s Osiris Rex, a sample return mission to the asteroid Bennu is scheduled for launch on 8 September 2016. The team looks at the mission objectives and the unique configuration of the United Launch Alliance (ULA)  AtlasV carrying the spacecraft. SpaceX too is making news with two upcoming commercial launches out of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. OrbitalATK is also returning it’s Antares booster to flight next month launching the Cygnus cargo craft from the Mid Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA Wallops.  We also explore a SpaceNews piece indicating that the USAF awarded two National Reconnaissance Office Launch Contracts for the DeltaIV rocket in 2020 and 2023 with SpaceX mysteriously not even filing a protest.

The NASA Advisory Council met during the final week of July and issued a warning concerning the Commercial Crew Program and the dangers of the program falling behind schedule. It may impact US ISS crew access. We also explore completely the recent Government Accounting Office Report on NASA’s Space Launch System and Orion Exploration Vehicle, criticizing budget estimates and schedule.

Don’t forget about the Upcoming Pleiades Meteor Shower, peaking on August 11th and 12th If you are inclined, take a look at a Kickstarter project  to help restore the observatory at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff Arizona  where Clyde Tombaugh discovered the dwarf planet Pluto.

Show Recorded 08-08-2016

Host: Sawyer Rosenstein

Panel Members: Gene Mikulka and Mark Ratterman
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In a departure from our usual fare of space news and policy, this week we took some time to contemplate the skies. Danielle Adams, a doctoral candidate at The University of Arizona in the School of Middle East and North African Studies with a minor in the School of Anthropology stopped by to discuss her current project with us. Two Deserts, One Sky is a project in cultural astronomy connecting the present day desert sky in Arizona across time to the desert skies observed by Arab cultures between the 9th and 12th centuries CE. Danielle weaves the stories recorded by these past cultures in with instructions on how to view the asterisms in the night sky with naked eye observing. In this episode, we speak with Danielle both about Two Deserts, One Sky and how her interest in astronomy and Arab culture led her to the pursuit of this project. 

 

We often speak about the importance of NASA in the community on our show, and this episode provided us with an opportunity to showcase how NASA supports not only those in the STEM fields, but important social science research as well. Two Deserts, One Sky is funded as an outreach project by NASA through the Arizona Space Grant Consortium, along with The University of Arizona’s School of Middle East and North African Studies and the School of Anthropology.

Show Recorded 2-29-16

Host this week: Kassy Tamanini

Special Guest: Danielle Addams 

Panel Members: Gene Mikulka and Kat Robison

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