Archive for the 'Astronomy' Category

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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This week we take a journey from the halls of Congress out through our solar system, and then journey out to a point 1.3 billion light years away from home. On February3rd, the Space Subcommittee of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology met to discuss the current status of NASA’s Journey to Mars, and how it may survive past the current presidential administration. We examine the winners and losers in the 2017 NASA budget proposal. NASA announces the Exploration Mission 1 Launch Director and we discuss the Cygnus OA-6 Mission launch delay.

The Year In Space increment on board the International Space Station is coming into the home stretch, while back on Earth, the primary mirror of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is completed.

European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission continues, but without the Philae lander that made landfall on Comet 67P in November. There has been no response from Philae since July and ESA has announced they will stop trying to contact the spacecraft. We discuss some of the highlights and lessons learned from this milestone mission.  NASA releases  a terrain map of Pluto’s ‘heart’ region, based on New Horizon’s spacecraft data , revealing a few big surprises.

The final story: the discovery of gravitational waves from the collision of two massive black holes. These waves reached our own planet this past September and were detected by the freshly-upgraded advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO), providing the first proof of parts of Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity. What does this mean and why is it so exciting? We break it down for you

The LIGO comic by Talcott Starr discussed in the episode can be found here and make sure to give it a like if you enjoy it.

Host: Sawyer Rosenstein

Panelists: Kat Robison and Kassy Tamanini



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This season premiere kicks off with a look at the past, starting with the NASA tragedies that still loom large today, particularly with the 30th anniversary of STS-51L last week. Moving a bit closer to the present, we go over some of the most notable stories of 2015 and discuss what they might mean for the future, from the dazzling images of Pluto from New Horizons to the (sometimes literal) highs and lows of commercial spaceflight. Over our hiatus, SpaceX in particular had some major accomplishments as well as another attempt to land on their ocean barge, Of Course I Still Love You (OCISLY), to learn from, and we speculate on what this could mean for their future. Meanwhile, the omnibus spending bill for 2016 passed and was signed into law, and for once there was a lot of good news for NASA. We delve into some of the details, how this happened, and what this means for NASA missions and the American space industry moving forward. This brought us into this year and the extraordinary efforts by the team building and testing the James Webb Space Telescope a couple of weeks ago.

Also in January, our own Kassy Tamanini and her partner and special guest John Wood were among the first to participate in a Meteorite Hunting Boot Camp, led by good friend of the show and past guest Geoff Notkin. Love meteorites and always wanted to know the nitty gritty details of the experience? These neophytes share what they learned, how it felt, and what it’s like to visit your first strewn field. If this convinces you to try it yourself, you can sign up for the next Boot Camp, coming up this May (spaces are running out quickly, though, so get on it or sign up for Aerolite emails to learn about future events, and don’t forget to tell them we sent you).

 

Show recorded 2-1-2016

Host this week: Sawyer Rosenstein,

Panel Members: Kassy Tamanini, Kat Robison, and special guest John Wood

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 There's a new "Ironman" in space flight: Current Space Station commander,  astronaut Scott Kelly , broke the US space endurance record recently and is gearing up for two upcoming US spacewalks on October 28th and November 6.  


We open the strange case of star KIC8462852 some 1480 light years away in the constellation Cygnus the Swan that's is behaving in a weird manner. The conclusion: Aliens? You be the judge. A swan of a different feather: the  Cygnus, cargo space craft built  by OrbitalATK arrived at the Kennedy Space Center  in preparation of the OA-4 mission and its return to flight. We also discuss return to flight efforts by SpaceX and Virgin Galactic  and examine the implications surrounding NASA's Venture Class CubeSat launch contracts recently announced.  


Mark Ratterman sat down with former NASA astronaut Nicole Stott to discuss her start in aviation and Kat Robison gives us a sneak peak at her experiences at the International Astronautical Conference  held in Jerusalem, Israel. 


Finally we celebrate the life of  a legendary figure in spaceflight who's contributions still reverberate though the years even today: NASA's George Mueller who we lost on 12 October. 


Presenters this week: Kassy Tamanini & Gene Mikulka

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We kick off  the show with congratulations, an upcoming celestial event, and follow ups to two previous stories. First an update to  rocket engine manufacturer Aerojet Rocketdyne's attempt to purchase launch provider United Launch Alliance.   We report on the preliminary results from the Ardbeg distillery experiment that flew to the International Space Station.  We send congratulations to NASA's five new flight directors including a name that the audience may recognize. So is the world going to end this week? Umm, no but we do have a an upcoming Lunar Eclipse  on September 27 for the Western Hemisphere,  Europe,  most of Africa, and parts of Asia to enjoy, local weather permitting! NASA TV will provide coverage starting 8:00 PM EDT on Sunday 27 September, Midnight GMT September 28.

NASA last week gave a status report on the progress of the Orion spacecraft, a linchpin in NASA's human space exploration effort,  with a probable delay with  the first piloted flight. The team examines  the implications. The NASA Inspector General's Office released a report which casts some doubt on OrbitalATK's recover plan to resume cargo flights to the International Space Station. We shed some light of our own on the implied difficulties.  Launch provider Blue Origin has decided to call Launch Complex 36 at Cape Canaveral Air Force station home, not just to launch rockets  but to build and test it's vehicles. We consider what this means for commercial space and the economy of Florida.

Show recorded 9/21/2015

Host this week: Sawyer Rosenstein, Panel members: Gene Mikulka, Mark Ratterman, and Kassy Tamanini (CraftLass)

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