Archive for the 'Planetary Science' 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 very special episode of Talking Space, with a new crew onboard the International Space Station, we go to Washington DC for the 2017 International Space Station Research and Development Conference, or ISSRDC. We learn all about the science happening on station, the future of the ISS, a look at the commercial partners, and some other topics you might not know had to do with ISS. We begin by talking with NASA astronaut and molecular biologist Dr. Kate Rubins about her time on station and her groundbreaking research on decoding genes in space. We also talk with the Principal Investigator for that project, Dr. Sarah Wallace, on what being able to work with DNA in space means for future space flight as well as right back here on Earth. Next, we listen in as students got to talk live with astronaut Jack Fischer onboard the ISS through ham radio and ARISS. Next, after our discussion last week about the merits of the National Space Council returning, we talk with a former member of the council, Courtney Stadd. Finally we take a look at Elon Musk's lunch keynote address and some major announcements regarding Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy, and future Mars exploration.

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

Show recorded 7-25-2017

Host: Sawyer Rosenstein

Panelist: Gene Mikulka with special guest interviews with Dr. Kate Rubins, Dr. Sarah Wallace, Courtney Stadd and quotes from Elon Musk

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On this episode of Talking Space, we recap a busy time for SpaceX, who completed their 3rd launch in less than 2 weeks with the launch of Intelsat 35e. In that time came the return of a SpaceX Dragon capsule from the ISS full of science. We then discuss the crew of the next Soyuz mission to the ISS passing their certification ahead of a launch at the end of the month. We also discuss a veteran astronaut, Julie Payette, who now has a new role in the Canadian government. We also go back to China where they recently encountered their 2nd failure in 3 launches, and this rocket was extra important, as you'll hear.

We then take a deep look at the revivial of the National Space Council and discuss what we think can be done and how to avoid errors made in previous iterations of the council. We then talk about the chairman of the council, Vice President Mike Pence, and his recent trip to the Kennedy Space Center, which was surprisingly more than just pomp and circumstance. We then stick with policy and look at a potential 6th branch of the US military involving space.

Lastly we look at plantary science and stunning images from NASA's Juno spacecraft around Jupiter and a look at an upcoming mission to Mercury called BepiColombo.

To view the images taken from Juno, visit http://missionjuno.swri.edu

Show recorded 7-12-2017

Host: Sawyer Rosenstein

Panelists: Gene Mikulka and Mark Ratterman

 

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On this episode of Talking Space, we discuss a "double header" launch weekend for SpaceX, although we learn not to  use that phrase around a certain panel member. We discuss the effort it took for an east and west coast Falcon 9 launch with two barge landings over one weekend and what it means for the company and the entire industry. We then discuss an Indian launch carrying along an impressive array of CubeSats, and look at what vehicles are taking up these smaller payloads and if there's a market for them. We then look at some sounding rocket launches out of New Mexico and one particularly stubborn one out of Wallops Island, Virginia. We then move onto a recent failure of a Chinese Long March 3B upper stage and look into what the cause might be and if we'll ever find out.

We then take a mid-year look at NASA and their latest plans for future exploration. We begin with the cutting of the Asteroid Recovery Mission (ARM) and whether this was a smart idea or if science is being missed out on as a result. We also look at claims that NASA may not be as focused on Mars as a priority destination, and discuss the competition from private companies also aiming to get to Mars and sooner. Lastly we discuss a major milestone in NASA's attempt to create a quieter Supersonic Transporter, called QueSST 

To see images of the "rocket landing" from the Spaceport America Cup, visit https://twitter.com/JRNationFan388/status/878652184765837312 

To help friend of the show Miles O'Brien fight cancer, visit https://www.classy.org/team/120130

Show recorded 6-26-2017

Host: Sawyer Rosenstein

Panelists: Gene Mikulka, Mark Ratterman, and Kat Robison

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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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This week we’re (mostly) back to our regular programming, kicking off with two of our favorite subjects – the launches and landings of International Space Station crews, and it’s a busy season of shift changes via Kazakhstan. Since our last regular episode, we saw the conclusions of Expeditions 48 and 49 with some beautiful landings and the beginning of Expedition 50, with an additional 3 crewmembers scheduled to launch next week. Peggy Whitson, legendary astronaut, commander, and current holder of the record for spaceflight time for women, will not only add another long-duration mission to her impressive list of accomplishments, but will resume command for Expedition 51.

In other launch news, China’s Long March 5 joined the list of successfully-launched heavy lift vehicles last week while Worldview 4’s Atlas 5 launch issues spread across the country to affect GOES-R. It’s not all bad news for United Launch Alliance and their workhorse rocket, though, as Orbital ATK announced they will use it to launch another Cygnus on an ISS cargo mission. This time, rather than using it as a backup, it is for the additional rocket power enabling Orbital ATK pack a bit more cargo into Cygnus. Meanwhile, their competition, SpaceX, is narrowing down their investigation of the anomaly that took out the AMOS-6 mission, and is still planning to return to flight this year.

Moving from launches to space itself, we turn to NASA Goddard for some celebration and investigation. The Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission (MMS) set yet another world record, this time for using GPS at the highest altitude. We also had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Noah Petro, also at NASA Goddard, about his background in lunar geology and the upcoming supermoon. Be sure to check out this cool visual! Finally, we close out this episode with a discussion of the successful failure of the ESA’s Schiaparelli lander.

Show recorded 11-07-2016

Host: Sawyer Rosenstein

Panelists: Kat Robison 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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This Past week, The Expedition 45 Crew on board the International Space Station had to contend with a bit of a power wrinkle that may require a spacewalk next year to repair. They also observed a moment of silence (as do we) for those lost in the Paris Terrorist Attacks. Preparations continue for the Cygnus OA4 Cargo craft at the same time, NASA further delays the announcing the winners of the second round of Commercial Resupply contracts.  NASA Administrator Charles Bolden continues to be adamant that NASA will not take a lead role in Europe’s “lunar village”. Does that leave the door open for Federal Aviation Administration? What happened to the Martian atmosphere, NASA’s MAVEN in orbit around Mars has found the answer. The Martian Moon, Phobos may become rubble, and Virgin Galactic hires its first woman pilot, Kelly Latimer..

Show recorded 11-16-2015

Host this week: Sawyer Rosenstein

Panel Members: Mark Ratterman, Kassy Tamanini & Gene Mikulka

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The International Space Station celebrated its “crystal anniversary” of occupation on November 2nd, marking 15 years that humans have been continuously on board the orbiting facility. The Expedition 45 Crew paused to reflect on the anniversary and what it means for the future of space exploration going forward. During an investor conference call, CEO David Thompson of Orbital ATK says his company is on track for the Cygnus cargo vehicle to return to flight.  NASA released its findings into the October 28th 2014 Orbital ATK Antares launch mishap, we discuss the findings.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden says his agency is “doomed” if “Journey to Mars” roadmap is abandoned. The Cassini spacecraft captures a plume from Saturn’s Moon Enceladus while making an historic close flyby. Finally we profile the humble beginnings of the Paragon Space Development Corporation.  

 Show recorded 11-02-2015

Host this week: Sawyer Rosenstein,

Panel Members: Mark Ratterman, Kat Robison, Kassy Tamanini & Gene Mikulka

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So you want to be a Martian? On October 1st  NASA  held an event at the Kennedy Space Center to explain more about the agency's push to send the first humans to Mars and our own Mark Ratterman was there and provides insights. We highlight Two Deserts, One Sky a  project by Danielle Adams a doctoral candidate at the University of Arizona, and briefly discuss  new solar power technology.   United Launch Alliance (ULA) puts 100 successful  launches in the books sending Mexico's Morelos-3 communications satellite into orbit on into orbit on October 2nd. However as the company looks toward Launch 101, the joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing heads into uncharted territory and uncertain waters as a launch services provider. The team discusses.the challenges that lay ahead for the firm.  


On September 28 NASA announced the confirmation that brine water has at certain times, been collecting on the surface of Mars.  The initial report made on 4 August 2011 (which we discussed   on Episode 334 )  was confirmed with a NASA press conference  and the team examines the announcement itself, the reaction to the announcement  in some circles, and   the implications not only for NASA's planned human Mars exploration efforts, but for the future of human solar system exploration going forward.  


Host this week: Sawyer Rosenstein, 

Panel members:  Mark Ratterman, Kat Robison, Kassy Tamanini (CraftLass) & Gene Mikulka

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