Dr. Kevin Walsh visits the show to talk about a new NASA mission that will launch later this year: OSIRIS REx! This spacecraft will visit an asteroid, grab a bit of surface material, and return the material to Earth for further study. Dr. Walsh talks about the mission and explains how you can help scientists pick the best place on the asteroid for the spacecraft to grab a sample.
Professor Erik Asphaug stops by the show to discuss AOSAT-1, a tiny spacecraft that will contain experiments to study the surface of asteroids. AOSAT-1 will rotate once every minute, creating a force inside that exactly mimics gravity on an asteroid. We discuss how AOSAT-1, a cubesat, is being designed and built, and how it may launched from the space station in a “cubesat cannon”.
Longtime listeners know I cannot get enough of New Horizons, the spacecraft that zipped by Pluto and Charon in 2015 and is now headed towards another distant object. Dr. Kimberly Ennico Smith, New Horizons deputy project scientist, stops by the show to talk about the new data currently being transmitted to Earth, what it’s like to work on this mission, and the violent past of Pluto’s moon Charon.
Dr. Alejandro Soto visits the show to talk about the different atmospheres found on planets and moons in our solar system. We talk about wind on Mars, the opening scene of The Martian, Pluto’s thin atmosphere, and what it is like on Saturn’s moon Titan.