Episodes

Ep. 450: Inflatable Habitats  

In order to live in space, we'll need to live in a habitat that simulates the temperature, pressure and atmosphere of Earth. And one of the most interesting ideas for how to do this will be with inflatable habitats. In fact, there are a few habitats in the works right now, including one attached to the International Space Station.

Ep. 449: Robots in Space!  

When you think of a robot, you’re probably imagining some kind of human-shaped machine. And until now, the robotic spacecraft we’ve sent out into space to help us explore the Solar System look nothing like that. But that vision of robots is coming back, thanks to a few new robots in development by NASA and other groups.

Ep. 448: Prepping for the Eclipse  

On Monday, August 21, 2017, there’s going to be a total eclipse of the Sun, visible to path that goes right through the middle of the United States. You should be making plans to see this, and we’re here to help you know where to go and what to do.

Ep. 447: Animals in Space Pt. 3: Dogs, Monkeys and More  

For the final episode in our 3-part episode about animals in space, we look at the largest animals to go to orbit. And I’ll just warn you now, this is going to be a really sad episode.

Ep. 446: Animals in Space Pt. 2: Mice and Other Small Animals  

Last week we talked about how the smallest creatures behave in space, but now we move up in size a little to small animals, like mice. What missions have they flown on, and how does microgravity affect their biology?

Ep. 445: Animals in Space Pt. 1: Insects and Arachnids  

We've talked about animals traveling to space in the past, but it's time to take another look, with many other creatures making the trip to the void. Today we're going to talk about the spineless insects and arthropods, and those tough as nails waterbears – tardigrades.

Ep. 444: Fractals  

For this historic 444th episode of Astronomy Cast, we talk about fractals. Those amazing mathematical visualizations of recursive algorithms. What are they, how do you get them? Why are they important?

Ep. 443: Destroy and Rebuild Pt. 7: Tsunamis  

Surf’s up! Today we’re going to be talking about one of the most devastating natural disasters out there: tsunamis. We’re talking huge waves that wreck the seashore. But it turns out, there many ways you can get a tsunami, and one of those has to do with space.

Ep. 442: Destroy and Rebuild Pt. 6: Magnetic Pole Reversal  

If we look back into the geologic record of the Earth, it appears that our planet’s magnetic field flips polarity every few hundred thousand years or so. Why does this happen? When’s it supposed to happen next? Is it dangerous?

Ep. 441: Destroy and Rebuild, Pt. 5: Continental Drift  

Want to travel the world but you don’t have a lot of money? No problem, your continent is drifting across the surface of the Earth right now. In a few million years, you’ll reach your destination.

Ep. 440: Destroy and Rebuild, Pt. 4: Supervolcanoes!  

There are regular volcanoes, and then there are the supervolcanoes. Massive calderas of hot magma of incomprehensible size. Bad news, these things explode randomly and catastrophically. Worse news, there are a bunch around the Earth.

Ep. 439: Destroy and Rebuild, Pt. 3: How Do We Terraform Earth?  

We always want to talk about how we can make Mars more Earth like, but the reality is that we’re making Earth more Venus-Like. We’re Venusforming Earth. What are the various factors we’re impacting on a global scale, and how can we fix them?

Ep. 438: Destroy and Rebuild, Pt. 2: Geoengineering  

We know humans are having an impact on planet Earth, but what if we really put our backs into it, and intentionally tried to change the entire planet? Either to make it better, or to fix some terrible mistake we've made. The technique is called geoengineering. Could it work?

Ep. 437: Destroy and Rebuild, Pt. 1: The Torino Scale  

We love to destroy the universe, and also rebuild it. Today we begin a new series where we destroy and rebuild. Let's talk about some existential threats we face, and ways we could recover, starting with the sword of Damocles hanging over our head: killer asteroids!

Ep. 436: Common Misconceptions in Probability  

Human beings are bad at many things, but we're particularly terrible at understanding probability in a rational way. We underestimate, overestimate and generally mess up probability. We'll try to fix it here, but we'll surely fail.

Ep. 435: The Butterfly Effect  

Small changes can have a big impact. But can a butterfly’s wingbeat in the Amazon really impact the weather halfway across the world? And where do small changes have no impact?

Ep. 434: Am I On An Alien World?  

Once again, science fiction television and movies has let you down. They try to recreate what it might be like on an alien world, but surprise surprise, they mostly get it wrong. That’s because a truly alien world would be different in so many ways, it would blow your mind. Today we’ll help you figure out if you’re on a movie set, or you’ve actually crashlanded on an alien planet.

Ep. 433: Volcanoes on Mars  

Mars is a world of extremes. This unassuming red world is home to the largest and tallest volcanoes in the entire Solar System. In fact, it’s not even a close contest, with Olympus Mons rising 22 km above the surrounding plains, more than twice as tall as Mount Everest. How did Mars get such big volcanoes, and how active is the planet today?

Ep. 432: Geoglogic Ages of Mars - From Wet and Wild to Desolate Desert  

Today, Mars is a desolate wasteland, with dusty red rocks and sand stretching out to the horizon. But billions of years ago, it was a vastly different world. It was blue, with oceans, rivers, lakes, and maybe life? Let’s tell the story of geology on Mars, and we got from that world to the one we see today.

Ep. 431: The Search for Life on Mars  

Enceladus and Europa are all the rage these days, but classic Mars is still a great place to search for life. In fact, ESA’s ExoMars is scanning the planet’s atmosphere for methane, evidence that there might be life there right now. Let’s talk about the search for life on the Red Planet.

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