112: Cassini Family with Dr. Cable· Spacepod
Dr Morgan Cable returns to the show to chat about the end of the Cassini Mission. We find solace in the fact that there’s still a tiny bit of Cassini in orbit around Saturn. Dr. Cable also describes Cassini’s discovery of hydrogen, “the easiest food for a microbe to digest,” in Enceladus’ plumes.
110: 492 roughly hexagonal mirrors with Dr. Liu· Spacepod
Dr. Fengchuan Liu talks to us about an international project, the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT). He describes the telescope, it's many mirrors, and how he helps manage such a complex project.
109: To attack that darkness once again with Dr. Hunt· Spacepod
Dr. Cindy Hunt returns to the show to talk about the upcoming 100th anniversary of the 100 inch Hooker Telescope on Mount Wilson. She explains why this telescope looks like a battleship and tells us how it “completely upended our understanding of the universe”. Also: poetry!
108: End of mission blues with Dr. Storrie-Lombardi· Spacepod
Dr. Lisa Storrie-Lombardi returns to the show to discuss NuSTAR, Spitzer, and what it feels like to end a mission you’ve been working on for decades. Cassini’s Grand Finale has us reflecting on the upcoming demise of the Spitzer Space Telescope.
107: Loose rocks and soft bots with Dr. McMahon· Spacepod
Professor Jay McMahon stops by the show to explain the YORP effect and how it changes asteroid spins and shapes. He also describes his NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC) project that is investigating the use of soft robots to explore rubble-pile asteroids.
106: Sample the mantle with Dr. Peterson· Spacepod
Dr. Mary Peterson tells us about basaltic glasses from the Galápagos Islands, and why they might have originated deep within the Earth’s mantle. She also describes her lab work, which involves cool lab coats, security badges, and meticulous sorting of samples.
105: Tectonic fabric with Dr. Donnellan· Spacepod
Dr. Andrea Donnellan stops by the show to talk about GeoGateway, a website that combines different datasets to help geologists. She explains how rocks move like silly putty, and recounts the time a lone cloud masqueraded as tectonic motion. Bonus music at the end is “Glorious Dawn” by Colorpulse. Hear more rad science tunes at www.symphonyofscience.com.
104: Occultation vacation with Dr. Kramer· Spacepod
Dr. Emily Kramer stops by the show to try some tea and talk about her trip to South Africa to observe the next New Horizons target, 2014 MU69. She was one of several astronomers and planetary scientists who flew to other countries to watch this object pass in front of a star in the hopes of measuring its diameter.
103: Meteor showers and “broom stars” with Dr. Ye· Spacepod
Dr. Quan-Zhi Ye tries an unusual frappuccino and explains how meteor showers are related to comets. He tells the story of how he became interested in comets and asteroids, and fills us in on some of his recent research.
102: A thrilling tale of discovery with Dr. Christiansen· Spacepod
Dr. Jessie Christiansen returns to the show to talk about newly discovered exoplanets! She explains why this planetary system was devilishly difficult to observe with ground-based telescopes, and how one of the planets poses a puzzle.
101: The best geologist on Mars with Dr. Francis· Spacepod
Dr. Raymond Francis talks about a rock-vaporizing laser and the software that controls it. He describes how he and colleagues programmed a computer to make choices like a geologist would, allowing the Curiosity rover to do more science on Mars.
100: The gauntlet is thrown- explain the ammonia! with Dr. Ehlmann· Spacepod
Dr. Bethany Ehlmann returns to talk about Ceres. She tells us what certain types of silicates have in common with phyllo dough, and explains how traces of ammonia on Ceres hint at unusual history for this dwarf planet.
99: Photons from exoplanets with Dr. Meshkat· Spacepod
Dr. Tiffany Meshkat describes direct imaging of exoplanets, which astronomers have used to discover enormous, young planets. She also talks about WFIRST, a mission under development that would be able to find and characterize exoplanets.
98: A place on Earth as dry as Mars with Dr. Azua-Bustos· Spacepod
Dr. Armando Azua-Bustos talks about how he discovered the driest place on Earth— a region in the Atacama Desert not far from where he grew up. He explains how he collects and studies microbial life that live in these extremely dry regions.
97: If a glacier falls in a fjord… with Dr. Koppes· Spacepod
Dr. Michele Koppes stops by to talk about her glacier research on planet Earth. She describes how a melting glacier triggered a staggeringly large landslide in 2015, and how glaciers can match even humans in their ability to transform the landscape.
96: Vega, dust, and a giant inflatable bumblebee with Dr. Ciardi· Spacepod
Dr. David Ciardi talks about Vega, a bright star that’s “been a part of human lore forever.” Dr. Ciardi and his colleagues discovered that Vega has a nearby ring of dust, implying the presence of planets. He also describes an encounter with a giant inflatable bumblebee at Palomar Observatory.
95: Asteroid hunting software with John Dailey· Spacepod
John Dailey explains how he uses his software engineering skills to discover asteroids at IPAC/Caltech. He helps solve problems inherent to working with astronomical data, such as the challenge of reading in and out huge volumes of data from hard drives.
94: Seven hundred new craters on Mars with Dr. Daubar· Spacepod
Dr. Ingrid Daubar stops by to talk about HiRISE, a camera on a Mars-orbiting spacecraft that takes amazing images of the Martian surface. She explains how she uses these images to search for fresh craters, and how you (yes you!) suggest areas of the planet for this camera to image. (Correction to episode: Mars’ atmosphere is 0.6% that of Earth, not 6%)
93: Companionable Jupiters with Marta Bryan· Spacepod
Marta Bryan shares her new results on exoplanets! She explains how she tested a theory of hot jupiter formation, and how she figured out that planet rotation rates are likely set early on in the planet’s lifetime.