There’s a lot going on up there. Join space reporter Brendan Byrne each week as he explores space exploration. From efforts to launch humans into deep space, to the probes exploring our solar system, Are We There Yet? brings you the latest in news from the space beat. Listen to interviews with astronauts, engineers and visionaries as humanity takes its next giant leap exploring our universe.
We’re Going To Venus
NASA selected two missions to head to Venus by the end of the 2020s. VERITAS and DAVINCI+ will be the first U.S. mission to Venus in more than three decades.
So why study Venus? The surface of the planet is hell. It’s very hot and has a super dense atmosphere, but it once was similar to Earth. Scientists hope that understanding what happened to Venus’ atmosphere could shed light on how our planet formed and serve as a cautionary tale to what could happen to our own Planet.
To discuss the two missions, we’ll speak with two Venus experts. First, Paul Byrne, a planetary geologist and associate professor at NC State University about the intrigue and inquiry at our closest planetary neighbor, and what we might learn about this hellish place.
Then, we’ll speak with Darby Dyar, a professor of astronomy at Mount Holyoke College and deputy principal investigator for VERITAS about plans to map the surface of Venus and how these findings might help find planets much like our own outside our solar system.
Bringing Mars To Earth
NASA’s Perseverance rover is sending back some of the clearest and most dramatic images of the Martian surface ever. It landed earlier this year, and since then has been beaming back detailed panoramics, up close images, even sound and video of one of our closest celestial neighbors.
We wanted to bring these images to our listeners, so last month we hosted an event at the Dr. Phillip Center for the Performing Arts here in Orlando. It was called “Bringing Mars to Earth” and aimed to show off these great images and videos of the planet — and a look at what scientists hope to uncover when Percy starts beaming back science data.
This week, we’ve got a portion of that event here for you on this show. So join WMFE’s Brendan Byrne and a panel of expert scientists as we bring Mars to Earth.
* University of Central Florida planetary scientist Addie Dove
* Seminole State College planetarium director Derek Demeter
* Integration engineer and science communicator Joan Melendez Misner.
View the images from the event here.
Decade of Discovery & Dating Stars
Every 10 years, NASA tasks the science community to chart the course for the next decade of discovery and exploration. University of Florida’s Rob Ferl is co-chairing the next decadal survey looking at biological and physical science research. As NASA and other agencies push forward looking for signs of life in our universe, what’s the path ahead? We’ll speak with Ferl about the process and the trajectory of discovery.
Then, how can you tell the age of stars? Turns out, it’s really difficult. But researchers at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University are hoping to shed some light on a star’s age by watching how fast they spin. Physics chair and researcher Terry Oswalt joins the show to talk about the technique used to date a star and how searching the night sky for double-star systems could hold the key to determining their age.
The Next Space Telescope Will Peer Deep Into The Universe. Scientists Can’t Wait To See What It Sees.
The next space-based telescope is almost ready to head into orbit. The James Webb Space Telescope aims to look deeper into the history of the universe, piggy-backing off the incredible observations of the Hubble Space Telescope.
It’s undergoing final tests before getting packed away for shipment to French Guiana, ahead of a launch currently slated for Halloween.
The massive telescope made with 18 mirrors and a sun shield the size of a tennis court will peer deeper into space than ever before, capturing photons in the infrared from the dawn of our universe.
We’ll speak with NASA’s Lee Feinberg, Optical Telescope Element Manager, about the mirrors and this last leg of testing before launching later this year.
Then, we’ll speak with our panel of University of Central Florida physicists about this next step in space-based observations and what’s ahead for the science community once it launches.
Interplanetary Helicopters & SOFIA’s New Eyes
NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter had a Wright Brothers moment on Mars after performing the first powered flight on another planet. It’s the first in many planned helicopter missions to other worlds. So what are engineers learning from the test? Mike Kinzel, a UCF assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the University of Central Florida, is working on NASA’s Dragonfly mission — a robotic helicopter heading to Saturn’s moon Titan — and joins the show to talk about lessons learned from Ingenuity.
Then, a flying telescope is getting a new pair of eyes. The SOFIA observatory is a telescope that flies into the stratosphere on a modified Boeing 747SP. It’s getting new detectors that allow it to study magnetic fields in distant galaxies four times faster than its current rate. So what does this mean for astronomy and the future of the observatory? Dr. Margaret Meixner, director of Sofia Science Mission Operations at the Universities Space Research Association joins the program for the latest.
NASA’s Moon Mission Hardware: SLS Arrives, SpaceX Wins Lunar Landing Contract
NASA’s next moon rocket has reached its final destination before launching from Kennedy Space Center. The massive 212-foot tall rocket will carry the Orion space capsule on an uncrewed mission around the moon and back, possibly launching at the end of this year.
NASA’s Charlie Blackwell-Thompson is the launch director for NASA’s Artemis program — the agency’s next moon shot. We caught up with Blackwell-Thompson at KSC last week and we’ll hear from her about this mission milestone and what’s ahead for the massive rocket.
Then, NASA awarded SpaceX a $2.9 billion contract to build the next moon lander for the Artemis program. The award didn’t come without controversy. The two other companies vying for a piece of the prize, including Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, filed a legal protest. So where does this leave NASA’s Human Landing System? Space business analyst and Main Engine Cutoff Host Anthony Colangelo brings us up to speed on the latest from the commercial space beat.
Wow!! After listening to this podcast everything just “clicked”. Now i am much more aware of what it takes to do these things and to make humans finally interplanetary.
This “space exploration” podcast has so far only talked about teaching, astronomy, Millennials, and sci-fi.