Sky Guys: A Fall Astronomical Update

Sep 28, 2016

Our Sky Guys are back to help digest the events of a wild few weeks in space science, including NASA's announcement of explosive plumes of icy water on Jupiter's moon Europa.  The explosion of a SpaceX rocket snarls outer-orbit transportation schedules and yet, SpaceX  founder Elon Musk unveils a plan to get humans to Mars within a decade.   And a Kickstarter campaign aims to re-issue Carl Sagan's 1977  Golden Record in an effort to communicate with life outside our solar system.


GUESTS:

  • Mal Cameron - former astronomy and space educator at the McAuliffe Shepard Discovery Center and coordinator of its NASA Educator Resource Center.
  • John Gianforte – co-founder of the "Astronomical Society" of northern New England and astronomy instructor for Granite State College and UNH.

LINKS & VIDEOS:

 

Follow ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft as it makes a controlled descent to the comet’s surface. 

 

Watch NASA's Asteroid Redirect video:

Watch the SpaceX video:

The Sky Guys explored the ramifications of the SpaceX Rocket explosion, covered by the New York Times.  Elon Musk, the powerhouse investor behind this program, has a lot left to prove, said John Gianforte. But Musk's ambition to travel to Mars in as few as 10 to 20 years is astounding, he said, and might be just what we need right now. 

We need to inspire our young students, we need to inspire ourselves. It's much better to spend money exploring other world than it is trying to invent bigger rocks to throw at each other.

Listener Steve from Nottingham asked the question many other listeners had on their minds: 

Why not go back to the moon? That was one of the great points of my life, when we landed there.

Gianforte agreed, and said that there are many advantages to using the moon as a testing site for future explorations of space. 

You could store fuel there. Getting on and off the moon is relatively simple because its gravity is so much less than the gravity of earth...you could possibly have an assembly area on the moon [though] the infrastructure to develop that is costly.

In other news, there is a Kickstarter campaign to reissue the Golden Record, a recording of sounds from earth launched with the Voyager missions in 1977, fueled by Carl Sagan. Mal Cameron described Sagan's ambition here:

[Carl Sagan] was a very humanist person, and wanted to say 'if we're sending space craft out there...if anyone happens to come across this spacecraft...let them know this is who we are.'

We asked listeners what they would want to include on the updated Golden Record. Roger, by email, said, "I'd [add] a new recording: Lessons learned on global environmental protection since the 70s."  And Jack said: "Most Earth people in 2016 wouldn't be able to play a golden record."

Whether or not there will be a new Golden Record, humans are still just as curious and excited about space as they were decades ago. 

Here is a picture of Laura with our favorite Sky Guys, sporting astronomical fashion:

Mal, on the left, and John, with Laura.