Space

FlyingSinger via Flickr Creative Commons

For a long time, outer space was conceptually  and legally a no-man’s land – that changed on October 4th, 1967 when the Soviet Union launched a satellite called Sputnik into Earth’s orbit, triggering an international space race and calls for internationally binding laws to govern  space exploration.  Last amended in 1979, the outer space treaty drafted in 1967 facilitated smooth, peaceful interactions between nations capable of probing space.  As the prospect of civilian space travel and settlement appears more accessible, international space law may be in need of revision. Joining us to discuss the field is Michael Listner, President of the International Space Safety Foundation.

Leo Reynolds via flickr Creative Commons

All of the pleasure, none of the guilt. Our Saturday show gets you caught up, in a convenient snack pack size. This week….A video game attempts to replicate the experience of autism; spying in space with the help of spectroscopy; a look back to when Peyton Place was in its heyday, almost 60 years ago; the delicious and sweet tradition of capturing maple syrup; making music by “playing” a tower; and a musician gives a private concert in Studio D, then talks about teenage inspiration and her love of pie.

Project 1640 via amnh.org

The existence of planets outside our solar system was first confirmed in 1992. Since then, nearly 900 extra solar planets have been identified, with NASA’s Keppler Mission detecting more than 18,000 potential planets, including 262 in the so-called “Goldilocks Zone,” or habitable range from the stars they orbit. Now, the American Museum of Natural History is breaking new ground in the observation of far-distant planets using high-tech spectroscopy and software for Project 1640.

Leo Reynolds via Flickr Creative Commons

Word of Mouth's weekly show that wraps up the best of our content in one great-to-listen-to package.

Five Reasons NOT to Take That Trip to Mars

Jan 15, 2013
Urban Don via Flickr Creative Commons

From the imagination of Ray Bradbury to the front pages of our newspapers, the prospect of traversing vast reaches of space and seeing Mars firsthand has long inhabited and excited the idealistic public consciousness. However, our recent talk with psychiatrist Mathias Basner revealed that the odyssey comes with a number of physiological costs. Here are some of the most prominent known bodily effects of long-term space travel:

1. “Puffy Face Syndrome”

If you think it’s difficult to get enough sleep in an age of 24 hours news cycles and the allure of Facebook surfing, consider how hard it must be without the sun…or gravity. The first of many studies on the Mars500 Project have been released, and it documented the sleeping habits of five men isolated on earth for 520 days.

Five Cinematic Reasons Not to Go Mars

Jan 10, 2013

Our conversation today about our genetic wanderlust got us thinking about the interstellar urge to roam. Luckily, the Dutch-based Mars One is planning the first human trip to Mars in 2023. If you have ten years to spare—and are resilient, adaptable, trusting, curious, creative, and resourceful—you may be the ideal candidate. Before you rush to fill out your application, consider these cinematic warnings about space travel. Because everything that can go wrong in outer space, will go wrong. Yeah, Murphy's Law is intergalactic.

Inspired Lives: Jerry Carr

Aug 22, 2012
NASA

As part of our series Inspired Lives, we’ve hearing this summer from notable people who have taken inspiration from their time in New England. This week, we’re hearing from a New Englander who took his inspiration from the skies- astronaut Jerry Carr.  A childhood fascination with airplanes led to a career as a military pilot, and then eventually, as the commander for Skylab 4, the third and final manned visit to the orbiting workshop. Skylab, the longest flight in history of space exploration completing 1,214 revolutions of the Earth, launched November 16, 1973 and ended February 8, 1974.

Photo Credit Brian Kellett via Flickr Cretive Commons

Three mice have returned home from ninety-one days aboard the international space station. The trip was the longest in space for any animal besides humans. Jessica Hamzelou wrote about what these intrepid space mice reveal about how space travel and zero gravity affect physiology for New Scientist Magazine and joins us now to go over the results.

courtesy Louis Broad, via UNH Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans and Space

Time to add another page in the history of space exploration in New Hampshire. This week a team of high school students taking part in the Project SMART summer program at UNH sent a small craft 105,700 feet into the air – that’s over 20 miles up. And it came back down to Earth without a parachute.

Astronomy is one of those fields where it just doesn’t pay to procrastinate. The last time Earthlings could spot the planet Venus crossing the yellow disk of the sun was in 2004. But if you don’t take a look this time around, here’s when you’ll get your next opportunity: December 10th of 2117.

Tonight is a good night for a meteor shower. The Lyrids aren't known for their flashy shows, but this year they're getting help from a new moon.

The dark skies will be "ideal for meteor watching from the ground," NASA says.

Kelly Beatty, senior contributing editor for Sky and Telescope magazine, tells Weekend Edition host Scott Simon the best views are from the darkest places.

Seattle's Space Needle turns 50 on Saturday. Originally built as a tourist attraction for the city's 1962 World's Fair, the structure was meant to evoke the future. Now the future is here, and the Needle has become the city's favorite antique.

Peter Steinbrueck traces the tower's lineage to an abstract sculpture that sits in his office. Steinbrueck is an architect and former City Council member, and the sculpture used to belong to his father, Victor, also an architect.

On Tuesday morning, space shuttle Discovery will become the first of NASA's three shuttles — plus a shuttle prototype — to travel to its new retirement home.

NASA flew its last shuttle flight in July. Since then, it's been prepping the spaceships to become museum displays. And even though the shuttles are headed to places like Los Angeles and New York rather than the space station, figuring out how to get them there has still been a major undertaking.

Team Astrobotic

Space – a private frontier…

With the shuttle program behind us, companies and enterprising college students are today’s celestial pioneers. Their mission?  To seek out new ways of launching into orbit on a shoe-string budget. 

Everybody knows that there's just one moon orbiting the Earth. But a new study by an international team of astronomers concludes that everybody is dead wrong about that.

"At any time, there are one or two 1-meter diameter asteroids in orbit around the Earth," says Robert Jedicke, an astronomer at the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii.

There's a small spacecraft called Messenger that's been orbiting the planet Mercury for a year. Today, at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Houston, astronomers revealed what they've learned about the innermost planet in our solar system, and some of the new knowledge is puzzling.

Maria Zuber, a planetary scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, studied a large crater 900 miles across called Caloris.

Russia was once the world leader in space exploration, but its space program has suffered a string of costly and embarrassing mishaps over the past year.

NASA says Russia is still a trustworthy partner, but critics say the once-proud program is corrupt and mismanaged — good at producing excuses, but not results.

The Memorial Space Museum in Moscow showcases the achievements of the Soviet Union's space program.

Every so often, pieces of heaven crash into Earth.

They can come from our own solar system, or millions of light years away. Few of us are lucky enough to get our hands on one of these space rocks. But for meteorite hunters and dealers such as Ruben Garcia, touching a piece of outer space is a daily routine.

The Best Hunting Grounds

One of Garcia's favorite spots to go meteorite hunting is an enormous dry lake bed in southern Arizona.

After decades of global dominance, America's space shuttle program ended last summer while countries like Russia, China and India continue to advance their programs. But astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, author of the new book Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier, says America's space program is at a critical moment. He thinks it's time for America to invest heavily in space exploration and research.

<a href="http://www.johnherman.org/2012/02/21/send-john-herman-to-space/" target="blank">Roger Goun</a> via Flickr/CC

Ask people who know John Herman of Newmarket and they’ll tell you he keeps really busy –plays, meetups, video blogs, improv comedy, music… He’s basically everywhere at once, but there’s one place even John Herman hasn’t gone (yet): space.

That may change, as John is one of 20 semifinalists in the Space Race 2012 contest; the winner goes into sub-orbital flight on a trip with a commercial spaceflight company.

Every 10 years, about two dozen of this country's top astronomers and astrophysicists get together under the auspices of the National Research Council and make a wish list. The list has on it the new telescopes these astronomers would most like to see built. At the last gathering, they said, in essence, "We most want the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope."

Here's why. A synoptic survey is a comprehensive map of every square inch of the night sky. The Large Synoptic Survey — LSST — will do that multiple times.

Roger Boisjoly was a booster rocket engineer at NASA contractor Morton Thiokol in Utah in January, 1986, when he and four colleagues became embroiled in the fatal decision to launch the Space Shuttle Challenger.

Boisjoly was also one of two confidential sources quoted by NPR three weeks later in the first detailed report about the Challenger launch decision, and the stiff resistance by Boisjoly and other Thiokol engineers.

Photo by, floridanaturephotography, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

The latest twist in the Obama administration’s so-called Asian pivot. The president’s chief science advisor, John Holdren, has said the US would benefit from cooperating with China on future space missions. But federal legislation now prohibits NASA from pursuing such efforts with a little known clause that’s popped up in two pieces of legislation within the past year.

Photo by: pareeerica

 

Space! The final frontier, an immense void populated by our imaginations and as far as we know, not much else.  Since the NASA shuttle program topped headlines for one last nostalgic time this summer, there have been few newsworthy developments in  space exploration… until now. Here to share some big news is freelance science journalist Lee Billings, who’s working on a book about the inter-galactic search for earth-like planets.

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