Episode 93: Will the Electric Sail Get Us to Deep Space? with Les Johnson

For more info on the podcast, please see our About page.

Feature Guest: Les Johnson

ED04'S LES JOHNSON IN HIS WORK ENVIRONMENT FOR USE ON THE ORGANIZATION'S WEBSITE

In our last conversation, Pekka Janhunen, inventor of the electric solar sail, joined Denise at The Star Spot to explain the science and engineering behind this advanced spacecraft propulsion technology. Now as we dive into Part 2, it’s time to ask, just how far into deep space will the electric sail take us and will it truly open up a path to the stars? To answer those questions, today we’re joined at The Star Spot by Les Johnson, Deputy Manager for NASA’s Advanced Concepts Office.

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Current in Space

Death from above. If an object from outer space is going to kill you, Tony tells you which one it’s likely to be. And did you know some stars are in a big hurry? Anuj explains the newly discovered phenomenon of runaway stars.

About Our Guest

Les Johnson is Deputy Manager for NASA’s Advanced Concepts Office at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. He is co-investigator of NASA’s Heliopause Electrostatic Rapid Transit System (HERTS), an electric-solar-sail study and development project. Johnson is also a science fiction author whose latest novel, Rescue Mode, describes the first human mission to Mars.

Links

NASA Advanced Concepts Office

Les Johnson’s Books on Amazon

The Electric Solar Wind Sail

Learn more about the electric solar wind sail at Spaceref.com

How to Listen to the Show

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The Star Spot is also broadcast on The Scope at Ryerson. The show airs every Tuesday and Sunday at 6:00PM Eastern Time. Listen live here

If you have interesting news and story ideas, as well as topics or potential interview guest, please send them to info@thestarspot.ca

Episode 92: Inventing the Electric Solar Sail, with Pekka Janhunen

For more info on the podcast, please see our About page.

Feature Guest: Pekka Janhunen

pekka

The electric solar wind sail, or electric sail for short, is an advanced spacecraft propulsion technology that just might revolutionize space travel, making deep-space exploration at high speeds a reality. Or not. To help us separate fact from fiction today our guest host Denise Fong is joined at the star spot by Dr. Pekka Janhunen, the inventor of the electric sail.

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Current in Space

Everyone knows Apollo 11 was the first spaceflight to land humans on the moon. But as Anuj helps us celebrate the 50th anniversary of Apollo 8, we remember why this mission changed everything. Kicking yourself for having missed that recent supernova explosion? Not to worry. Dave explains how some events in the cosmos get re-played over and over again. And can Mars look forward to its very own ring system? Tony explains.

About Our Guest

Dr. Pekka Janhunen is a space researcher at the Finnish Meteorological Institute. He received his PhD in theoretical physics from the University of Helsinki in 1994. Since then Dr. Janhunen has focused his research in various areas of planetary science. He is best known for his 2006 invention of the Electric Solar Wind Sail. This innovation took place at the Kumpula Space Centre, a collaboration between the Finnish Meteorological Institute,the Department of Physics of the University of Helsinki and the School of Electrical Engineering of Aalto University.

Links

Pekka Janhunen’s website

The Electric Solar Wind Sail

Learn more about the electric solar wind sail at Spaceref.com

How to Listen to the Show

LISTEN NOW OR DOWNLOAD
Subscribe for free with itunes
Use feedburner in your browser

The Star Spot is also broadcast on The Scope at Ryerson. The show airs every Tuesday and Sunday at 6:00PM Eastern Time. Listen live here

If you have interesting news and story ideas, as well as topics or potential interview guest, please send them to info@thestarspot.ca

Happy New Year and Thank you to The Star Spot Team

 

As you may have noticed we didn’t post an episode this past Sunday. Our team is taking a couple of weeks off over the holidays. Our next episode will take us into 2016 when it’s released on Sunday, January 9th. Stay tuned as the co-inventor of the electric solar sail tells us how this cutting edge technology promises to revolutionize space exploration.

I want to take a moment to thank The Star Spot team for the outstanding contributions they have each played in the growth of our show. Thank you to our fantastic news team, led by Anuj, Dave and Tony, to our producer Ying, our editor Vince and our outgoing social media director Chris. I also want to thank Jessica for being so supportive and providing a valuable link to the University of Toronto, and of course to Denise for contributing in so many special ways, from co-hosting episodes to writing news to reaching out to new and renowned guests.

I am pleased with how far our show has progressed, as exemplified by the recent broadcast of an episode on CBC that reached some 262,000 people. Next year we can look forward to our show hitting the AM dial when The Scope (Ryerson Radio) arrives on the airwaves, likely in March.

If you’d like to join The Star Spot team and work with us to raise public awareness and appreciation for the wonders of the universe and our place in it, contact us today.

Best regards and Happy New Year!

Justin

The Star Spot Episode 91: Monster Galaxies of the Early Universe, with Henry Joy McCracken

For more info on the podcast, please see our About page.

Feature Guest: Henry Joy McCracken

ESO’s VISTA survey telescope has spied a horde of previously hidden massive galaxies that existed when the Universe was in its infancy. By discovering and studying more of these galaxies than ever before, astronomers have for the first time found out exactly when such monster galaxies first appeared. The newly discovered massive galaxies are marked on this image of the UltraVISTA field.

Last month scientists announced the shocking discovery of 574 monster galaxies from the ancient universe. There are surprisingly many such giant galaxies, and they seem to appear more suddenly and earlier than astronomers predicted. How might this finding upend our understanding of galaxy and structure formation in the universe? To help us answer that question we’re joined by the discovery’s co-investigator Henry Joy McCracken.

This episode is dedicated to my wife Denise Fong, on our 6 month anniversary. Denise and I met at the 10th episode celebration of The Star Spot over 3 years ago. It has been a great pleasure to work with you Denise to grow our show and to further public education for astronomy, our common passion. – Justin

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Current in Space

Galaxies are alive! Tony explains what makes a galaxy’s heart throb. And Anuj explains how stars can go rogue.

About Our Guest

Henry Joy McCracken has worked as a researcher at the Institut d’Astrophysique de Paris in France since 2003. He received his masters from the University of Victoria and his PhD from the University of Durham. His interests include galaxy formation and evolution and the evolving relationship between dark matter and normal matter.

Links

Space.com: These Ancient Monster Galaxies Have Scientists Perplexed

ESO Science Release: The Birth of Monsters

How to Listen to the Show

LISTEN NOW OR DOWNLOAD
Subscribe for free with itunes
Use feedburner in your browser

The Star Spot is also broadcast on The Scope at Ryerson. The show airs every Tuesday and Sunday at 6:00PM Eastern Time. Listen live here

If you have interesting news and story ideas, as well as topics or potential interview guest, please send them to info@thestarspot.ca

Special Announcement: The Star Spot on CBC Radio 1

cbc1square

This week you can listen to The Star Spot on the CBC Radio!

Podcast Playlist on the Canadian Broadcast Corporation’s Radio 1 will be airing a fan favourite:

Episode 82: The First Female Private Space Explorer, with Anousheh Ansari

 

Listen live on Thursday, December 3rd at 11pm and/or Sunday, December 6th at 2pm

Podcast Playlist features the best in podcasting on CBC airwaves. Each weekly play of Podcast Playlist on CBC reaches over 262,000 new listeners.

To listen online click here to find your local online station

To find your local station on the radio dial click here

Episode 90: Discovering the Furthest Object in the Solar System, with Scott Sheppard

For more info on the podcast, please see our About page.

Feature Guest: Scott Sheppard

Shep2smallRecently astronomers discovered an object further than anything we’ve ever found in our solar system. This dwarf planet lies all the way out in the mysterious inner Oort Cloud. Today the object’s co-discoverer Scott Sheppard joins guest host Denise Fong here at The Star Spot, to reveal cutting edge findings from the unmapped edges of our solar system.

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Current in Space

Anuj introduces us to the CLASS telescope. Never heard of it? You will. And with everyone seemingly fascinated by Jupiter’s moon Europa, Tony asks what it would take to actually explore this intriguing world.

Scott Sheppard

Scott Sheppard is faculty member in the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism at the Carnegie Institution for Science. He received his PhD from the University of Hawaii. A Hubble Fellow, Sheppard is credited with the discovery of many small moons of the gas giant planets. He has also been part of teams that have discovered comets, asteroids and Kuiper belt objects.

Links

How to Listen to the Show
LISTEN NOW OR DOWNLOAD
Subscribe for free with itunes
Use feedburner in your browser

The Star Spot is also broadcast on The Scope at Ryerson. The show airs every Tuesday and Sunday at 6:00PM Eastern Time. Listen live here

If you have interesting news and story ideas, as well as topics or potential interview guest, please send them to info@thestarspot.ca

Episode 89: The Surprising Ubiquity of Ice in the Solar System and the Staggering Implications for Life, with David Paige

For more info on the podcast, please see our About page.

Feature Guest: David Paige

david1There was once a time when scientists believed that beyond the Earth there lied a largely dry, barren and inhospitable solar system. But now we think there is likely to be liquid water below the surface of Jupiter’s moons Ganymede and Europa, a warm salty ocean below the crust of Saturn’s moon Enceladus and recently NASA confirmed that ancient lakes once flowed on Mars.

As the solar system wettens, are we witnessing a paradigm shift with profound implications in our search for life. To help us answer that question today we’re joined at The Star Spot by the self-described “professional ice finder” David Paige.

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Current in Space

Did you know human beings are not the only life forms aboard the ISS. Anuj explains. Then Tony builds on last episode’s description of a Tatooine-like exoplanet by introducing another Star Wars fan favourite. It seems the Kepler space telescope has discovered an object that is been dubbed the “Death Star” for while it is no battle station it may be just as destructive to nearby planets.

David Paige

David Paige is Professor of Planetary Sciences at UCLA. He is Principal Investigator of the Diviner Lunar Radiometer Experiment, an instrument aboard NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter mission that is currently orbiting the Moon. He made headlines in 2012 for the discovery of water ice deposits and organic material on Mercury using data collected by the MESSENGER spacecraft. Paige is a world authority on water, ices and volatiles in the solar system.

Links

UCLA Professor David Paige – New Evidence for Water Ice on Mercury

UCLA researchers find evidence for water ice deposits and organic material on Mercury

David Paige on the Planetary Society website

23 Places We’ve Found Water in Our Solar System (popular mechanics)

How to Listen to the Show
LISTEN NOW OR DOWNLOAD
Subscribe for free with itunes
Use feedburner in your browser

The Star Spot is also broadcast on The Scope at Ryerson. The show airs every Tuesday and Sunday at 6:00PM Eastern Time. Listen live here

If you have interesting news and story ideas, as well as topics or potential interview guest, please send them to info@thestarspot.ca

Episode 88: Two’s Company: From Binary Stars to Binary Supermassive Black Holes, with Pawel Artymowicz

For more info on the podcast, please see our About page.

Feature Guest: Pawel Artymowicz

pawel2

Star Wars fans will be familiar with the planet Tatooine and its two suns. But as it turns out the majority of stars in the Milky Way galaxy live with a companion. And that’s led scientists to study how multiple star systems form and develop, and whether they can host habitable planets.

To help us understand the behaviour of binary star systems and the even more fascinating domain of supermassive binary black holes, the results of merging galaxies, today we’re joined at The Star Spot by Pawel Artymowicz

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Current in Space

Anuj shares new evidence that has pushed back the origin of life by hundreds of millions of years. Tony explains what measures scientists are using to predict the likelihood that newly discovered exoplanets are in fact habitable. Dave updates us on NASA’s big water on Mars discovery with new analysis which is leading us to believe the red planet was much warmer and wetter than we had thought. And The Star Spot goes to the movies… off to Mars to be exact as Denise reviews The Martian.

About Our Guest

Pawel Artymowicz is Professor of Physics and Astrophysics at the University of Toronto. He received his Undergraduate degree in Astronomy from the University of Warsaw and his PhD from the Nicolaus Copernicus Astronomical Center of the Polish Academy of Sciences. Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Toronto he was Associate Professor of Astronomy at the University of Stockholm in Sweden. He was the most cited astronomer in Stockholm from 1994 through to 2004. He has also worked as a Research Assistant at the Space Science Telescope Institute and the Lick Observatory in Santa Cruz, California.

Links

Pawel Artymowicz has kindly provided us links to his research in progress:

Accretion  of   gas  from  circumbinary  disks  onto  forming   binary  systems
Check out the resulting image

Pawel Artymowitch University Website

Binary black hole – Video Learning – WizScience.com

How to Listen to the Show
LISTEN NOW OR DOWNLOAD
Subscribe for free with itunes
Use feedburner in your browser

The Star Spot is also broadcast on The Scope at Ryerson. The show airs every Tuesday and Sunday at 6:00PM Eastern Time. Listen live here

If you have interesting news and story ideas, as well as topics or potential interview guest, please send them to info@thestarspot.ca

Episode 87: 147 Years of Astronomy Outreach, with Randy Attwood

For more info on the podcast, please see our About page.

Feature Guests: Randy Attwood

randy2Nearly a quarter of Americans confuse astronomy with astrology. And barely half know it takes the Earth a year to go around the Sun. Yes, you read that right. Clearly, we have a lot of work to do.

Today we’re joined at The Star Spot by Randy Attwood. He’s Executive Director of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. RASC has been engaged in astronomy education for nearly 150 years. He joins me at a live recording of The Star Spot on location in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.

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Current in Space

Evidence for flowing liquid water on Mars has never been found…until now. Then Anuj updates our coverage of what appears to be the discovery of an infant solar system. Finally Tony surveys the worlds of our solar system where we now believe water to exist, in one form or another.

About Our Guest

Randy Attwood is Executive Director of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada or RASC. He is the publisher of SkyNews, an astronomy periodical recently acquired by the society. Randy is a frequent guest commentator in the media, offering a thoughtful analysis of astronomy and space exploration news and events.

Links

Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC) website

How to Listen to the Show
LISTEN NOW OR DOWNLOAD
Subscribe for free with itunes
Use feedburner in your browser

The Star Spot is also broadcast on The Scope at Ryerson. The show airs every Tuesday and Sunday at 6:00PM Eastern Time. Listen live here

If you have interesting news and story ideas, as well as topics or potential interview guest, please send them to info@thestarspot.ca

Episode 86: When the Universe Began, with Wendy Freedman

For more info on the podcast, please see our About page.

Feature Guests: Wendy Freedman

wendy

A long long time ago in every place at once, all of this began. But when exactly did the universe begin? And how quickly did it expand into the structure we see around us? Those numbers are more difficult to nail down than we had thought, yet more critical to our understanding of the nature of the cosmos, of dark matter and dark energy, than we could have ever imagined. Today we’re joined at The Star Spot by cosmologist Wendy Freedman who recently stepped down after 12 years heading up the development of the Giant Magellan Telescope.

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Current in Space

Anuj wonders if magnetic worm holes will one day transport us to the far reaches of space. And with Pluto data analysis just getting underway, Tony provides the new targets for the New Horizons spacecraft.

About Our Guest

Wendy Freedman is Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Chicago. Among the world’s most influential astronomers, Freedman served as co-leader of the Hubble Space Telescope Key Project and is former director of the Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena, California. She served 12 years as chair of the Board of Directors for the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) Project, an optical telescope with a primary mirror 80 feet in diameter scheduled to begin operations in 2021. Freedman is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. She is a recipient of the 2009 Gruber Prize for Cosmology.

Links

Wendy Freedman, world-leading astronomer, joins UChicago faculty

This new telescope might show us the beginning of the universe (TED talk)

How to Listen to the Show
LISTEN NOW OR DOWNLOAD
Subscribe for free with itunes
Use feedburner in your browser

The Star Spot is also broadcast on The Scope at Ryerson. The show airs every Tuesday and Sunday at 6:00PM Eastern Time. Listen live here

If you have interesting news and story ideas, as well as topics or potential interview guest, please send them to info@thestarspot.ca