The Cassini Mission to Saturn

pia03883-nohuygensThe Cassini mission to Saturn launched 20 years ago, on October 15, 1997.  It took seven years to reach Saturn, and has been orbiting and intensely studying Saturn ever since…until last week when the mission ended in a final dive into Saturn’s atmosphere.  The mission studied Saturn, its famous rings, and its many moons using a suite of instruments that observed a broad range of wavelengths from ultraviolet, to visible, infrared, and radio as well as examining dust, charged particles, and magnetic fields.  It also delivered the Huygens probe that descended through the atmosphere of Saturn’s giant moon, Titan.

In this edition of How on earth, we have two scientists from the Cassini mission team.  Dr. Larry Esposito is a Professor at the Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences department at the University of Colorado at Boulder and member of the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at CU.  Dr. Carly Howett is a planetary scientist and manager at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder.  They share with us some of the science from Cassini-Huygens and experiences working on such a long-term and successful space mission.

Host / Producer / Engineer: Joel Parker
Additional Contributions: Beth Bennett, Shelley Schlender
Executive Producer: Alejandro Soto

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The Rosetta Mission

rosetta_descent_smallRosetta [feature starts at 5:27]
The Rosetta Space Mission has been in flight for ever 12 years and will be ending with a dramatic crash this Friday morning around 10:40 UT (4:40 am Mountain time) – it’s an event that will be watched and talked about by people around the world.

Rosetta is run by the European Space Agency, with contributions from NASA. The mission’s goals have been to study a comet to learn not only about how comets work, but what comets can tell us about the origins of the solar system, and perhaps connections to water and life. Rosetta was the first spacecraft to orbit and escort a comet as the comet approached and flew past the Sun, and Rosetta also carried a smaller spacecraft, named Philae, that performed the first landing on a comet.

The Rosetta mission has a very strong Colorado connection, since one of the instruments – an ultraviolet spectrograph called “Alice” – was operated from the offices of Southwest Research Institute right here in Boulder.We have three members of the Rosetta team here in the studio to talk about Rosetta, comets, and the rather exciting ending planned for the spacecraft in just a few days. Our guests are Andrew Steffl from Southwest Research Institute, John Pineau from Stellar Solutions, and John Noonan who is a recent astronomy graduate from the University of Colorado and is working at Southwest Research Institute.

There’s more information on the Rosetta Blog about how to follow the final events of the Rosetta mission.

Hosts: Joel Parker, Alejandro Soto
Producer and Engineer: Joel Parker
Executive Producer: Susan Moran
Additional Contributions: Beth Bennett, Shelley Schlender

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CU Medical Professor Shares Love of Science


CU Medical Professor John Cohen. Image courtesy of John Cohen.

This week we’ll feature CU Medical School Immunologist John Cohen, who has just received the American Association for the Advancement of Science top award for promoting public understanding of Science.  In addition to teaching at the Medical School, Cohen is the founder of Mini Med and the lead “disorganizer” of the Denver Cafe Sci.  We’ll also talk with Emory University researcher Zixu Mao about a new link between Parkinson’s disease and the health of the mitochondria within a cell, and we’ll hear from BBC Science in Action about some top choices in Europe for new Astronomy pursuits.

Hosts: Joel Parker, Susan Moran

Producer: Shelley Schlender

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How On Earth is produced by a small group of volunteers at the studios of KGNU, an independent community radio station in the Boulder-Denver metro area. KGNU is supported by the generosity and efforts of community members like you. Visit kgnu.org to learn more.

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