PUNCH-ing the Sun

whatpunchdoes

This image shows a background image of the Sun overlaid with outlines of the PUNCH Wide Field Imagers (WFIs) and the Narrow Field Imager (NFI) occulting the disk of the Sun.
(image credit: SwRI)

The PUNCH mission (starts at 8:05) NASA’s new mission to study the Sun is called PUNCH (Polarimeter to Unify the Corona and Heliosphere).  In this episode of How on Earth we talk with solar physicist Dr. Craig DeForest, the Principal Investigator of the PUNCH mission.  Dr. DeForest is a Program Director at the Boulder office of Southwest Research Institute, and he explains how PUNCH will use polarimetry to study the outer part of the solar atmosphere, the million-degree hot corona, and how it interacts and evolves into the solar wind.

Host, ProducerEngineer: Joel Parker
Additional Contributions: Beth Bennett, Shelley Schlender
Executive Producer
: Beth Bennett

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An Astronomical Journey with Michelle Thaller

616418main_M_Thaller-226This special edition of How on Earth is produced in conjunction with the Conference on World Affairs.  Our guest a participants of the Conference: Dr. Michelle Thaller, assistant director of science at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.  Her path has taken her from Harvard to Georgia State University to Caltech to NASA. Dr. Thaller has studied hot stars, colliding stellar winds, binary star evolution, evolved stellar companions, and infrared astronomy.  She is one of the regular hosts of the Discovery Science Channel shows: “How the Universe Works” and “Space’s Deepest Secrets” and hosts the podcast “Orbital Path” on public radio.

Host / Producer / Engineer /  Executive Producer: Joel Parker

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Chasing New Horizons, continued

51m+Ih4C2FL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_In 2015, the New Horizons Spacecraft flew past Pluto. Because Pluto is so far away, it took nearly 10 years of travel for the spacecraft to reach that distant dwarf planet — and that was after a decade of work to get the spacecraft to the launch pad. Planetary scientists Alan Stern and David Grinspoon have written a new book, called: “Chasing New Horizons: Inside the Epic First Mission to Pluto”. The book tells the story of developing and operating the New Horizon mission.

How on Earth’s own Joel Parker is also a scientist on the New Horizons mission, and he had a chance to chat with Alan and David about their book. Last week we heard the first part of this interview. In today’s show, we present Part 2 of that interview.  You can also listen to the full extended interview.

Host/Producer:  Alejandro Soto
Engineer:  Chip Grandits
Add’l Contributions/Executive Producer: Joel Parker

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Chasing New Horizons // GoldLab Symposium

Alan Stern David GrinspoonChasing New Horizons  (starts 1:00) brings the reader Inside the Epic First Mission to Pluto to  hear the details and meet the personalities behind building, launching, and flying this audacious mission.  How on Earth’s Joel Parker (also an astrophysicist on the New Horizons mission) speaks with authors and fellow scientists Alan Stern and David Grinspoon. (Booktalks at Boulder Bookstore and Tattered Cover). You can also listen to the full extended interview.

Larry GoldGoldLab Symposium (starts 13:00) This year’s symposium theme is Complexity:  The Intersections Between Health and Policy. Boulder Entrepreneur and symposium founder Larry Gold speaks with How on Earth’s Shelley Schlender about this year’s annual symposium that explores the frontiers of science and health with an eye toward ideas that will inspire even the greatest world expert, with an ear toward being understandable to anyone in the room.

Host/Producer/Engineer:  Shelley Schlender
Add’l Contributions/Executive Producer: Joel Parker

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Chasing New Horizons – full extended interview

51m+Ih4C2FL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_Here we provide the full interview by How on Earth’s Joel Parker of planetary scientists Dr. Alan Stern (Southwest Research Institute) and Dr. David Grinspoon (Planetary Science Institute), about their new book: “Chasing New Horizons: Inside the Epic First Mission to Pluto“. Their book describes the the story of Pluto and NASA’s New Horizons mission, bringing the reader backstage to hear the details and meet the personalities behind building, launching, and flying this audacious mission.

Excerpts of this interview were first broadcast on KGNU on May 15th and May 22nd.

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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 Alien Hunter & SETI

Contact cover-lrgToday’s show offers the following feature:
Extraterrestrial intelligence? (start time: 6:30): It’s mid-summer, a time when many of us like to spend leisurely time outside at night, gazing at the stars and planets, and asking the big existential questions, such as, Are we alone? Is there intelligent life waaay out there? Our guest today, science writer Sarah Scoles, has pondered these questions for several years. She discusses with hosts Susan Moran and Joel Parker her just-published biography, Making Contact: Jill Tarter and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. Tarter, an astronomer, directed the Center for SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Research. Carl Sagan’s 1985 novel Contact” illustrates Tarter’s astronomical work. In the 1997 movie Contact (stemming from Sagan’s novel) actor Jodi Foster played a character  who was loosely based on Tarter.

Hosts: Susan Moran, Joel Parker
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Joel Parker
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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Quantum Biology: Life on The Edge // Science and Art with Monica Aiello

lifeonedge

Quantum Biology: Life on the Edge

What do Enzymes and photosynthesis have in common?  Both are biological process that happen to rely on quantum mechanisims.  That’s right, particles tunnling through walls, shifting between particle and wave states: The weirdness of the quantum world isn’t as isolated as we once thought. This past summer Life on The Edge, a book about the frontiers of quantum biology was released to US audiences. How on Earth corespondent Kendra Krueger caught up with one of the authors Johnjoe Mcfadden to talk more about the book and the weird science of quantum biology.

 

Science and Art with Monica Aiello

nasa-artMonica Aiello is a visual artist who has worked with numerous scientific agencies to re-incorporate art into science.  She and her husband work closely with earth scientists and NASA mission scientists, including scientists involved in NASA’s Voyager, Galileo, Messenger and Magellan missions. Their collaboration with scientists doesn’t just inform their art work, but is also part of their community outreach programs.  Monica and Tyler Aiello’s work is featured in an upcoming exhibition called “Confluence” at the Space Gallery in Denver. Their work focuses on the Colorado River and the surrounding plateau.

Hosts: Susan Moran, Leslie Dodson
Producer: Kendra Krueger
Engineer: Kendra Krueger
Headline Contributors: Susan Moran, Beth Bennett
Executive Producer: Susan Moran

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Coral Climate Clues // Tropical Carbon Sink

On today’s show we offer three feature interviews, including a short opening interview.

martini

Credit: Russell Kane, Creative Commons

Alcohol and weight gain (starts at 3:34): Science journalist Jill Adams shares the latest science on the connection between alcohol and weight gain. The science is murky, as she states in her recent column in the Washington Post.

 

Scientists drilling a coral sample from Jarvis Island. Photo credit: Julia Cole

Scientists drilling a coral sample from Jarvis Island. Photo credit: Julia Cole

Climate Clues in Coral (starts at 9:02): Despite certain appearances and rumors to the contrary, global warming has not been on holiday for the past decade. But increases in temperature at the Earth’s surface have slowed down, prompting scientists to work hard to figure out why. It seems that a lot of heat that has been building up in our planet’s climate system due to greenhouse gas emissions has winded up deep in the Pacific Ocean. Why? Diane Thompson, a post-doctoral scientist at NCAR and lead author on a new study, discusses with HOE’s Tom Yulsman how a sample of coral from a remote atoll in the tropical Pacific revealed some important answers.

Tropical forest in the Serra do Mar Paranaense in Brazil. Photo credit: Deyvid Setti e Eloy Olindo Setti via Wikimedia Commons

Tropical forest in the Serra do Mar Paranaense in Brazil. Photo credit: Deyvid Setti e Eloy Olindo Setti via Wikimedia Commons

Tropic forests love CO2 (starts at 16:04) It’s been known for some time that tropical forests are not only rich in biodiversity, but they also absorb a lot of carbon dioxide that humans spew into the atmosphere.  But just how much greenhouse gases—namely CO2–these forests take up, say, compared with temperate and boreal forests, has been eluding researchers.  Britton Stephens, an atmospheric scientist at NCAR, discusses with HOE’s Susan Moran a new study he co-authored. It suggests that tropical forests may be absorbing far more CO2 than many scientists had previously thought.

Hosts: Susan Moran, Tom Yulsman
Producer: Susan Moran
Engineer: Shelley Schlender
Executive Producer: Kendra Krueger

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