GLEE (starts at 8:06) We just recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first Moon landing. After the Apollo missions, scientists have returned to the Moon with robotic missions because of the scientific clues the Moon can provide about the history of the Earth and the solar system, as well as learning more about the lunar environment and resources in preparation for an eventual return of humans – perhaps for the long term.
The journey to the Moon and space research often evokes images of large complex spacecraft costing hundreds of millions of dollars. However, a new project plans to take a new approach: sending hundreds of much smaller and much less expensive spacecraft. This project is called the Great Lunar Expedition for Everyone, or GLEE, and our guests today are here to talk about GLEE, how it will work, and what science they plan to do.
Dr. Mihaly Horanyi and his colleagues at the University of Colorado are on the brink of watching an instrument they developed crash into the moon. It’s okay—it’s designed to. In the meantime, the instrument, LDEX, is measuring impacts from dust particles a fraction of the width of a human hair on NASA’s LADEE mission. It’s measured more than 11,000 of these tiny impacts since falling into orbit in October.
How On Earth’s Beth Bartel is on her own mission to figure out just what is so interesting about space dust. Think: space colonization, geologic mapping, and searching for signs of extraterrestrial life.
Hosts: Beth Bartel, Joel Parker Producer: Beth Bartel Engineer: Joel Parker Additional Contributions: Jane Palmer Executive Producer: Joel Parker
For the patient and interested listener, here’s more of How On Earth host Beth Bartel’s conversation about space dust with University of Colorado’s Mihaly Horanyi. We talk about why we should colonize the moon, how Dr. Horanyi got into studying dust in the first place—which is a very interesting Cold-War-era story—how space dust may give us hints about climate change ( via the phenomenon of “night-shining” or noctilucent clouds), and what zodiacal light is.