Five years ago today on July 14, 2015, the New Horizons spacecraft made the first reconnaissance of Pluto, collecting data that continue to be analyzed and provide surprises of this distant world. On this 5th anniversary of the Pluto flyby, our guest is Dr. Carver Bierson, who is a planetary scientist at Arizona State University. Carver has been involved with the New Horizons mission, and recently published a paper about Pluto based on data from the mission. We talk with him about results in the paper titled: “Evidence for a Hot Start and Early Ocean Formation on Pluto”
With graduation season is upon us, today’s edition of How on Earth is our annual “Graduation Special”. Our guests in the studio today are scientists who have or will soon receive their Ph.D. in a STEM-related field. They talk about their thesis research, their grad school experiences, and what they have planned next.
Abigail Reens– CU Boulder, Department Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology
Topic: Salmonella Within Macrophages – An Extreme Environment: Small Molecule Inhibitors of Bacterial Efflux and the Roles of Bacterial Lipid Metabolism and Mammalian Co-culture During Infection
OSIRIS-REx (starts at 1:00) In today’s first feature, we hear about OSIRIS-REx, NASA’s first mission to do a sample return from an asteroid. Our guest is Dr. Vicky Hamilton, a Staff Scientist at the Southwest Reserarch Institute’sBoulder office, and a member of that mission. She talks about the scientific goals of OSIRIS-REx, and how it plans to obtain and return a sample of the asteroid Bennu.
New Horizons (starts at 14:05) Our second spacey feature is about a mission that you might describe as exploring “beyond the beyond”. The piano-sized, nuclear-powered New Horizons spacecraft flew by Pluto over 3 years ago, and now has its sights set on an even more distant target named Ultima Thule. To talk about that, we have another local scientist from Southwest Research Institute, Dr. Cathy Olkin, Institute Scientist and also a New Horizons mission Deputy Project Scientist. We hear about the flyby events that will take place on New Year’s Eve.
Host, Producer, and Engineer: Joel Parker Executive Producer: Susan Moran
Headlines: Inheritance of mitochondrial DNA. Coffee and Parkinson’s disease. Sending your name and a message to the New Horizons spacecraft. Winds on Mars. Water on Asteroids.
Feature: Titan (starts at 8:55) The solar system has so many different worlds that come in all shapes and sizes and histories, from boiling hot Mercury and Venus to icy Pluto and the Kuiper belt. Such extreme alien worlds are exciting, but perhaps the places that catch our imaginations the most are the ones that are more familar – perhaps with the hope of humans one day visiting there and even living there. So we think of places that have atmospheres and have – or once had – liquid water. But then there are those places that live in what you might call “the uncanny valley” between familiar and alien, and perhaps Saturn’s moon Titan fits into that category, with an atmosphere (but not one that you would want to breathe) and lakes (but not ones you would want to swim in).
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.
Chasing 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.
GoldLab 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
Chasing Shadows [starts at 9:40] Astronomy is a science that depends on watching things happen in the universe that we don’t have control over: supernovae, formation of stars, orbits of planets, and the spectacle of solar eclipses. You can’t grab a distant galaxy and bring it into the lab for experiments, so astronomers have to depend on studying the light that fortuitously comes to them from distant objects. However, by studying just that light, we can learn much about the objects in the universe and how they formed and evolved. For example, studying solar eclipses have taught us about the corona of the sun and about general relativity. To make those observations and measurements, scientists have to chase the shadow and set up their laboratory in remote places to catch it. In this edition of How on Earth we talk with one such shadow-chaser: astronomer Dr. Marc Buie from the Boulder office of the Southwest Research Institute. Marc organized a set of expeditions around the Earth to observe occultations of the Kuiper belt object 2014 MU69, which is is the next flyby target of the New Horizons space mission that flew past Pluto in July 2015. He explains the science of occultations, what can be gleaned from these shadowy observations of 2014 MU69, and talks about planning for observation expeditions to remote places around the world.
Hosts: Joel Parker, Chip Grandits Producer / Engineer: Joel Parker Executive Producer: Alejandro Soto
What is graduate school and how does it differ from the undergraduate experience? What drives people to go through another 4…5…6…or more years of school? Today’s show features some people who might be able to tell us about the grad school experience in the sciences. We have three grad students from the University of Colorado at Boulder:
* Joe Villanueva in the Molecular Cellular and Developmental Biology department.
* Annie Miller, in the Integrative Physiology department.
* Marcus Piquette, in the Astrophysical and Planetary Science department.
Each of them works in a lab with an advisor and is doing projects that will eventually lead to a thesis and getting a PhD, and they talk about what they do and what grad school is like.
Host: Joel Parker Producer and Engineer: Joel Parker Executive Producer: Beth Bennett Additional Contributions: Beth Bennett, Susan Moran
On today’s show we featured an interview with Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute, who is principal investigator on NASA’s New Horizons mission. He told us about a fourth, tiny moon orbiting Pluto—found last month by his team during observations in support of New Horizons, which will arrive at Pluto in 2015. Here’s an extended version of that interview.