Space isn't remote at all. It's only an hour's drive away if your car could go upwards.

— Fred Hoyle

Astronomy Cast

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Updated: 1 hour 54 min ago

Ep. 514: Planetary Protection Protocols

Mon, 01/14/2019 - 10:57pm

As we send rovers and landers to other worlds, we have to think about the tiny microbial astronauts we’re sending along with us. In fact, NASA is so concerned about infecting other worlds that it has established the planetary protection protocols. Just to be safe.

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Show Notes

What is Planetary Protection? 

Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) Recommendations and Categories

Mars is the world we are most concerned about at this point – it has the strictest protocols. Enceladus and Europa are also being upgraded as missions are being considered and planned.

United Nations Outer Space Treaty

interplanetary contamination –Forward contamination is the transfer of viable organisms from Earth to another celestial body. Back contamination is the transfer of extraterrestrial organisms, if such exist, back to the Earth’s biosphere.

NASA Office of Planetary Protection

Decontamination Procedures commonly used

Mars 2020 mission prep

Polyextremophiles 

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Categories: Astronomy

Ep. 513: Stellar Fusion

Fri, 01/11/2019 - 1:43pm

The Sun. It’s a big ball of fire, right? Apparently not. In fact, what’s going on inside of the Sun took us some time and knowledge of physics to finally figure out: stellar fusion. Let’s talk about the different kinds of fusion, and how we’re trying to adapt it to generate power here on Earth.

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Categories: Astronomy

Ep. 512: Direct Imaging of Exoplanets

Wed, 01/02/2019 - 6:02pm

Finding planets is old news, we now know of thousands and thousands of the places. But the terrible irony is that we can only see a fraction of the planets out there using the traditional methods of radial velocity and transits. But the new telescopes will take things to the next level and image planets directly.

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Show Notes

Doppler shifting of planets and stars – red/blue shift due to motion
The Doppler Effect

CCD photography

Transit Photometry

Coronagraphs

CORAVEL, Elodie, Coralie, and HARPS – missions for planet detection

ESPRESSO (Echelle SPectrograph for Rocky Exoplanet- and Stable Spectroscopic Observations)[ – a third-generation, fiber fedcross-dispersed, echelle spectrograph mounted on the European Southern Observatory‘s Very Large Telescope(VLT).
Starshade
Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS)
GAIA

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Categories: Astronomy

Ep. 511: Predictions for 2019

Thu, 12/27/2018 - 3:49pm

We did it, we made it through 2018 in space. Now let’s look forward to the incredible launches, discoveries and astronomical events happening in 2019.

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Show Notes

New Horizons arrives at Ultima Thule on New Year’s Eve! We’ll be covering it live on our Twitch stream – https://www.twitch.tv/cosmoquestx
CosmoQuest releases new projects and a new webdesign on New Year’s Day
Chang’e 4 lander arrives on far side of the moon on Jan. 3.
Insight will tell us temperature of underground on Mars in early 2019 when they dig and put in a temperature probe
SpaceX Crew Dragon this year – Jan 17th empty test, July and August tests, hopefully one will be fully crewed!
Boeing: CST-100 Starliner – hopefully will test capsules this year
Parker Solar Probe still working – making another close approach to sun, showing engineering prowess in it’s trajectories and materials
Event Horizon Telescope – images in Spring 2019
OSIRIS-REx will start imaging in January, then visit in September to grab it’s sample to send back to Earth
Events to Observe – Lunar Eclipses, Solar Eclipse in summer, and Mercury Transit!
Hayabusa 2 – will be observing and returning a rock in December
SpaceX Starship
Cheops mission joining TESS measuring exoplanet transits
July 20th is 50th Anniversary of NASA’s Moon Landing, and 100th anniversary of IAU

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Categories: Astronomy