The Star Spot

Feature Guest: Peter Visscher

The return of humans to the moon is well over a decade away. But one key step, the development of unmanned lunar rovers that could be scaled up for human exploration, is well underway. Today on the star spot i’m joined by Peter Visccher, an engineer working to design just this future.

Ontario Drive and Gear Ltd, popularly known as Argo after their trademark all-terrain amphibious vehicles, was founded in 1962. The company’s vehicles are well known in recreational, industrial and search and rescue functions. More recently under contract to the Canadian Space Agency and in coordination with NASA, they’re moving into lunar rover design. To bring us up to speed on the return to the moon agenda and where lunar rovers fit into the plans, I’m joined here at the Star Spot by Peter Visscher, profession engineer and program manager of space and robotics at Ontario Drive and Gear.

Current in Space

In today’s Current in Space, Benjamin waxes poetic with an ode to death... of the largest known star in our universe. Then Anuj picks up the narrative by sharing what astronomers are now able to learn from the ashes of long gone planets circling deceased stars.

About Peter Visscher

Peter Visscher graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering Science from western University in Mechanical Engineering, and became achieved his professor engineer status in 2011. He was the lead designer on the Artemis Jr. analogue rover and Juno Rover for the Canadian Space Agency. He is a specialist in vehicle and vehicle systems design and was awarded NASA's Group Achievement Award in 2010 and 2011. Since 2010 he has been Space/Robotics Program Manager with Special Projects and Space Exploration at Ontario Drive & Gear Ltd.

Direct download: Ep39-petervisscher.output.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:39pm EST

Feature Guest: Jill Tarter

The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. No other space-related program so effectively stirs our emotions, symbolizes our sense of hope and optimism for the future, or provokes philosophical debates about the meaning of our life and our place in the universe. Today Justin Trottier talks with Dr. Jill Tarter, a key player and icon of SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. The Star Spot was privileged to be invited to interview the real life inspiration behind the protagonist in the film Contact in front of a live audience at a special fall equinox event hosted by the educational charity the Centre for Inquiry.

Current in Space

In today’s Current in Space, Denise shows that weather isn’t a boring topic of conversation, provided you’re talking about cloud cover on an extrasolar planet. Then Anuj surprises us with new discoveries of early atmospheric oxygen that could push back the clock on important components in the the evolutionary tree. And finally Victoria talks of two-face pulsars, which can alternates between X-rays and radiowave emission in just a few weeks!

About Jill Tarter

Jill Tarter is the Bernard M. Oliver Chair for SETI. She led Project Phoenix which studied about 750 nearby star systems. She is currently heading the SETI Institute's ongoing effort to build the Allen Telescope Array, which will eventually incorporate 350 antennas. Jill Tarter graduated with degrees from Cornell and the University of California at Berkeley and she's won many awards, including two public service medals from NASA and a fellowship of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She was named one of the 100 Most influential People of the World of the Year by Time Magazine in 2004 and she won the Wonderfest Carl Sagan prize for science popularization in 2005.

Direct download: TheStarSpot-Ep38-JillTarter.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00pm EST