The Star Spot

Feature Guest: Henry Joy McCracken

Last month scientists announced the shocking discovery of 574 monster galaxies from the ancient universe. There are surprisingly many such giant galaxies, and they seem to appear more suddenly and earlier than astronomers predicted. How might this finding upend our understanding of galaxy and structure formation in the universe? To help us answer that question we’re joined by the discovery’s co-investigator Henry Joy McCracken.

This episode is dedicated to my wife Denise Fong, on our 6 month anniversary. Denise and I met at the 10th episode celebration of The Star Spot over 3 years ago. It has been a great pleasure to work with you Denise to grow our show and to further public education for astronomy, our common passion. - Justin

Current in Space

Galaxies are alive! Tony explains what makes a galaxy’s heart throb. And Anuj explains how stars can go rogue.

About Our Guest

Henry Joy McCracken has worked as a researcher at the Institut d'Astrophysique de Paris in France since 2003. He received his masters from the University of Victoria and his PhD from the University of Durham. His interests include galaxy formation and evolution and the evolving relationship between dark matter and normal matter.

Direct download: The_Star_Spot_Episode_91_Monster_Galaxies_of_the_Ancient_Universe.mp3
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Feature Guest: Scott Sheppard

Recently astronomers discovered an object further than anything we’ve ever found in our solar system. This dwarf planet lies all the way out in the mysterious inner oort cloud. Today the object’s co-discoverer Scott Sheppard joins guest host Denise Fong here at The Star Spot, to reveal cutting edge findings from the unmapped edges of our solar system.

Current in Space

Anuj introduces us to the CLASS telescope. Never heard of it? You will. And with everyone seemingly fascinated by Jupiter's moon Europa, Tony asks what it would take to actually explore this intriguing world. 

About Our Guest

Scott Sheppard is faculty member in the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism at the Carnegie Institution for Science. He received his PhD from the University of Hawaii. A Hubble Fellow, Sheppard is credited with the discovery of many small moons of the gas giant planets. He has also been part of teams that have discovered comets, asteroids and Kuiper belt objects.

Direct download: The_Star_Spot_Episode_90_Scott_Sheppard.mp3
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Feature Guest: David Paige

There was once a time when scientists believed that beyond the Earth there lied a largely dry, barren and inhospitable solar system. But now we think there is likely to be liquid water below the surface of Jupiter’s moons Ganymede and Europa, a warm salty ocean below the crust of Saturn’s moon Enceladus and recently NASA confirmed that ancient lakes once flowed on Mars.

As the solar system wettens, are we witnessing a paradigm shift with profound implications in our search for life. To help us answer that question today we're joined at The Star Spot by the self-described “professional ice finder” David Paige.

Current in Space

Did you know human beings are not the only life forms aboard the ISS. Anuj explains. Then Tony builds on last episode's description of a Tatooine-like exoplanet by introducing another Star Wars fan favourite. It seems the Kepler space telescope has discovered an object that is been dubbed the "Death Star" for while it is no battle station it may be just as destructive to nearby planets. 

About Our Guest


David Paige is Professor of Planetary Sciences at UCLA. He is Principal Investigator of the Diviner Lunar Radiometer Experiment, an instrument aboard NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter mission that is currently orbiting the Moon. He made headlines in 2012 for the discovery of water ice deposits and organic material on Mercury using data collected by the MESSENGER spacecraft. Paige is a world authority on water, ices and volatiles in the solar system.  

Direct download: The_Star_Spot_Episode_89_David_Paige.mp3
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Feature Guest: Pawel Artymowicz

Star Wars fans will be familiar with the planet Tatooine and its two suns. But as it turns out the majority of stars in the Milky Way galaxy live with a companion. And that’s led scientists to study how multiple star systems form and develop, and whether they can host habitable planets.

To help us understand the behaviour of binary star system and the even more fascinating domain of supermassive binary black holes, the results of merging galaxies, today we're joined at The Star Spot by Pawel Artymowicz

 

Current in Space

Anuj shares new evidence that has pushed back the origin of life by hundreds of millions of years. Tony explains what measures scientists are using to predict the likelihood that newly discovered exoplanets are in fact habitable. Dave updates us on NASA's big water on Mars discovery with new analysis which is leading us to believe the red planet was much warmer and wetter than we had thought. And The Star Spot goes to the movies... off to Mars to be exact as Denise reviews The Martian.

About Our Guest

Pawel Artymowicz is Professor of Physics and Astrophysics at the University of Toronto. He received his Undergraduate degree in Astronomy from the University of Warsaw and his PhD from the Nicolaus Copernicus Astronomical Center of the Polish Academy of Sciences. Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Toronto he was Associate Professor of Astronomy at the University of Stockholm in Sweden. He was the most cited astronomer in Stockholm from 1994 through to 2004. He has also worked as a Research Assistant at the Space Science Telescope Institute and the Lick Observatory in Santa Cruz, California.



Direct download: The_Star_Spot_-_Episode_88_-_Pawel_Artymowicz.mp3
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Feature Guest: Randy Attwood

Nearly a quarter of Americans confuse astronomy with astrology. And barely half know it takes the Earth a year to go around the Sun. Yes, you read that right. Clearly, we have a lot of work to do.

Today we're joined at The Star Spot by Randy Attwood. He’s Executive Director of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. RASC has been engaged in astronomy education for nearly 150 years. He joins me at a live recording of The Star Spot on location in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.

Current in Space

Evidence for flowing liquid water on Mars has never been found...until now. Then Anuj updates our coverage of what appears to be the discovery of an infant solar system. Finally Tony surveys the worlds of our solar system where we now believe water to exist, in one form or another.

About Our Guest

Randy Attwood is Executive Director of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada or RASC. He is the publisher of SkyNews, an astronomy periodical recently acquired by the society. Randy is a frequent guest commentator in the media, offering a thoughtful analysis of astronomy and space exploration news and events.

Direct download: The_Star_Spot_Episode_87_-_Randy_Attwood.mp3
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Feature Guest: Wendy Freedman

A long long time ago in every place at once, all of this began. But when exactly did the universe begin? And how quickly did it expand into the structure we see around us? Those numbers are more difficult to nail down than we had thought, yet more critical to our understanding of the nature of the cosmos, of dark matter and dark energy, than we could have ever imagined. Today we're joined at The Star Spot by cosmologist Wendy Freedman who recently stepped down after 12 years heading up the development of the Giant Magellan Telescope.

Current in Space

Anuj wonders if magnetic worm holes will one day transport us to the far reaches of space. And with Pluto data analysis just getting underway, Tony provides the new targets for the New Horizons spacecraft.

About Our Guest

Wendy Freedman is Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Chicago. Among the world’s most influential astronomers, Freedman served as co-leader of the Hubble Space Telescope Key Project and is former director of the Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena, California. She served 12 years as chair of the Board of Directors for the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) Project, an optical telescope with a primary mirror 80 feet in diameter scheduled to begin operations in 2021. Freedman is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. She is a recipient of the 2009 Gruber Prize for Cosmology.







Direct download: The_Star_Spot_-_Episode_86_-_When_The_Universe_Began.mp3
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Feature Guest: Hilton Lewis

The twin Keck Telescopes of Hawaii are the world’s largest optical and infrared telescopes. For twenty five years they have turned their eyes on the farthest and faintest objects in the cosmos, stacking up a dizzying array of accomplishments: from evidence for the supermassive black hole at the centre of our own galaxy to a recent discovery of the most distant galaxy in the observable universe. 


Today Keck Observatory Director Hilton Lewis joins Justin Trottier at The Star Spot to discuss the life of the most impactful telescope astronomers possess, and to speculate on the future of the Keck in the emerging intensely competitive era of giant telescope astronomy.

Current in Space

Humans have the inate ability to self repair. Now Anuj tell us that the advent of self healing spacecraft may be close at hand. Comets are the ultimate fear factor. But while comets do have the ability to take life, Tony tells us they may also have the power to give it. And Dave reports on the closest known quasar, the product of the battle of two cosmological giants.

About Our Guest

The career of Hilton Lewis has grown alongside that of the Keck observatory. Lewis has been a member of the Keck team since the project’s launch in 1986. From his original job designing and developing the software that controls the Keck he would be promoted to many senior positions, then appointed Deputy Director in 2002 and Director in 2014. Lewis earned a degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Cape Town and an MBA from the University of Hawai’i at Manoa.

Direct download: The_Star_Spot_Episode_85_Keck_Observatory.mp3
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Feature Guest: Marc Garneau
He is the first Canadian to travel into space. But with momentous changes rocketing the space programs of many nations, how many more firsts will there be? Today Dr. Marc Garneau, a real hero of science and exploration, joins Justin Trottier at The Star Spot, to discuss the past, present and future of human space flight.

Current in Space
When it comes to farming in space just how far along are we? Anuj provides a progress report and more importantly, the results of a taste test. Planetary nebulae have nothing to do with planets, but Tony explains why they're still really important. Then Dave and Anuj tell us how the dwarf planet Sedna could turn out to be an alien object. 

About Our Guest
Marc Garneau was selected as one of the original six Canadian astronauts in 1983 following a career as an engineer in the Canadian Navy. Dr. Garneau travelled into space on 3 expeditions aboard the Space Shuttle. He then served as President of the Canadian Space Agency from 2001 to 2005. He has been a member of Canada’s federal Parliament representing the riding of Westmount-Ville-Marie since 2008. Dr. Garneau was appointed to the Order of Canada in 1984 and then promoted to Companion of the Order of Canada in 2003. He is the 9th Chancellor of Carleton University.

 

 

Direct download: The_Star_Spot_Episode_84_-__Marc_Garneau.mp3
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Feature Guest: Chris Gainor

 

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope, which has forever changed the way we look at the cosmos. To help us understand how Hubble proved to be transformational, and for a brief history of the ups and down of our space program, today we're joined at The Star Spot by historian of science and technology Chris Gainor.

Current in Space

Anuj shares new insights into the emergence of the first galaxies in the universe. And Dave pushes the limits with discovery of a new exoplanet that if you were standing on it might feel a lot like home.

About Our Guest

Chris Gainor received his PhD in the history of technology from the University of Alberta, and has taught history at the University of Victoria. Chris worked for many years as a journalist, winning a National Newspaper Award. He is the author of four books, including Arrows to the Moon: Avro's Engineers and the Space Race, Canada in Space and Who Killed the Avro Arrow? He is currently writing a history of the Hubble Space Telescope for NASA.

Direct download: TheStarSpot-Episode83-ChrisGainor.mp3
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Feature Guest: Anousheh Ansari

Her name is synonymous with private space travel. Anousheh Ansari’s $10 million donation enabled the Ansari X-Prize to catalyze the private space industry. And in 2006 Ansari herself became the first female private space explorer when she visited the ISS. Today Anousheh Ansari joins us here at The Star Spot to discuss her amazing life and how the Space Ambassador aims to use her unique experiences to improve life on Earth.

This will be the last episode featuring an interview conducted at the International Space Development Conference, hosted this past May 2015 in Toronto.

 

Current in Space

From a few pixels to bizarre and tantalizing surface features. Today's news features a special Pluto theme in honour of the arrival of the New Horizons space probe at the tiny world of rock and ice. First Dave offers an homage to the discoveries we have already made both regarding Pluto and its many neighbours, as data is only beginning to be analyzed. Then Anuj focuses on Pluto's biggest moon, Charon, a world unto itself.

About our Guest

Anousheh Ansari is an Iranian-American engineer who served as co-founder and CEO of Telecom Technologies. Her family were title sponsors of the Ansari X Prize, which was awarded to the first non-government company to launch a reusable manned spacecraft into space twice within two weeks. Ansari became the first female space traveller when she visited the ISS in 2006. She is the author of the memoir My Dream of Stars and co-founder and chairwoman of Prodea Systems


Feature Guests: Isaac DeSouza

The distances and challenges we face in space exploration are daunting, but what if we could transcend our technological and even our human limitations? Meet the next generation virtual reality. Want to travel to far off worlds or even worlds of the past? Maybe visit the ISS or engage in a little space diving?

Today I’m joined by Isaac DeSouza who can help you explore anywhere and any when you want - on your cell phone. We’ll discuss a technology that promises to change everything, yet could there be dangers ahead?

Current in Space

The Large Hadron Collider is back to work. Anuj tells us how at double the energy the search is on to find supersymmetry, dark matter and other particle exotica. And will exotic new modes of transportation help us explore the solar system? Dave shares plans for a glider to fly over the skies of Mars.

About our Guests

 

Isaac DeSouza is Chief Technology Officer at the San Francisco based startup SpaceVR. He has previously worked at the Planetary Instrumentation Lab for projects with the Canadian Space Agency and NASA. While studying space engineering at the Lassonde School of Engineering at York University he was part of a Rover Team that won the NASA Lunabotics Challenge and the Mars Society's University Rover Challenge. He is now part of the Planetary Exploration Instrumentation Laboratory research team studying the formation of Near Earth Asteroids.

 

 

Direct download: The_Star_Spot_Episode_81.mp3
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Feature Guests: Robert Kerr and Jose Molina

Nestled in the mountains of northern Puerto Rico lies an icon of astronomy: the Arecibo Observatory, the largest radio telescope on Earth. It has been featured in the X-Files, James Bond’s Golden Eye and of course Carl Sagan’s Contact. To help us understand the history and the future of Arecibo we’re joined at The Star Spot by Observatory Director Dr. Robert Kerr. Also in today’s special double bill, Jose Molina explains his plans to make Puerto Rico a primary site for space tourism, scientific research and eventually a space port.

Current in Space

No longer merely theoretical, Anuj introduces us to our universe's first generation of stars - thousands of times the mass of the sun. And as our knowledge of exoplanets increase in detail, Dave explains what we're learning from studying the first stratosphere of a planet beyond our solar system.

About our Guests

Jose Molina is an engineer working in the aeronautical industry. He received a Master’s Degree in Space Studies at the International Space University, then brought his knowledge and excitement for commercial spaceflight back home to Puerto Rico. There is he is working to enhance the island’s space tourism industry through the development of spaceports and launch vehicles.

Robert Kerr is an upper atmospheric physicist who worked as Professor of Astronomy at Boston University and Program Manager at the National Science Foundation. He is the current Director of the Arecibo Observatory.

 

 

 

Direct download: TheStarSpot-AreciboTelescope-Episode80.mp3
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Feature Guest: Lorna Jean Edmonds

As our civilization moves out into the solar system and beyond, will we be ready to govern ourselves in a way better than we have here on Earth? Today we're joined at The Star Spot on location at the International Space Development Conference 2015 by space policy thinker and Vice Provost for Global Affairs at Ohio University, Lorna Jean Edmonds, who believes, “those who control the galaxy control the world.”

Current in Space

With a new discovery of a Kuiper-belt like phenomena around another star, Tony wonders just how unique is our solar system? And Dave explains why astronomers are rethinking what they thought about the oldest nova studied.

About Our Guest

Lorna Jean Edmonds is Vice Provost for Global Affairs and International Studies, as well as Professor, College of Health Sciences and Professions at Ohio University. She has held senior executive jobs with the Universities of Toronto, Ottawa, and Western, and she has a deep interest in space governance. She joined us at The Star Spot live on location at the 2015 International Space Development Conference in Toronto.

Direct download: TheStarSpot-Episode79.mp3
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Feature Guest: Raymond Francis

Today’s robotic planetary explorers have little ability to make decisions for themselves. They follow orders, but often those orders take many precious minutes to arrive from Earth. Now imagine rovers that could recognize unusual features in their environment and make judgements about what to investigate. On today's episode Raymond Francis joins Justin Trottier at The Star Spot for a look at the future of autonomous planetary exploration.

Recorded on location at the 2015 International Space Development Conference.

Current in Space

Galaxies are known to harbour supermassive blackholes at their core, but Anuj reports what happens at the centre of two merging galaxies? Then Tony shares the best evidence yet for a salt water ocean beneath the Europa surface. And Dave ponders what the US military is up to with a state-of-the-art space plane that’s now in orbit with a top secret classified mission. 

About Our Guest

Raymond Francis is a postdoctoral fellow in Electrical and Computer Engineering at Western University, specializing in robotic technology for space exploration. He is currently working in NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and served as a member of the team for the Mars Science Laboratory rover, or Curiosity. Francis has a background that mixes space science and mechanical engineering. He is a former host of alma mater’s own podcast, Western Worlds. 

Direct download: The_Star_Spot_-_Episode_78_-_Raymond_Francis.mp3
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Feature Guest: Jo-Anne Brown

We all know the Earth has a magnetic field, but it might surprise you to learn that our galaxy has one too. To help us understand the origin of our galactic magnetic field and how cosmic magnetism effects the galaxies in our universe, today we're joined at The star spot by Professor Jo-Anne Brown

Current in Space

54.6 million kilometres to Mars. What could go wrong? A hell of a lot, Anuj tells us. Then Tony explains how an unprecedented image of an infant solar system may give us insights into the uniqueness of our home. And finally, Dave says we can learn about the origin of Earth's water... from a white dwarf?

About Our Guest

 

Dr. Jo-Anne Brown is Assistant Professor at the University of Calgary. She is involved in the Canadian contribution to the Square Kilometer Array, a radio telescope project which when operational in 2020 will study cosmic magnetism with 50 times our current level of sensitivity. Dr. Brown was a member of the galactic and solar science team for the Planck satellite, a European Space Agency space observatory that was active from 2009 to 2013 and was made famous by its shockingly precise map of the cosmic microwave background.

 

Direct download: TheStarSpot-Episode77-Jo-AnneBrown.mp3
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Feature Guest: Raymond Carlberg

When finally operational in 2018 the Thirty Metre Telescope will be the largest telescope ever built, three times larger than the best telescopes operating today. To help us understand how the Thirty Metre Telescope will revolutionize astronomy and cosmology, fuel the study of dark matter and dark energy, further our search for life beyond the solar system, and, simply put, allow us see the limits of the known universe, today we're joined at the star spot by Professor Raymond Carlberg.

Current in Space

We're all familiar with Jupiter's Great Red Spot. Now Tony tells us about Saturday's Great White Spot. And James Bond meets astronomy as Dave documents the transfer of two Hubble class space telescopes from spying on enemy nations to exploring the depths of space. 

About Our Guest

 

Raymond Carlberg is Professor of Astronomy at the University of Toronto, having previously held visiting faculty positions at Johns Hopkins University, Caltech, the University of Washington (Seattle), and the Carnegie Institution.  He is a member of the National Research Council Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics Advisory Board, a Senior Fellow for the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.  Prof. Carlberg is working on the deepest sky survey yet using the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope.

Direct download: TheStarSpot-Episode76-Thirty_Metre_Telescope.mp3
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Feature Guest: Marc Kamionkowski

When we study the cosmic microwave background we see our universe before its infancy. But we learn about today’s biggest mysteries, like gravitational waves and supersymmetric dark matter.

Professor Marc Kamionkowski has won a top prize in cosmology for showing us how to “read the subtle bumps and swirls in our images of the early universe” and he joins me at The Star Spot to share secrets from the dawn of time.

Current in Space

Anuj shares discovery of organics in protoplanetary disks of newly formed solar systems. Then following trailers for the upcoming Star Wars film, Tony explains that Tatooine like rocky worlds with twin suns may be out there in the galaxy. Dave shocks us with the possibility of moon caves deep under the lunar surface. And Laura reports that Chiron, a minor planet between Saturn and Uranus known as a centaur, was found to contain rings. 

About Our Guest

Marc Kamionkowski is Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Johns Hopkins University, previously at the The California Institute of Technology. He was awarded the US Department of Energy's 2006 E. O. Lawrence Award in High Energy and Nuclear Physics as well as the  the Dannie Heineman Prize for Astrophysics from the American Astronomical society and the American Institute of Physics. His research interests include particle physics, dark matter, inflation, the cosmic microwave background and gravitational waves.

Direct download: TheStarSpot-Ep75-Marc_Kamionkowski.mp3
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Feature Guest: David Brain

When our solar system was young, newborn Earth and Mars were like siblings, similar in climate, water composition and atmosphere. But it turns out 4.5 billion years can change things between two planets.

Today I’m joined at The Star Spot by Professor David Brain to help us understand how Mars ended up so different from Earth, where the Red Planet is headed and what all this means for our search for life.  

Current in Space

A 345 year old mysterious stellar event could finally be solved, Anuj explains. Then Dave describes the influential role played by Jupiter when a time long ago Earth survived an attack from the giant.

About Our Guest

Professor David Brain is Assistant Professor at the University of Colorado Boulder in the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences. He is co-investigator for the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission science team. Scientists hope MAVEN, which arrived at the Red Planet September 2014, will explain where all the Martian atmosphere has gone.

Direct download: TheStarSpot-Ep74-DavidBrain.mp3
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Feature Guest: Christian Ott

What do all massive stars have in common. They go boom. Today I’m joined at The Star Spot by Professor Christian Ott. Behind Ott’s highly technical work in numerical relativity and nuclear astrophysics is his love affair with things that explode. 

And could the missing pulsar population at the centre of the milky way be explained by, of all things, dark matter? From supernovae, hypernovae and gamma ray bursts to Professor Ott’s self-described “crackpot theory,” you’ll be blown away.

Current in Space

Ganymede has now been added to the short but tantalizing list of moons harbouring internal oceans, following the discovery that the solar system’s largest moon may contain more water than the oceans of Earth. Plus an update on the Dawn spacecraft’s mission to probe the solar system’s early years as it arrival at the dwarf planet Ceres. 

About Our Guest

Professor Christian Ott is computational and theoretical Astrophysicist at Caltech. He received his PhD from the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics before performing his postdoctoral work at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Astrophysics at the University of Arizona. He was a 2012-2014 Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow. Professor Ott’s diverse research areas include black holes, neutron stars, supernovae and the hunt for gravitational waves.

Direct download: TheStarSpot_Ep73_ChristianOtt.mp3
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Feature Guest: Kevin Shortt

In the second part of their conversation on the international state of space exploration, Kevin Shortt and Justin Trottier tour the globe. They explore the contributions coming from the four corners of our world. China has high ambitions, but can they succeed by going it alone? How do the geopolitical challenges for Israel provide it with unique opportunities? What consequences will a return to a quasi-Cold War state have for international relations between NASA, Russia and the European Space Agency? And as new nations become major players how will our efforts to explore the unknown change in 2015 and beyond? 

Current in Space

With news of the chemical simulations of a cell membrane unlike anything we've ever seen, Anuj asks whether we have the capabilities of searching for life as we don't know it. 

About Our Guest

Kevin Shortt has worked in the space industry since 1996 and has participated in some of Canada’s largest space missions. He was Mission Planner for the RADARSAT-1 program at the Canadian Space Agency and a member of the design team responsible for the lidar instrument on board NASA’s Mars Phoenix Scout mission. He currently works at the Institute for Communication and Navigation at the German Aerospace Center in optical communications. Kevin served as President for the Canadian Space Society from 2008 until 2012 and is currently its International Relations Officer.

Direct download: TheStarSpot-Ep72-KevinShortt-Part2.mp3
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Feature Guest: Kevin Shortt

It’s a year that saw ups, such as the Dawn mission which became the first to study a dwarf planet. It was a year that experienced downs, like the tragic explosion of SpaceShipTwo and questions over the incident’s implication for space tourism. Through the ups and downs 2014 has been one fascinating year for space exploration. For a retrospective on the year that was, and a look at what’s on the horizon in 2015, today i’m joined at The Star Spot by Kevin shortt, the International Relations Officer for the Canadian Space Society.

And on the next episode Kevin Shortt will rejoin me here at The Star Spot for an international survey of the world’s contribution to space exploration. As new nations become major players how will our efforts to explore the unknown change in 2015 and beyond. 

Current in Space

Tony and Anuj both wax poetic. Tony explains how the door has just opened on the road to Europa, Jupiter's ocean world and a candidate int he search for life. Then Anuj on the very long road of Voyager, 40 years travelling and just getting started.

About Our Guest

Kevin Shortt has worked in the space industry since 1996 and has participated in some of Canada’s largest space missions. He was Mission Planner for the RADARSAT-1 program at the Canadian Space Agency and a member of the design team responsible for the lidar instrument on board NASA’s Mars Phoenix Scout mission. He currently works at the Institute for Communication and Navigation at the German Aerospace Center in optical communications. Kevin served as President for the Canadian Space Society from 2008 until 2012 and is currently its International Relations Officer.

Direct download: TheStarSpot_Ep71_2014AnAmazingYearInSpaceExploration.mp3
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Feature Guests: Aaron Sigut and Carol Jones 

The disks of matter that form around mysterious B emission stars are providing astronomers with a unique place to study a ubiquitous phenomenon in our universe. Disks are everywhere and on every scale, from the birth of solar systems to the structure of galaxies. Today we’re joined here at The Star Spot by Carol Jones and Aaron Sigut to conclude our two part series on dynamic and lively B emission stars and the disks that excite them.

Current in Space 

Why did asteroid belt member Ceres never form into a fully fledged planet? That's what Dawn may soon find out when it arrives next month. Is the moon the 8th continent? Anuj explains how mining is getting closer to reaching the final frontier. And worried about aging? Dave shares the discovery of an 11 billion year old planet, still alive and well.  

About Our Guests

Let’s pick up where we let off with our two guests from Western University. Dr. Carol Jones is Associate Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies in the Faculty of Science, as well as associate professor and associate dean in the physics and astronomy department. Aaron Sigut is Associate Professor of Astronomy in the Physics and Astronomy Department.

Direct download: TheStarSpot-Episode70-CircumstellarDiskPart2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:00pm EST

Feature Guests: Aaron Sigut and Carol Jones

Disks are ubiquitous in our universe. They are found in the spiral arms of galaxies. They are found among new and old stars, whether in the protoplanetary gas associated with stellar births or the black holes which follow many stellar deaths.

Today we have a special treat. I’m excited to be joined by both Carol Jones and Aaron Sigut here at The Star Spot for the first of a special two-part series. We’ll find out why disks are such common features of our universe, and how they figure prominently into a mysterious phenomenon known as B emission stars, which are among the hottest, most energetic and most mysterious of stellar phenomena.

Current in Space

Dave reports the probability of exoplanet habitability may have just increased significantly with scientists rethinking the once assumed life-preventing effect of planetary tidal locking. Then Laura explains the famous Pillars of Creation in the Eagle Nebula seem to be eroding away, and may have already vanished. Anuj shares new evidence that the asteroid which wiped out the dinosaurs was a truly global event. And has Beagle 2 been resurrected? Celine with new images from Mars that are shining light on the tragic fate of a spacecraft whose trip was no more smooth than that of its namesake.

About Our Guest

Today two distinguished astronomy scholars from Western University are joining us here at The Star Spot. Dr. Carol Jones is Associate Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies in the Faculty of Science. Aaron Sigut is Associate Professor of Astronomy in the Physics and Astronomy Department. They both share research interests in circumstellar disks around hot stars, which we will get into in a series of conversations with both academics.

Direct download: TheStarSpot-Episode69-Dynamic_Stars_and_Ubiquitous_Disks-Part1.mp3
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Feature Guest: Jayanne English

 

We've all been blown away by those jaw dropping majestic images of the cvosmos. But would you feel deceived to know that few of those images show what the eye would truly see? Today guest host Dave Kirsch welcomes Professor Jayanne English at The Star Spot to discuss the tension between art and science in astronomy.

Current in Space

Dave alerts us to the likelihood of future collisions between our sun and its nearby stellar neighbours, explaing why a near miss can still make a big impact. The debate about the status of Pluto is sure to heat up as Tony reports on the New Horizons mission which recently came out of hibernation in preparation for its final approach to the dward planet. And Anuj shares new insights into the cause of mysterious high altitude aurora.

About Our Guest

Jayanne English is Professor in the department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Manitoba. Her interests are in the origin of structure in galaxies, including galactic halos. She held a post-doctoral position at the Space Telescope Science Institute and was Visitor at Oxford University (2013) and Visiting Scholar at the Australian National University (2009). She is also highly involved in merging the arts and the sciences through astronomical imagery. Professor English led an interactive art project in honour of the Internal year of Astronomy entitled Seeing is Believing.

Direct download: TheStarSpot_Episode68_JayanneEnglish.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:00pm EST

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