The Star Spot

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
Category:general -- posted at: 9:00pm EST

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
Category:general -- posted at: 9:00pm EST

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
Category:general -- posted at: 9:00pm EST

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
Category:general -- posted at: 9:00pm EST

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
Category:general -- posted at: 9:00pm EST

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
Category:general -- posted at: 9:00pm EST

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
Category:general -- posted at: 9:00pm EST