The Star Spot

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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