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The Star Spot

The Star Spot, with Justin Trottier, is a space themed podcast and radio show focusing on all aspects of astronomy and space exploration. Episodes feature timely news along with fascinating interviews with guests of wide-ranging background: scientists, engineers, artists, politicians, and entrepreneurs. Topics are broad, from the latest space mission to how the universe began to why humans explore.

May 27, 2019

Feature Guest: Cynthia Phillips

In the 1970s, the Viking landers performed historic experiments aimed at detecting life in the Martian soil. The results were disappointing although to this day still not entirely conclusive. Now over 40 years later a new lander with a next generation set of life detection equipment is under assessment by NASA. This time the target is not the Red Planet, but the ocean moon Europa, which has emerged as a prime candidate in the search for life in the solar system. Today we’re joined here at The Star Spot by Cynthia Phillips, Deputy Project Scientist for the Europa Lander mission concept, who tantalizes us with dreams of flying through plumes and digging into an icy crust.

Current in Space

Tony goes into speculation mode and ponders the chances that interstellar interlopers, like the recent Oumuamua, could actually carry life and deposit it on planets, perhaps even Earth. Then Samantha debuts with a report on a new gravitational wave event, one which may be the result of a type of binary system merger we've been hoping for. Simon troubles us with the disturbing discovery of holes in the Milky Way that were punched by . . . something. And Amelia and Samantha talk the dazzling first-ever discovery of the so-called first-ever molecule in space.

About Our Guest

Cynthia Phillips is Planetary Geologist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a scientist with the SETI League and she also works at the Center for the Study of Life in the Universe. She received her B.A. in astronomy, astrophysics, and physics at Harvard University, and earned her Ph.D. in planetary science, with a minor in geosciences, from the University of Arizona. Dr. Phillips is the co-author of several books, including The Everything Astronomy Book and Understanding Astronomy.