Host: Fraser Cain
Guests: Casey Dreier, Brian Koberlein, Jason Major, Sondy Springmann, David Dickinson
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NASA’s LADEE lunar orbiter will firing its main engine on Oct. 6 to enter lunar orbit in the midst of the US government shutdown. Credit: NASA

NASA’s LADEE lunar orbiter completed is dust and atmospheric science mission and has crashed into the Moon as planned on April 17, 2014. Credit: NASA

NASA’s LADEE lunar orbiting dust and atmosphere explorer probe has bitten the dust and crashed into the Moon’s surface exactly as planned following a fabulously successful and groundbreaking science mission that exceeded all expectations.

The Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft impacted the far side of the Moon sometime overnight between 12:30-1:22 a.m. EDT, Friday, April 18 (9:30 and 10:22 p.m. PDT, Thursday, April 17) according to a NASA statement.

Running low on fuel and unable to [click to continue…]

NASA astronaut Steve Swanson does a spacesuit fit check prior to the launch of Expedition 39 in March 2014. Credit: NASA

NASA astronaut Steve Swanson does a spacesuit fit check prior to the launch of Expedition 39 in March 2014. Credit: NASA

It’s a good thing that next week’s urgent spacewalk is pegged as a short one, because the coming days will be hectic for the Expedition 39 crew.

Finding a spot for even a 2.5-hour excursion on the International Space Station was extremely challenging, NASA officials said in a news conference today (April 18), because crew time also is needed for two cargo spacecraft: the SpaceX Dragon launch scheduled for today and subsequent Progress undocking/redocking on station.

Here’s a rundown of some things NASA was juggling as it moves hastily to replace a failed backup computer on the outside of the station. Rick Mastracchio and Steve Swanson are expected to go “outside” on Wednesday (April 23), but if today’s SpaceX launch is delayed the spacewalk will be moved up to Sunday (April 20).

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The BICEP telescope located at the south pole. Image Credit: CfA / Harvard

The BICEP telescope located at the south pole. Image Credit: CfA / Harvard

Just a month ago came the news of the first direct evidence of primordial gravitational waves — ripples in the fabric of spacetime — providing the first direct evidence the Universe underwent a brief but stupendously accelerated expansion immediately following the Big Bang.

This almost unimaginably fast expansion when the Universe was only a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second was first theorized more than three decades ago, and the announcement last month was so monumental that some are comparing it to the discovery of the Higgs boson.

On April 18, 20:00 UTC (3 pm EDT, 1:00 pm PDT, two of the scientists who made this groundbreaking discovery will come together for a conversation with two of the pioneering leaders of the field. Together, they will examine the detection of a distinctive, swirling pattern in the universe’s first light, what the swirl tells us about that monumental growth spurt, and the many implications on the way we understand the universe around us.

You can watch below:
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A composite of 33 Lyrid meteors captured by the UK Meteor Network cameras in 2012. Credit: @UKMeteorNetwork

A composite of 33 Lyrid meteors captured by the UK Meteor Network cameras in 2012. Credit: @UKMeteorNetwork.

The month of April doesn’t only see showers that bring May flowers: it also brings the first dependable meteor shower of the season. We’re talking about the Lyrid meteors, and although 2014 finds the circumstances for this meteor shower as less than favorable, there’s still good reason to get out this weekend and early next week to watch for this reliable shower. [click to continue…]