When the Universe formed after the Big Bang, all we had was hydrogen. But through the process of fusion, these hydrogen atoms were crushed into heavier and heavier elements. Fusion gives us warmth and light from the Sun, destruction with fusion bombs, and might be a source of inexpensive energy. We’ll also look into the controversy of cold fusion.
Now we’re going to answer a question that a 4-year old might ask – what is temperature? Why are things hot and why are they cold? How hot or cold can they get? And how is this all important for astronomy?
With the discovery of a planet in the habitability zone of Gliese 581, the chances of finding life on other worlds is just getting better and better. Let’s take a look at the discoveries made at Gliese 581, provide some perspective on the real chances of life, and talk about what might come next.
Titan is Saturn’s largest moon, and the second largest moon in the Solar System. It’s unique in the Solar System as the only moon with an atmosphere. In fact, scientists think that Titan’s thick atmosphere – rich in hydrocarbons – is similar to the early Earth, and could give us clues about how life got started on our planet.
Congratulations to Fraser Cain and Dr. Pamela Gay on Astronomy Cast podcast #200! This week’s podcast is about the Mariner program, the first interplanetary series of missions. These successful spacecraft visited Mercury, Venus, and Mars, and laid the groundwork for the US missions to the outer planets. Let’s take a look at the program and their incredible accomplishments.
Launched in 1977, the twin Voyager spacecraft were sent to explore the outer planets: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Because of a unique alignment of the planets, Voyager 2 was the first spacecraft to ever make a close approach to Uranus and Neptune. Let’s take a look back at this amazing program, and see where the spacecraft are today.
Space missions are expensive to build and launch, so there’s a lot of planning that goes into choosing exactly what’s going to be shot into space. Space scientists and engineers recently went through the process of deciding on their science goals, so we thought we’d spend an episode explaining how this works, and how the next generation of spacecraft and telescopes will be selected.
In this special live Dragon*Con 2010 episode of Astronomy Cast we welcomed special guest Les Johnson, Deputy Manager for NASA’s Advanced Concepts Office to talk about the state of human space exploration. And then we opened up the show to some amazing questions from the audience. Listen to the first live show ever done with both Fraser and Pamela in the same room.
Saturn is best known for its rings. This huge and beautiful ring system is easy to spot in even the smallest backyard telescope, so you can imagine they were a surprise when Galileo first noticed them. But astronomers have gone on to find rings around the other gas giant worlds in the Solar System – the differences are surprising.
We spent 5 episodes telling the story of astronomy so far, how we got from the work of the Babylonians to the modern discoveries made in the last decade. But now we want to look forward, studying the current space missions and experiments to uncover the mysteries that astronomers hope to solve.