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S1 Ep16: A New Space Race?

Space science isn’t where the money is… at least not yet. Astronomy and planetary science in the U.S. are funded by NASA, the National Science Foundation, and a variety of smaller foundations and extremely wealthy individuals.

And this means that sometimes science can only advance at the speed Congress is willing to budget. This past week, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson addressed the congressional NASA authorizing committee. During this event, Senator Maria Cantwell called for the passage of a multi-year budget authorization.

NASA last had a multi-year authorization from 2011-2013, when Nelson was a senator on the authorization committee. Now that he is on the other side of the desk, he is requesting a five-year authorization. These bills don’t actually provide the funding – that requires appropriations committees – but the authorization does guide what should be funded and prioritized.

As was pointed out by multiple people during this meeting: The U.S. is in a new space race with China, and our ability to remain competitive in low-earth orbit is now an economic issue, with communications and imaging satellites powering multiple sectors. If a multi-year authorization is passed, there is hope folks will be able to dream, focus on research, and maybe, just maybe, spend less time asking for money.

Speaking of… Want to support CosmoQuest?

S1 Ep13: SETI and the Very Large Array

While we could spend an entire episode on Earth, there is just too much going on in the universe to linger anywhere too long. From our world, we journey out to look at the super massive black hole in the core of M87, and then Beth Johnson will join us with an interview of the SETI Institute’s Dr Chenoa Tremblay and how radio astronomers are one step closer to simultaneously looking for life and doing science with the very large array.

This interview highlights how advances in signal detection and processing will now allow researchers to both study the science of distant stars and look for potential signals of alien civilizations. New partnerships are growing between the SETI Institute and the Very Large Array in New Mexico, and in collaboration we can expect both more research and a deeper understanding of any potential limits for finding life.

S1 Ep12: Do Not Look Directly at this Podcast

This episode features the kind of news week where we looked at the April 20th eclipse in the South Pacific and decided it just wasn’t a huge priority. Between watching Starship’s “will it won’t it” launch attempts and getting news of discoveries in cosmology and new software in planetary science… and the discovery of a totally weird rock formation on Mars… there is a lot going on out there. We’ll have a total eclipse on April 8, 2024. With that event occurring in less than a year, now is the time to start planning your travel if you want to see a transformative celestial experience.

S1 Ep11: In Venus VERITAS

For decades now, our planetary science news cycles have been dominated by Mars. Mars is relatively close, and we have a lot of experience landing there and science goals to pursue. But it has left our other closest neighbor, Venus, off the mission list. That is, until 2021, when NASA and the European Space Agency announced three separate but complimentary missions to that hellscape world. And now, one of those missions – VERITAS – is threatened to be completely mothballed before even really beginning. Later on in the show, Beth Johnson will interview deputy principal investigator, Darby Dyar, about why VERITAS is suddenly on the chopping block, what this means for planetary exploration, and how the public can help change NASA’s mind.

S1 Ep10: Pareidolia, Pattern Matching, and AI Art

Humans are the ultimate pattern matchers – at least for now. I have to admit I’m looking forward to the day I can give some new AI a set of images and ask it to tell me what animals it can find among the nebulae. The software isn’t there yet… But we’re also going to take a closer look at how art and AI look at space. And also science: From looking at active volcanism on Venus to eruptions on the Sun to rotating black hole jets and more, we take you on a journey through all that is new in space and astronomy.

S1 Ep9: The Search for Life on Other Worlds

Right now, humans are tantalizingly close to being able to search for life on other worlds where it is reasonable to think life could exist. We can’t do it yet – at least not in a way that would be safe for any potential life, but this is a long game, and as we’ll discuss in this episode, the technologies we need are being actively developed and tested on Earth, and the missions we need to find the best places to search are either already out there doing their job, or preparing to launch. This could happen, provided nothing happens to prevent us from getting off the planet…

S1 Ep8: Will Asteroid 2023 DW Collide with Earth in 2046? (Probably no)

A new asteroid has been discovered with an orbit that crosses our own planet’s orbit. In general, this object and Earth are very good and not trying to occupy the same space at the same time, and we’ve managed to coexist for a fair amount of time. We are going to have a close approach, however, in 2046, and for the first time in a long time, the potentially dangerous asteroids list actually gave us something to worry about.

S1 Ep7: Is 2023 the Year of Io?

In general, the kind of year we’ll experience gets its label at the end of the year. 2005 was the year of the never-ending hurricane season. 2017 was the year we experienced an eclipse and lost Cassini. 2020 was the year satellite constellations went from a handful to hundreds of spacecraft. 2022 was the year of Mars exploration with Curiosity, Percy, Ginny, Insight, and Tianwen-1. Each year gets to define itself, and it is up to us to fight or embrace what that year brings us. This year, 2023, is still young, but I’m going to guess that come January 2024, this will be the year of Io.

S1 Ep4: Cosmology: From Particles to Galaxy Clusters

We live at a time when technological advances are allowing us to explore ideas faster than ever before. So today, we bring you lab results on ice that affect how we see the outer solar system, and observations of galaxies that affect our understanding of the universe’s formation. We go from things smaller than a proton – which we just learned is 0.73 femtometers across — to galaxy clusters 10s of millions of lightyears across. It’s all tied together, and we’ll tell you how.

S1 Ep3: Mass Extinction, Volcanoes, and Rings Around an Asteroid

In this episode, we discuss one mass extinction, three stories with volcanoes, star formation, galaxy dissolution, and space mission synchronized observing. We also take a closer look at dark energy and dark matter and how giant galaxies in the early universe seem to indicate we may know even less than we thought. And rockets. There are always more rockets thanks to SpaceX. 

S1 Ep2: Space science potpourri and a more hopeful look at climate change

This episode has a little bit of everything as we bring you results from astronomers, geoscientists, climate scientists, imaging scientists, glaciologists, meteorologists, planetary scientists, engineers, and even bioarchaeologists. This diversity of research allows us to better understand our world and beyond. In our first segment, we look at how our ecosystem and past cultures rebounded after prior naturally occurring climate events. It’s unclear if this research will help us better recover from the climate change we’re currently facing, but maybe it will give us hope. From our world, we travel outward, looking at the meteorology of Mars, future technology for space exploration, and the star catalogs that will help us define our place in space. 

S1 Ep1: New science from AAS rearranges our understanding of the universe

Hello and welcome! This show – Escape Velocity Space News – is new, and we’re so glad that you’re here with us, right from the beginning. Dr. Pamela Gay, along with a great production team, is here to put science in your brain. In this episode, we’re going to bring you the best of what’s been discovered and dive deep into the hottest topic of the week – the infrared universe. From stunning images from the JWST to better-resolved star formation seen by ESO’s VLT, this redder-than-red color of light has been all the rage in this season’s best science papers. Also joining us is aerospace journalist Erik Madaus, who brings us a rundown of last year’s best launches and the stats for what was a truly bizarre launch year for the European Space Agency and an amazing year for SpaceX. We bring you all of this and more, right here on Escape Velocity Space News.