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Orbital Path

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Location:

United States

Networks:

PRX

Description:

Astronomer Michelle Thaller takes a look at the big questions of the cosmos and what the answers can reveal about life here on Earth. From podcast powerhouse PRX, with support from the Sloan Foundation.

Twitter:

@mlthaller

Language:

English


Episodes

Holy Sheet!

8/4/2017
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NASA is relying on hi-tech lasers — and some vintage U.S. Navy hand-me-downs — to learn about the polar regions of a remarkable, watery planet. It’s located in the Orion spur of our galaxy. NASA scientists have detected mountain ranges completely under ice. But the remaining mysteries of the ice here are profound, and what … Continue reading Holy Sheet!

Duration: 00:20:47


Mini-sode 3: Dr. Thaller Helps You Prep for The Eclipse

7/21/2017
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The big one is coming! That is, the total solar eclipse of Aug. 21. Dr. Thaller shares her wisdom on how best to view the eclipse and its larger implications for science.

Duration: 00:11:15


Mini-sode 2: What up, Jupiter?

7/1/2017
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Recently, we’ve started to get the first images back from Juno, which is on a mission to Jupiter. Host Dr. Michelle Thaller walks us through the results so far and how you can participate in what Juno discovers next. Image of Jupiter from the Juno spacecraft.

Duration: 00:06:47


Episode 19: We Are Stardust

6/21/2017
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Dr. Michelle Thaller visits the NASA lab that discovered that meteorites contain some of the very same chemical elements that we contain. Then, Michelle talks to a Vatican planetary scientist about how science and religion can meet on the topic of life beyond Earth.

Duration: 00:14:01


Episode 18: Cassini Countdown

5/24/2017
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When the Cassini spacecraft blasted into space on October 15, 1997, even the most optimistic scientists would have had a hard time predicting the mission’s success. Dr. Michelle Thaller speaks with the Cassini mission’s Project Scientist Linda Spilker, as well as Julie Webster, a longtime Cassini engineer and a manager for spacecraft operations. One of … Continue reading Episode 18: Cassini Countdown

Duration: 00:22:30


Making (Gravitational) Waves

4/22/2017
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Nearly 100 years after Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves — huge undulations in the fabric of space-time itself — in 2015, detectors here on Earth finally picked up the signal of these massive disturbances. Dr. Michelle Thaller pulls apart the power and mystery of gravitational waves, and talks with Dr. Janna Levin, theoretical … Continue reading Making (Gravitational) Waves

Duration: 00:26:20


Mini-sode 1: NASA’s NICER Mission

4/3/2017
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Listeners, we’ve heard you! You requested more episodes, so we present the first of our mini episodes. They’ll arrive two weeks after each monthly regular episode, and include Michelle Thaller’s insight on the latest space news. Enjoy episode one: NASA’s NICER (Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer) mission will launch in May. Michelle explains the NICER … Continue reading Mini-sode 1: NASA’s NICER Mission

Duration: 00:06:28


Lessons in Landslides

3/21/2017
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Space science can help track what’s happening on Earth. In this podcast episode, Orbital Path talks landslides and the satellites that monitor them for the third anniversary of the deadliest landslide in US history. On March 22, 2014 a 650-foot hillside collapsed and covered the community of Oso, Washington. Forty-three people died. David Montgomery studied … Continue reading Lessons in Landslides

Duration: 00:22:09


Space Robots to Europa!

2/24/2017
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Galileo discovered Europa, Jupiter’s fourth-largest moon, in 1610. In 1977, the Voyager spacecraft buzzed past and we realized it was covered in ice. It took a few more years to understand that it also likely had unfrozen liquid water oceans. In this episode, Kevin Hand, Deputy Project Scientist for the Europa mission at NASA’s Jet … Continue reading Space Robots to Europa!

Duration: 00:18:44


How the World Came Together to Avoid Ozone Disaster

1/24/2017
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In 1985, the British Antarctic Survey discovered something that shocked scientists around the world: the ozone layer had a hole in it. And the hole was growing very quickly. When they were presented with the problem, politicians and world leaders quickly came up with an international agreement to immediately reduce chlorofluorocarbons released into the atmosphere. … Continue reading How the World Came Together to Avoid Ozone Disaster

Duration: 00:18:02


Warning: Space May Wreak Havoc on Your Body

12/17/2016
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Going to Mars is hot right now, just ask Matt Damon. But would you go if you knew your bones would turn into something called “pee brittle”? Former astronaut Michael Massimino reveals the uncomfortable side of liftoff. And Dr. Jennifer Fogarty from NASA’s Human Research Program elaborates on the physical challenges humans face with longterm … Continue reading Warning: Space May Wreak Havoc on Your Body

Duration: 00:14:31


In Search of Planet 9

11/19/2016
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An Orbital Path episode all about…an orbital path! Planet 9’s, to be exact. The replacement for Pluto as our solar system’s ninth planet is out there somewhere, and astronomers can see the ripples it creates, especially at this time of year. In this Episode: On November 5, 2012, astronomer Scott Sheppard and his team discovered … Continue reading In Search of Planet 9

Duration: 00:16:23


Black Hole Breakthroughs

10/22/2016
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Scientific discovery can happen in two ways: “Eureka!” moments of sudden understanding, where researchers glean unexpected insight into new phenomena. Or, a slower, less glamorous hunt for truth that happens day-after-day, for years. But both methods can lead to new understandings that pushes the field forward for future breakthroughs. In this episode: the sudden realization … Continue reading Black Hole Breakthroughs

Duration: 00:13:48


Done in the Sun

10/1/2016
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Coronal mass ejection courtesy of NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory The sun can seem like a friendly celestial body. It is the source of summer, crops, and basically all life on Earth. But just as the sun decided when life on Earth could begin, it will also decide when life on Earth will definitely end. Dr. … Continue reading Done in the Sun

Duration: 00:13:44


Howdy, Neighbor

9/2/2016
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When Proxima b's discovery appeared in Nature on August 24, the media breathlessly announced a new Earth-like planet just 4.2 light years away from Earth. Astronomers have, for years, anticipated a planet orbiting Proxima Centauri. Michelle Thaller talks with astrophysicist Dr. Patricia Boyd about NASA’s ongoing search for exoplanets and what’s the next step in human exploration of other worlds.

Duration: 00:12:03


A Tale of Two Asteroids

8/23/2016
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The asteroid belt is portrayed in movies as a crowded place with massive rocks bouncing each other like pool balls, capable of sending a mile-wide missile hurtling toward Earth at any moment. The reality is much more fascinating. Host Dr. Michelle Thaller speaks with Dr. Lucy McFadden, Co-Investigator of NASA's Dawn Mission to orbit the asteroids Vesta and Ceres. She shares what they've learned by traveling 130 million miles to visit places we've always viewed from afar. Episode Extras...

Duration: 00:15:27