Mat KaplanJul 08, 2013

Found a Killer Asteroid? Who Ya Gonna Call?

Tim Spahr of the Minor Planet Center on Planetary Radio

There are millions of space rocks and dirty snowballs yet to be discovered in our solar system.  A disturbing number of these objects cross the path of our home planet.  Astronomers, professionals and amateurs alike, are finding them at an unprecedented rate.  When they do, they report their discoveries to the Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  We talk with the MPC Director this week on Planetary Radio.  Tim Spahr is also Coordinator of the Planetary Society's very successful Shoemaker Near Earth Object Grant program.  Yet another round of grants just went out to a dedicated group of astronomers around the world.  Tim tells us how the choices are made, and about the important role of so-called amateurs.

With Emily Lakdawalla still on vacation, I welcome back Planetary Society contributing editor and science journalist Jason Davis. Jason recounts the tragedy of the Challenger disaster, along with the triumphant return of the space shuttle to orbit.  Speaking of disasters, we also have the key moments in the catastrophic explosion of that Russian Proton rocket last week.  Jason collected several of the spectacular videos.  Bill Nye sees it as a warning to nations that might lose their will to explore and innovate.

Guitars in space?  Bruce Betts reveals when the first axe went orbital.  You may be surprised by who did it and when.  Bruce puts more night sky wonders within our reach, and provides a quick update on the Society's support for the PlanetVac project.  It all makes for a nice way to get your head back in the game after a holiday week here in the US.  I hope you'll listen in.  Clear skies.

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