Planetary Radio • Jan 29, 2020

Mighty Jupiter Revealed

On This Episode

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Scott Bolton

Director, Space Science and Engineering Division for Southwest Research Institute

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Casey Dreier

Chief Advocate & Senior Space Policy Adviser for The Planetary Society

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Bruce Betts

Chief Scientist / LightSail Program Manager for The Planetary Society

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Mat Kaplan

Planetary Radio Host and Producer for The Planetary Society

It’s more massive than all the other planets combined. In nearly four years at Jupiter the Juno spacecraft has returned science that is revolutionizing our understanding of this gigantic world. Principal investigator Scott Bolton shows us the mysterious cyclones at its poles and that famously persistent red spot. Casey Dreier says the United States House of Representatives has proposed legislation that is at odds with NASA’s current Moon and Mars plans. John Flamsteed almost discovered Uranus! Bruce Betts will tell us where he went wrong in this week’s What’s Up space trivia contest.

Jupiter from Juno on Perijove 23
Jupiter from Juno on Perijove 23 This image of Jupiter was created by Kevin Gill using images captured by NASA’s Juno spacecraft during its 23rd close flyby of Jupiter. NASA / JPL-Caltech / SwRI / MSSS / Kevin M. Gill
Storm on the Horizon
Storm on the Horizon Juno captured this image during perijove 21 on 21 July 2019 at 04:37 UTC, from a distance of 42,965 kilometers above the planet's clouds at a latitude of 46 degrees south. This view highlights the contrast between the colorful South Equatorial Belt and the mostly white Southern Tropical Zone, a latitude that also features Jupiter’s most famous phenomenon, the persistent, anticyclonic storm known as the Great Red Spot. NASA / JPL-Caltech / SwRI / MSSS / Image processing by Kevin M. Gill
Cyclones at Jupiter's north pole
Cyclones at Jupiter's north pole In this composite image, derived from data collected by the Jovian Infrared Auroral Mapper (JIRAM) instrument aboard NASA's Juno mission to Jupiter, shows the central cyclone at the planet's north pole and the eight cyclones that encircle it. JIRAM collects data in infrared, and the colors in this composite represent radiant heat: the yellow (thinner) clouds are about 9 degrees Fahrenheit (-13° Celsius) in brightness temperature and the dark red (thickest) are around -181 degrees Fahrenheit (-118.33° Celsius). NASA / JPL-Caltech / SwRI / ASI / INAF / JIRAM
Jupiter from Juno during Perijove 6
Jupiter from Juno during Perijove 6 This view of Jupiter was captured by the Juno spacecraft during its sixth perijove flyby on May 19, 2017. NASA / JPL-Caltech / SwRI / MSSS / Gerald Eichstädt / Seán Doran

Related Links

Trivia Contest

This week's prizes:

A copy of Keith Cooper’s new book, The Contact Paradox: Challenging our Assumptions in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence AND a Planetary Radio t-shirt from the Planetary Society store.

This week's question:

Of the planets and current dwarf planets in our solar system, which has the shortest (solar) day?

To submit your answer:

Complete the contest entry form at https://www.planetary.org/radiocontest or write to us at planetaryradio@planetary.org no later than Wednesday, February 5th at 8am Pacific Time. Be sure to include your name and mailing address.

Last week's question:

What mission and which astronauts were involved in the first haircut in space?

Winner:

The winner will be revealed next week.

Question from the January 15 space trivia contest:

John Flamsteed, the first Astronomer Royal, observed Uranus six times over 100 years before its official discovery without realizing it was a planet. What name did he give it?

Answer:

First Astronomer Royal John Flamsteed thought Uranus was a star and proposed naming it 34 Tauri.

Transcript

Mat Kaplan: [00:00:00] Mighty Jupiter revealed this week on Planetary Radio. Welcome. I'm Mat Kaplan of The Planetary Society with more of the human adventure across our solar system and beyond. I'm just back from vacation with an abbreviated version of the show. The Juno spacecraft is nearing its fourth anniversary in orbit around Jupiter.

The images of science it is returning are utterly spectacular, even mind bending. We'll catch up on the mission with its leader, Scott Bolton. The US House of Representatives may be headed on a collision course with NASA's Artemis Moon plans. Casey Dreier will stop by to explain. And I've got a great book for the winner of the new space trivia contest.

We'll start with these headlines from the Downlink Planetary Society, editorial director Jason Davis's weekly space news digest. The heat [00:01:00] flow probe known as the mole aboard NASA's InSight lander on Mars once again backed itself out of its hole while attempting to descend into the Martian soil. Scientists and engineers have been trying to bury the mole since March of last year.

It can't make its scientific measurements until the entire device is well underground. A lack of friction with the sides of the hole is believed to be the cause. China is preparing for an April test flight of its new crew vehicle that will be used to carry as many as six astronauts at a time. The spacecraft is designed for a variety of purposes including trips to the moon and to China's planned space station.

Also from the middle kingdom, Chinese media report that the country's lunar sample return mission Chang'e 5 is scheduled to launch in October. The mission will bring as many as four kilograms of lunar soil to earth and practice key technologies needed for [00:02:00] future crude missions such as the ability to rendezvous in lunar orbit. You can read a new edition of the Downlink every Friday at planetary.org/downlink.

Here is Planetary Society chief advocate, Casey Dreier. Casey, there have been new developments in funding for NASA which are pretty significant, and The Planetary Society is taking a stand with some of this. Give us a brief overview of what's happening, and then we will also direct people to your excellent blog post at planetary.org which goes into this in much more detail.

Casey Dreier: So Congress released what's called an authorization bill, and this is on the House of Representative side, one chamber of Congress. And unlike appropriations, which happens every year and directs funding to various NASA programs, authorization bills are more a statement of policy and intent. There are Congress saying, "This is what NASA should be doing now and in the [00:03:00] future."

And so they theoretically formally authorized the overall programmatic structure of NASA, which projects that NASA will prioritize and what it'll do in the next couple of years. Authorization bills don't happen every year, they happen more sporadically. But when they do happen, they can have very big impacts on the overall programmatic structure and direction of the US space program.

Mat Kaplan: This one is pretty significant in that it diverges in some important ways from, uh, the Artemis program that has been pursued by the current administration and, and NASA for that matter.

Casey Dreier: It certainly is significant legislation. It's a little over 100 pages. It touches on pretty much every aspect of NASA and what it does. And you know, there's a lot of good stuff in here, but the biggest issues are going to be around human space flight. And what it effectively does is, it basically tries to take NASA's focus away from the moon as a major [00:04:00] effort for the next decade or so, and makes the moon more of a stepping stone, a temporary spot with the eye firmly kept on Mars as the goal for human space flight.

And to that end, it actually forbids certain types of activities on the surface of the moon, like in situ resource utilization and a permanently crewed lunar outpost, and really says, "NASA can only do things in human space flight that feed directly into a long term Mars program." And it actually even sets a goal of humans orbiting Mars by 2033.

Mat Kaplan: You mentioned calling it a stepping stone, and this is this nice metaphor you had of, uh, whether it's a cornerstone or a stepping stone. I take it that the, the Artemis program treats the moon more as a cornerstone.

Casey Dreier: That's true. It really takes this idea that the moon should be this foundation of future exploration. And to that end, it takes a very broad approach to what activities should be happening there. It's trying to build this commercial concept of not just commercial partners, but maybe in the future [00:05:00] a marketplace or a market economy at the moon, trying to build ideas of can you generate resources to enable further exploration and just trying to be just there.

They call it a sustainable presence at the moon, and that's very different if you're trying to just test things at the moon and then go to Mars. And this comes down to a big philosophical difference. Perhaps a long term sustainable presence at the moon will lead to Mars, but it, I think inevitably means that you'll be focused on the moon just in terms of resources, time, and solving the problems that it presents to you over sending humans to Mars.

So if getting humans to Mars in the next 20 years or so is a real priority, you kind of have to limit what you do at the moon in order to focus the resources and budget on that other problem. That's in a sense what this legislation is trying to do, and that is in contrast to the current administration policy with Artemis.

Mat Kaplan: What is The Planetary Society doing about this? Has the society become involved?

Casey Dreier: We [00:06:00] have. We've weighed in, we've submitted statements for the record. We're engaging with our Planetary Science Caucus, and our chief of DC operations is running around right now probably as we speak, engaging with people, other stakeholders about this legislation. So I should emphasize, this is a draft legislation. It needs to go through the entire political process.

It is very different than what the Senate has already proposed, and so, there's a long way to go before this becomes law. But what this can really tell us is that there is significant division still within Congress and even between the White House and Congress about what the near term direction of the human space flight program should be.

And that really means this lack of consensus that we have this instability, this ongoing instability with human space flight. And we really need to try to focus and find that consensus. And that's what we're trying to do with The Planetary Society. To be part of that solution as opposed to continually finding different ways and reorienting and disrupting human space flight so we can just get people beyond low earth orbit.

Mat Kaplan: [laughs].

Casey Dreier: Let's at [00:07:00] least agree on that and take it from there.

Mat Kaplan: Please. Can we, please. As I said, Casey, there's a lot involved with this, but, uh, there are some somewhat controversial, uh, portions, uh, uh, related to this as well that you write about in your blog post.

Casey Dreier: Yep. Probably the most disruptive provisions have to deal with how astronauts would get to the surface of the moon. Right now, Artemis is using a public private partnership to develop new types of lunar landers, and it wants to use a mix of commercial and government owned rocket services to get them there. This bill would firmly take the position that only government owned hardware is to be used at the moon.

And what that means is basically an upgraded space launch system. Rocket is the only launch vehicle that could take humans to the surface, and it directs that any lunar lander project has to be developed functionally in the old school cost plus contracting methods. Basically cutting out new entrants like Blue Origin or [00:08:00] SpaceX from competing in this design effort in order to provide basically an advantage to old- older prime contractors.

And notably, a lot of people are saying Boeing is the key beneficiary of this legislation. This type of highly specific language that clearly benefits a few key industry players is not a good sign of a healthy space program, [laughs], and that's one of the things that The Planetary Society is calling for, is that that ... for that language to be removed from this bill and to allow NASA the flexibility to implement the program in the nation's interest. I think that's really important for this moving forward.

Mat Kaplan: Mm-hmm [affirmative]. Casey, we will have much more time to talk about this topic and other things when we get to the February Space Policy Edition of Planetary Radio next weekend. And I, I know you're working on bringing in a terrific guest who can help us understand, uh, these newest developments coming out of Washington. Thanks so much.

Casey Dreier: Oh, always happy to be here, Mat.

Mat Kaplan: That's Casey Dreier, the chief advocate of The Planetary Society, or [00:09:00] for The Planetary Society, and a cohost of the Space Policy Edition, uh, that we do monthly. Hope you'll tune in for that. Scott Bolton of the Juno mission is seconds away.

Kate Howells: The Planetary Society is building the ultimate list of life goals for space fans and we need your help. Hi, I'm Kate Howells, community engagement leader for the society. What's on your list? The must see objects in the night sky, the most awe inspiring destinations, the experiences of a lifetime. Tell us about them at planetary.org/spacegoals. We will share them with your space soul mates around the world. That's planetary.org/spacegoals. Thanks.

Mat Kaplan: Welcome back. I have to apologize. Two and a half years is far, far too long to have gone without talking to the Juno missions' principal investigator. Technical difficulties will delay the nice long conversation with Scott Bolton that I'd intended, but I can tease you with this brief sample. [00:10:00] Scott is the associate vice president of the science and engineering division at the Southwest Research Institute.

Juno was just the second of NASA's new frontiers missions following new horizons. There were those who said a mission to the outer solar system powered by solar panels couldn't be done. After all, Jupiter gets just four percent of the sunlight we enjoy on earth. Others wondered how a spacecraft could possibly withstand the intense radiation that surrounds the big planet. Juno has.

It reached Jupiter in July of 2016. Now its mission is expected to last at least until July of 2021. Scott, welcome back to Planetary Radio. It's not like we haven't been talking about Juno on the show, but it has been much too long since I've been able to talk with you directly about this mission. Congratulations are in order because I read that Juno witnessed the birth of a beautiful new baby at Jupiter's south pole. [00:11:00] And it happened well in part at least because you were saving your spacecraft's life. Tell us about this discovery.

Scott Bolton: Well, thanks for having me. It's always great to join you and visit with your audience and give them a chance to, to share in the excitement of, uh, our results from Juno. So you bring up a really, uh, an amazing discovery that we just made in the last orbit where we saw an additional new polar cyclone in the south pole.

When we arrived at Jupiter in 2016, we discovered that the poles were covered with these polar cyclones. There were five, uh, in the south pole going around a center one. So there's six all together. And in the north pole there were, there were eight going around a center one, which was nine. And that was really amazing to us and, uh, surprising.

The- the- there's nothing like it on any other planet that we've ever discovered. Scientist's been puzzled, you know, how did those polar cyclones get there? How, how stable are they? Uh, are they changing? Are we, you know, are they gonna change over time? [00:12:00] We've been monitoring them for more than three years or since, uh, 2016, trying to see if we're going to see them change or not.

And we would see ones come in and, or at least try to get in. It looked like a new cyclone would, would make an attempt. Something would be starting to form and then it would get pushed out. And the next time we went around, it wasn't there anymore. And we kind of began to realize that it's almost like a little private club-

Mat Kaplan: [laughs].

Scott Bolton: ... and you can't get in. And this last fly by, we saw one, uh, that clearly got positioned into the right place. It bumped the other ones around, so it was equal distance from the other ones and kind of made a six instead of five. And we were amazed. It's a, it's a baby as you point out, it's smaller than the others. And the question is, is, is it going to grow to the same size as its siblings? How does that happen?

It's an amazing discovery coming right on the tail of this hopping over the shadow. Uh, you, you [00:13:00] pointed out that we just saved the spacecraft. What that story was about, back in 2016, we, we made a decision not to go into a, a shorter orbit, which was 14 days long, which was our original plan. And we stayed in a 53 day long orbit.

And we did that because we saw that there was some odd behavior in the plumbing system for the, for the rocket motor and the f- flow of the fuel. And we didn't want to take a chance that something would go wrong in changing our orbit since we were in one that was working. And if we just were patient and took a longer orbit, we could do the science just as well.

And then surely after, as we started to realize this, we started to look at the details of that. We realized that if we stayed at Jupiter longer, that Jupiter was going to continue to go around the sun, and eventually Juno was going to fall into a position where we were entering into the shadow of, of Jupiter, essentially going into an eclipse. [00:14:00] And as many of your listeners know, Juno is solar powered. Eclipses are not the friends of solar powered spacecraft.

Mat Kaplan: [laughs]. No.

Scott Bolton: An- And in fact, we had designed, you know, not to go into an eclipse. Uh, we had some batteries that would last a couple of hours for when we were first getting started and we hadn't opened the solar rays yet. And then we have some maneuvers where we're downlinking and we don't point directly at The Sun anymore. But we couldn't sustain a long solar eclipse, uh, a long eclipse, uh, and being in the shadow away from the sunlight.

And so I was struggling, looking for solutions and, um, and the navigation team came up with a incredible creative idea. Which was, they literally jumped over the shadow. And so, right on the heels of, of successfully doing that maneuver and coming back to Jupiter, now on the other side of the eclipse, we go over the pole and there's a new cyclone. I mean, it was just an amazing coincidence.

We made this ... [00:15:00] a huge discovery that we had been hoping for, you know, to, to understand the polar cyclones. And we make this discovery that's giving us huge insights into this right after jumping the shadow.

Mat Kaplan: Talk about serendipity. Uh, this brings up so many other questions. I mean, I'll start with the sort of heroic actions of your, your navigators. I never cease to be amazed at how these people who plot the paths of spacecraft put rabbits out of a hat.

Scott Bolton: It's true. And I, you know, I've been involved in this space program for, for quite a long time now since I graduated college. And I've seen a lot of missions from Voyager, Cassini, Galileo, many earth orbiters, Mars missions, I've always been amazed at the navigators, you know. I understand Kepler's Laws, but these, these guys and girls, they, the, the men and women on the navigation team literally drive around the spacecraft like, like we're driving around town.

They [00:16:00] use the moons and the gravity and the knowledge of Kepler and this, and the spacecraft's velocity to literally bounce around. I mean, on Cassini and Galileo missions, which were the previous orbiters of giant planets, they literally could use one fly by use that, that gravity assist, and drive over to another part that they wanted to see.

I mean, and the first thing I saw was when just getting out to Jupiter, we used a gravity boost from earth. Their command and their creativity is amazing. They, they see a problem and they think out of the box. I mean, they're truly using both sides of their brain where, you know, you have this creative and analytical, uh, reasoning pieces of your brain, and they're using both halves constantly coming up with a creative solution, analytically figuring it out, making it happen.

I mean, I'm so impressed with that and, and, and all of it. And of course, I believe in art and [00:17:00] science and using both halves of your brain as much as possible, but the- they're providing such a great example of the power of that capability in human minds.

Mat Kaplan: It's an exciting thing this capability, this intersection of creativity, uh, and analytical thinking of art and science is so important to you. I ... Let's go back to, uh, these cyclones, plural, now, uh, the club that you were talking about. This new one I've seen you describe, it's, uh, the size of Texas, [laughs], the baby, but this whole complex, it's just mindbogglingly huge like everything else on Jupiter, right?

Scott Bolton: It is. It's just a ... they're gigantic. The wind speeds are, uh, really fast. You know, the really big ones are thousands of kilometers across, we call 'em cyclones. I should point out that there are cyclones and there are anticyclones, and they has to do with which direction are they rotating and circulating.

And so when I [00:18:00] use the term cyclone, I really ... what I mean is that this storm that's a circulating storm, it may be twisting in the anticyclone direction. So I don't want to confuse your, your listeners there. My fellow scientists would, uh, would complain to me and they do often when I use the word-

Mat Kaplan: [laughs].

Scott Bolton: ... cyclone generically.

Mat Kaplan: Thank you for the clarification. Is this great data from Juno, uh, helping us to understand what's driving these things and, and why they've taken the pattern that they have not only in Jupiter but, but at Saturn as well?

Scott Bolton: Of course the Saturn has this hexagon shape, but that's ... those are straight lines. Those are not cyclonic storms. Um-

Mat Kaplan: I see. Yeah. They're not really, yeah, they're not cyclones. Yeah.

Scott Bolton: So it's different and, and in fact, we've never seen anything like what we see at Jupiter, and it's literally opening a new field of science. People are, are trying to figure out, "Okay, how do you make these things?" Around the same time that we saw this new [00:19:00] one form some of our, our team, uh, the scientists were modeling, trying to come up with, are these stable, how long do they last? How do you make a new one, how can I get it?

And they had just recently come up with a model that actually could create a new one. And the question was, is would we ever see one? And, and I mean almost within a week or two [laughs] of them-

Mat Kaplan: [laughs]. Wow.

Scott Bolton: ... [crosstalk 00:19:22] this, we got, "Wow, we just saw one." And then it was like, "Well, does it look like the model?" And of course it's a little early because what we do is we see a picture of this every 53 days basically. And of course the model shows you how it works every day. A lot of scientists would say, you know, "Go park a spacecraft over the pole and just stare for a while and we'll study this."

Mat Kaplan: [laughs].

Scott Bolton: Uh, that's not so practical. But, but the idea of understanding atmospheric dynamics is, is important. And, and of course comparative study, we ... most of our atmosphere dynamics comes from analogy with earth, right? So we understand, we think we understand Earth's [00:20:00] atmosphere and, and we apply it to all the other planets that we see. Although I will remind the, the listener that rarely is the weather report right. And so-

Mat Kaplan: [laughs].

Scott Bolton: ... we still have a long way to go before we really understand atmospheric dynamics and meteorology to the extent where we understand the details. But we get a big picture and Jupiter is very different than earth. And you might expect that because it's a, it's a ball of gas, the atmosphere goes much deeper. It's further away from the sun.

But what Juno's discovered, and it isn't just the cyclonic storms of the poles, but the whole atmosphere seems to work differently than what we've assumed. And so, it's a new field of study, but it's great fuel for us to go learn about nature and how atmospheric dynamics really work. Because whatever theory we come up with does have to explain all the different planets.

And so this is a new kind of phenomena that we have, um, at Jupiter, and it [00:21:00] could be that giant planets in general are like this and Saturn's a little different, or we're watching it in a, in a state of change and Saturn's is not in the same phase at the moment. It will be interesting as we learn more and more about exoplanets, um, whether they might behave like Jupiter.

I mean we consider that to be sort of our, our example of an exoplanet, uh, giant planet. And, and so I think that it's really important for us to continue studying it, and we're kind of lucky to have Juno there right now while we're watching all of these atmosphere dynamic things change and make the discoveries that we, we've done about the deep atmosphere, the polar, even the Great Red Spot. Everything is sort of in a state of flux right now.

Mat Kaplan: Kind of lucky, [laughs], I would say we're extremely fortunate, and, and it's all thanks to, to you and your team, and hopefully, it's going to continue for a long time. Well, but I'm glad you mentioned the Red Spot, the Great Red Spot, that other big storm on the planet, one of many, [00:22:00] because, uh, listeners wouldn't forgive me if I didn't bring it up.

It is another feature of the planet which you have picked up tremendous images of. And of course, people listening to this, if you have not been to the Juno website to take a look at the gallery of images there and video, you really should do that. And we will put up the link on the show page that you can reach from planetary.org/radio, or just google Juno mission of course.

But about that spot, you've been taking a look at it. It's been there for hundreds of years, hasn't it?

Scott Bolton: Yeah, I mean the, the Great Red Spot is a unique atmospheric feature in our solar system. And one of the reasons is, is its size. And it is more or less a giant storm, but the fact that it's, it seems to have lasted for so long also, uh, makes it rather unique. We got there and we started studying it. Now people had known that it was changing in size, or at least the assumption was is that it seemed to [00:23:00] be shrinking between the Voyager era and even Cassini era when it passed by, and of course when we're there.

Um, although recently, people have been suggesting that maybe it's not shrinking, that there's just some other kind of cloud cover coming over it, and then it's actually staying. It may not be getting a lot smaller except in appearance. I don't think we have that understood yet, but I can tell you that, uh, we've been very fortunate. As we go over the Great Red Spot, we've made some close up images and you can see the dynamics of what's happening while we're watching this thing in transition.

Little flakes that seem to peel off of it. And one of the things we did is we have a capability of looking underneath the top part of the atmosphere with our microwave instrument and we are able to see that it seems to go deep.

Mat Kaplan: Juno mission principal investigator Scott Bolton will have more to tell us in an upcoming episode, including a personal memory of Carl Sagan that you'll have to hear to [00:24:00] believe. Bruce and What's Up are seconds away. We are on the line, the Skype line, the emergency backup Skype line [laughs] because, you know, this is space. You've got to have backup with the chief scientist of The Planetary Society, Bruce Betts.

Bruce Betts: Love that redundancy.

Mat Kaplan: Yeah, got to have it. Um, [laughs], I don't think we're quite at the NASA level. Been a long time since I've talked to you on Skype. I, I'm not happy to be doing it actually, though I'm happy to hear from you and hear about the night sky.

Bruce Betts: [laughs]. Uh, thanks.

Mat Kaplan: [laughs].

Bruce Betts: Let's go to the happiest story rather than our technical issues. Uh, super bright Venus, you can't miss it in the West after sunset, looking stunning and now, now mercury is coming up towards lower right in the evening West. And uh, you'll need a much clearer view to the horizon than you do for Venus, but still pretty cool. And in the predawn, you got reddish Mars up high, and the party [00:25:00] planet is the party planet. [laughing].

The party is just getting started with planets, and will get better and better over the coming weeks. But right now, we've got Mars in the East looking reddish and down low to the horizon is bright Jupiter. And coming up to its lower left is yellow Saturn, and they're all gonna party together for the next several weeks. It's going to be groovy.

Mat Kaplan: You know, the party planet of course is Risa, Star Trek.

Bruce Betts: Party planet. Okay, now I'm thinking too much about that. How about we go onto this week in space history? Uh, start with the, the sad news. We remember the Columbia astronauts from the Columbia disaster in 2003. And then onto happier news much farther back in time, 1958, Explorer 1 was launched, the first successful US satellite.

Mat Kaplan: Quite a week.

Bruce Betts: All right. We move on to [singing]. Can you hear that on camera?

Mat Kaplan: Yeah, I did. That was kind of a mellow, uh, for Skype, [00:26:00] right?

Bruce Betts: Yeah. I didn't want to hurt anyone. So this, I am really excited about this random space fact. It dawned on me this might be true, and it is. If you add the masses of Venus, Mercury, and Mars together, the three planets, it's still a bit less than the mass of earth.

Mat Kaplan: [laughs]. That's great. So this was just a hunch of yours?

Bruce Betts: Yeah. I was just like, "Gosh, I wonder if those add up to be about the same by some chance." And they, they do too within a couple percent, but it's still less than earth. Three planets. We're a, we're more massive. We, we rule-

Mat Kaplan: [laughs].

Bruce Betts: ... in the inner solar system.

Mat Kaplan: King of the Rockies.

Bruce Betts: King of the Rockies. I love that. I should probably move on to the trivia contest. I said, almost 100 years before Uranus is discovery by William Herschel, John Flamsteed observed it at least six times. What name did John [00:27:00] Flamsteed give Uranus when he observed it? Not too exciting, but definitely trivia. How'd we do, Mat?

Mat Kaplan: Have we ever had a winner in Portugal? I'm not sure.

Bruce Betts: I, uh, let me check my files. Uh, probably not.

Mat Kaplan: [laughs]. Probably. Those are ... It's a good database you got there. Well, here's our first. I hope Bruno Pachulia, Bruno Pachulia, pardon my, uh, poor Portuguese, in fact, my non-existent Portuguese.

Bruce Betts: Yeah. Sorry, I can't help you.

Mat Kaplan: He said that it's [34 Tare 00:27:32].

Bruce Betts: That is correct.

Mat Kaplan: Well, congratulations Bruno. And he says nice things about the show as well. You're going to get those three space stickers from Chop Shop. Uh, and along with that also from Chop Shop, a Planetary Radio t-shirt. We'll check in with you to see what size you would like to receive. It's an honor to be getting these from all over the world.

Here's one from Parma, Ohio. I think that's in the United States. [laughing]. [00:28:00] This is Victoria [Wided 00:28:02], she's just standing in for all the people who said that they would have preferred George to Uranus.

Bruce Betts: [laughs].

Mat Kaplan: But, but she said flimflam would also have been okay with her. Hans Petrosky in Kirtland, Ohio, I wonder if those are neighbors. His vote went for [barforkitty 00:28:18] star.

Bruce Betts: That is incorrect. Just to be clear.

Mat Kaplan: Yeah. He actually noted, he says, "I know that this is not correct." That ... Those are the last of our nominations. We didn't get a lot of silly nominations for what it should have been called, but we did hear this from Laura Dodd up in Northern California. "Although Flamsteed was a member of the Royal Society and the very first astronomer royal, and he has both a moon crater and an asteroid named for him, he never won the Planetary Radio space trivia contest." [laughing].

Bruce Betts: So, so sad.

Mat Kaplan: Unless he did it under a pseudonym.

Bruce Betts: [laughing]. Uh, just to be clear, this happened like hundreds of years going. Never mind. Go ahead.

Mat Kaplan: Just, just the same. [00:29:00] Uh, from Germany, Thorsten Zimmer. "So this is an early example of two lessons learned many years later in Hollywood. A, not every potential star turns out to be a real one." [laughing]. "And, and B, a new name doesn't always help to make things better." [laughing]. Finally, our Poet Laureate Dave Fairchild, who also thought it was interesting that Flamsteed was both a priest and the astronomer Royal at the time.

"In 1690, Mr Flamsteed was a priest. He spotted Tare 34, a star. He thought, "At least it looks like one, but not a major. Never make me famous." It would if he had known that he was looking at Uranus." [laughing]. Only works with the improper pronunciation. But [crosstalk 00:29:46].

Bruce Betts: That was very nice.

Mat Kaplan: Thank you. Thank you.

Bruce Betts: Sure.

Mat Kaplan: And thank you Dave. That's it. We can move on.

Bruce Betts: All right, here's a new question for you. Of the planets and current dwarf planets in our solar system, [00:30:00] which has the shortest day? And to be clear, I don't think we need to refine it, but it's ... we're referring to solar day here. So time from noon to the next noon, which has the shortest day of planets in dwarf planets? Go to planetary.org/radiocontest.

Mat Kaplan: You have until Wednesday, February five at 8:00 AM Pacific time to get us your answer. And win yourself, uh, we'll say a Planetary Radio t-shirt. Sure. But also a great book. I'm not going to get the chance to talk to its author, Keith Cooper, science writer, but, uh, it is a fine book. The Contact Paradox: uh, Challenging our Assumptions in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence.

I highly recommend it. It's from Bloomsbury Sigma, and it can be yours if you, uh, get through random.org and have the right answer for us.

Bruce Betts: All right, everybody go up there, look up at the night sky and think about ways you can make yourself happy when you're experiencing technical [00:31:00] difficulties. Thank you. And good night.

Mat Kaplan: I suppose I might be happy if they were somebody else's technical difficulties. [laughing].

Bruce Betts: I don't know that you can do that.

Mat Kaplan: That's [crosstalk 00:31:10]. [laughs]. He's the chief scientist of the Planetary so- so- so- Society. [laughing], who'd, who'd one way or another joins us every week here for What's Up. Planetary Radio's produced by The Planetary Society in Pasadena, California. And it's made possible by its Jovian and jovial members.

Join the planetary party at planetary.org/membership. Mark Hilverda is our associate producer, Josh Doyle composed our theme, which is arranged and performed by Peter Schlosser. Ad astra.