On This Episode
Chief Executive Officer for The Planetary Society
Research Scientist for JPL
Geochemistry Ph.D. Candidate for Caltech
Astronomy Graduate Student for Caltech
Systems Engineer and Space Exploration Architect for Lockheed Martin
Chief Scientist / LightSail Program Manager for The Planetary Society
Senior Communications Adviser and former Host of Planetary Radio for The Planetary Society
Planetary Radio Live goes on stage at the first ever Fairplex Extreme STEA2M Festival in Pomona, California. Host Mat Kaplan and Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye are joined by four young space scientists and engineers in front of hundreds of families. Chief Scientist Bruce Betts is also on hand for a live edition of What’s Up. The Amoeba People perform the Planetary Radio theme, along with their tribute to Carl Sagan.
- Fairplex Extreme STEA2M
- The Amoeba People
- JPL Research Scientist Laura Kerber
- Caltech Geochemistry Ph.D. Candidate Peter Martin
- Caltech Astronomy Graduate Student Jackie Pezzato
- ASME E-Fest Interview with Lockheed Martin’s Danielle Richey
A priceless Planetary Society KickAsteroid rubber asteroid and a 200-point iTelescope.net astronomy account.
This week's question:
Who was the second youngest person to orbit the Earth?
To submit your answer:
Complete the contest entry form at http://planetary.org/radiocontest or write to us at [email protected] no later than Wednesday, March 27th at 8am Pacific Time. Be sure to include your name and mailing address.
Last week's question:
What is the name of the espresso maker on the International Space Station?
The answer will be revealed next week.
Question from the March 6th space trivia contest question:
What are the Hayabusa2 five gram bullets made of? (Not the bigger copper projectile that will make a much bigger impact.)
The bullets fired by Hayabusa2 into asteroid Ryugu to collect samples are made of tantalum.
Transcribed by Planetary Society volunteer Jake Bathman:
[Mat Kaplan]: Welcome to Planetary Radio Live. Please thank our great band The Amoeba People. We're going to be hearing from them again very soon. Don't worry, they're going to be back. I'm Mat Kaplan of the Planetary Society, looking out over hundreds of families who have come to Fairplex for the first Extreme STEA²M Festival. We've got a lot of fired-up kids in the audience. Who loves science? [00:01:00] You know who else loves science? It's my boss, the CEO of the Planetary Society, Bill Nye the Science Guy.
[Bill Nye]: Greetings from Earth. It's so good to be here, Mat.
[Mat Kaplan]: You must love seeing events like this celebrating science.
[Bill Nye]: Absolutely. We're getting young people excited about science. So we'll have a better tomorrow for all humankind. I'm not joking. Science answer is the key to our future.
[Mat Kaplan]: You've already made a cool presentation of your own all alone here on stage and I'm glad that you were able to stay to meet a few of the people who also want to share what you lovingly call the PB&J.
[Bill Nye]: The passion, beauty, and joy, joy of science.
[Mat Kaplan]: How many of you have heard of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory? Right? Almost everybody. How many of you have taken a tour of [00:02:00] JPL or been to one of the lab's open houses? Yeah? You know for those of you who haven't done it, I highly recommend a visit. It is the most amazing place that... one of the most amazing places that certainly I have ever visited. Our first guest works there as a research scientist. Laura Kerber is a geologist. She's a geologist on Earth but also for other places around the solar system. She studies volcanoes, the climate on ancient Mars back when it had lots of liquid water on the surface, and something I think she's going to talk to us about today: caves on other worlds. She is the Principal Investigator, that means the leader, of a mission proposal called Moon Diver. Wait till you hear about Moon Diver. Please welcome Laura Kerber. [00:03:00] Our next guest is a Martian. Well, Peter Martin comes from a family of scientists. He thought he'd be a professional pilot when he was growing up, but he fell in love with planetary geology as a freshman in college. He ended up with a double major in chemistry and geology. Now he's close to earning his PhD at CalTech, the California Institute of Technology. When he got the unexpected chance to work on Mars—well, with data from the Mars rover, Curiosity—he grabbed it. Now he uses data from Curiosity to learn more about rocks on the Red Planet, unlocking secrets about Martian water and how old the planet is. He's also helping to prepare the launch of the next Mars rover, the one that will actually look for signs of past life on the Red Planet. Please welcome Peter Martin. [00:04:00] Who knows how many planets there are in the Milky Way galaxy? Are there thousands of planets? Millions of planets? How about billions? Try hundreds of billions of planets just in our galaxy. Jackie Pezzato wants to know more about these worlds and especially about their atmospheres. Those atmospheres might tell us if anybody is living there. But how do we learn about planets that are so far away? Well, it helps to work with some of the biggest telescopes on Earth and Jackie does. She is also from CalTech, just like Peter, where she is a second year PhD student in astrophysics studying and helping to develop new technologies for exploration. Please welcome Jackie Pezzato. [00:05:00] Danielle Richey is not a Martian, but she hopes to build the spacecraft that will take future Martians to the Red Planet and enable those humans to do great science when they get there. She's a project manager, systems engineer, and architect at Lockheed Martin where they are working on the path that will take humans to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. Danielle has a Master's Degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Colorado with an emphasis in Bioastronautics. Please help us welcome Danielle Richey. Okay, let's start with this: what is bioastronautics?
[Danielle Richey]: It means living things in space.
[Mat Kaplan]: Which is pretty cool.
[Bill Nye]: Well we're in space and we're living.
[Danielle Richey]: I love all of you.
[Mat Kaplan]: Ha ha ha.
[Bill Nye]: Well there we go.
[Mat Kaplan]: Let's start talking to some of our other panelists. Laura, you brought some slides. [00:06:00] It looks like you've been to a lot of cool places. Tell us about these.
[Laura Kerber]: Yeah. So my job at NASA JPL is that I'm a research scientist and a big part of my job is that I travel around the world and I go to the places that are the most alien-looking places that I can possibly find. And so in this slide, I'm showing you some pictures from my trips to Ethiopia. I went to Argentina. I've been to China. There's a picture of me right there from Antarctica. And so I basically the more alien and strange it is the more likely you are to find me there.
[Mat Kaplan]: Because these are the places that are most like some other worlds.
[Laura Kerber]: Exactly. Like I was in Argentina for example, and they have some of the tallest dust devils in the entire world. And so we're out looking at some rocks and not paying attention. We turned around and the dust devil hit us right in the face.
[Mat Kaplan]: What is Moon Diver?
[Laura Kerber]: Well, so after I had been traveling the world for many years I decided what's the one place I haven't been and that's [00:07:00] obviously outside of the Earth and to the Moon. So I started planning this mission to the Moon. This is not a mission that actually exists but it's an idea and we're trying to get NASA to see if they want to accept it. So we've been working on it. So what... in 2009 they discovered these pits in the Moon. They're enormous pits in the Moon. You could fit a whole building inside that pit. I like to say you could fit if you had acrobatic giraffes, you can fit 20 giraffes standing all one on top of the other and that the top giraffe's head would just speak out of the top of that that pit right there. And so this is an image of the... our rover which is a very extreme terrain repelling rover. And it's kind of like a mountain climber. It goes right with a rope and it goes down into the cave.
[Bill Nye]: When you say not very far from the Apollo 11 landing site how far is not very far?
[Laura Kerber]: It's still a couple hundred kilometers.
[Bill Nye]: Oh, okay.
[Laura Kerber]: But it's actually on the same...
[Bill Nye]: They didn't almost end up in the cave?
[Laura Kerber]: Right, no. That would have been pretty funny if they just [00:08:00] missed it.
[Bill Nye]: Funny in a way.
[Mat Kaplan]: Is that a version of it that we're looking at here?
[Laura Kerber]: Yes. So we made a prototype of the rover. We're kind of... we're preparing a lot to see is this mission even possible and what would we have to do and what kind of engineering would we have to do in order to make it possible? And so here's an example of the rover. We took it out into the field in Arizona where there's some really enormous pits just like we see on the Moon. There's some pits in Hawaii, there's pits in different parts of the country, so I continued my travels by trying to prepare ourselves to go to to the Moon. So there's a picture of me in a lava tube waving, that was in Utah.
[Mat Kaplan]: And that's also you in that one that's making a lot of people claustrophobic right there?
[Laura Kerber]: Right. So that that particular tube is called the Button Crawl because as you're crawling along through it, it takes all the buttons off the front of your shirt. And then we built a little wall there and we practice in the lab going up and down walls as well.
[Mat Kaplan]: Is this a coolmMission concept? Like you said it's only a proposal but wouldn't that be cool to [00:09:00] crawl down into one of these lava tubes?
[Laura Kerber]: So what I like about NASA is that it really does give you a chance to dream very very big and so someone like me I could come up with a crazy mission to the Moon and then NASA would say, all right, let's hear you out. Let's see if it's actually possible.
[Mat Kaplan]: Well, good luck with it.
[Bill Nye]: If you were going to live on the Moon, the cave would be the way to go and there's probably water ice in there.
[Laura Kerber]: Yeah, this particular cave is near the equator. Some of the caves that are closer to the poles would probably have water ice in them.
[Bill Nye]: And how did the caves form?
[Laura Kerber]: These particular caves, what you have is a void under the surface like a big hole and in this case probably a lava tube and then there's a collapse that happens over time and the overlying layers collapse down into the lava tube. And so what we're very interested in with this mission go into this hole and see how big that space is and see if you could build a base there for astronauts to live in.
[Mat Kaplan]: Which actually on the National [00:10:00] Geographic series Mars they live inside a lava tube don't they?
[Laura Kerber]: Yeah, and it's...
[Bill Nye]: So it's real then?
[Mat Kaplan]: Yeah, obviously.
[Bill Nye]: Good.
[Mat Kaplan]: Thank you, Laura. Peter, what are we learning about rocks on Mars from the Curiosity Rover?
[Peter Martin]: So we're learning a lot of things. I can speak to what I work on which is how old are the rocks on Mars? The first question to ask maybe is how old is Mars itself? So Mars is four and a half billion years old, which is quite old.
[Bill Nye]: So how do you guys know that? You just make that stuff up?
[Peter Martin]: Yeah. That's right. Yeah, we just wing it. No, basically, you know that Mars is the same age as the Earth. It seems reasonable since it formed in the solar system at the same time. And so to do that we use something called uranium-lead dating where uranium is radioactive and it turns into lead at a rate that we know very well and that is constant. All you have to do, here's the easy part, [00:11:00] you find a meteorite that has a lot of uranium in it that formed at the same time as the Earth. You measure the the uranium and the lead in that in that meteorite, and you can know the age of the meteorite and then by analogy we also know the age of the Earth and of Mars.
[Bill Nye]: So we are know when the meteorite cooled off?
[Peter Martin]: That's right.
[Bill Nye]: So it was cosmic dust before that, probably?
[Peter Martin]: Sure. There's a few million years here, give or take at the beginning of the solar system.
[Bill Nye]: Oh, just a few million years?
[Peter Martin]: Yeah, a couple million years.
[Mat Kaplan]: I got another one for you. Most of us think of chlorine and something you put in a pool to, you know, kill the germs, or in the washing machine, why is chlorine something that's becoming so important as we study Mars?
[Peter Martin]: So it's funny you should say that actually because the chlorine on Mars that were worried about is called perchlorate. So it's chlorine with oxygens attached to it. And the chlorine that you put in your pool also has oxygen attached to it. The reason we're worried [00:12:00] about it for Mars is the same reason that you put it in your pool, which is that it kills living things. So if you want to go to Mars and be safe on Mars, you need to know where the special kind of chlorine is and where it isn't, to be safe.
[Mat Kaplan]: Is it a true that if you just dig down a little bit you can get below that nasty stuff?
[Peter Martin]: That is a very good question, and one that we don't have a definitive answer to yet. That's something I'm working on right now.
[Mat Kaplan]: How are you helping with the next Mars rover? The one that... we shall call the 2020 Rover, it hasn't been given a pretty name. Who knows maybe one of the young people in this audience will help give that next rover its name, just like they did Spirit, Opportunity, and Curiosity.
[Peter Martin]: That's right, yeah. So there will be a naming competition for the rover. Personally, I like 2020 a lot because there's a specific window where you can launch missions to Mars and they come around every two years. So by calling it the 2020 Rover we make sure we are going to launch in 2020. [00:13:00] Personally, I'm involved in the 2020 Rover, working on some studies figuring out how... there's a bunch of different instruments on the Rover and they'll all work together in different ways and they can tell us different things about the rocks. My job is to figure out how they work together best and what knowledge gaps each of those instruments can fill.
[Mat Kaplan]: Thank you, Peter.
[Peter Martin]: Thank you.
[Mat Kaplan]: Jackie. Let's talk to you a little bit about the stuff you do studying these worlds that are hundreds, maybe thousands of light years away. How do you do that, when all we've got to go on is the light that comes from the star that they're nearby?
[Jackie Pezzato]: Yeah, so that's a that's an interesting problem. The light from an exoplanet has been compared to a firefly next to a spotlight in Los Angeles and you're trying to take a picture from New York City. So that's what I'm trying to do.
[Bill Nye]: So we're taking a picture of a firefly... we're in New York City taking a picture of a firefly next to a searchlight on [00:14:00] Hollywood Boulevard.
[Jackie Pezzato]: Yes. That's it.
[Bill Nye]: That's difficult.
[Jackie Pezzato]: Very difficult. A lot of the ways that we've tried to discover exoplanets have been by looking at the way the firefly affects the spotlight itself, but the for the type of work that I'm doing I actually want to capture the light from the firefly. To do that we have to put in something called a coronagraph which, like the Moon when it blocks the Sun in the solar eclipse in 2017, blocks out the light from the star to let you see things that are nearby.
[Bill Nye]: So it's like the outfielder holding up his or her glove to the Sun waiting for the ball to not hit them on the head.
[Jackie Pezzato]: Yes, exactly.
[Mat Kaplan]: Nice baseball metaphor.
[Jackie Pezzato]: I played softball, I love that reference. Once we capture that light we can get information about the actual map of the exoplanet. This is really difficult to do, we're not actually getting what you would imagine for when you take a picture of Jupiter. Instead we can just extract this information from a point of light. By looking at the the way that the [00:15:00] planet is turning we can get ideas about storms on those exoplanets much like the Great Red Spot on Jupiter.
[Mat Kaplan]: Are we going to be able to do this from Earth or do we need to look to space telescopes that are more advanced than the Hubble Space Telescope?
[Jackie Pezzato]: Yeah, so you can do this from the Earth as well as with space-based telescopes. So the instrument that I'm working on is going to be mounted on the back of a telescope in Hawaii. You have to do a few more tricks to be able to look through the atmosphere because the atmosphere is moving around the points of light and making it really difficult to actually capture the planet light. It's a lot easier to do from space, but you also need very big mirrors that are hard to get out there.
[Mat Kaplan]: And you are also, aren't you working on what will be one of a new generation of Earth-based telescopes one in particular that we talked about on the show, the thirty meter telescope. Could you talk about that a little bit?
[Jackie Pezzato]: Yeah. So the thirty meter telescope is an extremely big mirror...[00:16:00]
[Bill Nye]: A hundred feet across.
[Jackie Pezzato]: Yeah, hundred feet.
[Mat Kaplan]: Yeah, think of a mirror to gather the light. This telescope is going to use this mirror to gather light. Used to be the 200-inch telescope at Palomar was the biggest telescope on Earth for a long time.
[Bill Nye]: 200 inches is half the size of between you and me, there about... or about the distance between you and me. This is from here to the back of this building, 30 meters.
[Jackie Pezzato]: And yeah a mirror that big helps us collect more light quickly...
[Bill Nye]: Size matters.
[Jackie Pezzato]: Yeah size does matter when you're trying to look at very faint things. So in order to collect that light extremely quickly we go to these extremely large telescopes so that we can gather our data without it taking hundreds of hours.
[Mat Kaplan]: Thanks, Jackie. Before we go to our last panelist, Danielle, I got a question for all of you in the audience. How many of you think that we should send people, men and women, to Mars where they can join the robots that are already exploring there? How many do you think people... [00:17:00] that's pretty good. I'm with you and I think you are too, Bill?
[Bill Nye]: Yes. There's people I would like to send right now. We could send people in orbit by 2033 and then land two, four, six years later. That would be cool.
[Mat Kaplan]: Danielle, we hear all the time, it's a cliche, space is hard.
[Danielle Richey]: Space is hard.
[Mat Kaplan]: On a scale of 1 to 10, how tough is it going to be to get those humans to Mars and back again safely?
[Danielle Richey]: Twelve.
[Mat Kaplan]: A twelve.
[Danielle Richey]: But I think we're up to the challenge.
[Danielle Richey]: Okay, look at this spectacular spaceship that you are actually working on, right? At Lockheed Martin.
[Danielle Richey]: Yeah. This is Lockheed Martin's vision for what a spaceship to Mars could look like. It's not an actual program yet, but it's what could take the first humans in 2033 into orbit around Mars.
[Mat Kaplan]: A lot of people including the NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine, they believe [00:18:00] that the Moon is where we need to go first so that we can prove out the stuff that we'll need to have working perfectly when we want to go to Mars. I mean do you think the Moon is a good stepping stone toward people on Mars?
[Danielle Richey]: Yeah, I think that's where... and NASA on Monday did announce their budget along with the hashtag #MoonToMars. So they still have Mars in their future and they're funding quite a few missions including Mars 2020. And so stopping off at the Moon is a great way to start building up these elements. This spaceship behind me will actually need to be assembled in space just like the space station and the Moon's orbit is a great place to do that. It's fairly stable. It doesn't come crashing back to Earth.
[Mat Kaplan]: Got one more slide that I think gives us a good idea of how important STEM and STEAM are to you. What's going on here?
[Danielle Richey]: Yeah. So one of my passions in life is not just. [00:19:00] doing deep space human exploration and putting people on Moon and Mars but inspiring you guys to be those astronauts on Moon and Mars. So in the left-hand photos, I helped girls in Denver build a Mars... Lunar habitat, and then we put on space suits and they went out and got Lunar rocks for more observation, perhaps in one of the lava tubes that we were looking at earlier, so. In the middle photographs, I also get the pleasure of traveling to other countries to talk about going to the Moon and Mars. And on the right hand side, I was at the stem Festival in DC talking about NASA and our next generation deep spacecraft Orion.
[Mat Kaplan]: Before we go any further and I forget, I want to thank the group that actually brought you out to Extreme STEA²M, which is the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Bill, perhaps you've heard of it?
[Bill Nye]: Remember people, I have a license. [00:20:00] It's the expression: trust me. So about going to the Moon and then Mars I think politically you just have to go to the Moon. In other words, NASA, United States already sent people to the Moon. China, the Chinese space agency is going to send people to the Moon. So I just think for the public acceptance of the whole thing you have to go back to the Moon with people. It's not a bad thing. It's not cheap.
[Mat Kaplan]: Yeah, if it was hard everybody would do it, right?
[Bill Nye]: Sure.
[Mat Kaplan]: I want to hear from all of you about what really brought you to this, what really generates your passion for the work that you do? You all work on the final frontier basically, space. Jackie, you told me that when you were about to start college, still in high school I guess, you were torn between the arts and science. How [00:21:00] did you end up an astronomer?
[Jackie Pezzato]: Yeah, so I also loved the arts as well as science. I had a really hard time choosing between different career options because a lot of it is all the same expression of human curiosity. I wound up choosing astronomy because I was very interested in watching programs on TV like the Science Channel and the Discovery Channel about this for my entire life. So I was really interested in popular science. And I finally took the chance and took a course in college and was connected with another professor at my university who took me on as a researcher for the next summer and I just fell in love with the idea of research about something that I've been passionate about my entire life.
[Mat Kaplan]: I think I heard also that a certain Science Guy helped inspire you?
[Jackie Pezzato]: Yeah, so part of being really interested in popular science...
[Bill Nye]: I love you, Mat.
[Jackie Pezzato]: Was [00:22:00] that seeing Bill Nye and a lot of people who do that sort of Outreach that he does on television really just had a major impact on me and I think a lot of my peers so thank you for everything that you.
[Bill Nye]: Get out there and explore other worlds.
[Mat Kaplan]: Peter, did you ever become a pilot?
[Peter Martin]: I did I have a private pilot's license.
[Mat Kaplan]: But just for fun?
[Peter Martin]: I do it for fun. I have a flight plan tomorrow, actually.
[Mat Kaplan]: What is it about geology and Mars that kept you out of the cockpit of an airliner?
[Peter Martin]: They're very different jobs in many ways, but they also have some similarities. So, I tend to be very detail oriented and in the cockpit that means following checklist very completely, making sure that everything is where it's supposed to be. And in science that means thinking in a lot of detail about sometimes some things it can sometimes be very complicated like the chemical the chemical data we get back from Curiosity.
[Mat Kaplan]: So you feel the passion, beauty, and joy, obviously in your [00:23:00] work, how do you share it? You talked about working with young people.
[Peter Martin]: I don't do as much of what Bill used to do with the Science Guy shows. I do more of just direct teaching. So I work with high school students in Pasadena who are struggling in math or science and I work with them on their classes and what they're trying to get right. So I work with just a couple of students per quarter and we work on sort of the basic skills of math and science that are really important. They found that form the foundation that lets you get to be a professional scientist.
[Mat Kaplan]: So if you're lucky and you're in Pasadena, you might just have Peter helping you out with some of the tough questions now and then. Laura, as the PI, the Principal Investigator for a mission, you pretty much have to nowadays consider the education and public outreach, the EPO as we call it, that would have to be a part of that mission, but I just kind of wonder is it a distraction from the science and and all the work it's going to take to [00:24:00] shepherd a spacecraft into reality?
[Laura Kerber]: I definitely feel that it's a recharging activity for me. So I spend a lot of time working on the mission. And then I think do I have enough time to fit in, you know some outreach? I went to Comic-Con last year and talked to all the comic book fans about space. But when I actually go and do it then I'm so energized when I come back that it actually helps me get all the work done that I need to do in order to see that the mission becomes a reality.
[Mat Kaplan]: Danielle do you get that same kind of charge when you're out there with particularly young people?
[Danielle Richey]: Yeah, I do especially when I get the question is NASA still around or are we going to space or I mean we're in space but I really enjoy trying to inspire young kids with what's possible of we could send people to asteroids.
[Mat Kaplan]: You know, Bill I was going to ask them but I'll start with you: why is space exploration something that we should care about?
[Bill Nye]: Because that's how we know of the cosmos and our place within it, Mat. There are [00:25:00] people running around on the electric internet, that the kids use with their phone machines, claiming that the Earth might be flat. Just that anybody would think that is so... it's extraordinary. All the clothes you're wearing, the plastic in the seats you're sitting in, the metal, all of that came from somewhere else. The clothes generally came from another continent and it got here because the people who are able to say on the trackless ocean realized that we live on a big ball. If you try to do it with a flat map, you're going to fall off the edge, for crying out loud. So furthermore, we all wonder where we came from. We all want to use let's say nuclear power. We all want radiation for medical purposes. To [00:26:00] do all that you have to understand space you have to understand the cosmos and let me tell you when you compare the climates of the Earth, Mars, and Venus, you can tell you pretty much want to be on the Earth. It is possible that there was once life on Venus and the atmosphere made it run away, as we say become extraordinarily hot. We wouldn't have that understanding without the exploration of space. Furthermore, just the discovery that our Sun is a star, that alone is pretty profound, and when my grandparents were raising a family my mom my dad my grant my mother they had maybe heard of relativity, but they had no real interaction with it. They never really needed to know much about it. Now, everybody's phone depends on both [00:27:00] special and general relativity, two aspects of the theory of relativity, that is a result of the exploration of space. Recently it's been discovered that the Universe isn't just getting bigger, it's getting bigger faster and faster and you know why? Nobody knows why! But it's very reasonable that in your lifetime, the audience's lifetime, this will be discovered and the consequences of that discovery will be commonplace the same way that phones are commonplace. You explore space to learn more about yourself. What are you going to find? We don't know, that's why we explore. Back to you, Mat.
[Mat Kaplan]: Thank you, Bill. So, Bill may be the world's hardest act to follow but I'm going to bet that each of you have also thought about this why explore space? Why do the things that all of you do? [00:28:00] Anybody want to take that first? Laura?
[Laura Kerber]: Well, I always think about that there's these moments when the whole world kind of pauses. And a lot of times maybe it's a tsunami or it's a big earthquake or some you know, 9/11 happens. If for my generation, it was a moment what everyone remembers and then it's I think okay, those are moments that are scary. But then there are moments in our generation and the generations before us when the whole world stops and that's like the Moon landing or for me it was when we flew past Pluto and for the first time saw a planet that we've never seen before. My career started when we flew past Mercury in 2009 and saw the other side of mercury that we've never seen before and I just had a moment where I was saying, this is something that everyone pauses but in wonder and in thinking wow, the world is amazing, and I'm so glad I'm alive and I'm so excited for the future. And that's what I like about space exploration. [00:29:00]
[Mat Kaplan]: Not bad. Anybody else?
[Danielle Richey]: Yeah. I'm excited to see. That very first person walk on the surface of Mars to see that boot print that picture that comes back and it'll probably be streamed live on YouTube to everybody's devices but I cannot wait to see those moments and as we go back to the Moon, I've only seen the Moon landing through YouTube. I was not privileged to be alive during that time. So we will see the first woman walk on the Moon and I will see it with my eyes for the first time.
[Mat Kaplan]: Danielle, you may be helping to build the ship. Would you take a ride would you go if you have the chance?
[Danielle Richey]: Of course.
[Bill Nye]: I would go as long as I can come back.
[Mat Kaplan]: Yeah, I don't want a one-way trip.
[Bill Nye]: There's nothing to eat or drink or breathe. It's going to be an amazing place.
[Peter Martin]: Yeah, so I mean I completely agree with basically everything the other panelists have said and I think that especially [00:30:00] for space exploration which doesn't maybe have as much of the practical aspect, with the possible exception of deflecting an asteroid that could destroy the world...
[Mat Kaplan]: Which is something the Planetary Society cares a great deal about, I... Bill I may let you talk a bit more about that in a moment.
[Peter Martin]: It's something to think about but there's also the fact that it doesn't have to be useful, right? This is something that I think is very innate and it's part of what makes us human is that we are curious about what's out there in the world.
[Jackie Pezzato]: Yeah, that's a build on that part of what makes us human being curious about what's out there. There's literally a whole universe of questions and a whole universe of planets out there a lot like possibly our Earth and a lot that are very different and I really want to know what's out there.
[Mat Kaplan]: Bill, planetary defense.
[Bill Nye]: So we use this expression planetary defense to mean keeping the Earth from getting hit with an asteroid. It is as we say a very unlikely thing [00:31:00] very very unlikely, but if it were to happen, it would be be a really bad thing. And so we made this discovery as I mentioned earlier today during my lifetime people realize that the ancient dinosaurs were almost certainly killed off, finished off by an asteroid. And so finding them is the biggest challenge. As the hilarious expression goes looking for asteroids is like looking for a charcoal briquette in the dark, very difficult to find. But with the right instrument charcoal, what's it called? Asteroids are a little bit ever so slightly warmer than outer space. So in the right infrared telescope you can find them. But these missions have to be funded, the instruments have to be created, the scientists and engineers who understand it all have [00:32:00] to be employed, and that's what the Planetary Society does is advocate US Congress especially to look for asteroids and coordinate with other telescope people around the world to keep an eye out for them. And so you don't take all of your tax dollars and put it into asteroid finding you just make sure you're always looking for 'em, because one asteroid can ruin your whole more than a day, really. Your whole few centuries.
[Mat Kaplan]: My favorite is that it's getting kind of tired now, but a few people haven't heard. Why did the dinosaurs die? Because they didn't have a space program.
[Bill Nye]: Because their space program sucked. With their arms, it was difficult.
[Mat Kaplan]: Alright I got another one that's that's really for all of you because you've all been through this. I'm wondering if you have advice for any of the young people here in the [00:33:00] audience today, we've got a couple of hundred at least if not more, who might be considering following in your footsteps. Just as you followed in the footsteps of mentors and teachers that helped to make you what you are today. I mean, what's the best advice you can give them? Laura I'll start with you.
[Laura Kerber]: Sure so I often meet kids and they're walking encyclopedias about something: dinosaurs or planet facts or sharks or something. And when I was in first grade, I was a walking encyclopedia about solar system facts. And then what I realize is if I just kept learning solar system facts than I could just know solar system facts for a living. So what I what I suggest to people is if you can be find something that you love to read about and know everything about just read and read and read and read and know everything about it. And then we'll you'll will find you very useful at NASA JPL.
[Peter Martin]: The road [00:34:00] to becoming a professional scientist is not always just straight easy driving right? It's pretty bumpy. It is bumpy and this is something I talked about with the students I teach, is that you shouldn't be afraid to have a bad day. If you have a bad test or sometimes you're just tired in the morning, that's okay and it doesn't mean that you're not going to be a great scientist in the future. So overcoming things that make you feel like you're maybe not going to be able to get there is part of the important important part of the process as well.
[Mat Kaplan]: Jackie.
[Jackie Pezzato]: So I think that everyone has in their mind this idea that scientists are just born like naturally a scientist and like extremely smart and good at math and science the first time they try things but I actually really didn't like math the first time I took a couple classes and I didn't like the first physics class that I took. But I kept in mind that I was really interested in the questions that I was asking and I stuck with it and eventually I [00:35:00] grew more comfortable. So I guess just don't mistake a lack of expertise when you first start something with not being good at it. Just stay at it. If you really like what you do, then you'll be good at it.
[Mat Kaplan]: And everybody here is nodding in agreement. Didn't you say that you, maybe it was just some parts of math, that when you finally hit geometry and calculus you took to it.
[Jackie Pezzato]: Yeah, I'm an extremely visual thinker. So the way that math was taught to me in elementary and middle school really just didn't click until I got to work on the math where I could see a picture that related to it and that's what really clicked with me. So you really just have to stick with stick with things until you find the thing that works and it'll it'll work out for you.
[Mat Kaplan]: Great.
[Bill Nye]: Look at the ceiling. Look at all those angles in the ceiling. It's gorgeous, its geometry.
[Mat Kaplan]: In this big old hall at Fairplex. Danielle. It's your turn. Any advice? [00:36:00]
[Danielle Richey]: Yeah mine along with what Jackie said is to be persistent. I have been told that because I'm a woman that I'm not good enough or I couldn't do something. I was asked if I'm a receptionist when I'm the engineer working on something. And so whatever your background is, be persistent. Do not let people tell you you can't do something because of who you are. You can prove them wrong.
[Mat Kaplan]: So I'm disappointed to hear even from you, your generation one beyond myself. I won't speak for Bill. That you still ran into some resistance. Maybe because is there more of that may be an engineering than science?
[Danielle Richey]: I think it's in a lot of professions. It's in the arts. It's in the culinary field. It's in the sciences. It's in engineering. I think it's everywhere and it's not just male and female discrimination or biases, it's [00:37:00] also cultural, its background. So I think it's pervasive throughout and it just depends on where you live and where you work and you'll find it in different ways.
[Mat Kaplan]: For the other three of you got a couple of planetary scientist and astronomer. Have you even in your time and you're still pretty new at this year all young, have you seen the fields opening up more to women to people of color to everybody who might have both the interest and and the aptitude.
[Laura Kerber]: From my perspective, absolutely. My experience in the planetary Sciences has been you kind of arrive and you know, maybe the people might look at you like oh you're very young person. I wonder what you know, and then you kind of show them a bunch of knowledge and then they say like, all right, we can work with you. Let's go. Let's go explore the planets. And so I found that you know as soon as you start saying like I'm ready to help you guys go to space and then everyone's on board with that and I found [00:38:00] it's been very positive experience for me.
[Mat Kaplan]: Peter, I don't know if you personally faces. Maybe you have but but you may have seen it around you?
[Peter Martin]: Yeah. Well, so I'm very lucky right. I'm in a position of great privilege being I come from a family of scientists. I am a white male. You do see things every now and then obviously I think to the original question things are getting better and we still have a ways to go but things are improving and I like the trajectory that we are on.
[Mat Kaplan]: Jackie.
[Jackie Pezzato]: Yeah, I think I'd agree with that sentiment especially because now that people have been fighting to have women and people of color in these fields in the past. There's now a community of us who are all fighting to make it better for everyone that comes after us.
[Mat Kaplan]: And we've seen that certainly in planetary science where the percentage of women in planetary science has been climbing steadily...
[Bill Nye]: Half the humans are women and girls, let's have half the engineers and scientists be women, crying out loud.
[Mat Kaplan]: Sounds reasonable. Yeah. [00:39:00] Bill, you have been watching young people come up starting out before some of them when they're learning to walk with their first exposure to science very likely being the Science Guy show and these are the people who are now the age of the folks who are sitting...
[Bill Nye]: Fine. They're fine. They're productive.
[Mat Kaplan]: They survived. I think you probably have more young people coming up to you then I've seen with anybody else including astronauts saying thank you so much you're why I'm here.
[Bill Nye]: It's amazing. Still I try to grasp the influence of the old show. It was big. And it was funny. It was fundamental science. And the song is really good.
[Mat Kaplan]: Bill, Bill, Bill. I want to hear about where you think you're going in your personal careers, and I can take a good guess [00:40:00] at some of them like in your case Laura where you're hoping it'll go. But also where you hope that your field is going to be going let's say over the next 10 years. Things are changing so fast. Laura I'll come back to you to start.
[Laura Kerber]: Sure. So in the next couple of years as a field, I'll start with that question. We have lot of exciting things going on. We right now at JPL. We're all really really busy on the Mars 2020 Rover and we're really busy on Europa Clipper, which is a mission that's going to go to the Jupiter's Moon of Europa. And so we see this every time I send a spacecraft anywhere to Mercury, to Saturn, now we're going to send a spacecraft to Europa. We're just totally astonished by whatever we find. We think after we've seen enough planets and we have know what we're looking for. But all of us were completely astonished by the surface of Pluto. We had no idea it was going to look the way it looked and so I think as we go through kind of during the 1980s, Voyager went through the solar system and [00:41:00] 1970s and showing okay this is the first cut at what all the planets look like. And now we're going through the second time and digging way deep and saying each one of these is a totally different world. And so that's where my field is just it's really exciting to be a planetary scientist now because you feel like you're at the you're still at the beginning and there's so much stuff that people don't know. For me personally I started out working on Mars and Mercury and then I made I started going towards the Moon because I realized the Moon is really the place where I needed to go to look in lava tubes and answer my questions about caves. And so I hope it's such a fun experience to try and do a proposal because NASA puts out a call and says everyone give your best proposal. And they say and everyone proposes things from Venus or the Moon or the outer solar system and every single one would be fundamentally changing our view of science. And so you kind of put out your little [00:42:00] idea like, oh, I hope you'll consider me. Please NASA, but you're just so grateful for the chance that they actually will consider you as an idea and you could fly into space so I don't know what's gonna happen with Moon Diver, but I hope in the future I'll be able to work on more missions and just be right there at the forefront of exploration as we continue exploring Mars and beyond.
[Mat Kaplan]: And you certainly are doing a lot more than Moon Diver. I mean, you're the Deputy Project Scientist I think for Mars Odyssey, the Mars Orbiter.
[Laura Kerber]: Yeah. So Mars Odyssey is one of our oldest spacecraft. It's the oldest spacecraft that's currently in orbit around another planet. It's been there since 2001. We called it Odyssey 2001 and it's just a pleasure to be on a team where they've had working spacecraft in space for so long. They know everything that they're doing and when I look at my own sort of baby Mission trying to grow up and maybe someday be like Odyssey and so we actually recently printed out a... Odyssey made a whole map of the surface of Mars and we [00:43:00] printed it out the size of a basketball court. And we laid it across a basketball court. And so now we have this map that goes from school to school and people can walk all over Mars and the guy who made it he said, you know, if we printed it out full-size there and actually be the size of a football field. So now we're now we're getting together some money,we're going to try and print it out the size of a football field. That's a little little more A for Arts in STEAM, I would say. So before we move on, what's the next hurdle for Moon Diver?
[Laura Kerber]: Well so Moon Diver is part of a contest called Discovery. And so the deadline is in July. We're writing the proposal like crazy right now. We turn it in in July. And then in December, they take us from about 15 or so missions down to about four or five and then we get another year where we work on it like crazy. And then they choose one or two from the final number and then that one would fly into space as soon as 2025. So it seems like a long time in the future [00:44:00] but even now thinking about it, it's so really we don't have enough time.
[Mat Kaplan]: Lots to get done. Peter, your turn both for your field and you personally. What's ahead?
[Peter Martin]: So I'll start personally and start small and then move up so I'm in my fifth year of my PhD program. So I will be graduating this summer maybe soon. So currently I'm looking for a job for my next research job after I graduate so if anyone in the audience is hiring, gimme a call. We talked earlier about Mars 2020, which is the next Rover so I have some very specific thoughts about that which is that one of Mars 2020 is tasks is that it's going to be preparing both for samples to be brought back to Earth. So it's the first step in returning rocks from Mars to the Earth and that will be a mission that goes in the future and then the biggest vision is that something that Bill talked about earlier, which is that we're thinking about bringing these samples back in the 2030s. Bill mentioned humans going to Mars in the 2030s. I think would be very cool if the samples got [00:45:00] picked up by a human and brought back.
[Jackie Pezzato]: Jackie, lot to look forward to: thirty meter telescope, Giant Magellan telescope, good times for astronomers?
[Jackie Pezzato]: Yeah, yeah for astronomers, especially for the field of exoplanets it's extremely young, only about as old as I am. Started in 1995. There's a lot that still needs to be done and there are a whole suites of mission out there looking to find more like TESS and looking to characterize them like the KeK Planet Imager and characterize our which I'm working on right now. And then once we get these extremely large telescopes like TMT and GMT, we all be able to characterize planets like Earth. So that's that's definitely something to look forward to and personally, I'm only in my second year of my PhD program. So I've got about three years left. So the first hurdle is to get that PhD and then after that, I'd love to continue doing research and just be a part of the exploration of exoplanets.
[Mat Kaplan]: How [00:46:00] amazing would it be if we were to find signs of life either on an exoplanet a world going around some other star or maybe on Mars?
[Jackie Pezzato]: Yeah. I mean honestly, I would be shocked if we didn't at some point because it's definitely out there. And yeah, that is the ultimate goal to be able to find that type of thing. But yeah, there's a lot of other interesting science that will be able to do along the way too.
[Mat Kaplan]: Bill, you talk about that stuff all the time, if we found life...
[Bill Nye]: Change the course of human history! Everybody would feel differently about being alive. And we do it for nothing! Two billion dollars a year is nothing, less than a cup of coffee.
[Mat Kaplan]: Danielle, you get this one last and then we're going to go to audience questions. So be prepared for your question with your question for our panelists. Danielle, what's ahead?
[Danielle Richey]: Yeah, my field looks awesome. We are super excited. NASA is full steam ahead. No [00:47:00] pun intended. We sending humans to the Moon and Mars. So the next couple decades are going to be super exciting for my field. Personally, I want to be on one of the programs that's landing the first woman on the Moon, literally building the Lander and then seeing it from the mission support area for NASA. I want to be in that room to see the first person... first woman walk on the Moon. In my lifetime. Sorry.
[Mat Kaplan]: Well, let's go ahead and turn to the audience here at the Planetary Society stage at Extreme STEA²M. Raise your hand if you've got a question, we have a couple of people with microphones. I think we're going to start all the way over here on that corner. Yeah you who just stood up. Hi there. What is your name?
[Audience 1]: Oh, my name is George.
[Mat Kaplan]: What's your question?
[Audience 1]: Okay, what what inspired you to have an interest in the field of science?
[Bill Nye]: What got [00:48:00] me interested in science?
[Audience 1]: Yeah.
[Bill Nye]: Uh, rockets, airplanes, bicycles.
[Audience 1]: Awesome.
[Bill Nye]: And then you know, I spent a lot of time watching bees. Honey bees. They are they are amazing. They are so cool. If you're having sat and watched bees, do it this afternoon. Just how they fly is amazing. Their social organization is... and how they make honey is just amazing! Did I say amazing? So that's why I really I wanted to work on airplanes.
[Audience 1]: Thank you.
[Mat Kaplan]: Thank you.
[Audience 1]: You are an inspiration.
[Mat Kaplan]: We're going to go to the other side. Hi. What's your name?
[Audience 2]: Roberto.
[Mat Kaplan]: Hey Roberto.
[Audience 2]: I have a question. What do you all think about Elon Musk?
[Danielle Richey]: I think he is inspirational for the next generation of Engineers and he's asking the hard questions and figuring out how to help us take one step further along. So I appreciate [00:49:00] his inspiration to the next generation of engineers and explorers.
[Mat Kaplan]: Anybody else? Laura?
[Laura Kerber]: Yeah. I think Elon Musk is awesome. And I went down to look at the launch. There was a launch kind of recently, I guess in October and it went across the sky and then formed this giant like colorful nebula or something and I'd seen the eclipse and it was the most amazing and mind-blowing thing I'd ever seen and I thought that was going to be the most amazing thing I will have seen for the next 10 years and then suddenly this rocket launch came along and blew it out of the water. I was just so astonished. So anyway, I just think Elon Musk is just pushing everybody forward which I think is great.
[Mat Kaplan]: And the Planetary Society is especially indebted to Elon and SpaceX for good reason, Bill.
[Bill Nye]: Well a couple reasons. He's going to fly LightSail 2, our second LightSail spacecraft, any minute. The batteries are charged up the clocks running as soon as the rocket's ready. And he was on the board of the [00:50:00] Planeyary Society for quite a while and he's still very supportive, but he had to recuse himself but he's a big supporter. So way to go Elon.
[Mat Kaplan]: Let's go back to the other side here. There's a young man right down here in the front right on the aisle. Yes you hi.
[Audience 3]: My name is Ohm.
[Mat Kaplan]: Welcome.
[Audience 3]: I have a question for the... for all of you. How much... what is an estimated quote for the cost of sending humans to Mars and how much fuel do you think it would take to take them to Mars and bring them back?
[Mat Kaplan]: Danielle have sounds like it's right up your alley there.
[Danielle Richey]: Yeah the cost part. It's a lot. I mean it's going to be an international effort this time, the US can't fund it alone. And nor do we want to so it'll be truly an international endeavor. I can answer the fuel question because I can't predict what prices will be in 2033 as easily, but [00:51:00] roughly 80 metric tons of fuel if you're using cryogenic hydrogen and oxygen.
[Mat Kaplan]: We'll come back over here. Somebody I see people pointing right in the middle of the crowd back there on that side. Thank you. Our great volunteer is rushing over there. Hi, welcome.
[Audience 4]: Hello. I'm currently a mechanical engineering major and so I'm wondering what kind of steps could like students take to work in this type of field in the future?
[Mat Kaplan]: Sure, Laura?
[Laura Kerber]: Well, I specifically for JPL we have a couple different internship programs. So we have internship programs for high school students, for undergraduates, and for graduate students in mechanical engineering, robotics, science, everything you can imagine. So you can go to our website to look at all that stuff. But any sorts of internships you can get where you can get real life experience working on space projects, it's really valuable.
[Mat Kaplan]: Anybody else? Peter?
[Peter Martin]: Yeah, so this maybe falls into the advice for people looking for what to do in the future, but don't be afraid to ask [00:52:00] the your teachers what the next step is. So ask your professors what they think you should be doing to get you to the next level because they will know and they will be able to help you and they generally want to help you.
[Jackie Pezzato]: And as a as an undergraduate, you can also go after things that are funded by the National Science Foundation that are called research experiences for undergraduates. They're all over the United States. I did two of them. They really shaped who I am today and how I got here. So I would definitely recommend looking for those types of opportunities in addition to internships.
[Mat Kaplan]: Great. Thanks Jackie. Let's go back to this side. We have time for two more. There's a young man right in the front here. Yes you. He's thrilled. Hi. What's your name?
[Audience 5]: My question is for Bill. So, Bill, why did you start the show? Like like the origin, why you started it?
[Bill Nye]: Why did we stop the show? Well we did a hundred shows and the people who paid for it had that was enough for them. And I am [00:53:00] working on a podcast, Science Rules, which will start May 15th. Probably.
[Mat Kaplan]: Last question, we'll come back over on this side. I see a young man who's been waiting a long time I think back there. What's your name?
[Audience 6]: My name is JP.
[Mat Kaplan]: And what's your question?
[Audience 6]: Well me and my friend came up with this question.
[Mat Kaplan]: I love it how they've all scripted them. They have them on their smartphones.
[Audience 6]: Yeah, me and my friend Alesandro came up with this question. We asked after we get humans on Mars, what would our next space step... what would be our next step in space exploration?
[Mat Kaplan]: After Mars. Wow, there's a whole universe. Who wants to try that? Jackie?
[Jackie Pezzato]: Well, there are a lot of Moons in our solar system, I guess, that we could also look at. There's Europa, which has a lot of ice on it. That would be really interesting. There's plenty... there's plenty of other bodies in our solar system that are just [00:54:00] waiting to be explored.
[Danielle Richey]: Asteroids are a good one as well.
[Mat Kaplan]: Laura you already mentioned Europa Clipper. I bring that up in addition to whatever else you were going to say.
[Laura Kerber]: Yeah, that's right. So there's lots of exploration of Europa another really interesting thing that people have talked about for humans is to try and go to Venus and so Venus is horrible down on the surface and nobody would want to go there but then in the atmosphere, it's actually not too bad. You can get to a level of the atmosphere and sort of float there in your spaceship. So if you seen Star Wars like a cloud city like sort of thing, that's what people have been thinking about.
[Mat Kaplan]: I'm going to violate my own rule and we'll do one more because I know there's a young woman right back here on the aisle who was here this morning and was looking forward to participating. Yes you.
[Audience 7]: Hi, my name is Caitlin and I had a question for Bill. I want to know who would you say most influence your love for science?
[Bill Nye]: Influenced me the most? Well, I don't have to pick one. Mrs. McGonigle, Mrs. [00:55:00] Cochran, Mr. Lawrence. In sixth grade Miss Barnes for algebra. Miss Russka for chemistry. Mr. Lang for physics. And then you know Carl Sagan was a big influence on me. But by then I was almost a grown up. So you never know who it's going to be that gives you a nudge. Another guy that was very influential for me was Don Herbert. Had a television show called Watch Mr. Wizard. And he was a big influence. So I take it maybe you watch the Science Guy show? Right on, but listen to Planetary Radio. That's what you should be doing. Anyway, thanks you guys.
[Mat Kaplan]: Thank you Bill. Thank you. Everybody great questions. We're going to need to let our panel and Bill go but remember Bill will be back in a few minutes for those of you who are here with us in the audience. Please stick around because we're not done. We're going to have [00:56:00] What's Up with Bruce Betts, the Chief Scientist to the Planetary Society. I guarantee fun, and you might win yourself a rubber asteroid. First though we're going to bring back The Amoeba People, are great band. They've got a very special number for you. You just heard Carl Sagan mentioned, how many of you know Carl Sagan was well, he was also a Founder one of the three founders of the Planetary Society? And an early supporter I think of the Science Guy and putting the Science Guy show together. First though, please help me thank our terrific panelists: Laura Kerber, Peter Martin, Jackie Pezzato, and Danielle Richey. And Bill, thank you very much for being part of Planetary Radio Live.
[Bill Nye]: Absolutely.
[Mat Kaplan]: Ladies and gentlemen, here are The Amoeba People.
[The Amoeba People]:
He was born and raised in Brooklyn where he wondered ‘bout the stars
Insatiably curious about this universe of ours
Universe of ours, universe of ours
No matter where he went he always tried to understand
The mysteries of the stars and the conundrum that is man
Conundrum that is man, conundrum that is man
Straight outta Brooklyn like a comet to the stars
Carl’s mind wandered from this pale blue dot of ours
He had ideas about the planets that tested quite well
He launched a bunch of missions when he worked with JPL
Worked with JPL (yeah that's right), he worked with JPL
Mariner, Galileo, Viking, Voyager 1 and 2
He even lent a hand to the manned mission to the moon
Manned mission to the moon (ah yeah), manned mission to the moon
Straight outta Brooklyn like a comet to the stars
Carl’s mind wandered from this pale blue dot of ours
(Mr. Jordan, it's your turn)
He went on TV, he pointed to the sky
Said we’re probably not alone but need a skeptical eye
Need a skeptical eye (yeah, that's right), you need a skeptical eye
He used Drake’s equation to calculate the chance
That somewhere there’s a planet with impressive intelligence
Impressive intelligence (yeah, say what say what), impressive intelligence
(Let's bring it home now)
Straight outta Brooklyn like a comet to the stars
Carl’s mind wandered from this pale blue dot of ours
(Yo Mr. H, break it down otra vez)
For a man who spent such time with his eyes fixed above
He kept his two feet planted on the planet that he loved
Planet that he loved (yes it was), the planet that he loved
Carl surely proved that a skeptical mind
Could still be filled wonder and the mysteries of mankind
Mysteries of mankind (mm hmm), mysteries of mankind
(Now one more time now)
Straight outta Brooklyn like a comet to the stars
Carl’s mind wandered from this pale blue dot of ours
(Thank you, Humans)
[Mat Kaplan]: They are The Amoeba People, give them a big hand. They brought some free swag that a few of you in the audience can grab a little things about the Meebs. So watch for them backstage. You can learn more about The Amoeba People where else [01:00:00] theamoebapeople.com or check out their Facebook or Instagram faces... uh, pages. And you can check out their great Science Songs in iTunes or in Bandcamp. Are we going to wrap up Planetary Radio Live as we always do and that's with our What's Up segment and for that I'm going to welcome my friend and colleague at the Planetary Society. Please put your hands together for the Chief Scientist of the Planetary Society. Dr. Bruce Betts. And we can have a seat. Welcome Bruce.
[Bruce Betts]: Thank you, Mat. Good to be here.
[Mat Kaplan]: We follow the same pattern with What's Up every time and that always begins with Bruce telling us about what's up in the night sky, so what's up there?
[Bruce Betts]: We got great planets to look at particularly if you're up before dawn. If you look in the pre-dawn East you will see down low on the horizon super bright Venus. [01:01:00] And then go to its upper right and you'll see yellowish Saturn looking like a fairly bright star and then very bright Jupiter to its upper-right. So nice line of planets. And then in the evening sky in the evening West we've got Mars looking like a kind of bright star but reddish, and because you know, it's the Red Planet. That's what we got, Mat.
[Mat Kaplan]: Good start, alright.
[Bruce Betts]: We move on to this week in space history. It was 2001 that the Soviet and later Russian MIR space station re-entered the Earth's atmosphere.
[Mat Kaplan]: Whoa, that was a big piece to be coming home.
[Bruce Betts]: It was a big chunk of space stuff. All right, we move on and if I can get the audience's help I'm going to say one two three, and then you're going to say "random space fact." Ready? 1... 2... 3...
[Audience]: Random Space Fact.
[Mat Kaplan]: Aww, come on. You can do better than that. Don't you want to be on the radio? Let's do it again.
[Bruce Betts]: Mat has [01:02:00] such high standards. All right, one, two, three.
[Audience]: Random Space Fact!
[Mat Kaplan]: That's what we want.
[Bruce Betts]: So we're going to talk about young people in Space. The youngest person in space ever was Gherman Titov. He was 25 from the Soviet Union. He was also the second person to orbit the Earth and the first to vomit in space.
[Mat Kaplan]: What a distinction, he must be so proud this.
[Bruce Betts]: All right, we move on to the trivia.
[Mat Kaplan]: Now this is the contest that we started two weeks ago, right?
[Bruce Betts]: Yes. I asked what are the Hayabusa2 spacecraft 5 gram bullets made of? The way that Hayabusa2 samples and asteroid surface is it puts a cone down on the surface fires a bullet into the surface and collects material it comes up and what are they made of, Mat?
[Mat Kaplan]: And Hayabusa2 is the Japanese probe that...
[Bruce Betts]: Japanese [01:03:00] probe currently at the asteroid Ryugu and collecting samples for return next year.
[Mat Kaplan]: Here is our winner out of all the people who wrote into Planetary Radio with the correct answer. Our winner was chosen as always by random.org, if you're ever in need of a random number random.org is a good place to find it. It's Tony Knutson a first-time winner in Stuartsville, Minnesota, because he told us that those bullets those five grand bullets were made of tantalum.
[Bruce Betts]: Indeed, tantalum.
[Mat Kaplan]: Why tantalum?
[Bruce Betts]: Because it sounds funny.
[Mat Kaplan]: Has to be more than that.
[Bruce Betts]: It's a very non reactive metal. But why exactly they chose it? I am not sure.
[Mat Kaplan]: Ah, well, that's how Hayabusa has now collected the first of its samples from asteroid Ryugu, but we always get other answers other responses from our listeners that we want to read a little bit of like this one from Dennis Hands in Greensboro, North Carolina. [01:04:00] He says okay tantalum ground chuck hamburgers about $3.99 a pound, a Maserati car is $32.43 a pound. Did you know that tantalum is $130 a pound? Saffron goes for up to $2,000 a pound.
[Bruce Betts]: Is that what they made the bullets from initially and it just didn't work out. Tasted delicious though.
[Mat Kaplan]: Kay Gilbert in Manhattan Beach, California. Not far from where we are now. She says tantalum. It's such a cool name for an element probably explains why they changed it from the far dorkier tentallium. She's right. I looked it up.
[Bruce Betts]: Yes. They did a name change. I had a dog named tintallium once.
[Mat Kaplan]: We have to pose the question for next time. Do not shout out the answer if you think you know it because this is for the folks at home. Bruce?
[Bruce Betts]: Who was the second youngest person to orbit the Earth? The [01:05:00] second youngest person to orbit the Earth. Go to planetary.org/radiocontest.
[Mat Kaplan]: All right you have until Wednesday. That's Wednesday, March 27th at 8 a.m. Pacific time to get us this answer and you will win yourself a Planetary Society kick asteroid rubber asteroid and a 200 point iTelescope.net account and iTelescope is a nonprofit network of telescopes all over the planet Earth. You don't even need your own telescope to use these telescopes remotely to look at things all across the universe. So we thank iTelescope for making those prizes available to us every week on Planetary Radio. And with that Bruce, I think we're done.
[Bruce Betts]: All right, everybody go out there look up in the night sky and think about what it would be like to hang upside down on another world. Thank you. And goodnight.
[Mat Kaplan]: Do I get my choice of world?
[Bruce Betts]: Yes, you do.
[Mat Kaplan]: He is Bruce Betts, the Chief Scientist of the Planetary Society [01:06:00] who joins us every week here for What's Up? And that is the end of our time here on the Planetary Society stage at the very first ever Fairplex Extreme STEA²M Festival. We hope this won't be the last, we hope that not only will Fairplex do this again, but that we'll be back here once again with all of you who've come out to participate in this event that celebrates science, technology, engineering, agriculture in this case, the arts, and mathematics. Hope you had a great time here today. We've had a wonderful time with you. We will simply say goodbye and hope that you'll tune in every week to Planetary Radio. Check us out at planetary.org that is the website of the Planetary Society. Planetary Radio is produced by the society. Our associate producer is MaryLiz Bender. Here they are once [01:07:00] again, The Amoeba People. Ad Astra, everybody!
[The Amoeba People]:
Those are very very far away.
So you’re sitting on your futon and your thoughts turn to cosmology
And how we’re tiny specks adrift in space
And you realize where you sit is really just the start of it
As your mind begins to wander from this place
For your futon’s in a room and the room is in a house
Or an apartment on a block in a neighborhood
And whether homely, plain or pretty, it’s in a town or in a city
Just like you’d expect a neighborhood would
And at this time I should relate
The city’s in a county and the county’s in a state
The state’s in a country and the country’s in a continent no matter how you scan it
And I’d like to make it clear that the continent's in a hemisphere
Which is part of a bigger sphere we call a planet
And you're sitting on your futon
And your thoughts turn to cosmology
Our planet’s in a system which revolves around a star
Called the Sun which is 93 million miles away
And the Sun’s in the outer arm of a spiral-shaped galaxy of stars
Which the ancient Greeks named the Milky Way
And the Milky Way is part of something called the Local Group
Which contains our galaxy and roughly 30 more
And the Local Group is part of the Virgo Supercluster
Containing galaxies, nebulae and quasars
And everywhere in the universe you look, in every cranny and every nook
Are superclusters brimming with billions of stars
And you're sitting on your futon
And your thoughts turn to cosmology
Now here’s the trippy part, the part that may just blow your mind,
For stars are made of elements, as you may know
The elements found in stars are in birds and trees and cars
As well as rocks and air and Grandma’s cookie dough
Yes, the building blocks of the sun are everywhere and in everyone
Including you and me and your crazy Uncle Leon
They have names that are quite common like helium, hydrogen and carbon
And stranger ones like beryllium and neon
But to see the magic of these stars you needn’t travel oh so far
Or blast off in your custom-made spaceship
For the elements found in space can even be found inside this place
And in your futon where you sit there eating corn chips
And you're sitting on your futon
And your thoughts turn to cosmology
And you sit there on your futon
And you wonder, what exactly is a futon?
Thank you, Humans of Earth! Thank you so much.