Planetary Radio • Apr 17, 2019
The Triumph of a Failed Moon Landing
On This Episode
Senior Systems Engineer for SpaceIL
Chairman for SpaceIL
Senior Editor for The Planetary Society
Chief Scientist / LightSail Program Manager for The Planetary Society
Senior Communications Adviser and former Host of Planetary Radio for The Planetary Society
The Beresheet lunar lander failed in the last few kilometers of its descent to the Moon. Two days later we learned that its team would try again. Deputy Mission Director Yoav Landsman is back with an inspiring and revealing look behind the scenes. And your guide to the busy night sky is provided by Bruce Betts in our What’s Up segment.
- Beresheet Comes Close before Crashing on the Moon
- SpaceIL Beresheet Mission
- SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy Flies Again; LightSail 2 Is Next!
- April 23 to 25 Cubesat Developers Workshop at Cal Poly SLO
- April 27 Astronomy for Kids family event in Pasadena, California
- May 14 to 16 Explore Mars 2019 Humans2Mars Summit in Washington DC
Sorry! No new contest this week. But the deadline for last week’s contest has been extended to Tuesday, April 23, at 8:00am Pacific Time: What telescope was used to discover the soon-to-be-named 2007 OR10, Eris, Quaoar, Sedna, Orcus and other distant objects?
To submit your answer:
Complete the contest entry form at http://planetary.org/radiocontest or write to us at [email protected] no later than Tuesday, April 23rd at 8am Pacific Time. Be sure to include your name and mailing address.
This Week’s Prizes:
A priceless Planetary Society KickAsteroid rubber asteroid and a 200-point iTelescope.net astronomy account.
Question from the April 3rd space trivia contest question:
Where in the solar system, but not on Earth, is a feature named Mozart?
There is a 240 kilometer crater on Mercury that has been officially named Mozart.
Transcribed by Planetary Society volunteer Jake Bathman:
[Mat Kaplan]: The triumph of a failed Moon landing, 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.
[SpaceIL Official]: We had a failure in the spacecraft. We unfortunately have not managed to land successfully. We are the seventh country to orbit the Moon and the fourth to reach the Moon's surface. It's a tremendous achievement up to now.
[Morris Kahn]: Well, we didn't make it but we definitely tried and I think the achievement of getting to where we got is really tremendous. I think we can be proud.
[Mat Kaplan]: That was what we heard when it was clear that Beresheet, the little lunar lander from SpaceIL in Israel, had been lost. The last voice was Morris Kahn, Chairman of SpaceIL and a major donor to the project. We're [00:01:00] minutes away from another visit with the Deputy Mission Director, Yoav Landsman. Bruce Betts will join us as always for What's Up, and we've got Planetary Society Digital Editor Jason Davis on the second successful flight of a SpaceX Falcon Heavy. First though, some announcements of our own. The next few weeks are going to be some of the busiest in the history of Planetary Radio. I'll be at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo for the annual CubeSat Developers Workshop. More about that with Jason, Saturday, April 27th will bring a family-oriented event at the Central Library in Pasadena, California. I'll join Bruce Betts for a conversation about his great book, Astronomy For Kids. On May 1st I'll be with Bill Nye, Bruce, and the leaders of the effort to defend our planet from near-Earth objects, for the Planetary Defense Conference at the University of Maryland. We've got a free public event that evening that may be sold out by the time you hear this, but we'll have highlights on a future [00:02:00] episode. On May 8th we'll take Planetary Radio live to Science, Museum, Oklahoma in Oklahoma City. Details for that big event are still to come but Bill Nye will be there. Lastly, I'll be back in Washington, DC, for this year's Humans to Mars Summit from May 14 to 16 hosting the live webcast. Be sure to say hi if you're at any of these. We've got links on the show page at planetary.org/radio. Jason, it was in an April 11 blog post at planetary.org that you chronicle the latest success by SpaceX. They've done it again with the Falcon Heavy.
[Jason Davis]: Yeah, the Falcon Heavy has now flown a second successful time. And this time it was for a paying customer. So that's a great sign that the rocket is now becoming trustworthy and fully operational. And yeah, it's also of course a great sign for the Planetary Society because we will be on the next Falcon Heavy launch.
[Mat Kaplan]: Yeah, and we're going to get to that of [00:03:00] course in a moment. Were you watching live is all this stuff happened?
[Jason Davis]: Oh, yes. Definitely.
[Mat Kaplan]: Yeah, me too.
[Jason Davis]: It's like my modern sport event, you know sporting event to watch. It's that dramatic these days when something like that happens. So yes, definitely.
[Mat Kaplan]: Team sports for space geeks. That's what it was. And it really was exciting, and it's just amazing that all of it happens in this tiny, tiny slice of time from the launch to the landing, the successful landing, of not only the side boosters this time, but that center core.
[Jason Davis]: Yeah at one point, of course everyone a lot of people listening this probably followed it. You know, there was a split screen where there were like four camera views going on. One from each side booster one from the center core and then one from the upper stage still burning and that's just, I mean, that's just amazing essentially four vehicles flying by on their own autonomously at [00:04:00] that point really cool stuff and to watch of course the two side boosters come down at Cape Canaveral and then the center core land out at sea on the drone ship really neat the day they managed to pull it off.
[Mat Kaplan]: Now as we speak there is news that that center core, though it made it down successfully, had a little bit of bad luck after that.
[Jason Davis]: Yeah, we heard that on the way back to port the they ran into some high seas and the barge was rocking around and the center cord fell over so that's probably it for that center core. Fortunately for LightSail the two side boosters that will be re... they're the only ones that are going to be reused, the center core they weren't going to reuse for the next flight. So that shouldn't affect any upcoming timelines.
[Mat Kaplan]: Perhaps the only two advantages to flying in space over sailing over the ocean, there are no waves and the saltwater doesn't damage your your booster.
[Jason Davis]: Yeah. Yeah, and you know and they do have some kind of little machine [00:05:00] that comes out and grabs the booster to kind of hold it in place some kind of robot. I think they call it the OctoGrabber but it's you know, we haven't heard details yet on did was that thing ever secure did it fall over with the OctoGrabber holding on to it? So yeah, we're still kind of waiting on some more details on that.
[Mat Kaplan]: On to the most important payload on that next Falcon Heavy. Do I sound a little prejudiced?
[Jason Davis]: Yes, very important. The most important.
[Mat Kaplan]: There's going to be something like 25.
[Jason Davis]: Yeah.
[Mat Kaplan]: What's the current status of LightSail? I'm hoping to see it next week at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Do you think I'm going to have a shot?
[Jason Davis]: Yeah. I think you will, it is still up there in storage right now at Cal Poly. They just took it out a couple weeks ago for a quick software update. They made some changes to the solar sailing algorithm to make it more efficient, pulled it out and they recharge the batteries why they were at it. So it should still be up there in storage until at least early next month before it ships to the Air Force research lab in [00:06:00] Albuquerque. And that's where it meets up with Prox-1, it's kind of mother ship.
[Mat Kaplan]: With the pretty much perfect flight, second flight of this Falcon Heavy that we've just witnessed. What's the outlook? Do we have any idea when we may see this launch and I should say that the major payload is an Air Force satellite.
[Jason Davis]: Actually just yesterday the Air Force said on Twitter that—because everything's on Twitter these days—that they were targeting June for the STP-2 to launch. That's the name of the primary payload on our flight and that lines up with some the last dates that we had heard. We were hearing no earlier than May 31st that pretty much means June. So with any luck, you know, that'll hold but we've been waiting a long time for this and things change. So, you know, it's always possible that this will slip further down the road, but right now it looks like we're targeting June.
[Mat Kaplan]: All right, we'll just tell everybody stay tuned because there will be quite a celebration [00:07:00] surrounding this next launch of the Falcon Heavy and our LightSail 2 spacecraft a lot of it happening in Florida at the Cape with opportunities for a lot of you listening to get involved. But even if you don't head for the Cape, of course, we will through all of our channels including this show be covering that launch and the mission of LightSail 2, the solar sail from the Planetary Society, with a lot of that coverage led by the guy we're talking to, Jason Davis, Digital Editor for the Planetary Society and our embedded reporter there. Thanks for these updates Jason.
[Jason Davis]: Thank you as usual, Mat.
[Mat Kaplan]: Here's Morris Kahn of SpaceIL speaking in an informal video just two days after the failed attempt by Beresheet to land on the Moon.
[Morris Kahn]: This evening [00:08:00] I've got an announcement for you. In the light of all the support that I got from all over the world and the wonderful messages of support and encouragement and excitement,I've decided that we are going to actually establish Beresheet 2. We're going to actually put an build a new spacecraft. We're going to put it on the Moon and we're going to complete the mission. Tomorrow morning, first thing, we have a task force to begin to sit down and plan the project and begin the work. Thank you and good luck to all of us.
[Mat Kaplan]: SpaceIL's Morris Kahn announcing that there will be a Beresheet 2. Less than two days later on Monday April 15th I reconnected with Yoav Landsman. Many of you heard my first conversation with the Beresheet Deputy Mission Director in our February [00:09:00] 27th episode not long after the launch. As you'll hear, Yoav and the SpaceIL team have much to be thankful for. Yoav welcome back to Planetary Radio. I think this is the first time in all the years we've been doing this show that I can offer both condolences and congratulations at the at the same time/ Indeed, congratulations to you and the entire team at SpaceIL on what was a magnificent achievement even though it didn't quite end the way you had hoped.
[Yoav Landsman]: Thank you so much, Mat. Like many many others out there, I was watching the live webcast. It was hugely exciting and we could feel the excitement in the room as well. Were you there? Where was I looking at the back of your head there in the in the control room?
[Yoav Landsman]: I was actually at the left side near the Mission Director. I was the Deputy Mission Director, so you probably saw [00:10:00] me sometimes when the camera was focused on our table which was the perpendicular table at the left.
[Mat Kaplan]: I'm sure I did. It was going so well, I mean I've now read that you actually had telemetry down to just 149 meters, less than 500 feet above the surface of the Moon. But of course, it was a little bit above that level that that something went wrong. I mean what can you say about what happened after the mission had gone so well up until that point?
[Yoav Landsman]: Yeah, the the first minutes of the landing I just heard today someone from the guidance and control group that said that it looks exactly like the simulations. It was perfect. Then things started to go wrong. It began with an IMU unit, an inertial measurement unit, which gives us measurements of angular velocities and [00:11:00] accelerations. It went off. We are still investigating why, although this is not the main cause of the problem because we have redundancy for that unit. But it started, apparently it started a cascade of events that ended with the main engines shutting off. It tried to start over again, but something didn't let that happen and I have to emphasize this, the engine was fine. The engine was not the problem. The problem was something with their electricity with the electronics. I don't want to to sound... I don't want to be interpreted into having said that something is wrong with the engine. For the suppliers of our engines, you did good.
[Mat Kaplan]: That's a very important point because I think a lot of people hearing that the engine shut down assumed that there was a problem with [00:12:00] the engine itself.
[Yoav Landsman]: No, and now the details are still under investigation so I will not give any specific details, but I have to say that in order for an engine to to work you need also the electronics that interfaces with the valves of the engine that let the the liquids the propellant and the oxidizer to flow into the combustion chamber. You need the the power, the electrical power in order to move the solenoid in the valves to move, and you need the communication between the computer and the electronic box that send the commands for the valve to open. So it's it's a whole system that have to work together in a very accurate manner, so if something is wrong in the command or in the electronics, then it will it will [00:13:00] interfere with the with the engine ability to work. So it's still under investigation, but we can assure that the engine was not the problem.
[Mat Kaplan]: Well, that's good to hear since I assume it may very well be the same engine that will be used if and when a second spacecraft makes this attempt, which is something we'll get to in a few minutes. But is this just another example of that cliche that is nevertheless true, that space is hard?
[Yoav Landsman]: Well space is hard, and we struggled along the way with the all kinds of anomalies and weird things that we have to deal with. We had lots of work during the mission in order to solve problems and to find solutions and to investigate anomalies. So it was hard all the [00:14:00] way, but if you have a failure during and orbit then you have... most of the time you have time to to find out what happened and to solve it. During landing, once we pass the point of no return which you may have heard in the in the broadcast after 24 seconds from the beginning of the braking we pass the point of no return from there. It's impossible to go back into orbit. If an anomaly or if a failure even begins before that, then the main engine shuts down and the spacecraft is still in orbit for a lot of revolutions around the Moon. So we have enough time to find what happens and to save the day, but after that if something critical happens then everything have to be autonomous. You have very small chance of [00:15:00] intervening in the autonomous reactions of the of the main computer. So it means that during the design we have to figure out what can go wrong and find autonomous protocols to solve it.
[Mat Kaplan]: I assume that this is the sort of thing that you did your very best to model and simulate while the spacecraft was being developed but it is evidence also that as sophisticated as a simulation maybe you can never duplicate entirely what a spacecraft is going to go through when it's actually out there in the void and is captured and is descending to the surface of another world.
[Yoav Landsman]: That's true, actually during the entire mission the problems we had that gave us the the hardest headaches are the problems we didn't thought of before but that we couldn't have tested [00:16:00] or we couldn't find out or just thinks that are probably have something to do with the environmental conditions such as radiations, which may cause the the computer issues on our first try and on the beginning of the mission. The landing itself is something that you absolutely cannot check cannot tests and to end on the Earth because you don't have the same gravity here. You can't have the the spacecraft to move in the same velocities in any test facilities. You just can't do that. So you have to depend on simulations and partial tests in several settings. For example, we took the entire navigation system, put it on a crane in order to see how it finds out the the altitude [00:17:00] of the altitude above the surface. So we took the same navigation system on a plane and did some maneuvers but it's not even close to the velocities during the landing which is the velocities of a missile. We can't test that, and you can't test that in vacuum and you can't test that with the gravity of the Moon and you can't test that with working engines with them working rocket engines. So many of the procedures are tested only by simulations or in a partial settings.
[Mat Kaplan]: Yeah, it reminds me of how much bigger organizations NASA, JPL, would take components and and put them on airplanes. I know this happened with some of the landing system for the Curiosity Rover and you know will remind the audience of missions with budgets in the billions of dollars that have failed in somewhat [00:18:00] similar ways because it is impossible to model or simulate everything that a spacecraft is going to go through. Can you say at this point—I mean, I think I know the answer to this—that just this experience and and all the other troubles that you were able to overcome that your team has has learned a lot?
[Yoav Landsman]: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah, the whole journey was a learning experience and I can say that as someone with experience with development and operations of communication satellites before, I worked 11 years in with the aim of satellites. I've seen a lot of kinds of failures during the orbit insertion part and during the operations part and this is something completely different to get to the Moon and it is is much more complex, even though at first view you can say that [00:19:00] only the the physics is a bit more complex, but we understand the principles so so what can be different? But it is. It is much different and communication, we found out during the mission that communication is much much harder to achieve than they was simulated in the trainings. This is the main challenge of long-distance mission, I think, this is something that when you talk to people about challenges of a deep space mission, I don't think this is the first choice... the first guess of what is the big challenge.
[Mat Kaplan]: We've heard Morris Khan in his announcement made just two days after the landing attempt that there will be a Beresheet 2 and of course, he's in a good position to say that as both the Chairman of SpaceIL and a major [00:20:00] funder of this project. Was that a great thing to hear?
[Yoav Landsman]: It was an extraordinary thing to hear. We were very excited about that. We actually expected the project to to just end and for us to look for the next challenge, next job, but it's something that's that means a lot to have another chance to end the mission as we planned it. In the next time we will be with more experience and we know how to fix the things that make this mission very hard for us. We know how to make things better and much more reliable and we will have another chance to to attempt landing and this time I hope we we could achieve what we were planning to soft land the spacecraft on the surface of the Moon.
[Mat Kaplan]: You know, even if you [00:21:00] had not had this opportunity for for a second attempt, I imagine this would have looked really good on the resumes of all of you on the team as you look for other work. But but it is awfully satisfying to know that that that you're going to be able to take what you've learned and and try again. Can you talk about... it's awfully early to talk about this as you just get this second attempt underway, but what kinds of things were will change I mean, what will you be able to do better based on the challenges you faced in this Mission?
[Yoav Landsman]: It is too early to talk about that.
[Mat Kaplan]: Okay.
[Yoav Landsman]: I don't know yet, but I think that some of the infrastructures and some of the computer logic, the behavior of the spacecraft needs to readjust to our experience and after we finish investigating the landing process and what went wrong, [00:22:00] we will probably have to find out how to make things better in order to to increase the probability of success.
[Mat Kaplan]: Okay, so that's one unfair question. Here's another: how soon do you think it might be possible that another spacecraft will be built and and ready to put on top of a rocket?
[Yoav Landsman]: This is difficult to answer.
[Mat Kaplan]: Yes.
[Yoav Landsman]: It depends because in any spacecraft even you if you have a full design, there are some long lead items. You have to to purchase several hardware units that are not available as as off the shelf units and it takes time to manufacture them and test them before you get them for the first time. It's like the instruction, the propulsion system, and several more systems, it [00:23:00] takes time. I think that we have to look into it carefully to see if a project like that can happen in less than let's say two years. As I said, it's very early now to to estimate all these things.
[Mat Kaplan]: Of course, and and in fact, you've told us more on that answer that I was even expecting to hear. So I appreciate that. In the meantime, there have been statements about how others may be able to take advantage of the advances that that SpaceIL has been able to make. I think Israel Aerospace Industries has said that they have interest now in using some of these technologies, and and there are some technologies that were developed... I think of our conversation last time about the development of the landing legs for Beresheet, but I bet that there are others as well. Do you expect to see some of what you were able to create, not [00:24:00] off the shelf, but what had to be developed for for this mission, to be of use elsewhere?
[Yoav Landsman]: Sure. First of all, I think that the whole spacecraft can be used as a platform of getting payloads to the lunar surface or into lunar orbit, depends on the on the required payload for all kinds of missions. And I know there is a huge demands to send scientific payloads and other kinds of payloads to the Moon right now. So, I believe we can use this spacecraft as a platform or the Israeli Aerospace industry can use the same platform as a commercial platform for a for other kinds of missions not necessarily exactly as our project was but for something for new projects new spin-offs if you if you.
[Mat Kaplan]: Well, that would be an important [00:25:00] success to come out of this mission, but I'm thinking of the primary success that you were looking for the primary goal of this mission which was of course to soft land on the Moon but also to provide inspiration for for a nation for young people in that nation. And in fact, perhaps young people around the world. How would you evaluate the success of Beresheet in that effort? It certainly seems to have succeeded.
[Yoav Landsman]: Yeah, I was amazed by the success of this I think we succeeded in this field much more than we ever anticipated. We were aiming aiming at the youth in Israel, but I still getting messages from people that I don't know that apparently know me from social media from all around the world from places I've never been in that say say that they followed our journey and they were [00:26:00] watching the landing broadcasts with their children. It's very exciting to read this. It's very... I was crying while reading all the all these messages because because it was it was wonderful to see that. I believe we touched a lot of people in the world and it's great. It's way more than we ever anticipated and more than we hoped for and I think we did good there.
[Mat Kaplan]: I can assure you that you did. I can also assure you as you probably heard that in this country, the United States, you had a huge and enthusiastic audience. And of course, I was among them. I want to leave you with this. I was looking again just before we started this conversation at the last image to come from this spacecraft and it was of course that pretty stunning photo that was taken on the far side of the Moon [00:27:00] with of course the spacecraft of visible in the foreground that little sign that was put on the spacecraft designed so that it would be in these shots. That is a tremendously affecting image and we'll include it on the episode page this week that people can find at planetary.org/radio, but I'm going to bet that most of the people in our audience have seen it and were as inspired and and enthusiastic about it as I am.
[Yoav Landsman]: Yeah, that was a great image and we planned on capture it and and download it during the landing just for this case, in case we don't make it to the to the ground safely. We could have done it. We could have download it in such a good resolution only thanks to the Deep Space Network of NASA. We are so happy that we could do that. [00:28:00] And it's a great image.
[Mat Kaplan]: It's a wonderful part of the legacy of this mission and for all of you on this team. Please share the Planetary Society's congratulations and gratitude for for this attempt which was much more than an attempt. It was in so many ways very successful, Yoav. I look forward to talking to you again as Beresheet 2 comes together and prepares for that trip that it will make to the Moon.
[Yoav Landsman]: It will be my pleasure. Thank you.
[Mat Kaplan]: Beresheet Deputy Mission Director and Senior Systems Engineer, Yoav Landsman. I thought it would be fun to go back to the genesis of the Beresheet mission. It was 12 years ago that Peter Diamandis of the X Prize Foundation, and Google co-founder Larry Page made an announcement that would incentivize teams around the world to set their sights on the Moon. Though no team won, the benefits of the Google Lunar X Prize are undeniable.
[Peter Diamandis]: Today we're challenging private [00:29:00] teams from around the world to design and build robotic explorers and race them to the surface of the Moon. The Google Lunar X Prize is a competition that will once again demonstrate that small dedicated teams of individuals can do what was thought only once possible by governments.
[Larry Page]: We believe that these kind of contest and setting an ambitious goal like going to the Moon is really a good way to improve the state of humanity in the world. And that's why we care about this. It's also going to be a great competition a lot of fun. I hope that a small team very ambitious team of people will allow us all to virtually go back to the Moon very soon, so I couldn't be more excited about that.
[Mat Kaplan]: Time for What's Up on Planetary Radio. We are joined by the Chief Scientist of the Planetary Society, Bruce Betts will tell us about the night sky and probably has a lot of other stuff in store for us like a random space fact, welcome back.
[Bruce Betts]: Thanks, Mat, [00:30:00] good to be back. How you doing?
[Mat Kaplan]: I'm doing great. I'm looking forward to this very busy period when we've got a lot of public events coming up including the Planetary Defense Council public event that you'll be on stage for and we'll be doing Planetary Radio live there on May 1st in Washington, DC.
[Bruce Betts]: That's the Planetary Defense Conference, not Counsel.
[Mat Kaplan]: Council? Well, it should be the Council. Sorry my mistake. It's the Security Council... the Planetary Defense Security Council. Sorry about that.
[Bruce Betts]: We're a permanent member.
[Mat Kaplan]: That's good. We can veto everybody else. I'm embarrassed. Tell us what's up.
[Bruce Betts]: Okay. Let me see if I can embarrass myself, shouldn't be too hard. In the evening sky, in the low in the west we got Mars, still now kind of near Orion and near the orange red star Aldebaran and Taurus, but Orion will keep setting more and more so get your get your Orion fix and check it out in the [00:31:00] early evening in the west. And then in the pre-dawn sky still got a lineup of planets down low by the horizon are Venus and even Mercury hanging out near it. Mercury could be tough, Venus should be bright enough that if you have a clear view to the eastern horizon before dawn you should be able to see it fairly easily. On the 2nd of May the Moon will be hanging out near Venus and sooner than that the Moon will be hanging out near Jupiter on the 23rd of April and Jupiter is over in the south in the pre-dawn with Saturn in between Jupiter and Venus in kind of the southeast. All right onto this week in space history. It was 1971, Salyut 1 was launched, the first space station and then we had some Apollo follow-ups that I mentioned last week. We had Apollo 13 return successfully in 1970, successfully in that everyone lived, and then Apollo 16 landed on the [00:32:00] Moon successfully in 1972.
[Mat Kaplan]: Boy, it's going to be lots and lots of Apollo celebrations and remembrances over the next, man, three years, and I'm happy about that.
[Bruce Betts]: Me too. We move on to Random Space Fact.
[Mat Kaplan]: I like that energy.
[Bruce Betts]: 1036 Ganymed, Not to be confused with Ganymede, is the largest near-earth object, say largest asteroid, about 35... largest near-earth asteroid, meaning it comes within 1.3 AU of the Sun. So kind of near the Earth's orbit, 1 AU, and Ganymed is about 35 kilometers in size and it's not going to hit Earth for the foreseeable future, which is really good because it's really really big.
[Mat Kaplan]: Well, that's good. You kind of save the punch line for the end there.
[Bruce Betts]: Yeah. Well because because of our position on the Planetary Defense Council, I'm able to report this to [00:33:00] you.
[Mat Kaplan]: We vetoed its impact.
[Bruce Betts]: Ganymed impact? Veto!
[Mat Kaplan]: I want a big rubber stamp that says that.
[Bruce Betts]: Also named after mythological Ganymede but can't have two things spelled exactly the same so it became Ganymed. All right onto the trivia question. I asked you, where in the solar system is there a feature named Mozart? How'd we do, Mat?
[Mat Kaplan]: Big response this time. A lot of people wanted to get in on this. I guess there's a lot of Mozart fans out there. Several people said there are no Salieri features around the solar system. Yeah, you gotta see Amadeus, right? We got this from this week's winner Nara Hari in Sugar Land, Texas. We've mentioned him a few times on the show, but I think it's his first win. Mozart is a crater on Mercury, he says, right?
[Bruce Betts]: That is correct. Big crater, 241 [00:34:00] kilometers.
[Mat Kaplan]: Not bad, a fitting tribute. He says the technically Mozart's feature is also on the golden records aboard the two Voyager spacecraft and we heard that as well from a lot of folks out there. We also had a whole bunch of people tell us that there is asteroid 1034 Mozartia, which might have qualified but that's that's an asteroid not really a feature on another body. So I don't know if we'd have taken that or not. Hari, or Nara Hari, congratulations. You're getting this week's Planetary Society kick asteroid rubber asteroid and a 200 point iTelescope.net astronomy account. We got some other stuff of course. From Torsten, in Germany, who can always be counted on for this kind of stuff. He says it was another of Mozart's smash hits. Yeah and just like his music, out of this world. This is not terribly space-related but Bob Claim [00:35:00] who really ought to be locked up for a lot of the puns he makes, I looked all over the solar system to figure out where the feature named Mozart was Hayden. Bach and forth I looked but no Gluck. I thought it might be too much to Handel, but then I look closer to the Sun and I found the crater Mozart on Mercury. Four puns in 255 words. Congratulations Bob, I guess.
[Bruce Betts]: Nice!
[Mat Kaplan]: Brian in Maricopa, Arizona. That crater on Mercury both it and the real Mozart are slowly decomposing. It's kind of a pun, too. Finally this for you from Ken in Dunlap, Illinois. I think you and Bruce need to look through your grade school poetry class notes to see if you can qualify for a crater because there are writers with features on Mercury named after them as well or maybe Bruce can write a poem about the majestic unfurling of the LightSail and qualify in 50 years. [00:36:00]
[Bruce Betts]: I'll get right on that.
[Mat Kaplan]: Because you have to be famous for 50 years apparently and you also have to have been dead for at least three so you might want to think twice.
[Bruce Betts]: Hmm. I never was very good at poetry.
[Mat Kaplan]: Just as well. We're ready for another one.
[Bruce Betts]: No, we're not.
[Mat Kaplan]: Oh, you're right. We're not this week. Because of the schedule that's coming up and I'm going to have these back-to-back trips including our time in Oklahoma where we're doing a show and then before that, May 1st, at the Planetary Defense Conference show with Bruce, we're going to have to skip the contest this week. We apologize. We know that that must be terribly depressing to a lot of you and Bruce too, apparently. Don't worry, it'll be back next week!
[Bruce Betts]: Okay, I don't know what happens now.
[Mat Kaplan]: I know it's it's almost unheard of. It's not unprecedented, but it's it's almost unheard of. You think you're up to finishing the show?[00:37:00]
[Bruce Betts]: Hope so. I can do it. I'm a professional. All right, everybody go out there look up the night sky and think about woofers and subwoofers. Thank you and good night.
[Mat Kaplan]: I'm more of a tweeter myself. Actually, I don't really tweet that often. He's Bruce Betts. He is the Chief Scientist of the Planetary Society who by the way tweets at @RandomSpaceFact. Clever, huh? He joins us every week here for What's Up? Planetary Radio is produced by the Planetary Society in Pasadena, California, and is made possible by its shoot the Moon members. MaryLiz Bender is our Associate Producer. Josh Doyle composed our theme which was arranged and performed by Pieter Schlosser. I'm Mat Kaplan, Ad Astra.