On This Episode
Board of Directors of The Planetary Society; Professor Emeritus and founder, Space Policy Institute, The George Washington University
NIAC Program Executive
Assistant Professor for Department of Aerospace Engineering, Texas A&M University
Professor for Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science, Rochester Institute of Technology
Associate Professor for Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, West Virginia University
CEO for TransAstra Corporation
Assistant Professor for Colorado Center for Astrodynamics Research, University of Colorado, Boulder
Science Fiction Author, Scientist, and Engineer for NASA Glenn Research Center
Planetary Geologist/Planetary Scientist for Applied Physics Lab-Johns Hopkins University
100 YSS Leader for Dorothy Jemison Foundation for Excellence
Chief Scientist / LightSail Program Manager for The Planetary Society
Planetary Radio Host and Producer for The Planetary Society
The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts program gathers its “fellows” each year to share what they’ve learned about some of the most fascinating science and engineering imaginable. Mat Kaplan visits with Program Executive Jason Derleth and seven leaders of funded studies. Astronaut Mae Jemison also attended and returns to Planetary Radio. Cosmonaut Alexei Leonov passed away last week at 85. He is remembered and praised by space historian John Logsdon. All this, headlines from The Downlink, and Bruce Betts!
- The Downlink: Planetary exploration news for busy people
- The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts Program
- Read about all the NIAC Studies
- Apply to NIAC
- Where to send a three-page, initial proposal to NIAC (email)
- Astronaut Mae Jemison on Planetary Radio in 2012
- Cosmonaut Alexei Leonov
- John Logsdon’s John F. Kennedy and the Race to the Moon
This week's prizes:
A classy NIAC pin, a Planetary Society KickAsteroid rubber asteroid, and a 200-point iTelescope.net astronomy account.
This week's question:
What was the first star system besides our own that was discovered to have eight planets?
To submit your answer:
Complete the contest entry form at http://planetary.org/radiocontest or write to us at email@example.com no later than Wednesday, October 23rd at 8am Pacific Time. Be sure to include your name and mailing address.
Last week's question:
What is the diameter of the Curiosity rover’s wheels?
The winner will be revealed next week.
Question from the October 2 space trivia contest:
What spacecraft are ACTIVE on the Moon’s surface?
The two missions that are still active on the surface of the Moon are Chang’e 3 and 4.
NOTE: This automated transcript is currently being edited by a human. Check back soon for updates.
[00:00:00] Space Innovation so crazy they just might work this week on planetary radio.
Welcome. I'm at Kaplan of the planetary Society with more of the Human Adventure across our solar system and beyond. I exaggerated not all of the concepts studies and projects presented at this year's Nayak Symposium were on the bleeding edge, but there wasn't one of them that board this Gearhead will share a sampling in minutes and you'll hear a conversation with the leader of the NASA Innovative and advanced concepts program Jason derleth.
I'll also talk with Nayak keynoter astronaut engineer and MD Mae. Cosmonaut artist and World citizen Alexei leonov passed away last week space historian and policy expert John logsdon met him a couple of times and wrote about his front and center role in the Soviet space program. John will look [00:01:00] back with us right after a few headlines from around the solar system courtesy of the downlink.
October 11th brought only the second edition of this planetary science and exploration digest courtesy of my colleague planetary Society editorial director Jason Davis, here are three of Jason's capsule stories scientists have announced the discovery of 20 new moons around Saturn the wide ringed gas giant now officially has 82 surpassing Jupiter 79 to become the Solar System's current champion.
Okay, it's not a contest both are likely to have more and Jupiter probably has more in total. Want to help name Saturn's new Moon's there's a link what else in the downlink at planetary dot-org. In other Saturn news the Hubble Space Telescope has now been in space for an entire Saturn year ten thousand seven hundred sixty four Earth days as I record this or roughly [00:02:00] 30 Earth years, you can see how Hubble's view of Saturn has changed over that time in the planetary Society image Library.
NASA's latest efforts to save the heat flow experiment on the Insight Mission appear promising that self hammering mole was supposed to bury itself in the Martian soil to record changes in temperature, but it's still stuck near the surface Engineers are now using insights scoop to apply pressure on the mole while it digs.
The rest of the downlink is online at planetary dot-org in the blog where all the stories have links for further exploration. Thanks, Jason. John logsdon was at home in Washington DC when I caught him on the morning of October 15. John I wasn't a bit surprised to hear that you had run into Alexei Lan off a couple of times at least a couple of times I and I already knew because of course I've read so a lot of your writing that you have things to say about his significance in the [00:03:00] history of space exploration.
So I thank you for taking a couple of minutes to help us pay tribute to him this morning happy to do it. Was he among the greatest of the Great's was he up there with you know, Glenn and and Armstrong and and Gagarin. Oh, I think so. I mean, he was a world citizen. He was the first first person to do an Eva of course and nearly died in the.
Process trained to be the first Russian on the moon if the Soviet Union had ever gotten the chance to attempt a landing, but they couldn't get their big N1 rocket to work and then he was selected to command the apollo-soyuz and shaken steaks mission. And I think he was regarded by the space fires of the world is kind of one of the Granddaddy's of the space Community.
He was outgoing he was easy to get along with he liked everybody [00:04:00] almost everybody. And I think he was indeed one of the great. So how did you cross paths with him? Well one incidentally was through the planetary Society. It was a meeting at the US National Academy of Sciences sometime in the 80s.
Probably the tenth anniversary of us apollo-soyuz. I showed him the US intelligence satellite pictures of the N1 launch site. So that was that was interesting. I mean, I I never had an extended. Conversation with Lee and have unfortunately, but but and then I know in Moscow in 1987, I was part of a planetary Society group that went to the 30th anniversary of Sputnik and ran into him telling him that Buzz Aldrin was looking for him.
And he had the other way now there's an interesting Insight. I he's one of these [00:05:00] guys who apparently was changed by space travel. I mean he became an artist and I just read it is it not become an artist. He was an artist first. Oh, I didn't know that he went to art school before he went to flight school.
Wow. Okay. He brought his art to space. And did some very beautiful work and I just read in his updated Wikipedia biography about some of the things he said toward the end of his life about how he thought that we had missed an opportunity the United States and the Soviet Union to to collaborate to cooperate in space.
I think that's right. I mean again little-known factoid. The US and the Soviet Union had agreed after apollo-soyuz to work together with the shuttle rendezvousing with the Soviet space station and work together on planning a space station in the 80s and then [00:06:00] we didn't follow through on that agreement.
First of all because of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and then. The early years of the Reagan Administration so there were missed opportunities along the way to do than what we ended up doing 20 30 years. Later. John I knew you'd be the right person to call thank you for this helping us Mark the passing of one of the greats in space exploration.
Yes, he will be missed John logsdon full disclosure a board member of a member of the board of directors of the planetary Society is also the founder. And ran the space policy Institute at George Washington University and the author of several books including John F Kennedy and the race to the moon.
The Nayak Symposium spread across three days early this month we met in Huntsville, Alabama not far from the Marshall space flight center Nayak began in [00:07:00] 1998 as the NASA Institute for advanced concepts. It went away for a few years and then returned as the NASA Innovative advanced concepts program.
Jason derleth is its program executive working out of the agency's space technology mission directorate in Washington. He joined me online a few days after the symposium. Jason thanks for joining me. And what a pleasure it was. Thank you for allowing me to be a fly on the wall at this Nayak Symposium at which we heard all of these fascinating and very exciting proposals.
Maybe some more likely to become reality than others, but. That's why you're out there doing this stuff. Right? Yes. It's wonderful that you were able to come. We really appreciated having you there. I think it adds a lot when we have folks who are generalists like yourself with a large amount of experience talking to people coming and you can ask.
Questions to the fellows and questions like that just make the the [00:08:00] studies stronger. We're really excited to have everybody there. Anyone who can come as welcome. Of course if that is pretty special as well that it is open to the public and you had some interesting members of the public there Frank Drake one of the inventors.
Talk about radically or entirely new Concepts one of the inventors of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. He wasn't a fellow he was just there to listen to your fellows make their presentations. And I know that he was very happy to be there. Yeah, Frank is a wonderful friend of the program.
He's been on our external counsel for a little while. But this was his last meeting with us so he may or may not come in the future. But if we have one nearby, I think he would just love to come he's always been able to provide helpful thoughts on astronomy and radio astronomy some Concepts in our program.
Give me give us please. The thumbnail description of of what Nayak is about and what NASA hopes to accomplish if that's not already obvious from what we've said so far [00:09:00] Nayak is. A technology development program that looks at new technologies that are 10 or more years out from final use some of these concepts are a little farther out than others, but it's amazing how excited and enthusiastic people are about their Concepts and about other people's Concepts as well.
So the basic gist of it is we provide a small amount of money in a small amount of time. Our Phase 1 studies are only a hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars over nine months to do a quick turn of the analysis crank to find out if a really interesting idea that someone's had is rooted in reality.
I mean, we try and weed out anything that's beyond the laws of physics before they ever get funding but the job of the phase one fellow we call all of our winners fellows not-p eyes is to show that not only is this idea. Within the realm of feasibility, but that it's a good idea to do. [00:10:00] And that's what they have nine months and $125,000 to to show NASA that this idea is so good that we ought to implement it.
The best ones go on to a phase 2 of study phase twos are two years long and 500 thousand dollars. And we have had some people show up to the midterm review of their faith to with multiple robots ready to go that in string. These people have often students working for them and sometimes volunteering their spare time just to work for NASA.
It's really exciting to some students to be able to do. So the products that come out of the phase 2 are usually really solid. Mission analysis with sometimes some bread board brass board or or prototype robots to show that what they are thinking about doing is feasible and a full technology implementation roadmap.
So what would need to happen before something could fly in space or [00:11:00] fly in the air if it's an aeronautics? Then you have this newest phase for very few proposals make it to this but your phase 3, which I guess we heard some of the first presentations about some of these projects this year. Yes.
That's correct our phase 3 we intend to fund one per year and it's for the concepts that after a phase 2 still have too much risk left in them for a traditional. Spaceflight engineering system to accept them as a new technology. So you can't imagine for instance a new Mission a mission manager choosing to do asteroid mining for instance at the moment that's going to take a little bit more work and a little bit more investment and the idea of the phase 3 is to go all the way to a.
Stage of development or development [00:12:00] stage in software where a future Mission could pick that up and start funding it after that and and one of the requirements for a phase three is to have a customer that's interested before we would consider funding it. How many people did we hear from and how many current fellows are.
Well, there's 12 phase ones from last year. We have six phase 2's and there were eight phase twos from the year before and two phase threes. You were telling me just before we started recording that you were going through some of the new proposals that that you've got there. You must get far more than you can possibly fund.
Yes, and we get a lot of fundable. Proposals as well, but Nayak is a little bit funny and NASA. It's not your average everyday NASA program in a lot of ways and one of those is that we take proposals from non traditional Aerospace folks and from in fact non [00:13:00] Aerospace folks. We have had quite literally garage inventors in Nyack.
One of them has an Optics bench in his. Detached garage up in New York state another one was a physical therapist that came up with a method of moving people in space to create artificial gravity that was in line. We've always heard about artificial Gravity by rotating your spacecraft and you put the astronauts on the inside surface and they rotate around and have artificial Gravity from that rotation.
This gentleman came up with a sled that could be slid back and forth with a Twist in the middle. And every person that I've ever shown this concept to says that is not going to work, but I want to see the results of the study because it really interesting and it turns out in fact that well it might could work.
I'm not sure that we would do it but it's actually a reasonable idea and it provides no [00:14:00] Coriolis effect on the body when you're doing the artificial gravity, it's quite interesting. Of course, you can find that study up on. On the website which will provide a link to as well because you can find out about all of these projects that that we're hearing about from Jason.
I'm also thinking of the ones that won't become reality. And there is still value in these isn't there if they explore something that no one has ever thought about before and discover doesn't look like this will work at least with our current understanding of the challenge. That's still valuable to know I fully agree.
In fact, I've often said that Nayak and other early stage technology development programs ought to be looking at our failures as successes because we're still adding. To human knowledge and making it publicly available. I can think of one in the new program that didn't work at least as currently envisioned.
The basic idea was to [00:15:00] have a spacecraft that was in very low earth orbit deep in the atmosphere or perhaps even a plane that caused a small explosion. Up in the upper atmosphere which would then push that upper atmosphere up into space for a short period of time where orbital debris would run into the atmosphere that was suddenly thicker and it would slow the debris down because the atmosphere was thicker than it what had been before and you might be able to do our but quite a bit of debris that way and after running the analysis unfortunately it showed that.
It really didn't slow things down very much. Unless you had a very large explosion and you'd have to do it multiple times. And so that very creative and intriguing idea didn't pan out but we only spent $100,000 to find out that that wouldn't work. That wasn't very much money in the NASA world. Of course, I think it was a good use of the taxpayer dollar since the research was able to [00:16:00] be put up online for anyone to see hey.
Don't go down this path right now because it's probably not going to work unless there's something substantially different than the future. What are some of your favorites or if you don't want to favor some of your children over others. So what are what are a couple more that you know demonstrate the diversity of projects that get funded.
Let me think carefully. We had a study from Ames Research Center that took a look at what would it take to take a human spacecraft and. Line the walls with bags bags of water at first as the astronauts drank the water and made waste the bags were designed to take the waste in and chemically treat that waste to purify it back into water the obvious benefit of this is that you're increasing your radiation shielding.
Well using these bags to purify [00:17:00] waste which will reduce the amount of water that you need to bring along with you. That was a fascinating study that that showed real benefits to doing so we had a study on what would it take to reach Alpha Centauri with a spacecraft for real you take a very small spacecraft perhaps even smaller than a phone no more than a chipset you put a.
Light sail around it something that could solar sail but then instead of using the solar photons you would shine lasers at it as brightly as you could maybe 50 very high power lasers. Well, the mathematic show that you can accelerate something from essentially zero velocity to approximately 2 tenths the speed of light in about 10 minutes at to tends to the speed of light.
You reach Alpha Centauri in only 20 years and it takes about five years to get the data back which [00:18:00] would be done through miniscule lasers pointing back at the Earth. But it turns out that the laser array that you used to push. The solar sail at the beginning can be used in coherent receive mode and might in fact be able to receive a direct laser signal from five light-years away.
The mathematics works out implementing that system will of course provide many challenges what you're describing there certainly sounds like it's the Breakthrough starshot project which we have talked about before on this show. If you watch the initial Breakthrough starshot video where Pete Worden got up and introduced the three luminaries that were on the stage Mark Zuckerberg and.
Stephen Hawking and Yuri Milner the Russian. Yes, millionaire who funded it Pete Worden about 35 minutes in mentions that this was an outgrowth from in fact the Nayak study that I just mentioned so breakthrough starshot was [00:19:00] was created because of a Nayak. Every one of the projects that I heard about is deserving of some conversation of sharing with our audience.
We won't be able to do all of them, but I said we will hear from some and we may hear from more over the coming weeks and months as I follow up with some others of your fellows. I'm going to bet that there are some people out there. Whether they are academics for people in a garage or people at a NASA Center or maybe with a big company who'd like to know, how do you get into this?
I mean, I already ran into one person from a University at the Starship Congress here in San Diego a few weeks ago who had never heard of Nayak and yet he is working on something that seemed like it was well within the kind of project that Nayak would consider. That's a great Point Nayak is a challenging program to get into because we are open to the public.
We receive between two and three hundred proposals every year and we're very aware [00:20:00] that we don't want to have people spending a lot of time proposing if they have only a. Five percent chance of winning and so what we do to make that a little bit better as we do a step proposal system where you provide us with a three-page white paper, and if you are in scope for our program and exciting enough, then we will invite you to provide us with an eight page proposal that will have a full peer review of expert panel review technical panel review.
We open that solicitation. Every year in August, but we're about to change the date to mesh a little bit better with the grand processing folks that work down at the NASA shared services Center. We're expecting the solicitation to come out in early June next year. But now what a lot of people don't know is that they can email us.
We have an email address that Matt can provide on the show page for any interested that [00:21:00] email address. You can send us a white paper to quickly review as long as we're not in an open competition. If we're in an open competition, we are not allowed to review somebody's white paper and give. Give them any feedback if we're not we are allowed to and so if you send an email to us with a three-page white paper, we can tell you.
Yeah, that's in scope or no. It's not in scope. It would be better. If you did the following thing the main thing that we find people doing when they proposed to Nayak as they don't understand what the c means and NASA Innovative advanced concepts because we're open to any and all technology areas.
We need a little bit of help from the proposers to tell us how good their concept is. Otherwise, we would be looking at let's just say a new material that could really revolutionize the way that we do space and we'd be comparing that to a. A new [00:22:00] architecture for just again, for example how you might get a large human-sized Lander down to the surface of Mars and we might be comparing that to a new space suit and we might be comparing that to a new instrument that could measure.
The quantities of dark matter in the universe. How do we do that? Well, we asked the proposers to put their new technologies into a mission context and we don't mean hey, this is something that's relatable to human spaceflight and so any future human space flight that's extended will use this technology know what we mean is you tell us a mission that you might do.
It doesn't have to be on NASA's books. Just a potential future mission. And then show what the impact of your technology is explain to us why your technology is better than sliced bread, right and on a good example of that might be the fusion propelled Pluto [00:23:00] Orbiter and Lander which we hold up quite frequently to talk about.
This Fusion is a very difficult concept and some people think that. We shouldn't be funding any Fusion at Nyack. The dollars are far too small to make any progress. Well, that might be true unless we're talking about a new method of fusion or a new way of doing it where $125,000 and nine months might actually show people.
Hey, this could be feasible sometime in the future. And that's what Stephanie Thomas did with this study of the Pluto Fusion Orbiter and Lander might be able to reach Pluto in five years orbit Pluto in five years and beam power to a Lander that could then be power rich and have more instruments on it.
That is a really exciting Mission analysis that can only be done. By her Fusion engine. Now the [00:24:00] reason why she chose Pluto is well by golly the farther you go with a Fusion engine the better it's going to look and we had just flown by Pluto and NASA had and so it was hot in the news and it was topical but it also really showed off the benefits of her technology and that's really the key if you can show us in a step a white paper that you have done a back of the envelope calculation.
And put that back of the envelope calculation into your proposal and show us that this is going to really make an impact. That's how you get into Nayak. It is a terrific opportunity and I won't be surprised if a few of our listeners out there many of them bleeding edge thinkers. If you don't hear from them at some point at least I would be wonderful.
I'd like to hear about that if anybody has those ideas Jason, I know it's a lot of work but. You seem to have an exciting job. Well, thank you. I work at NASA headquarters. And so a lot of it is paper [00:25:00] pushing, but I do get to interact with these really smart people that are doing really creative things all across all technology areas for space and that's just exciting everyday.
And it occurs to me not just the people who make the proposals but the people who help you evaluate them or are a pretty interesting group. Actually everybody who works in the program office at Nyack is a spectacular human being both professionally. And personally, I'm really fortunate to have these folks working with me.
Thanks Jason. I can't wait to see what the next batch of Nayak funded projects will put on the table for the rest of us to Marvel. I can't wait myself. It'll be a fun about eight months before we learn. Thanks. Jason dear life is the program executive. For Nayak the NASA Innovative advanced concepts program when we return we'll meet seven Nayak fellows including science fiction writer and physicist Geoffrey a Landis and we'll wrap up our Symposium coverage with the great Mae Jemison.
Bruce is [00:26:00] still ahead to this is planetary radio. Taking a minute to talk again about the Great Courses plus and about exoplanets. You know, how often we talk about exoplanets on this show. It's one of the courses not surprisingly offered by the Great Courses. Plus it's the search for exoplanets.
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The great course is plus.com / planetary the Great Courses plus.com / planetary. I wish I could bring you conversations about all 28 of the presentations. I enjoyed at this year's Nyack Symposium. Here are short explorations of just seven. I think they represent a pretty good range of both topics and Nayak fellows.
By the way, what deal here are mostly excerpts from the live streaming videos? I hosted on behalf of Nayak during breaks in the Symposium action will start our warp speed tour with a concept that reminds me just a little bit of the Star Trek transporter good trekkies know that the transporter scans and breaks down matter sending Ross stuff and information from the Enterprise.
To the surface of a planet and a stream of both particles and energy [00:28:00] that beam somehow stays coherent. It doesn't spread out sound crazy. Well, it turns out that particles of matter and photons may actually be able to interact with each other to do exactly this. Not to send Captain Kirk to the rescue, but just possibly to someday drive a light sail across the solar system or to the Stars Chris limbach from Texas A&M University.
Two things come to mind which set your work apart a little bit. I think this is Nayak. So we've heard from a whole bunch of fellows who are out there at the bleeding edge pushing what we understand about what is possible with technology and science. But I don't think anybody has come as close to seeming like magic as yours, except of course that it's Nobel Prize in science backed science.
Yeah, I mean you think about the the optical trapping right? That was Nobel Prize was [00:29:00] awarded recently, but that technology was actually developed by, you know, Arthur ashkan at Bell Labs back in the 1980s. They started trapping particles using that type of force and you know, Optical guiding has been around, you know, people have known of that and mirages for a long time.
So, you know, that's one of the major things to me is that the the ingredients that go into this self-guiding and the beam are actually pretty well-known and I think that the thing that gets me excited is the novelty of combining that together and then using that for propulsion and you know, it's just really exciting to be part of the night program.
And the second thing that I think May set your work apart a little bit is that unlike so many of the other projects here very worthy projects that deserve more attention generally yours has gotten some popular media coverage and I can't for the life of me remember where but I know I'd read about it before coming here to to Nayak.
It does seem to be exciting the imaginations of a lot of. Yeah, I hope so. I mean, it's one of those things that you know, you see [00:30:00] some of these the concept that we propose and you know, I think I couldn't have come up with that just as a science fiction type of concept because it came about by trying to understand the physics of how do you build a beam which does not diffract in the vacuum of space.
Just let us to something which is just so unusual. But at the same time. You know, we understand I think now after the phase 1, you know, how it's actually going to be working and I'm just so excited to get in the lab. I'm experimentalists. Oh actually building some of these things in the lab and and testing out our theories of how this is working is really going to be so exciting in the next two years and your slides gave some examples of where you're headed with this experimental work proving out this technology, but certainly from the modeling that you've done and other efforts it looks pretty good.
Well, it does look good. And you know, we didn't always think it was going to all work out. So so the modeling it actually turned out to be I think a little bit better at least the preliminary modeling then I expect it because when we started out we weren't sure whether or not these forces The [00:31:00] Guiding and then the particle trapping.
Whether that needed to be a precise balance where you're kind of, you know, standing on the tip of a needle and and if that was the case, it would be easy for some kind of perturbation to cause that to Decay but what the modeling I think is shown at least preliminarily is that the guiding is more robust under the conditions we've modeled then than I had expected.
And so that was one of those areas where you're a little surprised at a good result doesn't always happen. No fact, it's more rare the other way. Yeah usually act on the way. Do you see this as something I'm certainly not a mature technology not yet. But you can see this is reaching those higher limits of TRL as we say Readiness level.
Do you see this? Maybe someday reaching the level where it could be pushing something across our little. Neighborhood of the Galaxy. Yeah, absolutely. And you know, it's not I think you're not going to go directly from where we are now to the [00:32:00] Proxima be Mission. You're going to start using it for travel around the solar system.
And so we have the tools now from The Phase 1 to scope out what the parameters would be. For example a 5-megawatt. Total power budget and what we can do with that and there's a lot of interesting things you can do even with a lower power something more achievable in the next 10 20 years. And so and so I think that there's there's a lot of opportunities but then again I see all of the challenges have you thought about other uses of this self-correcting Beam for things like communication across distances, that would have been unimaginable.
We thought about it a little bit. I think that one of the things I can say is that the propagation distance of the beam. I mentioned was only about half of an AAU because of the collisions with solar wind particles actually so that attenuates the particle beam and then you lose the self-guiding. So I think that you know, we can do Communications over that distance.
Of course, you need the power to actually. Fill the whole system and so I'm I'm not sure I agree that [00:33:00] there's a case there in terms of the seti implications after that half an AAU of propagation. Then you have a you know, 1 meter. Laser beam and that then diffracts out into space and so I'm not sure that gives you a tighter Beam at the next star system than anything else.
So, okay, so we're not ready to say hello to the centurions quite quite yet. We can send something there get back. We'll send them a gift. Yeah, right. Well FedEx speaking of light sales and we do Grover Schwarzenegger of the Rochester Institute of Technology. Welcome Grover. Thank you. Nice to be here.
You know, I'm with the planetary Society. So I'm a little partial to solar sails. I also bring you greetings from our chief scientist Bruce Betts. Thanks for that. And you attended our he attended a conference you did about meta materials for solar sails. That's right. We're trying to develop the next generation of solar cells based on metamaterials.
And so I had an incubator meeting in Washington DC and Bruce was one of our invited guests for that and he enjoyed it enormously [00:34:00] and we're going to meet a couple of your students but first. We won't fully review what you presented here. But you talked about making sales out of basically diffraction gratings.
Now what? So great about a diffraction grating compared to a nice shiny piece of mylar. Well diffraction gratings are have come a long ways the last decade or so because of metamaterials. There's new ways of engineering them make them highly efficient and functional you can basically design them to accomplish things that have not been imagined before because of material constraints.
So metal is a metal it reflects and that's about it. You can put coatings on it, but it can't achieve the functionality you can with. How does this compare to the great Japanese solar sail Icarus wasn't diffraction grating, but it had those LCD panels built into it. That's right. So it grows had an ingenious approach of having a electro-optic diffuser.
So rather than diffracting their light, they just scattered it all over the place that changed the amount of force [00:35:00] on that area of the cell ours will be I think more efficient and a little bit more functional. By their they follow similar approaches. They both involve Advanced metamaterial diffraction materials and advanced look a crystal material.
And you'd like to send maybe 12 of these circling the Sun but at high inclination so we could see as you demonstrated that the poles of the sun which we've had more difficult Imaging than we can say this now since last spring then a black hole. That's right. It amazes me that no one's ever had a good picture of the North or South Pole the sun before because it's so hard to get up there takes a lot of energy Rockets won't do it.
So we need to know what kind of propulsion and a solar sailing provides us that opportunity. Hide another constant theme from many of the fellows that we've been hearing from across these three days has been not just the technology accomplishments that they're making in the exciting Concepts, but how they have been using this research.
And spreading it out to young people like the [00:36:00] two who are standing here next to you. You want to introduce them. Now? This is Lucy Choo. She's from Taiwan. She's by PhD student. And this is Amber do Bill. She's undergraduate msbs student in chemical engineering at RIT. She's my mission specialist and I'm going to cross in front of you here and I'll start with you Amber.
How's it been to be involved as an undergraduate with a project like this? Honestly, I've been very lucky with the opportunities that I've been given and people like doctor SportsCenter come up with fantastic ideas. And I just want excited people who want to do the work and there's a lot of students and young people out there that are willing to do that.
I myself am one of them. So you're a little bit ahead of Amber here. But still I'm sure an exciting opportunity. It is our starting from you know, just investigating an Optics, but it's really cool opportunity that I'm involved in the Solar sails and then also like hearing all these Faith cool Symposium in these three days.
Best of luck to both of you particularly with this [00:37:00] great start in doing real space research. It must be rewarding to be able to offer these opportunities. And as that's what makes being a professor gratifying grading exams are proposals hard, but when you see these kids get excited and take jobs and the real world following their passions.
There's nothing like it in the world. Thank you Grover very much and look forward to license for lightsail to way to go. Fantastic. I'll pass that along to my colleagues who had a lot more to do with it. But thank you so much. I look forward to seeing that diffraction grating up their grazing the sun.
Great. Me, too. And now for something almost completely different Nayak fellow you goo came to the Symposium from West Virginia University. Like so many of the projects here. You really caught the imagination of a lot of people including me with your project which are you familiar with David Bowie on.
David Bowie who did one work called the spiders from Mars you want to send spiders to Mars not exactly [00:38:00] spiders, but tell us we're remind us for a particularly for people who didn't hear your presentation on the first day of what your project entails. Okay, so we trying to build those bio-inspired micro probes inspired by ballooning spiders as some of spiders can fly for thousands of kilometers dangling underneath the little string and they produce so we want to make similar probes like dangling off this little string and kind of litter around the Mars atmosphere so we can get a lot of measurements.
So many of them that I was tempted to call them a swarm, but they may be more of a cloud. Cloud is probably a better of dust storm. Yeah, but I do the same because I'm absalom's because they are individual entities and is lots of them. Up to I mean if I got the math right releasing up to a hundred thousand of these tiny probes.
Yes that actually most interesting. I think the principle by which you were [00:39:00] are proposing not only to power them to give them the power to do the science that they'll be doing but to propel them. How does that work? Well turned out of spiders. They have electric propulsion systems. Also, the string are statically charged and there is this atmosphere electric reading potential.
So the interacting force between the to help them generate more lift. So we're hoping to capture the same type of lift to propel our probes and they would do these by I mean, they have little filaments basically that they release Mmm Yeah, that's the circus train, right? We all have send them the annoying but yeah.
I'm going to think twice the next time I see one land on my shirt that there's really some impressive science going on there. What do you think? They might be? Well suited for this this cloud or swarm of tiny. I think you said like 50 milligram. Did I get that right? It's in my notes 50 milligram basically spacecraft.
Oh, yeah, but if you think about the real spider is a [00:40:00] the flying ones, they are one milligram and they pack a lot more complexity than we. Proposing, right? They have a sensing. They have a situation. They have a power system. They can reproduce themselves and which we now even worry about that kind of sense, right?
So we'll hoping that the micro Electronics will catch up and we can pack a lot of sensors on those little guys. So it sounds like you are one of those who sees great potential in learning from the things that life has been able to do for millions of years biomimicry. Yeah, always kind of intrigued by that it's always looking for examples.
I'm a robotics. I'm trying to learn from nature in many different ways. As I've been asking most of our guests during the breaks how important was the support of Nayak for encouraging and furthering this work extremely important because otherwise it's just a dream and it just something once through my head.
I wouldn't even pursue it. I'll just say oh, that's cool. If I can do that, that'd be [00:41:00] great in right but now I actually have a project that can actually walk on it and hopefully there will be more projects coming along and hopefully Mission down the road. So you might be a phase 2 candidate. Well, I'm definitely going to be a candidate whether I get it or not is a different story.
I wish you the best of luck and thank you for taking a couple minutes to join us here today. Thank you very much. I am joined by someone who's already made one presentation today and has another one coming up and it's Joel sir cell. Welcome Joel. Hey, it's great to see you. Thanks for having me.
You thought a 15-minute presentation was short. How about an elevator speech presentation that just reviews. What you presented sure, so we talked about our concept for the lunar polar mining Outpost which is a way to mine water on the moon near the lunar North Pole. This is a really important problem to solve because once you can get cost-effective water on the moon, you can make rocket propellant drinking [00:42:00] water breathable air, and that really gets us Off to the Races for.
Not only NASA style science outposts, but even commercial hotels towns and settlements. We've invented some approaches here and we think and the Nayak reviewers tend to agree can really revolutionize the cost-effectiveness of going to the moon. So we've found a spot. An area on the moon about the size of Manhattan and this is at the North Pole roughly right right near the North Pole.
We found a beautiful area on the moon about the size of Manhattan, which all the science indicators say, it's just loaded with permafrost ice. The geography of the area is such that we can land a spacecraft with a and then deploy a tower up in the low lunar gravity that can put a large solar panel out.
And generate megawatts of power to [00:43:00] power this Outpost and then we've invented mining technology that we call radiant gas Dynamic mining which we build into Rovers that go out heat the regolith capture the released volatile material is gases cryo pump that into. Water tanks and then carry that water back to processing plants.
So this is a patent pending technology called radiant gas Dynamic Mining and the concept of building Towers on the moon. We call the lunar power tower and there is even more to it than that. It is absolutely awe-inspiring it. It's kind of an end-to-end solution. But to talk a little bit more about the towers which use this principle called 10 secretary.
One of the greatest experiences. My life was interviewing Buckminster Fuller nuts. Yeah. It was a great great experience and he kind of he invented the concept as I understand it and wrote a book called tense Equity. You describe these [00:44:00] towers as having their feet in the ice. I think and their heads in the in the sky in the sun.
That's right these towers. Using 10 secretary structure on the moon taking advantage of the low lunar gravity and the vacuum so you don't have to worry about wins and that sort of thing. It turns out that you can build a self-erecting tower on the moon that you can land in a package that can go up a cup at least a kilometer and carry 20 percent of its mass is payload with three new Glenn flights.
We can package the system together as a very very large land. Landed on the moon and one of those Landers can put out a megawatt and a half a power. So Buckminster Fuller was the guy who invented since a gritty and my colleague. Dr. Roberts skeleton who's a member of the National Academy of engineering and a tenured professor at two different schools actually developed.
The rigorous scientific modeling of [00:45:00] ten secretary structures so we can confidently predict their Mass with today's materials and 20% safety factors. We can build towers a kilometer high on the moon and then we've done detailed illumination studies actually going back billions of years in the moon's history with its orbital wobble to.
Where are the places on the moon that had been dark for billions of years collecting dark and cryogenically called collecting this water and other volatile ices. And with those same illumination models, we can predict where we can put a Lander so that it's feeder in the ice. And then when it deploys the tower its head is in the Sun.
In a region that I like to call new Mesopotamia because a new cradle of civilization the Cradle of a space civilization. It's between two. Prominent well-known craters just like the Mesopotamia was between two rivers this and it was there that Humanity started to thrive [00:46:00] on Earth and form more complex civilizations because the resources in the environment was just right for it turns out I think we found that area on the moon that can be the beginning of a human extraterrestrial civilization.
It's very exciting Joel's her cell of trans Astra Corporation. Jim McMahon from University of Colorado, right? Yes. Yep. You want to send what it look like flowers soft flowers to fascinating places around the solar system. Yeah. The idea is to send soft robots the design we have right now the the limbs that stick out the side look kind of like flower petals and we're trying to send them to small near-earth asteroids to mine for water.
The combination of technologies that you described to us seem to me that any one of those might have made a good Nyack project, but you had lots Electro adhesion solar sailing which I'm from the planetary Society that's near and dear to us and [00:47:00] just this idea of ejecting regolith from the surface of these things.
Basically using what look like a catapult. Yeah. Yeah. That was the basic idea for the ejection. At these small asteroids. It's a microgravity environment. So the Escape speed is quite low so we can basically just toss something up and it'll fly long distances or maybe even escaped from that asteroid environment here.
We have a lot going on in this project. But thankfully I have a really strong team. The student says see you are incredible and they do all the real work. So I count on them to make it happen. That's been a regular theme Here the opportunities that a lot of these projects are providing particularly in the academic environment like yours for students to gain.
Tremendous experience. Yeah, and that's that's a huge goal for me to have a project like this to get as many students involved both for them to get experience. But also to expose them and hopefully [00:48:00] motivate them to work on these types of projects in the future. So we have a really strong program at CU in in Aerospace.
One of the ways that students can get Masters in Aerospace that's used they can do what's called a graduate project. And so that's basically a year-long. It's kind of higher level senior project a lots of engineering students do as a Capstone to their undergrad program and we allow them to do that in like in place of a thesis.
So they can get a year-long Project based experience. And so we've had those students for both years of our Phase 2 working on this project and they provide a lot of expertise and then gain a lot of expertise back to this spacecraft for one thing. I was just impressed by how. Low mash. It is 116 kilograms.
Yeah. Yeah, that's the the current design and that can be scaled up or down a little bit depending on what exactly we want to do. But yeah, it's most it's large but we're designing it to have a [00:49:00] large area to mass ratio. So it can solar sail as you mentioned and so it can stick to the surface of needs a large contact area for the surface anchoring using Electro adhesion so that those pedals are large but thin and so they're not that massive.
I also liked your analogy and not just an analogy because we saw the computer modeling of it of crawling across the surface of a body. Like a zombie. Yeah. Yeah, you know and the in the movies when only the top half of the zombie is crawling with their arms. That's that's our motivation. I suppose the support from Nyack that you got to be able to take this project on or at least two to provide the substantial support for it.
How important. Yeah, absolutely crucial these types of projects are really hard to get off the ground without a program like Nayak to allow you to do even the feasibility study to start. One of the things I think is really great about Nayak is the number of phase one proposals that they fund which allows.
[00:50:00] People to investigate the feasibility of some of these kind of more far out ideas. And if they don't all pan out, that's fine. And that's that's part of the Nike programs opinion of this but that allows us to look at things that otherwise would never be funded. And so that's really important. I think for the community.
And your phase-two going to be going for a phase 3 Grand we might yeah, I think we'll continue to work on this and develop it a little bit further to make sure that we're ready for that but having the opportunity to propose for a phase 3 and try and get these systems actually Advance more and hopefully built and flown is just incredible.
So the phase three is a great opportunity. Like a lot of so-called hard science fiction authors Geoffrey a Landis of the NASA Glenn Research Center is also a scientist though. It's through his fiction that I knew the Hugo nebula and Locus Award winner. It was his leadership of a Nayak study called power for Interstellar fly by that brought him to my microphone at the [00:51:00] Symposium.
It was a return to the Breakthrough starshot like concept of tiny light sales driven to other stars. But considers how these visitors from Earth will find the power to do any science and send data home as they Zoom past which is more fun making this stuff up for science fiction or find it in real physics.
I love the idea that actually you can do both you can make stuff up and also justify it with real-world physics. So I just think real science is as fascinating as anything that we can come up. And that there's there's more great ideas out there. If we were just clever enough to find them back to the real if speculative science that you presented to us.
I would be depressed by the first portion of your proposal because basically you took. All of the potential power sources that we've imagined so far for Interstellar craft, at least once they reach their destination, maybe Proxima Centauri [00:52:00] or Alpha Centauri and you just destroyed them. You said none of them are going to be adequate even for a tiny tiny spacecraft, but then you sort of brought us back.
You redeemed Yourself by talking about trying that power directly from space and it sounds like at least in your initial work it could work. Well, I have to say we're still doing the analysis. This is sort of the back of the envelope calculation shows. No not crazy. You know, it might be sometimes that when we get to the real world will discover that there is some obstacle some barrier that we haven't thought of yet, but sort of the fundamental level it looks like yeah, there's enough power there and the ability that we can use it.
So, that'll be great. Maybe we can send these. Tiny tiny chips out to the nearest star and get some images of planets. I mean how cool would that be to actually see these exercises were planets that we've been discovering for years. You talked a little bit about the the Breakthrough starshot work that is developing [00:53:00] these lightsail laser driven light sails with tiny tiny spacecraft and you were saying that you it looks like probably will have to look at payloads at spacecraft a little bit bigger than they're talking about.
Well, this is a real question. The Breakthrough starshot is a very ambitious program. Keep in mind that it's only one of several people that are looking at how we can go to the nearest star but all of them have that problem that has so much energy to get to the nearest star that you want to make that payload that goes to the to the flyby of extrasolar Planet.
You want to make that payload as Tiny as you possibly can so people are trying to look at 3 Grand payloads. Even less if it were possible. So we're just hoping that the micro electronics and the sort of artificial intelligence that might be needed to take these measurements can all keep developing enough that it'll be ready by the time we're ready to launch these probes.
So whether it's a [00:54:00] breakthrough starshot craft or not, you were talking about something reaching about point to see 20% of the speed of light and I was really struck by your statement about how. Well, why didn't we use this energy? We've pumped a lot. I think you said it would giggle water. So of kinetic energy into it.
We should make use of them the bad thing about having all this energy as it turns out everybody says, oh once we've gone that far, why don't we stop? Well stopping turns out to be really hard on the other hand. We've got all this energy. Now, let's see if we can't find a way to use it. We need energy.
We've got energy. Let's find a way to make what we've. Handle what we need. Let me turn to the fact that you are a Nayak fellow. That's why you were able to make that presentation. The question that I'm really asking everybody that we talked to today is how you feel about the Nayak program and the fact that it enabled you to take on this work.
I love the Nayak program. I've been working with [00:55:00] Nayak actually ever since it was the NASA Institute for advanced concepts several decades ago, but this is one of the things that you just have to do. If you're going to develop better concepts for spaceflight in the future, you have to look at these Advanced ideas.
Its it is NASA's primary mission to not just use the technology we have but to come up with new technologies because we need it for going to go out into the solar system if we're going to expand to Manatee if we're going to expand the range of our. It's an exploration. We've got to do better things.
We need better faster cheaper and more powerful Technologies to explore space. Your science fiction colleague David Brin is also here. Have you heard any ideas that have suggested new science fiction stories to you that I don't know if you'd want to share them. They may be I have to say pretty much any of the concepts that we've been hearing today.
You [00:56:00] could write a science fiction story around. I mean I've also. Like no man, I've been looking at the idea of diving deep into Saturn's atmosphere man. We know nothing about Saturn's atmosphere everything we know about the gas giants comes from looking at the tops of the clouds plus one descent into the atmosphere with the Galileo Probe on one spot, but these atmospheres are thousands of kilometers thick what's below the atmosphere nobody knows.
We have a lot to learn in the meantime, we'll have to depend on you science fiction folks to fill in some of the gaps and who knows some of that. Sometimes it turns out to be pretty accurate. Well science and science fiction of always work together. Sometimes the science has been stimulating and giving ideas the science fiction writers.
And sometimes it's other way around in the science fiction writers are head of the science. So let's say. To healthy cycle. Thank you Jeff very much. Okay, thank you as well. Like most [00:57:00] science conferences the Nayak Symposium had a poster room it was there amidst lots of enthusiastic discussions that I found.
No MM Eisenberg of the Applied Physics Lab at Johns Hopkins University. It has this wonderful throwback quality. You described it yesterday as being kind of Steampunk, although there's no steam involved but wine. Toys, in fact you started your presentation with one the whole concept is called it's called rips for ripcord Innovative power system and the best visual to think about it is remember those old toys from the from the 70s where you had these racing cars that had this T stick that you would pull out really rapidly and it would spin up this flywheel which was the main driving wheel of the car and stick on the ground the go hundred feet 200 feet and you'd raised your friends and do all that kind of stuff.
So, This ripcord this notion of getting a ton of power from this really quick pulling of a string or a cord to spin up a generator. It's really the primary way of thinking [00:58:00] about what we're trying to do. It's a form of unspooling power which is sort of the broader term for using a cord or using a line or using a some kind of pull.
A yo-yo device or something like that to turn the wheel of a motor or generator and provide Power without having although you might have batteries or you talk about a super capacitor or something up to store some of that energy. You don't have to and me you talked about this in connection with.
Like a mission through the clouds of Saturn or maybe down through that thick atmosphere on Venus. Right? Right. So part of the question part of the trade space you want to do is whether you want to or need to utilize all the power as you generate. Which case you're all you need is some kind of modulation to make sure you get the proper voltages out or you're generating so much power that you need to or want to store it for a short term during your during the duration of your mission or some [00:59:00] combination of both where you use some of it immediately and you store some of it for later.
For example, if you're going to build up some of your information and then. Transmit it to your waiting spacecraft your real a spacecraft or directly to Earth or if there are some high-power instruments that you want to use like a mass spectrometer that you want to do some really you want to pump down a vacuum chamber or you want to use a radar system to or millimeter wave like radar system to map out Cloud structures and stuff like that.
All those are screwing up our higher power instruments that mean duration of higher of higher power applied and you're not going to use all the time. You're a phase one Nayak Grant recipient which by definition means you're just getting started with this. But how does it look? We're leaning more towards?
Yes that it should work. The big question we need to ask is is it better or competitive with the other kinds of ways to power? The central primarily primary batteries or does it enable a different kind of mission that [01:00:00] batteries can do like some of these really high short-term power applications. So as I walked up to you today, there was another fellow here who was talking to you gave you his card and you quickly wrote down some notes that's part of the value of this kind of a meeting, isn't it?
Oh God. Yeah, it's it's amazing. I mean just some of the feedback from. The questions and answer period and stuff like that. I get to take this back to my team and say well what about this? We really have to answer this question or here's a neat idea. We need to talk to this guy about this kind of generator this kind of regenerative system.
You know, maybe maybe this is where we need to go. I'm going to put in a little bit of a plug because. I'm working with Johns Hopkins University with the senior design course of mechanical engineering up there. I have this Cadre of students that some of their work is on is on my poster. Some of the work was on the slides.
I was showing, you know, they're helping to tackle some of these questions and they came up with some really cool extra ideas that were all you know, beginning to pursue and investigate. So all that kind of feedback between this and between them it pushes things [01:01:00] further along than even though we're still kind of at the beginning.
I think we're going to get farther than I'd hoped. It is kind of charming to think about something traveling all the way to Venus or Saturn and then working as a mechanical device that you could have imagined in the 19th century. I love the concept of of its of kind of throwback its using. Simple principles to do some really cool stuff.
It's also a form of institutes in situ resource utilization, which is a really big buzzword these days we have their Primal are talking about harvesting materials and water from the surface of the Moon, but we're talking about harvesting kinetic energy from this the motion of a spacecraft. It's very cool.
Thanks, Tom. Thank you very much. It is a great honor not the first time we've talked before but a great honor to welcome. Mae Jemison astronaut medical doctor chemical engineer and now rabble-rouser for space and Innovation and science you really [01:02:00] captured this audience of scientists and Engineers they were so enthusiastic and the passion really came out during and after your presentation.
Well, I think what we all want is permission to be as excited about our work. As we were when we went into it, so frequently these days the mark of professionalism is to sit there and just sort of not show the energy but that excitement about doing extraordinary things is what brought us do to science many times.
What brought us to Art what brought us to to space exploration. And so I like to be able to bring that forward and give people permission to recapture that excitement. So I work for the planetary Society planetary radio and my boss Bill Nye likes to talk about the passion Beauty and joy of Science and space exploration and that children are natural scientists, but if we don't.
Keep that in them. If we don't [01:03:00] encourage that by the time they're 10, they lose it. Well, I think there's what the so kids come out of the Chute. I do a lot of work one science literacy as well. They come out of Chute excited about the world around them, right they explore the bugs and snails is that.
Stuff in between the couch really excited about the world around them. And the issue is that they don't lose it. We beat it out of them, right we train it out of them. And so really how do we allow them to do it in X's by experiential education, but I'll tell you a secret adults have it inside of them, too.
They're just afraid that if they let it out people are going to think that they're being inappropriate or immature. You won't believe the times where people come up to me and they said my. Son or daughter wants to know about XYZ. You know, how does a potty work? What did you feel? It would be really a thrill.
I wish they were here with you but it's really their son or daughter inside of them. Right and and that's okay and we should have [01:04:00] that excitement as adults as we go out in the world. That's that's the whole reason when I talked about a little bit about the lookup right the term look up its.
Remember when you looked up outside when you're a little kid and I wonder where their children around the world were filling, but when you look up now, it makes you feel really great. The term things are looking up right you just go along the way and that's that excitement that inspiration inside of us.
What's that Ashanti proverb that you used? It is no one shows a child the sky. It's very much a part of us. And it made me think of because as you said you're a child of the 60s, so my the opening of that great series routes the thing that most stayed with me out of that was the father holding up his newborn son to this beautiful sky with the Milky Way stretching across it saying and I hope they get the line right behold the only thing greater than yourself.
Can you imagine the connectedness? And I think that that's [01:05:00] what sometimes we're missing. These days is the connectedness to the universe and I remember very clearly from my space flight. It wasn't looking down at Earth and build the connectedness to me. It was actually looking out and imagine myself at another star system imagining myself in this environment.
That wasn't very hospitable to my life form and feeling connected to it. Nonetheless. How wonderful are things when you can feel that connection that I belong in this universe, and I think that's the piece speaking of connections you. Originated and you still are the 100 Year Starship project a DARPA funded effort and the in the initial stage.
And here we are at Nyack more Innovative advanced concepts. You see the connection between these I think well, I think what we're both looking at is how do you really push radical leaps in Innovation? Not those little evolutionary steps where you do a little Advanced Improvement or [01:06:00] something which we need to do.
Right, we have to get the screw exactly right, but how do you change things so that you bring in new ways and new possibilities whether it's propulsion systems, whether it's clothing whether it's telling the story differently Communications Financial structure, and that's what 100-year Starship was really about about pushing radical leaps in Innovation and also connecting it to things that we can do here every day in the world.
I think you stated it very well with the theme for the presentation you gave this morning but a pursuit of the extraordinary was it right? It was you the sky in the pursuit of the extraordinary. It comes from some of the work that we did with 100 Year Starship and trying to understand how this is connected to our world.
We believe pursuing an extraordinary tomorrow creates a better world today. Thank you. May I how do people learn more? I know on Twitter. You're at Mae Jemison pretty easy. I met Mae Jemison. They can also I believe go to 100 y SS dot-org [01:07:00] they can go to look up one sky dot-org and also they can go and download the sky fee app right sky feel like Sky selfie Apple app and Google play nice.
Thanks again. Make great to talk to you. You're welcome. Thank you Mae Jemison. Medical doctor chemical engineer and incidentally an astronaut space shuttle astronaut. That's our brief visit to the 2019 Nayak Symposium. I hope you enjoyed it as much as this Gearhead did I'm grateful to Nayak and NASA for making it possible for me to cover.
This year's Gathering. Don't touch that dial Bruce as about to pay us another visit from his home planet. Hi, I'm Jason Davis editorial director for the planetary Society. Did you know there are more than 20 planetary science missions exploring our solar system. That means a lot of news happens in any given week.
Here's how to keep up with it. All the downlink is our new Roundup of Planetary Exploration headlines. It connects you to the details when you want to dive [01:08:00] deeper from Mercury to Interstellar space. We'll catch you up on what you might have missed. That's the downlink every Friday at planetary dot-org.
Time for what's up on planetary radio? So we are joined Again by the chief scientist of the planetary Society. It's Bruce Betts. Welcome back. Yay fun contest today. The the answer. I really had to drill down to find somebody who could answer the question that you posed two weeks ago. So there's a little bit of a tease after we hear about the night sky and other stuff.
Nine, so tricky not really not this time. Anyway at this time all right up in the night sky, we've got Jupiter and Saturn as we have had in the low in the southwest and the early evening fairly low still easily visible interesting hanging out with the moon has a crescent moon including for those who do Halloween if you look [01:09:00] up on Halloween October 31st weather.
Play with Halloween or not. It's still October 31st. You look up and the Crescent Moon will be between Jupiter which is much brighter and yellowish Saturn to its upper left and which is generally the moon will be planned for a few days around Jupiter and Saturn fun in the pre-dawn we've got action.
Pretty low back very low right now, but in the next couple weeks will be getting much easier to see is Mars. Not a super bright Mars, but still brighter than most stars and that will be in the east in the pre-dawn and it will be hanging out next to a very. Fairy crescent moon for letting this is not a technical term on the morning of October 26th.
And then there's I think I mentioned last week your earnest is that opposition on October 27th meeting its Rising around Sunset and setting around Sunrise, [01:10:00] but will require either a really dark site and good eyes or some binoculars or a telescope to check. On to this week in space history 1967 Mariner 5 flew by Venus successfully and it was the second Venus Fly by after Mariner 2.
Interesting story about Mariner 5 is it's actually a refurbished but not gently used back up for mayor for mayor for went to Mars when it was successful. They stayed they rip some things apart and change things around and re-equipped. What was to head to Mars and sent it to Venus. Hey, and I was just looking at one of those images from Mariner for the disappointed.
So many people who wanted to believe in martians after its flyby of Mars. But then we wanted to believe Venus was a nice place to live to oh it is we should murder man. I hear it Cooks [01:11:00] it does but in just a moment, we'll talk about something that cooks even more. We move onto well buyers. Just give you a megaphone and Rudy Vallee watch out indeed the exoplanet wasp 121 be.
Is twice the diameter of Jupiter and it orbits its parent star speaking of cooking in just 1.1 Earth days. This is a star that's brighter and hotter than the sun a recent study. This year's couple months ago came out found that heavier elements including iron and magnesium are being Stripped Away From the Star this Stars temperature is.
For 4 to 5,000 degrees depending on what system you're using and as a result, the planet is egg-shaped with the hot tidally [01:12:00] locked side of the atmosphere bulging out and you should get your real estate quickly not there's expected to be a solid surface because it's expected to be completely consumed within a few million years.
I'll eat your heart out is crazy crazy. I tell you and speaking of crazy. We move on to the trivia contest. I don't know. It's really not that crazy. And I asked you as of September 2019 what spacecraft are active on the moon's surface. How do we do man? We've been doing this for nearly 17 years late November.
It will be our 17th anniversary never before have I had to drill down to the 14th random number from random.org to find a winner because so many people misunderstood. They gave us orbiters. They gave us stuff that we saw is on the surface, but in little pieces or simply dead going down that [01:13:00] far meant though that we came up.
With Patrick loose key and Patrick has been entering the contest every week since he I think discovered the show in January of this year. Congratulations Patrick. He said there are two active missions Johnny the three. N Chang you for on the surface of the Moon. We're including with that were throwing in.
What is it you to you to you to Rover number two, which is the you to Rover number one the changa 3 has stopped working at you two. Which is fun to say frankly is still still partying with China for so congratulations Patrick you did it and we're going to send you a gorgeous planetary radio t-shirt from chop shop and a 200 point.
I telescope dotnet astronomy account. Of course, I have stuff from other people to share with you William Lydon. Down under one of our [01:14:00] Australian listeners and we've got a lot. He said honorable mention to Wallace and Gromit mission to collect lunar cheese. It's this really fun movie. I highly recommend there are some Physics issues with it, but I am a big fan of God if you kick a ball on the moon.
It doesn't matter if it's going up. I just had to say that but but the moon is made of cheese. So other than that, it was a very logical production one of my favorite lines from any movie different Wallace and Gromit movie. These are the wrong trousers
Elizabeth's path in New Albany, Indiana. She says while rowing across the lunar surface. I like to think that the original you to was wearing a tutu and now you two to does too ha ha ha you to to to to check into it. You have to read it fast to make it work Robert. Klain, who we get a lot of good [01:15:00] puns from and not-so-good buttons from he says with no active United States probes on the moon surface.
Could it be that The Times They Are a-changing. And he says because we asked people on The Forum, how do you listen to the show? He says vibrations from stolen lunar samples. Do we need to report that our Poet Laureate Dave Fairchild wraps things up this time Dave in Shawnee, Kansas Jiang you three and Chang of for are active on the moon.
Other Landers tried it but their Rockets stop too soon. If you want to reach the moon these words, you will regard once you've cut those Surly Bonds. Remember space is hard ha ha ha, that's it. That's it for this round when you got for next time. All right, here's the question. What was the first star system [01:16:00] besides our own found to have eight planets?
Go to planetary dot-org / Radio contest. Okay, we'll ignore the fact that there are some people out there that you've just angered. Sorry Alan this time you have until the 23rd. That would be October 23rd Wednesday at 8 a.m. Pacific time. And you know, we just spent time talking to the leader of Nayak the NASA Innovative advanced concepts program and a bunch of the Nayak fellows those people who got the Grant I picked up a bunch of Nayak pins.
We're going to throw in a Nayak. Pin, in fact, you can stick it into your rubber asteroid. If so you if you so choose because we will send you both of those along with a 200 point. I telescope dotnet account to do astronomy from down here on Earth from any of their remote telescope spread around the globe.
And with that we are done. All right, everybody go out there. Look up the night sky and think [01:17:00] about trees. Thank you and good night. So that planet that takes barely a day to Circle it son. You didn't say anything about the trees that grow there. They're really cool. That's Bruce patch the chief scientist of the planetary Society who joins us every week.
Well for what's up? So anyway, what's it for? Maybe you're a professional planetary radio is produced by the planetary Society in Pasadena, California and is made possible by its concept advancing members. You know, you want to join them visit us at planetary dot org slash membership to find out how Mark Hill Verdes our associate producer Josh soil composed our theme which was arranged and performed by Peter Schlosser.
I'm Mat Kaplan Ad Astra.