Spotlight: Space Exploration

Spotlight on Exploring our Solar System Image From our own sun to the furthest reaches of the solar system and beyond, NASA and its partners are exploring worlds both near and far. Scientists working on the Genesis mission are studying matter collected from the sun. The MESSENGER mission is demystifying the sun’s nearest neighbor, the tiny planet Mercury. Meanwhile, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter is looking for water on the moon, the New Horizons spacecraft soars to the outer reaches of the solar system and Kepler looks for planets orbiting other stars. Follow the action here at Science Update’s Space Exploration Spotlight. It’s a big universe; someone’s got to explore it. (Image: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington)

Earth’s Ancient Water

September 29, 2014

The earth’s water is older than the sun’s and may point to the possibility of life in other parts of space.

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Comet Harpoon

January 9, 2014

NASA scientists are testing a harpoon that could bring back samples from comets.

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Far-Out Mega Planet

December 25, 2013

An enormous planet, orbiting a star at a tremendous distance, challenges theories of planet formation.

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Space Elevator

October 24, 2013

Could a “space elevator” carry supplies to the International Space Station?

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Lonely Planet

October 21, 2013

Astronomers have discovered a solitary planet without a sun.

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Earth’s Tilt

October 11, 2013

A listener asks how the earth’s tilt is measured.

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Comet Encounters

January 8, 2013

A newly discovered comet will be visible from earth this fall.

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2012 Apocalypse Myth Exposed – Encore presentation

December 21, 2012

The world is not ending today. Find out why in this Science Update encore presentation.

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Podcast for 7 December 2012

December 7, 2012

ARE YOU WREN ENOUGH? Why fairy wrens require their babies to show ID, how coral reefs ask for help, and how one microscopic animal patches itself up with borrowed genes. Also: Host Bob Hirshon went down to NASA Headquarters to report on the discovery of water on the planet Mercury.

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Podcast for 6 July 2012

July 6, 2012

OUR SOLAR SYSTEM – Scientists discover organic carbon in meteorites from Mars and take a new look at the asteroid Vesta. Also: zebrafish meet their robotic overlords, and someone finally invents a blind-spot-free side-view mirror.

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Solar Heat

June 12, 2012

A listener asks: How hot is the surface of the sun?

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Martian Carbon

June 5, 2012

Researchers have discovered organic carbon in meteorites from Mars.

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Vesta the Protoplanet

May 24, 2012

The asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter contains an embryonic planet in arrested development.

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Runaway Planets

May 10, 2012

Under some circumstances, planets could be thrown out of the galaxy at tremendous speed.

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Podcast for 27 April 2012

April 27, 2012

Why some planets are on the run. How to harpoon a comet. And counting penguins from space.

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Comet Harpoon

April 4, 2012

NASA scientists are testing a harpoon that could bring back samples from comets.

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Comet Harpoon

April 2, 2012

NASA scientists are testing a harpoon that could bring back samples from comets.

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Podcast for 10 February 2012

February 10, 2012

Are cyclones and earthquakes related? Why recent bad winters may be the result of global warming. And what life might be like on a planet with two stars. Also: we answer a listener’s question about the temperature of the sun.

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The Sun’s Temperature

February 6, 2012

A listener asks: How hot is the surface of the sun?

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Twin Star Planets

January 31, 2012

Planets with two stars could have wild climates.

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Weightless Flies

January 23, 2012

Magnetically levitated flies may help researchers study the effects of weightlessness.

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Fastest Spinning Star

December 20, 2011

A powerful telescope has detected the fastest rotating star yet.

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Mercury’s Volcanoes

October 31, 2011

The planet Mercury seems placid compared to others in the solar system. But the MESSENGER spacecraft is revealing a more tumultuous past.

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Mercury’s Make-up

October 24, 2011

The MESSENGER spacecraft is revealing new details about the tiny planet’s chemical composition.

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Not-So-Precious Metals

October 11, 2011

If you’re wearing a gold ring, it began as a meteeorite that struck the earth billions of years ago, but vast deposits of precious metals are also hidden deep in the earth’s core.

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Podcast for 7 October 2011

October 6, 2011

MERCURY SPECIAL REPORT – The MESSENGER spacecraft is revealing new discoveries about the planet closest to our Sun.

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Mercury Hollows

October 4, 2011

NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft has identified mysterious hollows on the planet’s surface.

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Mercury Origins

October 3, 2011

The MESSENGER spacecraft is revealing surprising details about the origins of the planet Mercury.

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Podcast for 23 September 2011

September 23, 2011

PLANETS & PATHOGENS – Gardening for Mars, the darkest planet, a parasite that turns rats against themselves, telling the viruses from the bacteria, and the link between caffeine and skin cancer prevention.

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Food For Mars

September 12, 2011

NASA nutritionists face a delicious challenge when planning what astronauts will eat on a mission to Mars.

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Darkest Planet

September 1, 2011

Scientists have identified the darkest known extrasolar planet.

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Podcast for 19 August 2011

August 19, 2011

WATER EVERYWHERE – Astronomers have discovered the largest cache of water ever, and researchers are developing new software for detecting contamination of municipal water supplies. Also: Round robots to help safeguard nuclear power plants.

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Black Hole Water

August 16, 2011

Water was abundant in the universe just 1.6 billion years after the Big Bang – in one of the most inhospitable places imaginable.

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Podcast for 3 June 2011 – Searching for Life in Outer Space

June 3, 2011

Astronomers are using new tools to look for life in outer space. And, the search for intelligent life in the universe is targeting the best candidate planets. Also: how tsunamis impact sealife.

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3-D Space Map

May 23, 2011

Using light from quasars, scientists are mapping the distant universe.

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Star Distance

March 10, 2011

Astronomers calculate the distance to the furthest stars by comparing them to stars they know.

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Space Roundup

February 18, 2011

Solar technology could come in handy if a dangerous meteor is ever headed for earth.

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Satellites & Human Rights

December 20, 2010

Satellite images document human rights abuses in Burma.

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Similar Solar System

September 20, 2010

Scientists have discovered the closest thing yet to our solar system.

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Mars 500 Mission

June 22, 2010

A crew of six volunteers has embarked on a simulated, 520-day Mars mission.

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Spaceflight & Immunity

June 17, 2010

Long-term space flight may compromise astronauts’ immune systems.

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NASA’s Basement Tapes

April 29, 2010

Scientists resurrect satellite data from old NASA tapes.

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Volcanoes on Mercury

January 14, 2010

Ancient volcanoes found on the planet mercury challenge assumptions about the planet’s chemical composition.

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Boron Nanotubes

January 1, 2010

The main ingredient in clown makeup is being used to create a nano-material that could protect astronauts from solar radiation.

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Satellites for Human Rights

November 24, 2009

Satellite imagery helps human rights teams assess destruction in war-torn regions of the world.

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Disaster Sensing

November 17, 2009

Satellite imagery can sense chemical changes in the soil, revealing pollution, potential landslides, and more.

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Planetary Alignment Myth

November 10, 2009

A NASA scientist de-bunks the myth that an alignment of the planets affects gravity on earth.

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Green Rocket Propellant

October 29, 2009

A new rocket fuel, made of aluminum and ice, could have environmental benefits.

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ET Weather Roundup

October 23, 2009

The weather on planet COROT-7b calls for pebble showers leading to a rocky downpour.

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Mercury Flyby

October 16, 2009

The MESSENGER spacecraft has completed its final flyby of the planet Mercury before it goes into orbit around the planet.

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2012 Apocalypse Myth Exposed

September 26, 2009

A planet called Nibiru won’t be slamming into earth in December, 2012, but the hype surrounding the myth is hardly harmless.

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Asteroid Watch

September 2, 2009

Citizens can now track nearby asteroids online or via Twitter.

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Space Storms

August 4, 2009

Space storms bombard the planet Mercury.

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Moon Elements

July 30, 2009

A listener asks: What is the moon made of?

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Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter

July 20, 2009

NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter will send back unprecedented information about our closest cosmic neighbor.

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Plankton Imaging

July 15, 2009

Satellite instruments can measure the health of the ocean’s tiny – but vital – phytoplankton.

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Extreme Spacecraft Roundup

June 19, 2009

NASA unveils new spacecraft, large and small.

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Mercury’s Surface

June 8, 2009

The MESSENGER spacecraft is giving scientists a first look at an entire half of the planet Mercury.

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Supernovas

May 26, 2009

Dying stars either explode into supernovas or become black holes.

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Comet Roundup

May 15, 2009

Comets may have provided the young Earth the molecules necessary for the formation of life.

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Life Light

May 12, 2009

The way light scatters off distant planets may reveal whether life exists on them.

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Rockets & Ozone

May 6, 2009

Possible increases in rocket launches could affect the Earth’s protective ozone layer.

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Little House on the Moon

May 4, 2009

Swedish engineering students have teamed up with an artist to build a small cottage on the Moon.

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Star Distance II

April 23, 2009

Astronomers calculate the distance to the furthest stars by comparing them to stars they know.

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Star Distance I

April 22, 2009

Astronomers use a concept called parallax to calculate the distance to the nearest stars.

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C02 in Space

January 28, 2009

Astronomers have detected carbon dioxide on a planet outside our solar system for the first time.

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Space Ship Gravity

December 3, 2008

Spinning spaceships could create artificial gravity in principle but not in practice.

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Lake on Titan

August 19, 2008

Scientists have confirmed the existence of a large, liquid lake on Saturn’s moon Titan.

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Weighing Black Holes

August 6, 2008

A new technique helps scientists measure the mass of giant black holes.

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Solar Probe Plus

July 22, 2008

NASA is planning an unprecedented trip to the Sun.

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Seeing in STEREO

July 17, 2008

Solar physicists see the sun in 3-D with NASA’s STEREO Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory.

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Space Names Roundup

July 4, 2008

Pluto may have lost its status as a planet, but it’s inspired a whole new category for planetoids.

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Lunar Dust

June 17, 2008

Moon dust not only gets into space suits, it could jeopardize the health of future astronauts.

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Radiation Protection

May 1, 2008

Scientists are taking lessons from tumor cells to fight the damaging effects of radiation and chemotherapy.

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Solar Burnout

April 30, 2008

Our listeners ask: Will the sun ever burn itself out?

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Space Radiation

April 28, 2008

Exposure to radiation in space could make astronauts prone to cancer.

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Sun Elements

March 24, 2008

A listener asks: What is the sun made of?

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Solar Storm Roundup

January 25, 2008

Early sun spots forecast rough weather ahead during new eleven-year solar storm cycle.

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