Archive | Missions

Mars Exploration Rover. Image credit: NASA/JPL

Ep 385: Rovers on the Run

Taking pictures of distant worlds is great and all, but the best science happens with boots on the ground. Or in this case… wheels. This week we’ll talk all about robotic rovers and the places they rove. Download the show [MP3] | Jump to Shownotes | Jump to Transcript (more…)

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Ep. 384: Escaping Probes

The gravity of the Earth is a tough thing to escape, but breaking free from the gravity of the Sun is on a whole other level. But humans have achieved this amazing accomplishment, and right now there are several spacecraft leaving the Solar System and never coming back. Download the show [MP3] | Jump to […]

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Ep. 342: Sunsetting Spacecraft

Everything dies, including our technology. But when we’ve hurtled a few thousands pounds of robotic instrumentation to another planet, it gets a little difficult to shut it down and clean up. What do we do when a mission has reached the end of its useful life? (more…)

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Ep. 326: Atmospheric Dust

When you consider the hazards of spaceflight, it’s hard to get worked up about dust bunnies. And yet, atmospheric dust is going to be one of the biggest problems astronauts will face when they reach the surface of other worlds. Where does this dust come from, and what does it tell us about the history […]

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Ep. 305: The Spacecraft That Wouldn’t Die

Last week we explored the various ways spacecraft can die. But this week, we explore the spacecraft (and the scientists) who never give up, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. We’ll look at clever solutions to potential spacecraft catastrophes. (more…)

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Ep. 304: Death of a Spacecraft

In the end, everything dies, even plucky space robots. Today we examine the last days of a series of missions. How do spacecraft tend to die, and what did in such heroes as Kepler, Spirit, and Galileo (the missions… not the people). (more…)

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Ep. 300: What We’ve Learned in Almost 7 Years

We created Astronomy Cast to be timeless, a listening experience that’s as educational in the future as it was when we started recording. But obviously, things have changed in almost 7 years and 300 episodes. Today we’ll give you an update on some of the big topics in space and astronomy. What did we know […]

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Ep. 299: Space Stations, Part 4 — Future Space Stations

Sometimes a trilogy needs four parts. We’ve looked at the history and modern era of space stations but now it’s time to peer into the future at some space station concepts still in the works. Most of these will never fly, but the ideas are important. We can’t call ourselves a true spacefaring civilization until […]

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The International Space Station. Credit: NASA

Ep. 298: Space Stations, Part 3 — International Space Station

And now we reach the third part in our trilogy on space stations, with the largest vehicle ever assembled in space: the International Space Station. Launched in 1998, it now consists of 450 metric tonnes of modules, power systems and spacecraft and is regular host to a handful of astronauts from many countries. (more…)

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