Archive | Missions

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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Space Station Mir, as seen from a departing space shuttle. Credit: NASA

Ep. 297: Space Stations, Part 2 — Mir

Last week we introduced the history of space stations and focused on the US and Soviet stations that were launched. This week we look at one of the longest running missions ever launched: Mir. From its launch and construction to its fiery finale, Mir helped both the Russians and the Americans extend their understanding of […]

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Skylab. Credit: NASA

Ep. 296: Space Stations, Part 1 — Salyut and Skylab

It’s one thing to fly into space, and another thing entirely to live in space. And to understand the stresses and strains this puts on a human body, you’re going to need a space station. In this three-part series, we explore the past, present and future of stations in space, starting with the American Skylab […]

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Viking Lander

Ep. 258: Viking Landers

Last week we talked about the orbiter portion of the Viking Missions. But that was only half the adventure. Each Viking spacecraft carried a lander as well, which touched down on the surface of Mars, searching for evidence of past and current life. And what they discovered is still up for debate. (more…)

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The Viking Orbiter, releasing the lander. Image credit: NASA

Ep. 257: Viking Orbiters

Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity get all the news now, but it was NASA’s Viking Missions that gave us our first close up view of the surface of Mars. These twin missions, both made of orbiter and lander set the stage for the exploration of Mars, demonstrating that we could actually reach the surface of Mars, […]

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Galileo Spacecraft

Ep. 232: Galileo Spacecraft

In last season’s thrilling cliff hanger, we talked about astronomer superhero Galileo Galilei. Will a mission be named after him? The answer is yes! NASA’s Galileo spacecraft visited Jupiter in 1995, and spent almost 8 years orbiting, changing our understanding of the giant planet and its moons. (more…)

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Cassini Mission. Image credit: NASA/JPL/SSI

Ep. 229: Cassini Mission

Last week we talked about the Italian astronomer Giovanni Cassini. This week we’ll talk about the mission that shares his name: NASA’s Cassini Spacecraft. This amazing mission is orbiting Saturn right now, sending back thousands of high resolution images of the ringed planet and its moons. (more…)

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MAX-C-Rover

Ep. 222: The Decadal Survey

In episode 198 we explained how space missions are chosen, and introduced the Decadal Survey. Since the time we recorded that episode, the full Decadal Survey for planetary science has been released, explaining the science goals for planetary geologists over the next 10 years. We thought we’d take an episode and give you an overview […]

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ESA's Planck mission

Ep. 219: Planck Mission

Another mission named after a famous physicist. This time we’re looking at the Planck mission, designed to study the Cosmic Microwave Backgorund Radiation over the entire sky. Like the previous WMAP mission, this will help astronomers understand the first moments after the Big Bang. (more…)

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Mars Exploration Rover

Ep. 210: Mars Exploration Rovers

The twin Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, have been crawling around the surface of Mars since early 2004 – years longer than they were expected to live. And what they have discovered there on Mars has given scientists their best understanding of Martian geology over the last few billion years. Let’s investigate these amazing […]

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