Okay sci-fi writers, today we’re going to give you a guided tour of building planets. How they form, how they grow, and how things can go horribly horribly wrong.
Ep. 676: Other Things with Rings
We’ve spent a lot of time gushing about Saturn’s rings, but there are other places with ring systems. And not just Jupiter and the ice giants, but asteroids, dwarf planets, centaurs and even exoplanets. Today we’ll gush about them.
Ep. 675: Exotic Forms of Ice
Ice is ice, right? You know, what you get when water freezes. Well, maybe here on Earth. But across the Universe, water can be squeezed together at different temperatures and pressures, leading to very different structures. Today we’ll talk about the different forms that ice can take.
Ep. 674: Asteroid Early Warning Systems
The asteroid apocalypse is one of those existential crises that keep astronomers up at night. But the DART mission showed us that we can push an asteroid off its trajectory if we have enough warning. Today we’ll talk about how humanity is building early warning systems to give us time to respond to a dangerous asteroid.
Ep. 666: Solar System References to the Underworld
Well, we did it. We made it to episode 666, an auspicious number to be sure. What can we do to celebrate this accomplishment? An episode all about things in the Universe that have been named after mythological people and places in the underworld?
Ep. 662: Looking Ahead at New and Recycled Missions
Last week we talked about the missions we’re saying goodbye to. This week, we’re going to talk about some upcoming missions to say hello to. Some are brand new ideas, others are, uh, recycled.
Ep. 661: Looking Back on the Missions That Ended
It’s always sad to say goodbye, but when we send our robotic emissaries out into the cosmos, it’s just a matter of time before they shut down. Today we’re going to say goodbye to a few missions which have reached the end of their lives. But they were very good robots.
Ep. 660: Runaway! Runaway! Escaping Stars, Planets & Small Bodies
Moons orbit planets, planets orbit stars, stars orbit within galaxies. It’s orbits all the way down. But occasionally objects can receive a powerful kick that sends them off on a journey, never to return.
Ep. 656: Smashing Asteroids for Science!
This week we saw the incredible image of DART smashing into asteroid Dimorphos. Beyond avenging the dinosaurs, what can we learn scientifically from this and other asteroid/comet impact missions?
Ep. 654: Side Effects of Clean Energy
To battle climate change, we’ll need to rapidly move to carbon-free sources of energy. But this technology isn’t a free lunch. They require metals, generate waste and deplete the environment. What’s the best way to balance this shift?
Ep. 653: Climate Change: Looking at the Variables
Climate change is on our minds these days, with increasing wildfires, droughts and floods. What are the variables that play into a planet’s changing climate, and what can this teach us about the search for habitable planets across the Milky Way?
Ep. 644: Is Earth… Normal?
Now that we’ve discovered thousands of exoplanets, we’re learning more and more about what kinds of planetary systems there are out there across the Universe. Are planets like Earth unique or totally rare?
Ep. 641: Are Planets Alive?
The Earth is teeming with life, both in the upper atmosphere to kilometers underground. There’s no question that our planet has life. But is our planet itself alive? This is a question posed back in the 1970s as the Gaia hypothesis, and it got its share of criticism. Some new ideas have been proposed to bring this hypothesis to the modern era.
Ep. 627: Mercury Revisited
It’s been about a thousand years since we last looked at Mercury, so we figured it’s time for an update. What new things have we learned about Mercury, or even new questions? Fortunately, there’s a mission on the way to help get us some answers.
Ep. 626: Terrestrial Planets — Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars
We continue our refreshed tour of the Solar System, checking in on the inner terrestrial planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars. What have we learned about their formation, evolution and what they might tell us about other planets in the Universe?
Ep. 625: End of the Year Review
We’ve reached the end of 2021, and this is the last episode of the year. Let’s look back at the big space events of the last year and talk about what we’re looking forward to in 2022.
Ep. 624: Small Rocky Bodies (Including Phobos and Deimos)
We’ve talked about the icy objects of the Solar System, today let’s talk about space rocks. There’s a surprising variety of rocky material in the Solar System, and each object has a story to tell about the history and formation of the planets, moons and other rocky bodies.
Ep. 623: NEOS: Concern or Nah?
Are asteroids dangerous? Just ask the dinosaurs, and they’ll tell you a sad story of fiery death. It turns out we’re in a shooting gallery of space rock and metal, and somewhere out there there’s one with our name on it. Should we be worried or are the risks so minimal to be irrelevant?
Ep. 622: Rocky Moons and Giant Asteroids
A rock is a rock is a rock, right? Across the Solar System there are giant rocky asteroids and even rockier moons. What’s the difference between these two families of objects, and where did they come from?
Ep. 621: Gas Giants
For the longest time, the only gas giant planets we knew about were Jupiter and Saturn. But now in the age of extrasolar planets, astronomers have discovered thousands of gas giants across almost as many star systems. What new discoveries have been made about gas giants, both here in the Solar System and across the Milky Way?
Ep. 620: Why Getting to the Outer Worlds is So Difficult
Good news! Over the next few years, we’re going to see a flotilla of new missions headed to Jupiter and Saturn. Why aren’t we seeing more missions to the outer planets, like Uranus and Neptune? It turns out, those places are far away. Today let’s talk about the challenge of exploring the outer Solar System.
Ep. 619: Icy Moons and Dwarf Planets
The outer Solar System is far enough from the Sun that water doesn’t get blasted away into deep space. In this icy realm, there are many worlds with vast quantities of water ice. Today let’s look at the icy outer moons and dwarf planets.
Ep. 618: Ice Giants
We’re learning more and more about the outer planets of the Solar System. Uranus and Neptune are ice giants, filled with water and other volatiles that we’d consider ice if it was here on Earth. What’s inside these worlds, and what could we expect to find across the Milky Way?
Ep. 615: Planet 9
After Pluto lost its planethood, we were down to 8 planets. But there’s growing evidence of another world (or worlds) out beyond the orbit of Pluto. Is Planet 9 out there and how will we find it? Could there even be a Planet 10?
Ep. 614: Centaurs, Comets and Asteroids
There are asteroids and there are comets. But there’s an entirely separate class of objects called centaurs. But instead of half-human, half-horse, imagine an object that’s half comet, half asteroid but 100% interesting.