Ep. 710: NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) Program

In the olden days, NASA developed its missions using a variety of in-house engineers and external suppliers. As more commercial companies are targeting the Moon, NASA is working with partners to deliver its payloads to the lunar surface.

Transcript

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Fraser Cain [00:01:34] Astronomy Cast episodes 710 NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Program. Welcome to Astronomy Cast, your weekly facts based journey through the cosmos. We help you understand not only what we know, but how we know what we know. I’m Fraser Cain, the publisher of Universe Today. With me, as always, is Doctor Pamela Gay, a senior scientist for the Planetary Science Institute and the director of Cosmic Quest. How are you doing? 

Pamela Gay [00:01:55] I am doing well. I am greatly enjoying enjoying the fact that this year for Lunar New Year, we have attacked the moon with things that can’t stand upright. 

Fraser Cain [00:02:06] Yes. Yeah, we’re going to get into this. 

Pamela Gay [00:02:10] The moon one. 

Fraser Cain [00:02:11] I mentioned a couple of episodes ago that we, you know, I’m trying to come up with my own seasons here, and so we just experienced first Crocus season. 

Pamela Gay [00:02:20] Excellent. Yeah, yeah. 

Fraser Cain [00:02:22] That feels it feels like hope. Like we’re reaching the end of a long, dark tunnel. And of winter and. And spring is almost here, so it feels good. Feels good to see you. 

Pamela Gay [00:02:33] Just head first. Skulking. It’s less hopeful. 

Fraser Cain [00:02:37] Write that down in a calendar. Are you kidding? That’s vital. 

Pamela Gay [00:02:42] They’re supposed to still be hibernating. 

Fraser Cain [00:02:44] Yeah, yeah. You chart the seasons by when you see the first skunk. That’s awesome. 

Pamela Gay [00:02:49] Smell, smell. No seeing smell. We didn’t. 

Fraser Cain [00:02:51] See it right. 

Pamela Gay [00:02:52] Now. 

Fraser Cain [00:02:53] In the olden days. NASA developed its missions using a variety of in-house engineers and external suppliers. As more commercial companies are targeting the moon. NASA is working with partners to deliver its payloads to the lunar surface today. Let’s talk about NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Program. So give us a sense of of how missions, say, missions to the moon. We’re done. There’s been a very long time since NASA has sent a payload to the surface of the moon. I don’t know whether the Apollo program was the last time the Americans went to the moon, but traditionally, if, you know, if NASA was going to send a payload, some kind of lander rover to the moon, what would they do? 

Pamela Gay [00:03:35] So. So in the ancient past, prior to my birth, they said, hey, contractors, we’re doing this thing. We’re going to overly micromanage it to make sure it gets done right. We’re going to use the best minds everywhere. And, Congress is going to help us and be supportive. And the nation is going to make this the most exciting thing that has ever happened in the entire planet, is going to tune in and watch it on TV. And it was kind of awesome. 

Fraser Cain [00:04:07] That’s it sounds exactly like NASA’s request for proposal written in in that kind of flowery language. 

Pamela Gay [00:04:15] With Apollo, they didn’t exactly do requests for proposals. It was the we’re going to do this, and I’m sure there were requests for contracts put out. But we now live in a different world where instead what we’ve seen is with various attempts to land in recent years, NASA has had instruments on Indian, on the Chandra, and it has had I think. 

Fraser Cain [00:04:46] It’s on a South Korean rover orbiter. It had an instrument, but NASA definitely partners with other nations to sneak instruments onboard their spacecraft. This is this has happened many times in the past, especially with the European Space Agency. 

Pamela Gay [00:05:02] And with all of these, instruments. In the past, it’s been a process of there is a rideshare opportunity to get to the moon on a another country’s spacecraft, and everything is handled through multilateral agreements, bilateral agreements. And these are generally NASA built through contracts instruments. 

Fraser Cain [00:05:34] So then how is this all different with the Commercial Lunar Payload Service? 

Pamela Gay [00:05:40] It’s in some ways philosophically different. So when you’re partnering with Jaxa, when you’re partnering with the Indian space agency Isro, it’s a. Agency to agency agreements, where the agencies are responsible for making sure things lower down the pipeline don’t get screwed up with what we’re seeing with the commercial launches. NASA is saying, hey, I heard you’re going to the moon because you told me. And we are going to pay to have our instrument on your spacecraft. And we recognize that the money you get from us to carry our, our instrument on your spacecraft is going to do good things to your bottom line, your motivation and hopefully increase the chance that you will succeed. But the mission is yours, right? We are not micromanaging this. And and so you don’t have the same oversight that you get with agency run missions. I even with the smaller missions like Osiris Rex where it was run out of a university, but it was a NASA mission where NASA had complete oversight on every aspect of the mission. 

Fraser Cain [00:07:08] And so how does the process work then? So let’s say somebody I guess NASA has some science goal. They want to, I don’t know, test out a new idea for a drill on the surface of the moon, which we’ll talk about in a little bit. How how would that process work? 

Pamela Gay [00:07:26] Or laser lidar? Sure. 

Fraser Cain [00:07:29] Whatever it is. 

Pamela Gay [00:07:30] It’s quite common. Yeah. So they have their commercial lunar, center in NASA. It’s a cost section of NASA. And through the eclipse program and other related programs, they put out periodic calls for proposals where companies are asked, what can we do to partner with you? What are you doing? Why should we partner with you? Convince us that you are the end all, be all. And our instrument should ride with you. And what instruments? It’s it’s it’s basically a dating service for instruments on landers. It’s a competitive process. Each proposal is, reviewed by a committee of peer reviewers. Not everyone is selected. These are the best of the best. 

Fraser Cain [00:08:28] Yeah, they have a right now, NASA has 14 suppliers. So they they originally when they they announced the program back in 2018, they announced a partnership with nine companies. And you know, some of the names are going to be familiar Astrobotic, Intuitive Machines, Firefly Aerospace, Lockheed Martin, Masten Moon Express or beyond. So all these companies and then in 20 what was it, 20 in 2018. Sorry. In 2018, they added five more suppliers that you’ve probably heard of Blue Origin, space X, Sierra Nevada. And so. And so in this case, right, NASA will say, okay, we want this payload delivered to the surface of the moon. And then they reach out to those 14 potential suppliers and they say, who will put this on the moon for us and for what price? And then they get proposals from all the different companies. 

Pamela Gay [00:09:28] Yeah. And. The thing about this is it’s trying to reach a future where, just like right now, if NASA wants to do a specific, experiment that requires, for instance, citizen science, this is something that I’ve done for solar eclipse handling. They will often put out standard calls for proposals, saying we are trying to take advantage of this following event. You are asked to submit proposals in this very narrow area and tell us how you would meet our needs. And they’re trying to get delivering things to the moon to be as easy and commonplace as delivering eclipse outreach to rural areas in Texas. 

Fraser Cain [00:10:28] Right. And I mean, you think about the analogy here, like, if you want to set up a antenna in some far off place, you want to set up a radio tower, you find a company and you tell them what you need, and then they build you a radio tower, and then you take control of it. Or like, you know, you have somebody build your house and so or delivery, like if you want to have a package delivered to someplace on Earth, you don’t build a truck, build a trucking company. You just you just pay for the service of getting the thing delivered. I mean, I’m trying to think, like, I’m sure there are some really nice analogies, but but, like, obviously, this is how. 

Pamela Gay [00:11:13] Let’s go with your shipping analogy. We’re in the process right now of trying to go from always hiring Fedex or UPS or, DHL to instead sometimes hiring that local courier company that can get things across town on their bicycle. So in the past they’ve used big agency, two agency agreements, and right now they’re trying to hire that new, more nimble company that can weave between the cards and potentially get hit now on that. 

Fraser Cain [00:11:46] Right. So let’s talk about like the pros and cons. Like like the pro here. Is that you. It’s less expensive. You only have to pay for the you know, fixed price cost for the delivery of your package to the surface of the moon. And I guess eventually other, other places. That’s all great and and should come in relatively inexpensive, as you said, because you have these nimble operators. What are the cons? 

Pamela Gay [00:12:16] Well, they’re they’re taking the risk like a venture capitalist of trying to use their we want you to deliver this, deliver us this. And we’re asking you because if you do it, you might create an entirely new industry. They are trying to disrupt planetary science by having commercial agencies deliver instruments to the surface of the moon, instead of relying on governmental contractors to deliver things to the surface of the moon. 

Fraser Cain [00:12:56] Yeah. And I mean, you know, that’s still sounds like a plus to me because, like, you can imagine you’re you’re, say with a small research agency, you with the university, and you’ve got an idea for an experiment that you want to run on the moon, and you go to NASA and you get funding for your experiment. You develop the mission. They give you budget for for delivery to the moon. You go with a an established moon surface provider that has a rideshare. They got 12 slots open. Each slot costs however many million dollars. You get one of those slot and your instrument is delivered to the surface of the moon. And NASA didn’t have to micromanage any part of that. So that all sounds good. So what’s the downside? 

Pamela Gay [00:13:36] How many companies that venture capitalists fund actually succeed? 

Fraser Cain [00:13:41] Right. Yeah. Yeah. So like know. So I guess part of the downside is that the company that you’ve chosen to even deliver this package to the moon could go out of business. 

Pamela Gay [00:13:50] Right? Right. And it’s not just out of business. It’s in the process of getting to that. A lot of bad things have to happen. Every new company starts with an amazing dream with people who are passionate and intelligent. Hopefully and driven. Definitely. Or they wouldn’t be starting a new company. And and there’s a certain magic that has to occur that allows a company to go from potential to fully realized success. And along that pathway is a whole lot of lack of sleep, stress, not necessarily being able to. Hey yourself because you made promises and things came in over price, and the money has to get cut from somewhere and. We we saw with the most recent clips motion that we’re going to get to later that that a disable this prior to launch didn’t get disabled. And these kinds of of really simple mistakes are generally the result of groups that either don’t have the correct process, controls the checklists that you have to go down, or they’re simply trying to accomplish too much with too little, where too little can be any combination of money, sleep, staffing. Right. For all of the above experience. Yeah, yeah, yeah. 

Fraser Cain [00:15:20] I mean, the the downside is really whenever you. Whenever you embark on any kind of project, like back in my olden days when I used to work as a supplier at a, I used to work for like a software company, and we would do custom builds for clients. There was always the it’s always the build versus buy argument. Do we staff up a team internally where we build the capabilities to develop this thing and and it’s good. And we just continue committing resources to it until it is complete. And it could go vastly over budget. And we are just stuck eating that cost. Month after month, year after year as we develop this thing or do we go to some outside supplier ideally with some fixed price guarantee? Does it? If the if the project goes overbudget, I think that’s too bad. That’s the suppliers problem. They agreed to deliver us this capability. But inside the supplier you as you said you know if they’re really good, then they’ve got a really great production system. They’re able to make a profit. They’re able to deliver on time, on budget. And if they’re still learning, then things take longer. People lose sleep. It’s crunch time. It’s a it can be very difficult experience and and compromises have to be made. So yeah you know we we don’t know what went wrong, but we know that things went wrong. Yeah. And and partly just not having the experience so far. But you can’t get there without going through this learning phase. And so I think, you know, NASA’s commitment to this process is saying, like, we understand this is going to be rough, but we’ll get through this. Hopefully they’ll end up with 14 partners, some combination of which have proven success, you know, track records of delivering payloads to the surface of the moon that then just goes on for years and years and years. But right now we’re in that like things aren’t working out great. 

Pamela Gay [00:17:23] Weird phase. 

Fraser Cain [00:17:24] Yeah. That’s not that awkward phase. All right. So let’s talk about the I guess, the two missions that have fallen under this program that have launched so far. Where do you wanna start? I guess we’ll start with that orbit. 

Pamela Gay [00:17:35] Yeah. So Astrobotic Peregrine lander that. I have to admit, this one’s near and dear to me because it was part of the Google Lunar XPrize competition back when I was a baby researcher, however many gazillion years ago. I worked with Google in our XPrize to interview all of the different teams and talk to them about what they were creating. And if no one ended up winning the Google and or X Prize, in part because there were no heavy lift vehicles to get these guys to the moon. Yeah. And and also in part because it just took longer to do any of this than anyone imagined back in the early 2000. Now with the Peregrine lunar lander. It’s so frustrating. It was designed to deliver payloads to lunar orbit and the lunar surface. They had this really cool design that allowed multiple things to be mounted easily. And it it finally got to take off in January. It’s separated. Nice and healthy. Everything was going fine. And then there was an engine firing that did not go as planned, and a whole lot of fuel was used to not go where they needed to go. And the result was that they ended up with a healthy spacecraft stranded in Earth orbit, unable to get to the moon. 

Fraser Cain [00:19:15] Yeah. And so it it launch, as you said. You know, they tried to fire the the engine. It was leaking propellant and they realized that they did they had no way to control the the mission. There was no way they could go into an insertion orbit around the moon. There’s no way they could land on the surface of the moon. It went around the moon and came back to Earth and crashed into the atmosphere. And that was that. And I mean, it had a it had a handful of really interesting experiments on board from both NASA and other sort of commercial partners and even other countries. And, you know, that sucked. Yeah. And and this was like, and this is part of what we talked about that, that you’re going to have these failures. So that’s so, so zero for one. Yeah. So then we are just a couple of days after the second attempt. What was that about? 

Pamela Gay [00:20:16] So. So Odysseus was I have to admit, you’re going to know more than I do about this, because I decided I was not going to emotionally invest in another lander until it had landed. 

Fraser Cain [00:20:28] Sure. I’ll give you the overview on this one. So, Intuitive Machines is one of those clips partners and their rover, their lander was called Odysseus, and this was going to be carrying six NASA payloads and six commercial payloads from other providers. And it was going to set foot on the moon near the South Pole. It was going to test out a bunch of experiments. There was a couple that I was really excited about. Two. One was as it was landing, it was going to dump overboard a little selfie camera that would film its own landing, which I thought was really cool. It had a little space telescope on it, so it was going to capture an image of the Milky Way, the first Milky Way image taken from the surface of the moon, which would have been very cool. And, you know, people is asking, when are we going to get an observatory on the moon? Well, Odysseus might have might have provided that first, telescope on the moon. It had a bunch of experiments for NASA, one that was very interesting. Was it had an experiment onboard designed to measure the distance to the lunar surface for future lunar landing, attempts from, you know, as a general way to think about, like, measuring the distance to asteroids and the surface of the of Mars, and just a new way to track your distance to the moon. And so what happened was shortly before landing, they realized that their landing system was not functioning. And you were saying that they like like they forgot to turn something on before. 

Pamela Gay [00:22:06] Yeah. So. So they had a laser ranger on board that had a, do not fire laser, safety measure implemented. It’s unclear from what I’ve seen so far if it was a physical pen or a software switch. 

Fraser Cain [00:22:23] Right. Yeah. 

Pamela Gay [00:22:24] And, it was supposed to be removed prior to launch. It was not. And this was only discovered once they hit lunar orbit. So. 

Fraser Cain [00:22:36] Yeah. And so the part that’s amazing that I loved about this story was they realized that they had no way to measure the distance to the surface of the moon, but they had this NASA experiment on board. And so they were able to code a hack, a fix that allowed them to tap into this NASA instrument that wasn’t designed to to do this work. It was and provide the service to the lander, and they were able to actually make that connection work. They were able to get access to this, but it clearly wasn’t perfect. And so on Thursday. It made its landing attempt, and then it was strangely quiet after it should have landed. And then about five minutes into it, as various large antennae on Earth were pointed at it. They were able to get a very weak signal from the spacecraft, and what they realized was they were getting very weak signal because most of its antennae were face down in the regolith. The one the the big phase array on the top of it, the supposed to point towards the Earth that was pointing at perpendicular to the ground. Its other secondary antennas were face down. And so they were they were detecting like reflected signals coming off of the lander coming back to Earth. And that was enough for them to realize that the spacecraft was alive, but not in its proper configuration. 

Pamela Gay [00:24:01] And the the communications around this has been fascinating. There’s someday going to be master’s thesis is written about this because the initial messaging was they landed. Everything’s fine. 

Fraser Cain [00:24:16] Yes. 

Pamela Gay [00:24:17] Silence. Then the next day was they landed. Everything is not fine. They are not where they thought they should be and they fell over. But it’s okay because the only thing they fell over onto was art. So nothing was harmed except for art. And they keep stressing the nothing was hurt but art. Which I’m sure is making the artist feel great about themselves, right? 

Fraser Cain [00:24:44] But only art was destroyed, right? And then and now you get. Actually, it probably doesn’t have enough, electricity supplies to last more than a couple of days. A lot of the experiments aren’t going to be able to function as they were planned. So it’s. 

Pamela Gay [00:25:01] Yeah, they keep stepping back the messaging because it went from it’s fine to it fell over, but it’s still fine. You know, they’re until lunar night and won’t come back from that too. Yeah. They might not last that long and. Yeah. 

Fraser Cain [00:25:18] Yeah. You’re exactly right. Like it should have been. There should have been a lot more clarity at every stage of this. And it’s interesting because generally with NASA we get that level of transparency. But Intuitive Machines is a publicly traded company. And so there the stock market was trying to bet on, you know, the stock price rose and fall fell like crazy. 

Pamela Gay [00:25:42] Crashed as of this morning. 

Fraser Cain [00:25:45] Oh did it I haven’t have a look. Yeah. So it was going through this process going back and forth and and you’re exactly right. I think, you know people are going to say like like what is the right amount? You if your company is attempting to provide realistic, up to date information about how the mission is doing, what is what is expected from the audience. And I thought overall their coverage was really good. It was definitely missing the live view, which was too bad. We got great interviews from behind the scenes. People are now also talking about their experiments. We got like a nice simulation of where the spacecraft was, but it would have been great to to have a much better sense. And you’re exactly right. Like we just went for a better part of a day with everybody’s going like, what’s going on? And people trying to figure out what it was like. It definitely wasn’t great. 

Pamela Gay [00:26:34] They broke the first rule of crisis management, which is you get in front of the problem. Yeah, say that there’s a problem and be honest and open at the entire process. Yeah. And by instead going it went wrong. But it’s fine, it’s fine, it’s fine. They actually that’s that’s harmful to your to your image according to standard crisis management protocols. 

Fraser Cain [00:26:56] So what comes next in the eclipse program. 

Pamela Gay [00:27:01] So I’m not seeing dates listed for any of the upcoming missions from any of my sources. Have you seen dates for anything in your sources? 

Fraser Cain [00:27:12] No. So I mean, we know like in general. So there’s two that are sort of that we know of one is this prime one, which is going to be a, a drill that’s supposed to go to the lunar south pole that’s going to be launched on a Falcon nine. 

Pamela Gay [00:27:28] Yeah. This is another Intuitive Machines. 

Fraser Cain [00:27:31] Yeah. So this so this will be Intuitive Machines number two. And then the other one is the Viper Rover. And this is going to be Astrobotic is going to be delivering the Viper Rover. And we see a lot of testing from a lot of stories from NASA about the rover itself. And so I guess, you know, we have the exact delivery of the rover and how it’s all going to operate is still up in the air, as it were. And then there’s a bunch of other stuff, future missions that are going to come through Firefly more to intuitive machines. So NASA has got like a tentative timeline out through 2026, but it’s. Still open to change. And I think, you know, the fact that that two the first two missions have already. Not been 100% successful. 

Pamela Gay [00:28:20] Yeah. 

Fraser Cain [00:28:21] Will cause some kind of consequences. Be it an internal audit. You know, I wouldn’t be surprised if things now are. Have to take some extra time before they know what’s going on. And I think the one that I’m really looking forward to is the Viper. Right. Which is going to be this cool lunar rover. 

Pamela Gay [00:28:42] Yeah. I have good feels about astrobotic. And one of the things that is hard about this is these are companies that live and die by their success and their ability to get external funding. So we’re starting to see things in the modern age of commercial space that we aren’t used to. So Marston’s mission went away because Marston had to file for bankruptcy. We saw Virgin Orbit go away, and companies have to scramble to find new launches. So there there is going to be a certain level of chaos introduced into the system beyond what we already get from Congress by relying on commercial partners. So now we have two different ways for things to, go away. Either Congress can cancel them, or a company doing them can go bankrupt. And I, I feel like this is the fire and ice either is nice, though. 

Fraser Cain [00:29:48] Yeah. We’re always going to oscillate between these two, right where you’re going to have these two failures of these two missions. And then someone’s going to go, well, well, you know, why don’t we just do this stuff in-house? Because we’ve got all the expertise and we’ve got this team we have all these engineers are already doing this work. Okay, that makes sense. And then you do this stuff in-house and you’re like, this is getting really expensive, you know, and there’s all of these commercial companies of the pinch. Why don’t we hire out some of this to these commercial companies? And you just get this, this back and forth all the time, and eventually the market gets good enough that, yeah, you know, NASA doesn’t design its own iPhone. It it buys them. And so at a certain point you work with commercial entities. But when you’re in that in those first nascent stages, it’s really hard. And I think what, what NASA is trying to do is just jump start the process. Let’s, let’s make this commercial operation to deliver payloads, the surface of the moon. Let’s make this happen sooner than later. It may take it would take 30 years, but maybe we can make it happen in ten years instead. 

Pamela Gay [00:30:49] I wish it was being done with more intensive mentoring. One of the things that I’ve always appreciated is universities that have, technology incubators, you see these, especially in universities that have, a strong tech connection and are actively innovating new patents where they will create a part of their campus, where they give space and mentoring and assistance to new companies looking to innovate how things are done. If NASA were to put in the level of mentoring. It changes the model a bit. 

Fraser Cain [00:31:32] I mean, we don’t know, though. We don’t know how it’s mentoring and we don’t know how many x, you know, x NASA employees are at these different companies who were team leaders for various projects, like, I’m sure it’s a giant mix of of that and tons of technology transfer. 

Pamela Gay [00:31:49] Yes, but that isn’t part of the public image I want it to be. NASA is is not just throwing instruments on these guys. I want this to be a a. This is us transferring our knowledge. 

Fraser Cain [00:32:07] Yeah. I mean there’s there’s a bit of that like as an example. So SpaceX one of the requirements of the upcoming human landing system is it has to be able to transfer propellant in order to cryogenic propellant. And this is a big challenge now. But and yeah, and NASA has done a ton of research into this field. And they transferred a lot of this knowledge over to SpaceX and said, okay, here’s where we are so far. You guys continue your experiments. But here’s everything that we’ve learned so far. And so I think that that there is a you know, there is definitely the potential to transfer a lot of this knowledge to these different companies. And I think, you know, I’ll bet you have. If we actually investigated each individual company in detail and looked at people’s history and so on, that we would find all these really interesting connections. And yeah, and again, I don’t know where and I don’t know what the what the right way is to begin. It’s like, do you be hands off and just say, you know, we’ll pay you this amount to deliver our payload to the surface of the moon. Are you hands on micromanaging them? I think it’s better for NASA to not micromanage. It’s better for these companies to figure it out. 

Pamela Gay [00:33:18] I’m and I agree, I want to see public facing. Our goal is to transfer knowledge. 

Fraser Cain [00:33:26] Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I mean, this is now like a longer conversation about sort of what role NASA plays in, in space exploration and, and so on, which, you know, maybe the conversation we can have in the future. There’s a couple of of of things that I’ve very strong opinions about, but I think we’ve reached the end of this show. So, why don’t we why don’t we wrap it here? Thank you Pamela. 

Pamela Gay [00:33:51] Thank you, Fraser, and thank you so much to all of our benefactors over on Patreon. I cannot tell you how much we rely on you to keep all of this going and keep our folks paid. You guys make me not cry each month when I do budgets, and I appreciate that. This week I am honored to mispronounce the names of Ninja Nick. 

Fraser Cain [00:34:20] Just getting out ahead of it. 

Pamela Gay [00:34:21] I am, I am, Ninja Nick, Jim McGinn, J Alex Anderson, Bruce Amazon Frodo Tamam buh I I’m sorry. Planetary father Prax Glen Mcdavid’s mad ski the air major lu Zealand, Matthew Horstman, Mathias. Hayden, Nyla. Sarah. Lark, Scott cohn, Marco er rossi, Justin Proctor, the big squish squash David Gates, Georgy Ivanov, Scott bieber, Iran. Zagreb. Don Mendez, Benjamin. Mueller. Cooper, Peter. Philip. Grand, Sean. Matz, Cami. Rakim, James. Roger. Sam Brooks and his mom. Thank you all so much. And if you too would like to have the opportunity for me to mispronounce your name because I did not take phonics as a child, become part of our Patreon at Patreon.com slash Astronomy cast. Read the fine print because, not all levels have the opportunity for me to pronounce pronounce their names. 

Fraser Cain [00:35:32] Thanks, everyone. We’ll see you next week. 

Pamela Gay [00:35:34] Bye bye. Astronomy cast is a joint product of the Universe Today and the Planetary Science Institute. Astronomy cast is released under a Creative Commons Attribution license. So love it, share it, and remix it, but please credit it to our hosts, Fraser Cain and Doctor Pamela Gay. You can get more information on today’s show topic on our website. Astronomy. Cars.com. This episode was brought to you thanks to our generous patrons on Patreon. If you want to help keep the show going, please consider joining our community at Patreon.com Slash Astronomy Cast. Not only do you help us pay our producers a fair wage, you will also get special access to content right in your inbox and invites to online events. We are so grateful to all of you who have joined our Patreon community already. Anyways, keep looking up. This has been Astronomy Cast. 

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