Ep. 708: What Goes Into Sample Return Missions from Asteroids and Comets?

Last week we talked about sample return missions from the Moon and Mars, but scientists have retrieved samples from other objects in the Solar System, including comets and asteroids. What does it take to return a piece of rock from space, and what have we learned so far?

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Fraser Cain
Universe Today

Dr. Pamela Gay
CosmoQuest

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  • Beth Johnson, Project and Content Manager
  • Richard Drumm, Audio Engineer
  • Ally Pelphrey, Video Engineer

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17 seasons and more than 600 episodes await.

Ep. 703: Solar Maximum of Doom? Maybe

Ep. 703: Solar Maximum of Doom? Maybe

Solar cycle 25 is shaping up to be a doozy, with plenty of flares and coronal mass ejections blasting off the Sun. As the solar activity continues to rise, how are things shaping up?

Ep. 702: Moonshot 2024 – Go or No Go?

Ep. 702: Moonshot 2024 – Go or No Go?

With Artemis 1 completing its robotic flight around the Moon, we know that the SLS works. Next comes Artemis 2, with a crew of astronauts flying past the Moon. If that’s successful, we could see humans set foot on the Moon in December 2025. But there is a long list of challenges to consider that could delay things considerably. Go or no go for launch?

Ep. 700: Things We Got Wrong

Ep. 700: Things We Got Wrong

Astronomers talk about all the amazing discoveries they’re making but sometimes, it turns out, they were wrong. After decades and centuries of discoveries, how have they changed their minds?

Recent Episodes

Ep. 688: What’s Next? Looking Ahead to Season 17

https://www.youtube.com/live/mfRL3t_4R_4 Once again, we’ve reached the end of a season here on Astronomy Cast, and it’s time for the summer hiatus. But the Universe never takes a break. What can we expect to happen over the summer while we’re catching up on our...

Ep. 687: Prepping for the Moon

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdMalbhkDfU We’re going back to the Moon. In the next few years humans will set foot on the Moon again, ideally this time to stay. But this will be different than the Apollo era, going to the scientifically fascinating, and difficult...

Ep. 686: Ice in the Shadows

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9EDEcCRGaoo The permanently shadowed craters on the Moon are the focus of so much research. That’s because they seem to contain vast reserves of water ice. Water we could use for oxygen, propellant and so much more, but also, to help us...

Ep. 685: Manufacturing in Space

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nFea0f_ELho Launching satellites from Earth is counter-productive. You’ve got to make a satellite that can handle Earth gravity, then the brutal flight to space, then deployment in orbit. What if you could build your spacecraft in...

Ep. 683: Cosmic Dawn

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=liamHeGTrOg After the cosmic microwave background radiation was released, the Universe returned to darkness, cloaked in this clouds of primordial hydrogen and helium. Gravity pulled these vast clouds into the first stars, and then the...

Ep. 682: Ultra-Diffuse Galaxies and Dark Matter

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ta9lH755xw0 Astronomers first noticed the strange behaviors of rotating galaxies almost 100 years ago, suggesting there’s an invisible dark matter hold them together with gravity. Or maybe we just don’t understand how gravity works at...

Ep. 681: Kilonovae

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOOfgvvPbZc In 2017, astronomers detected the gravitational waves and electromagnetic radiation from colliding neutron stars. This had been long theorized as one of the causes of a certain type of gamma-ray burst. By studying the event...

Ep. 680: Rogue Black Holes

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZprHwGHUARU Last week we talked about rogue stars. This week we’re going to take things up a notch and talk about an even more extreme event. Rogue black holes. Astronomers recently discovered a supermassive black hole on an escape...

Ep. 679: High(per) Velocity Stars

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f00HT9dMJ7Y Most stars in the Milky Way are trapped in here with us, doomed to orbit around and around and around. But a few have found a way out, an escape into the freedom of intergalactic space. How do stars reach escape velocity,...

Ep. 678: World Building: Planet Formation, Growth, & Ejection

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJQ3BnCYiR4 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. Download MP3 | Show Notes | Transcript Show Notes Coming soon...

Ep. 677: The Answer is Always Dust

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_5-RoU59l38 Whenever astronomers discover something surprising, the answer often turns out to be dust. Dust obscuring our view, dust changing the polarity, dust warming things up, dust cooling things down. It’s always dust. Until it...

Ep. 676: Other Things with Rings

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rPD5FsmQBMA 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...

Ep. 675: Exotic Forms of Ice

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xvmLdFINnFY 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....

Ep. 674: Asteroid Early Warning Systems

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u643Sh0tTB4 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...

Ep. 673: How to See Satellites (or Avoid Seeing Them)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oyL-XxZy_G8 If you’re in dark skies and look up, you’re certain to see a satellite. Lots of them. But how can you know which one you’re seeing, and how can you improve your chances of a sighting? Today we’ll talk about how to see...

Ep. 672: Space Debris Removal

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q7RxmX5eDY4 We’ve talked about the rising problem of space junk. Okay, we know it’s an issue. So what can be done about it? Today we’ll talk about ideas to remove space junk, making sure space is open to use for the centuries to come....

Ep. 671: The Consequences to Breaking Space Laws

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wni5--mzw2Q Last week we talked about the laws that govern space exploration. This week the rubber hits the road. What are the consequences for actually breaking these rules? Are they really going to stop anyone? Download MP3 | Show...

Ep. 670: Governing Space – The Outer Space Treaty of 1967

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZOYKDGglo8 The Universe was inaccessible for most of human history, but the first tentative steps to space in the 20th century made humanity realize that science fiction was becoming science reality. New rules would have to be written...

Ep. 669: Challenges to Dark Energy

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_1L_P24gT4 It’s been over 20 years since astronomers first discovered that the expansion of the Universe is accelerating thanks to dark energy. And in these decades, astronomers still don’t have much evidence for what could be causing...