NASA Archive

Jonathan Gardner – Deputy Senior Project Scientist, James Webb Space Telescope

February 25, 2021 @ 7:35 pm

In this episode:

We meet Dr. Jonathan Gardner, the Deputy Senior Project Scientist for the James Webb Space Telescope and the Chief of the Laboratory for Observational Cosmology in the Astrophysics Science Division at NASA Goddard. He received his bachelor’s degree in Astronomy in Astrophysics from Harvard University, and then attended graduate school at the University of Hawaii, earning a master’s degree and a PhD in Astronomy. He began working on Webb as a member of the Ad-Hoc Science Working Group in the late 1990s, and then joined the project as the Deputy Senior Project Scientist in 2002.

 

The James Webb Space Telescope project began in 1996 and is currently scheduled for launch on October 31, 2021. It will be the largest and most powerful space telescope ever built and launched into space — 100 times more powerful than the Hubble Space Telescope, and it promises to fundamentally alter our understandings of the universe. The telescope is an international collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency, and with an almost $10 billion price tag it's one of the most expensive space missions in history.

 

In our conversation, Dr. Gardner explains how Webb will be able to see the first light created in the universe after the big bang 13.5 billion years ago, how it will create a 3D model of our universe together with Hubble, how it’ll have the capability to detect signs of life in the atmospheres of 300+ exoplanets, and he tells us when the public will begin to see images of what Webb is observing.

 

Sharing what he's looking forward to most about the mission, Gardner says, “I’m most excited about the fact that whenever we put up a new capability that is a hundred times better than anything that’s happened before ... we find discoveries that we really were not expecting.”

 

To learn more about the James Webb Space Telescope, visit webb.nasa.gov.

 

Introductory and closing music: Paint the Sky by Hans Atom © copyright 2015, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license. http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/hansatom/50718 Ft: Miss Judged

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Lori Garver & Courtney Stadd — Former Presidential Transition Staff Members

January 13, 2021 @ 9:13 am

In this episode:

 

Space4U welcomes two veterans of presidential transitions to discuss the process and how it relates to the U.S. space program. For a balanced perspective, we’re joined by former transition staff members from both Democratic and Republican administrations.

 

Lori Garver served as NASA’s Deputy Administrator during the Obama Administration from 2009–2013, as well as during the Clinton Administration as the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Policy and Planning. For the latter half of 2008 into early 2009, Ms. Garver served as the lead for the Obama Presidential Transition Agency Review Team for NASA. She’s a veteran of Capitol Hill, the commercial space industry, various campaigns, an advisor to numerous groups and space organizations, and she founded the Brooke Owens Fellowship to promote diversity in the aviation and space exploration communities for female college undergrads.

 

Courtney Stadd served as NASA’s Chief of Staff and White House Liaison during the George W. Bush Administration. He’s also a veteran of the Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations, where he served at the National Space Council and later NASA. For the latter half of 2008 into 2009, he served as the lead of the George W. Bush Presidential Transition Agency Review Team for NASA. He is also a veteran of the commercial space industry, having been an entrepreneur, business development officer, and program leader for several enterprises.

 

In our conversation, Lori and Courtney discuss how a transition takes place, the elements involved, the different players on a transition team and what they do, how transition teams cooperate, what an incoming administration seeks to achieve during a transition, and more.

 

Note: This conversation was recorded prior to the events that transpired at the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, 2021 – events that would certainly have impacted the discussion. Although this recording predates those events, the collateral effects they will have on the Presidential transition remain to be seen.

 

Introductory and closing music: Paint the Sky by Hans Atom © copyright 2015 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license. http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/hansatom/50718 Ft: Miss Judged

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Sarah Noble – NASA Program Scientist, Psyche Mission

December 9, 2020 @ 10:34 am

In this episode:

 

We meet Dr. Sarah Noble, a planetary geologist at NASA headquarters and the Program Scientist for the Psyche mission. She was previously the Program Scientist for NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft, and the Deputy Program Scientist for Mars 2020. In addition to her involvement with Psyche, she is currently the Program Scientist for the Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) and the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO).

 

Psyche was only the sixteenth asteroid identified when it was discovered in 1852. It is roughly the size of the state of Massachusetts and resides in the solar system's main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. It’s thought to be the exposed remnant core of a protoplanet — a planet that began to form, but then lost its outer layers due to collisions that occurred billions of years ago. Unlike most asteroids that are rocky or icy bodies, it is believed that Psyche is composed mostly of iron and nickel (similar to the Earth’s core), which is why the Psyche mission spacecraft will be studying an asteroid more than 300 million miles away to learn more about our home planet’s core.

 

In this episode, Sara explains her role in the Psyche mission, what phase the mission is currently in, why we think we know what the asteroid is composed of, the spacecraft’s instruments and propulsion, how long the mission will take to complete, and much more.

 

For more information about the Psyche mission, visit https://www.nasa.gov/psyche and https://psyche.asu.edu.

 

To view the Psyche-inspired artwork Sarah mentioned in the episode, visit https://psyche.asu.edu/psyche-inspired-showcase/, and for information on submitting your own artwork, go to https://psyche.asu.edu/get-involved/psyche-space-crafty/.

 

Introductory and closing music: Paint the Sky by Hans Atom © copyright 2015, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license. http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/hansatom/50718 Ft: Miss Judged

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Aaron Shepard – NASA Robotics Intern & Founder of Cogito

September 2, 2020 @ 8:34 am

In this episode:

 

We meet Aaron Shepard, an In Space Assembly Robotics Intern at NASA Langley, and a Robotics Research Assistant at Clemson University College of Engineering and Science. Aaron also works at R&D Engineering Co-Op, Itron, Inc., and is the Founder/CEO of Cogito, a company dedicated to inspiring young people through STEM outreach.

 

He is affiliated with the Mars Generation, an international nonprofit organization that works to excite people of all ages about science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and human space exploration, and is currently a member of the organization's Student Space Ambassador Leadership Board, where he serves as chair of the outreach committee. He works as a tutor and mentor for the PEER & WISE program at Clemson, which helps to give underrepresented students studying STEM subjects the resources and tools they need to follow their dreams of STEM and space, and he has also given a TEDx talk entitled Make America Space Again.

 

In this conversation Aaron talks about what inspired him to switch from his initial career path of medicine to robotics, gives details on how he got into his internship at NASA, shares his thoughts on the future of robots in space exploration, touches on his company Cogito, describes his favorite robot project that he’s currently working on, and explains how he thinks international cooperation will help achieve our goals in space.

 

In describing how robots will eventually build human habitats on other planets, Aaron says, “I’d say we’re within a 20-year range of having fully autonomous robot construction crew in space ... I think that’s possible.”

 

To learn more about Aaron’s new company Cogito, visit cogitobrains.com.

 

Note: This episode refers to the successful July 30, 2020 launch of the Perseverance Mars Rover and Ingenuity helicopter in future tense because the podcast was recorded on July 23, 2020.

 

Introductory and closing music: Paint the Sky by Hans Atom (c) copyright 2015 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license. http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/hansatom/50718 Ft: Miss Judged

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Paul Lockhart – Former NASA Astronaut

July 1, 2020 @ 9:32 am

In this episode:

 

We meet Paul Lockhart, U.S. Air Force Colonel (retired) and former NASA astronaut. Spanning his career, Lockhart has served numerous duty assignments worldwide, has logged 5,000-plus flying hours piloting more than 30 aircraft, and has also piloted two space shuttle missions to the International Space Station — STS-111 and STS-113 — both in 2002, aboard Space Shuttle Endeavor. More recently, Paul has written a book called Virtus Adventures and runs a website and blog to promote it. He also does public speaking engagements with school children to inspire an early interest in STEM subjects and space exploration. 

 

In this conversation, Paul discusses how he first became interested in space as a child during the dawn of the space age, the skills he had — and the skills he wished he had — when he first became an astronaut, how mentors helped him to achieve his goals, the realities about being an astronaut that most people don’t know about, and how important a person’s character is in achieving their goals. 

 

Explaining his thoughts on what he wants people to take away from his public speaking engagements, Paul says, “I want every young person, and even adult that I speak to in the U.S. to understand that we, the United States, sit at a unique position in that we should feel very proud that we have a space program that is respected and revered around the world.” 

 

To learn more about Paul’s Virtus Adventures, visit virtusadventures.com.

 

Introductory and closing music: Paint the Sky by Hans Atom (c) copyright 2015 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license. http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/hansatom/50718 Ft: Miss Judged

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Kevin DeBruin – The Fit Rocket Scientist

June 11, 2020 @ 12:13 pm

In this episode:

 

We meet Kevin DeBruin, a space educator who brings space down to Earth for all of us in a creative and entertaining way. A former NASA JPL rocket scientist, Kevin is also the author of To NASA and Beyond: Perseverance to Achieve the Impossible, a TEDx speaker, American Ninja Warrior, and CuriosityStream’s brand ambassador for all things space and science. 

 

Kevin shares with us the obstacles he faced as a student, including struggles with mathematics. He tells us about securing his dream job working with NASA, and why he left after discovering a passion for teaching and inspiring others about space. Kevin tells about his techniques for bringing space down to Earth and making the learning process fun and engaging. He also shares a little about his time competing as an American Ninja Warrior. 

 

Learn more about Kevin at https://www.kevinjdebruin.com/

 

Introductory and closing music: Paint the Sky by Hans Atom (c) copyright 2015 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license. http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/hansatom/50718 Ft: Miss Judged

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Athena Brensberger - Founder and CEO of Astroathens, LLC

May 14, 2020 @ 12:47 pm

In this episode:

 

We meet Founder and CEO of Astroathens, LLC, Athena Brensberger. 

 

Athena advocates for space exploration through her platform Astroathens, which is a website, YouTube channel and various social media platforms combined where people can find DIY videos for astrophysics demos, rocket launch coverage and look behind-the-scenes at space ports and events around the world!

 

She has worked with Seeker, Futurism and most recently Arianespace, as a correspondent on all things astronomy and rocket science. Athena conducted research on protoplanetary disks --early formation of planetary systems like our solar system!

 

Athena tell us how her passions, astrophysics, theater and fashion intersect and how space really reaches all walks of life. She is a self-proclaimed Astrophysicist Barbie.

 

Learn more about Astroathens at https://astroathens.com/.

 

Introductory and closing music: Paint the Sky by Hans Atom (c) copyright 2015 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license. http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/hansatom/50718 Ft: Miss Judged 

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Laura Forczyk - Space Consultant

May 7, 2020 @ 9:19 am

In this episode:

 

We meet Laura Forczyk, owner of Astralytical, a space consulting firm specializing in space science, industry, and policy, and offering space career coaching services.

 

Laura is a NASA Subject Matter Expert for planetary science missions and serves on the advisory boards for the Lifeboat Foundation and the Society of Women in Space Exploration. In addition, she serves as a mentor for the Brooke Owens Fellowship program. 

 

Laura tells us about her recently released book, Rise of the Space Age Millennials. She interviewed 100 millennials to write the book, exploring where the space industry is heading and what the future leaders of the space industry hope to see happen in their lifetimes.

 

Laura also does a lot of coaching with students, helping to prepare them for a career in space. In this episode, she also offers bits of advice for listeners to use in their own careers. 

 

You can find Rise of the Space Age Millennials online at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble website, or get a signed copy on Laura’s website, https://www.astralytical.com/.

 

Introductory and closing music: Paint the Sky by Hans Atom (c) copyright 2015 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license. http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/hansatom/50718 Ft: Miss Judged 

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Dr. Tanya Harrison - Professional Martian

March 25, 2020 @ 11:57 am

In this episode:

 

We meet Dr. Tanya Harrison, who describes herself a “professional Martian.” She has spent the last decade working as a scientist on mission operations on multiple NASA Mars missions, including the Curiosity and Opportunity rovers. 

 

Tanya specializes in geomorphology, the study of a planet’s evolution based on its surface features. Before her Mars work, Tanya had her head in the stars as an astronomer studying the metal content of star clusters and recurring novae systems. 

 

She tells us about how she developed a passion for space and science and explains more about geomorphology. Tanya shares the detective work she does when looking at a photo of Mars and how she uses her knowledge to help further our studies of the red planet. Tanya is also an advocate for advancing the status of women in science and for accessibility in the geosciences.  She also talks about being one of the organizers of the annual Women in Space conference.

 

Tanya tells us about her new book For All Humankind, a collection of true stories based on interviews with people who watched the Apollo 11 Moon landing live but from outside the U.S. The book is available on Amazon and at ForAllHumankind.Space. 

 

You can follow her on Twitter @tanyaofmars.

 

Introductory and closing music: Paint the Sky by Hans Atom (c) copyright 2015 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license. http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/hansatom/50718 Ft: Miss Judged

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Alan Ladwig - Author, Part Two

February 12, 2020 @ 8:39 am

In this episode:

 

We continue our conversation with Alan Ladwig, the author of “See You in Orbit? Our Dream of Spaceflight.” Between 1981 and 1990, Alan held a variety of positions at NASA Headquarters, including Director of Special Projects for the Office of Exploration and Manager of the Shuttle Student Involvement Program. Alan was also Manager of NASA’s Space Flight Participant program in the 1980s, which included the “Teacher in Space” project, most famously known for its selection of Christa McAuliffe as the first teacher and civilian to be chosen to participate in spaceflight.

 

In this second part of our conversation, Alan discusses how Russia played an early role in paving the way for civilian passengers to travel to the International Space Station, the plans that four companies currently have to develop commercial space stations for civilian use, how the arts are regarded within the space community, and how the prohibitive cost of space travel hinders the democratization of space.

 

In discussing how high costs prevent more access to space, Alan said, “We want space to be an environment that is experienced by a wider range of people. Not just scientists, engineers... Not trained astronauts and cosmonauts, but people from all walks of life. Because … space is just an extension of who we are.”

 

For more information on Alan and his current pursuits, visit his website at toorbitproductions.com, and visit his Facebook page to view his space-inspired artwork. Alan’s book is available for purchase at amazon.com.

 

Click here for Part One of this conversation.

 

Introductory and closing music: Paint the Sky by Hans Atom (c) copyright 2015 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license. http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/hansatom/50718 Ft: Miss Judged

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