Current Event April 18, 2016
Astronauts live and work in small spaces. If they were to stay in space for years at a time, they would need a larger place to live. The problem has been how to pack something large into a small space capsule. The solution may be an inflatable room. NASA is now ready to test a new inflatable habitat. It will be sent to the International Space Station for a trial. Listen to hear more about this invention.
Current Event March 10, 2016
After living in space for almost a year, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly returned safely to Earth. Kelly stayed aboard the International Space Station, conducting experiments and taking photographs of Earth. Throughout the year, he was able to communicate with people at NASA and update them on his activities and status. Researchers at NASA have also tracked Kelly’s physical and mental health after one of the longest missions in space. Listen to the story to hear more about this astronaut’s admirable and historic journey.
Current Event November 10, 2015
This story is about astronaut Ronald McNair, as told by his brother Carl. They grew up in racially-segregated South Carolina. Carl tells about when Ron came up against segregation laws that he didn’t understand as a child and how that shaped his life as a young African-American in the rural south. But his life ended tragically. Listen to this story of Ronald McNair’s journey.
Current Event November 6, 2015
Every spring and fall Americans turn the clocks back or forward one hour to make the best use of the daylight. It’s called Daylight Savings Time. When the clocks are turned back in the fall, it will be brighter in the mornings as we go to school and to work. New research shows this time change has a big downside: an increase in crime. By looking at crime patterns, researchers discovered that robbery rates increase when it's darker for a longer time in the evenings. Listen to this story and have students gather evidence for a debate about whether or not we should keep Daylight Savings Time.
Current Event October 8, 2015
NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows dark streaks flowing down Martian slopes. When the streaks are widest, there is evidence of water molecules. When the streaks shrink in the cold, water disappears. The water is not the same as a stream on Earth, but more like a hint of wetness. Although scientists are not entirely sure where the water source is, they say it could be from a salty underground reservoir or soaking up moisture from the atmosphere. Listen to hear how water can be important for future explorations on Mars.
Current Event April 10, 2015
Individuals who make extraordinary contributions to science often begin as regular people with a passion. This was certainly the case for Alan Guth, the physicist responsible for our understanding of how the universe formed after the Big Bang. Guth’s love for physics was sparked in high school and continues to drive his work today as a professor at MIT. Listen to learn more about his journey from a small town in New Jersey to physics textbooks around the world.
Gravity keeps our feet on the ground, it creates a curve ball, and it can also be used to find new planets. The star at the center of our solar system maintains life on Earth and its gravitational pull creates the orbit of planets. But our sun is just one of many stars in an ever expanding universe. Alpha Centauri is the closest star system to our solar system and new technology is allowing us to better understand our neighbor. Observations of Alpha Centauri date back to 1592, but it wasn’t until 2012 that astronomers in Chile were able to identify a planet orbiting one of the stars in Alpha Centauri because of its gravitational wobble. Listen to learn more about the properties and potential of this new planet.
Current Event March 6, 2015
In 2024 crews of four will be sent to Mars with the goal of creating a permanent human settlement there. The mission is being planned by a non-profit organization in the Netherlands called Mars One. 200,000 people applied to be one of the first four people to make this all expense paid trip. Mars One has narrowed the applicants down to 100. Shirelle Webb, a 22 year old college student from Texas has made the cut. Listen to learn why she wants to be considered for the one-way trip.
Current Event February 24, 2015
The sun is a star that sits at the center of our Solar System. It provides heat and a gravitational pull for all of the planets that orbit it. Scientists have long believed they knew what the sun was made up of and how it worked. When new evidence upset the balance between theory and observation, a solar physicist set out to reproduce the way the sun functions in a laboratory. Listen to hear more about how the sun works.
It is difficult to conceptualize the magnitude of our solar system but the journey of the Voyager spacecrafts can help. In September 1977 NASA launched the Voyager spacecrafts to gain information about the far off giant planets in our solar system. The spacecrafts and the project endured after studying Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune and continued to travel away from earth and through our solar system. Thirty-five years after Voyager 1 left Earth, and over 11 billion miles away, it became the first man-made object to leave our solar system and enter interstellar space. Listen to learn what researchers have been researching from the edge of our solar system.
In 2014, astronomers discovered a new dwarf planet on the edge of our solar system. This discovery has changed scientists’ understanding of what exists in the solar system beyond the more well known dwarf planet, Pluto. The new planet is a pink ball of ice, and scientists believe there could be an unseen and undiscovered planet larger than Earth in the far reaches of our solar system.
Current Event January 6, 2015
NASA’s Curiosity Rover has found unexpected bursts of methane in the Martian atmosphere. Scientists don’t know where the methane is coming from but some see these bursts as evidence that there are or once were living microbes on the red planet. Listen to learn more about this important gas and the implications of its discovery on Mars.
Current Event December 11, 2014
Since the end of the space shuttle program and the beginning of independently funded space exploration, NASA hasn’t been launching many new spacecrafts. This is changing with a recent test flight for NASA’s new spacecraft Orion, which is designed to carry astronauts into deep space. Listen to this public radio story to learn more about Orion’s design and goals.
Current Event October 15, 2014
India successfully sent a spacecraft and probe to orbit Mars in September. The United States also has a probe orbiting Mars- but their mission costs ten times as much as the India mission. Why is that? From spacecraft, to orbit shape, to payroll - this public radio story explores why these price tags were so different.
Current Event May 3, 2014
George Lucas’s Star Wars films are an empire unto themselves. With two movie trilogies and another on the way, the films are prolific, as are the universe they build. This is matched and raised by hundreds of Star Wars books that mirror and expand the narrative of the movies. Some hardcore fans even prefer the books, which cover 25,000 years and include 17,000 characters. Listen to learn more about the unprecedented success of this movie based book franchise.
Current Event April 30, 2014
Is there a possibility for humans to live on another Earth-like planet? Scientists claim that there are potential candidates out there, and for the first time can estimate how many. Listen to this story to learn more about other planets that could sustain life.
Current Event April 3, 2014
The Hubble Telescope has been transmitting data from space for 24 years. It has endured several changes in U.S. Presidents and it will continue to stay in space until at least 2020. What have we learned from the Hubble Telescope over the last two decades?
Current Event March 11, 2014
Scientists usually study stars from afar, through a telescope. One scientist discovered a way to study stars up close, and on Earth — through a machine that acts like a powerful energy generator or star, called the Z Machine.