Current Event March 9, 2021
One of the NASA engineers responsible for sending the Perseverance rover to Mars is a young Latina woman. In this interview, Christina Hernandez recounts what made the mission exciting for her both personally and professionally. She credits her upbringing and her family’s immigrant past, in particular, for her present success. Listen to hear a Latina scientist explain what she loves about her work and why she believes Latinas are well equipped to take on the toughest challenges.
Current Event March 1, 2021
NASA’s Perseverance rover has landed safely on the surface of Mars. It had to slow from a traveling speed of 12,000 miles per hour and complete a complex series of steps to make a safe landing. The rover landed in the rock-filled Jezero Crater, an area scientists believe was once flooded with water. Listen to learn what scientists hope to discover through the mission, and hear how they reacted when the rover finally touched down.
Update: Since this story aired, the Perseverance has sent videos of its landing back to Earth, which are available online.
Current Event May 21, 2019
The job of an astronaut on the International Space Station is demanding, and those interested in the job must have many skills and qualifications. Astronauts must be prepared for spacewalks, science experiments, station maintenance, and many other tasks. Like any job, being an astronaut has its own special quirks and challenges. Listen to hear from some astronauts on the International Space Station about their experiences orbiting the earth for science.
The year 1968 was a time of incredible upheaval in the United States. The hippie movement, a subculture youth movement that rejected mainstream American life, was just getting started. The Democratic National Convention in Chicago was disrupted by riots, and both Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy–two prominent progressive leaders–had been assassinated. In the midst of all that political instability, NASA’s first mission to orbit the moon ended up bringing the entire divided nation together. Listen to find out how.
Current Event February 5, 2019
Some students at Texas Woman’s University have won a NASA-sponsored design competition aimed at solving problems related to space travel. The students tackled a problem that astronauts have a lot–lower back pain. They created a shirt to prevent and treat this common health issue through a design that simulates gravity. Like many other inventions for astronauts, the space shirt may also have other uses on earth. Listen to hear about how these students worked together on their design and what is next for their winning space shirt.
Current Event December 12, 2018
A new NASA probe called InSight recently landed on Mars after traveling 300 million miles from Earth. The success of this mission was a very exciting accomplishment, as it involved a complex process of slowing down the probe very quickly in order to make a smooth landing. Listen to this story to learn about this important engineering achievement and what NASA hopes the probe will do now that it has safely landed on Mars.
Current Event January 24, 2018
Supernovas happen at the end of a star’s life and then they fade away. Scientists are struggling to explain why one supernova has lasted for the past three years. During research, scientists found documentation from the 1950s that indicate this supernova was long-lasting back then. This discovery is challenging the established theories of how stars evolve. Listen to learn how scientists are rethinking their theories about supernova.
Current Event January 15, 2018
It was recently revealed that the U.S. Pentagon has investigated sightings by the U.S. Military of unidentified flying objects, or UFOs. Through satellites and sensors, the Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program would watch videos from pilots to decipher whether the unknown sightings were from another country or perhaps another planet. The head of the program says that scientific research was used to find out if there was a threat to the U.S. but not all of the phenomena could be explained. Listen to learn how a team of analysts worked with pilots to uncover whether UFOs exist in our skies.
Current Event December 14, 2017
Whether you’re on a plane or an astronaut in space, you can see cities around the world lit up at night. The amount of lighting increases every year and has affected wildlife and how we view the night sky. This is known as light pollution, and there’s probably more than we are aware. The way we measure light pollution does not pick up on LED lighting making the light not trackable to scientists. Listen to learn where the most and least light pollution is and why it should be considered a problem.
Thirty years ago, the nation watched in shock as the space shuttle Challenger exploded soon after take off, tragically killing all seven crew members, including a civilian teacher. This shuttle had launched and landed successfully nine times before this tenth launch. One of the rocket engineers feels partially responsible to this day. In a recent interview, he explains that he and his colleagues had anticipated the failure, and had warned officials that conditions weren’t right for the launch. When NASA ignored their warnings, the consequences were fatal. Listen to hear more from a NASA engineer’s perspective on this tragic event.