Topic: Space Systems

Current Event April 15, 2021

Young Cancer Survivor Heads into Space

Space Systems SEL Transportation DEI

A former cancer patient at St. Jude Research Children’s Hospital is scheduled to become the first person in space with an artificial limb. Hayley Arceneaux lost her leg to cancer when she was 10. Now she’s a physician’s assistant heading into orbit with SpaceX’s Inspiration4 mission, a project that is raising money for St. Jude. Listen to a pioneering young astronaut describe how she first heard about the mission and what most excites her about the upcoming trip.

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Current Event April 4, 2021

Weird News: Space Perfume

Culture Space Systems

Listen to hear about a perfume that smells like space.

Vocabulary: campaign, fragrance

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Current Event March 24, 2021

Trading Onions for Oranges on the Space Station

Economics Space Systems Trade

The International Space Station is a large spacecraft and science lab orbiting Earth. The astronauts who live and work there temporarily sometimes miss the foods and other conveniences they enjoyed at home, but there is nowhere to buy them. Instead, they often trade, or barter, with fellow astronauts for the things they want. With astronauts from different countries with various skills and preferences, there are plenty of opportunities to trade. Listen to hear about a lively barter economy in space, and learn what the astronauts all agree should never be traded.

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Current Event March 1, 2021

Perseverance Rover Lands on Mars

Technology Engineering Space Systems Space Astronomy

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.

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Current Event December 16, 2020

Water on the Moon

Space Systems

Robots sent into space have discovered water in a sunny spot on the moon. The finding has surprised scientists who, until now, only knew about moon water buried in dark corners, away from the sun. The discovery has raised many questions, including how the water might be used by future visitors to the moon. Listen to learn more about an exciting new space discovery and how it could change future moon missions.

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Current Event July 20, 2020

View of Earth from the International Space Station

Space Systems Transportation Industry

Crew Dragon, a space capsule launched by the private company SpaceX, recently transported two American astronauts to the International Space Station. In this audio story, the astronauts reflect on their experiences in space and what it feels like to view Earth in the midst of a pandemic. Listen to hear the space travelers describe how space travel today is different from 50 years ago and explain why future space travel could be similar to scuba diving.

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High School Astronomer Uses Math to Find Planets

Environment Space Systems Mathematics Forces and Newton’s Laws

There is no minimum age for scientific discovery. Young scientists ask questions about topics that have puzzled humans for hundreds of years. This audio story introduces a high school senior who uses math to help astronomers search for undiscovered planets. Listen to hear more about this project and other amazing work done by Ana Humphrey.

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Current Event June 8, 2020

SpaceX Launches Crew Dragon

Space Systems Industry

On May 30th 2020, the Falcon 9 rocket launched two American astronauts into orbit on a mission to the International Space Station aboard SpaceX Crew Dragon, a space capsule developed by a private space transportation company. The historic event marked the first time NASA, the U.S. government’s federal space agency, has partnered with private industry on a project to send Americans into space. Listen to learn how past presidents contributed to the development of the unique program, and hear the SpaceX founder's reactions after the long-awaited launch.

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Current Event May 6, 2020

Returning to a Different Earth from Space

Space Systems

An American astronaut is returning home to a very different Earth than the one she left seven months ago. Jessica Meir was living on the International Space Station, an orbiting science lab, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. In preparing to head home, she considered the many changes she expected to find when she arrived, including restricted access to family and friends. Listen to hear Meir describe daily life on the space station and what she was most excited about doing when returning to Earth.

Update: Since this story aired, Jessica Meir returned safely to Earth and immediately entered a weeklong quarantine at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

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Current Event March 24, 2020

What's Next for the Space Program

Earth and Space Science Space Systems Astronomy

The U.S. space program has big plans for 2020. Two private companies are preparing to send astronauts into space, which has not been done since 2011. A rover mission to Mars is planned, this time with a special instrument to pull oxygen from the Martian atmosphere. And hundreds of small satellites will be launched into orbit, providing global internet coverage. Listen to learn more about the space program’s ambitious goals and the challenges it faces.

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Current Event February 24, 2020

Weird News: Space Cookies

Earth and Space Science Space Systems

Listen to hear about a batch of chocolate-chip cookies sent from outer space.

Vocabulary: cargo, capsule, orbit, experiment

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Current Event August 30, 2019

Debate: Should We Send Astronauts to the Moon Again?

Politics Technology Space Systems biology Transportation Industry Learning Astronomy Air Pollution 21st Century

It’s been 50 years since man first walked on the moon. Now, decades later, NASA is working on sending a manned spacecraft back to the moon. This time, however, the trip to the moon is part of a larger plan: getting man to Mars. However, NASA will need bipartisan political support to make their goals a reality, and some have dismissed this mission as unnecessary. Listen to learn how and why NASA plans to send astronauts to the moon and beyond and then debate: Should we send astronauts to the moon again?

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Current Event August 5, 2019

Moon Landing Anniversary

Technology Space Systems Transportation Astronomy

It has been 50 years since the first moon landing. Astronaut Michael Collins orbited the moon while his more well-known colleagues Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin first walked on its surface. As someone who was just 15 miles away from this world-famous event, Collins offers a unique perspective on the moon landing. Listen to learn about his experience and hear why he believes humans should continue traveling into space today.

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Current Event July 24, 2019

Star Gazing Parties

Technology Environment Space Systems Human Impacts Astronomy Light

Far from the bright lights of cities and suburbs, amateur astronomers gather to stargaze in the dark at events known as “star parties.” Stargazers enjoy sharing the experience with others who are passionate about dark skies and the faraway places they make visible. Listen to hear about what happens at star parties and what amateur astronomers are viewing in the dark night sky.

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Current Event July 3, 2019

College Rocket Scientists

Technology Earth and Space Science Space Systems Energy Transportation Industry Motion

A group of college students recently came together to attempt an extremely challenging task: launching a rocket into space. Large companies and universities invest a lot of time, money, and resources to launch a rocket, but these ambitious students were determined to do their best with much less. Listen to find out how the idea was hatched, what happened at their first launch, and what they hope other students might learn from them.

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Current Event May 21, 2019

Earth Calling Space

Engineering Space Systems Space Transportation Tech Mathematics Motion

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.

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Current Event March 13, 2019

Earth's Greatest Threats

Earth and Space Science Space Systems Human Impacts Astronomy

An astronomy writer has written a new book about “hazards to life in our universe,” in which he describes exploding stars, nuclear meltdowns, viral epidemics, natural disasters, and other phenomena with potentially cataclysmic impact on earth. Listen to this interview with the book’s author to hear what he learned from his research about past, present, and future threats to life on earth.

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Current Event January 16, 2019

NASA Reaches New Horizons

Technology Earth and Space Science Space Systems Astronomy

On New Year’s Day, a NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) spacecraft made history by encountering the most distant object ever visited, over 4 billion miles away. The piano-sized spacecraft has already transmitted images of an icy rock known as Ultima Thule, which scientists believe to be a pristine vestige of the early days of our solar system. Listen to this interview with a planetary scientist to learn why this event is so exciting and how the mission may further our understanding of our solar system’s origins.

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Current Event December 12, 2018

NASA Probe Lands on Mars

Technology Engineering Space Systems Space Astronomy

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.

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Current Event November 1, 2018

NASA Sends Probe Close to the Sun

Earth and Space Science Space Systems

NASA recently sent a probe into space aiming to get closer to the sun than ever before. The spacecraft is the first ever NASA has named after a living person. The Parker Solar Probe is named after solar science rock star Eugene Parker, who is a legend in the field. Listen to hear about Parker’s breakthrough discoveries that earned him fame, as well as what mystery he and other scientists are hoping the new probe will help them solve.

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