Current Event February 22, 2018
Traveling in space for months at a time may be possible soon. Packing all of the food and water needed would take a lot of space and fuel. American crews on the International Space Station already recycle their own sweat and urine, and now scientists are finding ways to recycle other waste products including feces. Bacteria helps to break down human waste and at the end of the process make it into food that can supplement an astronaut’s diet. Listen to hear more about the next steps in making recycling poop in space a reality.
Current Event December 20, 2016
The first American to orbit the Earth, John Glenn, also had a political career as a U.S. senator. After his historic space flight, he served in Congress for 24 years. At the end of his political career, at the age of 77, he went back into space and became the oldest person to fly in space on the shuttle Discovery. Listen to hear more about the extraordinary life of John Glenn.
Current Event December 7, 2016
Dark matter is invisible and barely interacts with anything else. Finding dark matter and proving it exists is a difficult task. There are a few theories about what dark matter is but no one has found a way to detect it. It could be that the universe is mostly invisible. Listen to hear more about dark matter and what it can tell us.
Current Event November 2, 2016
Astronomers have noticed blobs of eerie light glowing in outer space and have been puzzled by them since their discovery. Astronomers were studying galaxies in the distant universe, when they noticed strange glowing clouds of gas that were 10 times the diameter of the Milky Way. They have been looking into the source of light coming from the blobs and have recently made an interesting discovery that reveals why the blobs produce a glow.
Current Event August 31, 2016
Scientists have discovered evidence of gravitational waves, which show ripples in space and time. A new machine has made it possible for scientists to observe space in a whole new way. Recently, the machine picked up vibrations from the collision of two black holes. The discovery comes a few months after the very first detection of gravitational waves. With these tools, scientists can look at the universe in a new way. In this story you will hear the signal from the black holes converted from gravitational waves to soundwave.
Current Event August 17, 2016
NASA is preparing to launch a spacecraft that will measure and report space weather and provide live images of Earth. The idea to provide Earth’s images for the public to view started with former Vice President, Al Gore, in 1992. He believed everyone should be able to view and study the earth. The satellite’s ability to measure space weather will help prevent against damaging effects on earth from things like solar storms that can damage electric power grids. After more than a decade, Gore’s vision is becoming a reality. Listen to hear more about this new satellite.
Current Event May 26, 2016
Scientists recently made an exciting discovery. They spotted three, earth-sized planets beyond our solar system. Though scientists have found many planets in the past, these particular ones are special because they may potentially support life. They each orbit a reddish “dwarf star” that is smaller than our sun and much cooler. Scientists used to ignore these dwarf stars, but now we know that such stars can produce planets worth studying. Scientists will continue to analyze these planets to find out more about their atmospheres and properties. Listen to hear more about these three newly-discovered worlds.
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.
Science Middle School
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.
Science Middle School
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.
Science Middle School
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.