Astronomy

courtesy of Amy Mayer/IPR

Some astronomers and enthusiasts have been waiting years for today’s solar eclipse.  Almost all of Iowa experienced a partial eclipse, and the path of the total eclipse was further south and west. There is a small portion, a few hundred acres, of extreme southeast Iowa in that path.  

Iowa State University Professor of Astrophysics Steve Kawaler joins the conversation to talk about the eclipse. He describes the experience of a total eclipse.

During the Aug. 21 solar eclipse, spectators will turn their eyes upward to see the moon pass in front of the sun.

But many Midwest scientists will turn their eyes and cameras to the plants and animals here on the ground. And they're not sure what will happen.

NASA / JPL / Space Science Institute

The space probe Cassini has been exploring Saturn since 2004.  One of the instruments on the two story tall spacecraft is from the University of Iowa called the Radio Plasma and Wave Science (RPWS) instrument.  It picks up Saturn’s radio waves.

 

University of Iowa scientist Bill Kurth takes telemetry from the RPWS and converts it to audio files in the human hearing range.  It’s a mix of ascending tones.  Some have a squealing quality.

Emily Woodbury

This broadcast originally aired in June 2015.

Humans have now had access to the sky for more than a century thanks to engineering and ingenuity, but the evolution of the human brain has not kept up with its creations.

Niall Kennedy / Flickr

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, with an Iowa-made instrument aboard, is near the end of its 20 year voyage.

On this edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with Bill Kurth, research scientist in the department of physics and astronomy at the University of Iowa, about the significance of the Cassini mission and spacecraft, currently in orbit around Saturn.

"Cassini is kind of a veteran. It arrived in orbit at Saturn in 2004, in the summer. That was about a seven year journey from the Earth," he says. "So we've been in orbit for almost 13 years."

Jet Propulsion Laboratory of the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration / Wikimedia Commons

A space probe carrying an instrument from the University of Iowa goes into orbit around Jupiter Monday, July 4.  The NASA probe “Juno” was launched in 2011 on a mission to learn more about the solar system’s largest planet. 

Bill Kurth is a research scientist at the University of Iowa, and the lead investigator of the Waves instrument.  He says it will examine radio and plasma waves around Jupiter, to understand how the planet’s auroras are formed. 

NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center

This week, NASA announced that the Kepler spacecraft mission has discovered 1,284 more planets in addition to what it's already discovered. This brings Kepler's total to more than 2,000 planets discovered in a narrow patch of the sky that's "about the size of your fist, if you hold your fist up to the sky," says Iowa State University astronomer Steve Kawaler.

NASA

On Christmas Eve 1968, nine-year-old Clayton Anderson watched on television as Apollo 8 traveled to the far side of the moon. That night, his dreams of being an astronaut were born.

"I was enamored. I was just transfixed by what was happening," he says.

Anderson realized his dream. He's a veteran of two space flights and spent five months aboard the international space station in 2007. He's written about his life in space and on Earth in the new book, The Ordinary Spaceman: From Boyhood Dreams to Astronaut.

Werner Benger / NASA Blueshift - Flickr

Last week a team of scientists at LIGO, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, announced they successfully recorded gravitational waves resulting from two black holes merging into one. The existence of these waves, otherwise known as ripples in the fabric of space-time, were first proposed by Albert Einstein in 1916.

Phil Kaaret, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Iowa, says that this discovery “opens a new way of looking at the universe,” and that “it’s just beginning of discovery.”

NASA/JPL-Caltech

Mars has been receiving a lot of attention recently. In the new Ridley Scott movie, The Martian, a NASA botanist is stranded on Mars and has to rely on his own ingenuity to survive. In real life, scientists have discovered evidence of present day water on the red planet.

On this edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer sits down with astrophysicists, Steve Kawaler of Iowa State University and Jasper Halekas of the University of Iowa, along with retired NASA astronaut, Clayton Anderson, to discuss the accuracy and impact of films like The Martian.

Flickr / dawgfanjeff

People near Iowa City planning to watch tonight’s super-lunar eclipse, are invited to the roof of Van Allen Hall at the University of Iowa. A group of UI astronomers is holding a public viewing of the phenomena which occurs once perhaps only two or three decades.

NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center / Flickr

After nine years of travel, the space probe New Horizons finally flew by its target this Tuesday. Jasper Halekas, associate professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Iowa, worked on a similar project, MAVEN, that focused on Mars. He says the New Horizons mission is historic.

European Southern Observatory / Flickr

The Kepler mission has found thousands of potentially habitable planets. But how can we truly know if they sustain life?

NASA / NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center

The Kepler mission may have lost two of its wheels, but data being mined from the mission has unearthed eight potentially habitable planets.

Miroslav Petrasko

An inky black sky full of stars is one of the most breathtaking views on Earth, but for most Americans the stars have dimmed because of artificial light.

NASA/SDO/AIA

NASA just released news that back in 2012, the Earth came very close to being hit by a solar flare – an event that could have wiped out electrical power for tens of millions of people.

Asteroids, galaxies, aliens, and space travel...we cover it all on this edition of River to River. Renowned astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson, joins us to weigh in on all things cosmic.

AP

Iowans can join others across North America to view an astronomical phenomenon very early Tuesday morning.  Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Iowa Steven Spangler says a total lunar eclipse will begin at one am and last for about an hour and half…

Daniel R. Blume / http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode

On this News Buzz edition of the program, hear about a legislative shouting match, legalizing fireworks, the ACLU lawsuit against the Iowa Secretary of State, a survey of Iowans' thoughts on gay marriage, the Kepler mission, and a push to increase studying abroad.

Legislative shouting match and and other legislative fireworks:

ACLU lawsuit:

Same-sex marriage opinions:

Finding exoplanets:

Studying abroad:

Hubble Heritage

Today we bring you four stories. First, the Iowa legislative session kicks off this week. IPR's Joyce Russell brings us inside the statehouse to give us an idea of what will and won't be worked on this year.

An otherwise healthy young boy died from the influenza virus. Patricia Quinlisk talks to host Ben Kieffer about why this flu season is different than previous years and how to limit spread of the virus.

Daniel Huber/NASA's Ames Research Center

Today on River To River, host Ben Kieffer checks in with an astronomer here in Iowa, who has found something new while observing a solar system about 3,000 light years from Earth… A discovery that gives us insight on how alien solar systems are structured.

And, we look into the discovery of a 1.8-million-year-old human skull in Europe that has ignited debate on the origins of distinct species of ancient human relatives.

NASA's Juno spacecraft passed within about 350 miles of Earth's surface this week, before slingshotting off into space on a historic exploration of Jupiter.

On this news buzz version of River to River, hear from a University of Iowa research engineer about Juno, and from the president of the University of Iowa Amateur Radio Club about why they waved to Juno electronically, as it whizzed by.

That, and many other items in our news worth buzzing about.

NASA Blueshift / flickr

It’s taken more than three decades for NASA’s Voyager 1 to travel about 11 billion miles to reach the outskirts of our solar system and continue on into interstellar space. Today on River to River, we hear from research scientist, Bill Kurth, about his work on some of the spacecraft’s equipment that was built and operated by the University of Iowa.

Mojave Desert / flickr

For this News Buzz version of 'River to River' we hear about legally blind Iowans and gun permits, astronaut Clayton Anderson will join the Iowa State University faculty, the Cyclone/Hawkeye game is tomorrow, and hear about superstitions on this Friday the thirteenth.

Facebook / Rockwell Collins

Many Iowans work for two companies in recent business headlines. In a nearly 1.4 billion dollar deal, Cedar Rapids-based Rockwell Collins announced it was buying communication system company Airinc. Rockwell Collins CEO, Kelly Ortberg, calls it the biggest deal the company has undertaken.

And the latest quarter of John Deere earnings beat analyst projections. IPR's Clay Masters talks with Sarah McCammon, who's on assignment for Marketplace this summer, about the two news-making companies. They also discuss the state's corn crop and how it compares to the cornbelt as a whole.

Durrie Bouscaren / Iowa Public Radio

It has been five years since the floods of 2008. Now, a week after another round of flooding in Eastern Iowa, IPR’s Durrie Bouscaren looks at how many Iowans are adapting to changing times.

More than a thousand runners participated in “Run the Flood,” an annual race through Cedar Rapids to commemorate the anniversary of a flood that would change the landscape of many Iowa cities and towns. Carmen Covington says she participates every year.

“It was shocking,” Covington said. “It was sad to see everything I had known my entire life to be destroyed under so much water,”

Asteroids, galaxies, aliens, and space travel...we cover it all on this edition of River to River. Renowned astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson, joins us to weigh in on all things cosmic.

He will be in Iowa on Monday, April 15, for a lecture at the Iowa Memorial Union in Iowa City. The lecture begins at 7:30 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

Flickr / NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center

Science Friday Host Ira Flatow discusses the art of science journalism.  Flatow will be in Des Moines next week as part of Iowa Public Radio's Insight Series

Also, astrophysicist Philip Kaaret from the University of Iowa and Iowa State University astronomer Steven Kawaler explain dark matter.

NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech

We now have evidence of hundreds of planets orbiting other stars – and that’s just in our little corner of the Milky Way. But are any of these planets Earth-like? Could they be …habitable?

Today on River to River, a conversation with astrophysicist Steve Kawaler of ISU.  He’s working with NASA’s Kepler Mission. We’ll talk about the mission’s amazing discoveries.

The End of the World

Feb 14, 2013
Emily Lakdawalla, Planetary Society Blogger / flickr

How will the world end and what can we do to prevent it? "River to River" talks with Paul Wapner, an expert in global environmental politics about the human suffering extreme climate change continues to cause.

Also University of Iowa astrophysicist Steve Spangler joins us to discuss the asteroid that will be whizzing by Earth—at a distance a bit too close for comfort—on Friday.  We’ll ask Spangler about the possibility of a massive asteroid destroying our planet in the near future.

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