The Spectacular York Universe 150th Episode Extravaganza: April 23, 2013

Show Notes: April 23th, 2013 UTC

Title: The Spectacular York Universe 150th Episode Extravaganza
Time: Starting 8 pm EDT (12 AM UT) – Ending 10 pm EDT (2 am UT)
Hosts: Paul, Ryan, Jesse, Lianne, Ted, Harrison, Sophia, Rob, John, and George

This episode was broadcast live via webcam to our Online Public Viewing (OPV) chatroom!

York Universe (originally named ‘Live from YorkU’) has been on the air for 3 years and counting. A multitude of hosts have been through our camp, and all of them have helped shape York Universe into the wonderful product that you hear today. Today we celebrate our 150th episode. A large milestone, and one we thought worth marking with a special show! We’ve invited back past hosts, organized a fun trivia challenge (for hosts AND listeners), and designed some debate discussion. To accommodate all the additional content we also broadcast a full 2 hour program (instead of our usual 1 hour).
Thank you to all our hosts and volunteers, thank you to, and thank you very much to all our listeners without whom our show wouldn’t exist!

See below for the show notes and the podcast.

This week in Astronomy/Space History

1. April 23, 1962: The United States launched Ranger 4, a Lunar Hard Lander. Ranger 4 was a spacecraft that was intended to take images of the surface of the Moon during a 10 minute flight and transmit them to Earth, after which it would crash into the Moon and leave a “seismometer capsule” behind. Ranger 4 was also to collect gamma-ray data during flight as well as study the radar reflectivity or the surface of the Moon. However, the spacecraft failed to deploy its solar panels and navigation systems due to a computer failure, and it crashed into the far side of the Moon on April 26, 1962, after 64 hours of flight, and no data was returned.

2. April 21-23, 1972: The Apollo 16 Manned Lunar Lander left the Moon on April 23, 1972. The entire mission ran April 16-27, 1972, crewed by John W. Young, Charles M. Duke, Jr., Thomas K. Mattingly II. Young and Duke landed on April 21, 1972, at the Descartes crater located at latitude 9°00′ N and longitude 15°31′ E. They deployed instruments, drove the lunar rover, and collected 94.7 kilograms of samples during a 71-hour surface stay

3. 25 April 1990: The Space Shuttle Discovery (STS-31) carried the Hubble Space Telescope to orbit on the 25th of April 1990. HST forever changed the landscape of astrophysics research, as well as provided fantastic images for public outreach.

3. Happy Earth Day! Earth day is a day that is meant to raise awareness and appreciation for the environment and the issues that pose a threat to the Earth, including the destruction of the environment and endangered species. It is also to appreciate the beauty of the Earth and its wildlife. Indeed, the beauty of the Earth can be appreciated from space as well, as our pale blue dot is the only planet that looks blue and green with beautiful white cloud cover from space! April 22nd was designated a national day by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson in 1970. Today, over 192 countries across the world celebrate Earth day. Happy Earth Day!

Listener Trivia

For the 150th episode, we posed two questions to our OPV chatroom. In the chatroom we set up a poll and allowed all those present to vote. The first question was posed at the beginning of the show, the second closer to the middle of the show.

1. What do you think Dark Matter will turn out to be?

b) WIMPs
c) Modified Newtonian gravity
d) Axions

Result: For this question, the visitors in the chatroom mostly agreed that WIMPs will most likely be what Dark Matter turns out to be.

2. What do you think will be the next big exoplanet surprise?

a) a 20+ Planet system
b) A backwards system, gas giants close to the star, rocky planets far
c) Earth like planets are common
d) Almost all stars have planets

Result: The chatroom poll ended in a split decision between a 20+ planet system, and that Earth-like planets are common.

Stump the Host Trivia

Another new segment for the 150th extravaganza, we introduced host trivia. Here we pitted host against host in a round of trivia questions. We were not allowed to use the internet or let visitors in the chatroom tell us the answer. Check out the podcast to see who won!

Analyst’s Journal

Analyst’s journal was born from the of mind of Dr. John Moores (aka ‘Dr. John’, of ‘Western Worlds’ fame out of the University of Western Ontario). Analyst’s journal was designed to complement York Universe, which mainly astronomy/astrophysics/space science research that has reached the press. However, there is a lot of science that happens behind the scenes; this research is impactful to the community, but not worthy of news. Analyst’s journal is meant to shed some light on the less newsworthy science, through the eyes of the YorkUniverse hosts.

On today’s Analyst’s Journal Dr. John and Jesse are joined by George Conidis, a graduate student here at York University. George did his undergrad at the University of Toronto, where he worked at the David Dunlop Observatory in Richmond Hill studying variable stars. Now George is working at York University under Dr. Marshall McCall, switching his research focus to large scale structure in the universe. This was the second episode of The Analyst’s Journal, please let us know what you think via email/fb/twitter. Would you like to hear more of this semi-recurring segment?

The Discussion Panel

We’re next going to be introducing a new topic! Usually the format of York Universe is to have an open discussion about science topics we find interesting. Bring up a topic, talk about the science and it’s implications, and we don’t form an opinion either way.  But when new topics in science arise sometimes there is a lot of controversy (i.e., Is Pluto a Planet?).   In this section we want to mock that style of debate. Force our hosts to form opinions on very controversial topics in astronomy right now.  As such we’re addressing two important topics that have been circling the news lately: the new NASA budget and Life in the universe.

If you have any questions during our discussion, or your own point of view, please tweet us, comment on facebook, email us, or  join the discussion in the OPV chatroom.

Discussion Panel #1

Topic: The proposed 2014 NASA budget

The White House released its proposed budget for NASA on Wednesday, April 10, 2013. In total, NASA is expected to receive $17.7 billion for 2014, which is $55 million less than last year. One of the biggest waves made with this proposed budget was the allocation of $100 million for the research and development of an asteroid retrieval mission. Planetary science received a $300 million cut, and education moneys dropped by 33%. What about manned space flight? James Webb Space Telescope? What should NASA be prioritizing?

In this first discussion panel of the night, we discuss the pros/cons of the new proposed budget and indicate where we think the money should be going. Below are some of the references we used. If you have any questions/comments about the discussion, please feel free to drop us a line!

Links and References:

Phil Plait (Bad Astronomy) on NASA budget
NASA – budget proposal – Highlights of NASA budget
Universe Today – ‘touch choices’

Discussion Panel #2

Topic: Life in the Universe

Our second discussion panel for this evening will be regarding life in the universe. Where do we expect to find it? What does the future hold for our search for alien life? What type of life do we expect to find?

Within our solar system we often look to Mars. Since we only know of one place in the universe where life can form, why not check the nearest neighbour? Mars once had flowing water, and with recent discoveries by the Curiosity rover, we know Mars was once conducive to life. So will we find evidence of ancient life close to home?

The Jovian moon Europa is a promising place for our search. With a deep water ocean hidden under 2 km of ice, it could be host to unique forms of life. However, It could also be just a lifeless waterworld. Will we find something swimming in Europa?

In 2005 the 1.3 metre Huygens probe dropped through the thick atmosphere on the largest saturnian moon of Titan, snapping pictures and revealing lakes and rivers of hydrocarbons. Could life exist on Titan? If so, how would it differ from life on Earth?

As for beyond the solar system, we can look to one of the 100 billion+ potential planets in the milky way alone, however we are lacking in the technology to determine what is on the surface. Once the technology improves, will we find life in abundance?

So to get us rolling, will we find life in the solar system and beyond? will it turn up soon?

Links and References:

Kepler finds new earth like planets
Keck Observatory – spectrum of exoplanet atmosphere
Keck Observatory – Europa with possible energy source for life
Mars Curiosity – Environment once suitable for life


1. Orbital Sciences launches the Antares rocket: The launch occurred on April 21, 2013 out of Wallops, Virginia. – NASA

2. Latest Exoplanets: Exoplanets were in the news again as the Kepler Space Telescope has found 3 new ‘earth-size’ planets

Here is an awesome graphic of the sizes and star-planet distance of all Kepler-found exoplanets:

Where In The Universe?

New segment! Each week we’ll post one image of somewhere in the universe. It could be the surface of a planet, a nebula, a galaxy! You’re job is to tell us where it is! You can submit your answers via Twitter, Facebook, email, or comment on the website. This weeks image can be found here:

Thanks for listening!

-YorkUniverse Team


YorkUniverse is a co-production of Astronomy.FM and the York University Astronomical Observatory. For more information on us, check out the following links:
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