This episode is about the Cassini Mission to Saturn. We talk with Nora Kelly Alonge, a Project Science System Engineer and Science Planning Engineer at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. In the episode we cover the Cassini spacecraft’s structure and sensors (and its lander, Huygens), some of the relevant science, as well as the challenge of coordinating science and engineering requirements on the mission.
This is a conversation with Brian Toon about the NASA TC4 project. TC4 stands for “Tropical Composition, Cloud and Climate Coupling” and deals with the chemical, dynamic, and physical processes occurring in the tropical upper troposphere and tropopause transitional layer. In our conversation we cover some of the scientific goals of the project, the tools and technologies used (aircraft and satellites) as well as the general project organization. A later episode will cover the project from the perspective of an ER-2 pilot.
In this episode we talk with Duane “Digger” Carey about flying the US Space Shuttle. We cover all the major phases of a shuttle flight (countdown, launch, orbit insertion, on orbit, breaking, reentry and landing) and discuss the activities of the pilot and commander. We also cover briefly some of the Shuttle’s systems. We conclude the episode with a brief look at Shuttle pilot and commander training.
This episode is a conversation with NASA “space doctor” Jim Logan about space medicine and telemedicine. We start by defining the two concepts and how they relate. We then delve deeper into various specific medical issues in space (such as fluid shifts, bone mass loss and radiation). Next up is a discussion of the history of telemedicine and its relationship to space medicine, which leads us to looking astronauts can be treated for “normal” diseases from ground. We concluse the episode with an outlook on how telemedicine might develop in the future.
This is the third and final episode covering the interviews I did when I was visiting NASA Ames. It consits of two interviews. The first one is about Ames’ involvement in the Ares/Orion projects which are part of the Constellation moon/mars exploration programme. I talk about this with Dr. George Sarver. The second part of the episode covers small satellites and why they are becoming more and more important (compared to traditional, larger satellites). In this part, my guest is Elwood Agasid.
This episode is a conversation with Bimal Aponso (branch chief for the Aerospace Simulation Research and Development Branch) about the NASA Vertical Motion Simulator at Ames. The VMS is the world’s largest flight simulator, and provides unrivaled realism regarding the accelerations and “feeling of real flight” it can create.
In the episode we first talk about how the VMS works, and how it is different from other flight simulators. We then cover some of the use cases for VMS (research, astronaut training) and discuss a couple of past research projects where VMS has been used. Finally, we take a tour of the actual simulator, and I get to see the cabin for the cockpits of the Space Shuttle and the Altair Lunar Surface Access Module
This episode is a conversation with Dr. Carl Pilcher, the director of the NASA Astrobiology Insititute at NASA Ames Research Center. The conversation comes in two parts. Part one covers the conceptual basics of astrobiology and life: what is life, what are the preconditions for life to exist, how to recognize it, etc. Part two looks at the process of trying to find places in the universe that could host life, primarily astronomical observations and missions to other planets.