Episode 165: Landing on Europa, with Cynthia Phillips

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Feature Guest: Cynthia Phillips

In the 1970s, the Viking landers performed historic experiments aimed at detecting life in the Martian soil. The results were disappointing although to this day still not entirely conclusive. Now over 40 years later a new lander with a next generation set of life detection equipment is under assessment by NASA. This time the target is not the Red Planet, but the ocean moon Europa, which has emerged as a prime candidate in the search for life in the solar system. Today we’re joined here at The Star Spot by Cynthia Phillips, Deputy Project Scientist for the Europa Lander mission concept, who tantalizes us with dreams of flying through plumes and digging into an icy crust.


Current in Space

Tony goes into speculation mode and ponders the chances that interstellar interlopers, like the recent Oumuamua, could actually carry life and deposit it on planets, perhaps even Earth. Then Samantha debuts with a report on a new gravitational wave event, one which may be the result of a type of binary system merger we’ve been hoping for. Simon troubles us with the disturbing discovery of holes in the Milky Way that were punched by . . . something. And Amelia and Samantha talk the dazzling first-ever discovery of the so-called first-ever molecule in space.

The Star Spot is now on the Radio!

Star Spot podcast is now The Star Spot podcast and radio show. That’s right. Your favourite astronomy program is now travelling through space, specifically the 1280AM frequency. Our broadcaster, CJRU The Scope at Ryerson, is now available on the radio dial, which means you can join us at The Star Spot at 1280AM every Sunday 8PM and Tuesday 6PM Eastern Time. Visit http://www.thescopeatryerson.ca/ to learn more about our partner radio station.

About Our Guest

Dr. Cynthia Phillips is a Planetary Geologist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where she works on the Europa Clipper mission and the Europa Lander mission concept. She received her B.A. in astronomy, astrophysics, and physics at Harvard University, and earned her Ph.D. in planetary science, with a minor in geosciences, from the University of Arizona. Dr. Phillips is the co-author of several books, including The Everything Astronomy Book and Space Exploration for Dummies.

50th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference 2019 (LPI Contrib. No. 2132)
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