Artist’s concept showing the Psyche mission spacecraft. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Arizona State Univ./Space Systems Loral/Peter Rubin.
Artist’s concept showing the Psyche mission spacecraft. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Arizona State Univ./Space Systems Loral/Peter Rubin.

Comets, Asteroids, and the Psyche Mission, with Natalie Starkey

Artist’s concept showing the Psyche mission spacecraft. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Arizona State Univ./Space Systems Loral/Peter Rubin.

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About This Episode

Do comets and asteroids hold the secrets to our universe? Can we decipher the early universe and our own origins by studying these celestial objects that inhabit our solar system? On this new episode of StarTalk All-Stars, host and cosmochemist Natalie Starkey is joined by first time comic co-host Mo Welch and David Oh, the Psyche mission architect and JPL Project Systems Engineer to explore asteroids, comets, and more. As a refresher, an asteroid is usually made of metal and rocky material and a comet is usually made of ice, dust, and rocky material. Find out how comets and asteroids form and how studying them can help us understand our own planet. You’ll gain insight on the Psyche mission – a journey to an asteroid orbiting between Mars and Jupiter thought to be the exposed nickel-iron core of an early planet. David describes what he’s doing for the Psyche mission, why the Psyche is unique, and what the science goals are for the mission. Investigate the process of bringing samples back to Earth and the added difficulty it creates for missions. You’ll hear about other missions, including Japan’s Hayabusa2 mission and Natalie’s involvement in ESA’s Rosetta mission to comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. We then answer fan-submitted Cosmic Queries. Discover how we’re really preparing for asteroids that are set to collide with Earth (hint – it’s doesn’t involve Bruce Willis or Ben Affleck), what options we have to deal with an imminent collision, and what might happen if an asteroid were to hit the moon. Natalie explains the difficulties inherent in asteroid mining and where she sees the future of that industry going. You’ll also learn if all comets and asteroids in our solar system originated from within our solar system. All that, plus, Natalie and David give advice to young scientists, we discuss whether or not comets have any impact on weather and climate, and you’ll find out what Natalie’s favorite comet is to study and why!

NOTE: All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free here: Comets, Asteroids, and the Psyche Mission, with Natalie Starkey.

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