Photo showing Pluto's heart, in natural color, by NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute.
Photo showing Pluto's heart, in natural color, by NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute.

New Horizons, with David Grinspoon and Alan Stern

Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute.

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About This Episode

“On July 14, 2015, something amazing happened.” And now we get to hear the whole story. On this episode of StarTalk All-Stars, astrobiologist and host Dr. David Grinspoon, a.k.a. Dr. FunkySpoon, comic co-host Chuck Nice, and Dr. Alan Stern, principle investigator of the New Horizons mission, take a deep dive into New Horizons’ journey to our favorite dwarf planet. In celebration of David and Alan’s new book, Chasing New Horizons: Inside the Epic First Mission to Pluto, our trio gives us a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to go from dream project to launch to flyby. To start, you’ll learn about Clyde Tombaugh, the discoverer of Pluto, and his special connection to the New Horizons mission. You’ll hear about some of the geeky mechanics Alan and his team had to invent to give the mission a greenlight – like spacecraft hibernation. You’ll also hear how they accomplished this mission with one-fifth the budget of the Voyager mission. Go inside mission control during launch and flyby as David and Alan describe what it was like to be in the room when it happened. Discover some of the quirky superstitions and rituals that were/are used by engineers, team members, and others. Find out why this mission was a race against time to launch – and a race to get to Pluto before it changed drastically. Lastly, we take some fan-submitted Cosmic Queries about the data we got back from Pluto, what tools Alan would put on New Horizons if he could have a re-launch, and if there are any other planets lurking in the shadows of our solar system waiting to be discovered.  

NOTE: All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free here: New Horizons, with David Grinspoon and Alan Stern.

In This Episode

  • Host

    David Grinspoon

    David Grinspoon
    aka Dr. FunkySpoon, Astrobiologist; Senior Scientist, Planetary Science Institute
  • Co-Host

    Chuck Nice

    Chuck Nice
    Comedian
  • Guest

    Alan Stern

    Dr. Alan Stern
    Principal Investigator, New Horizons mission; Planetary Scientist, Southwest Research Institute

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