November 25, 2015 8:08 pm

This Friday, Take a Tour of the Solar System with Neil deGrasse Tyson and Company

Photo of Uranus and rings. Credit: W. M. Keck Observatory (Marcos van Dam).

Keck II composite image of Uranus. Credit: W. M. Keck Observatory (Marcos van Dam).

It would be reasonable to assume that Dr. Steven W. Squyres, Ph.D., the Principal Investigator for the Mars Curiosity Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, would be a fan of robotic exploration.

Which is what makes what he told Neil deGrasse Tyson in this week’s podcast so surprising:

“I have spent the last 20 years of my life trying to design and operate robots that can replicate what a human might be able to do on the Martian surface. What our Rovers do in a day, you and I could do in about 30 seconds…Humans have a capability to synthesize information, to digest it, to figure out the next thing to do and to improvise. Robots can’t improvise the way humans can…The other reason I would send humans is that humans have a capability to inspire that robots simply lack. Someone once famously said ‘No one’s ever going to give a robot a ticker tape parade.’”

That’s just one of the interesting things you’ll learn in this Friday’s podcast, the Extended Classic version of an excellent episode from way back in our second season, Tour of the Solar System.

Here’s another:

Dr. Heidi B. Hammel, Ph.D., Senior Research Scientist at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado, tells Neil, “We rely on the amateur community to feed us information about things like impacts on Jupiter.” In fact, she continues, it was an amateur who spotted the 2012 comet impact on Jupiter.

Pretty surprising coming from an astronomer who gets to play with the Hubble Space Telescope and the Keck, among others, and is an Interdisciplinary Scientist for the James Webb Space Telescope.

If you’ve never heard this episode, which is more than likely, this is your chance to find out why Neil wants to go to Saturn’s moon, Titan, why “Jupiter is there to take one on the chin for us,” why some people think our Sun is yellow when it’s actually white, and what the Sun’s official classification is and what it means.

Throw in Neptune, Uranus, Jupiter, Venus, Mars, Io, Europa, Enceladus, and even Pluto, and you’re in for a heck of a trip. We’ve even added 10 minutes of new Cosmic Queries with Bill Nye and Chuck Nice in this Extended Classic.

So please join Neil, Chuck, Bill, Steve and Heidi for Extended Classic: Tour of the Solar System this Friday, November 27 at 7:00pm ET on our website, or on iTunesPodcasts, SoundCloud, Stitcher and TuneIn.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving.

That’s it for now. Keep Looking Up!
–Jeffrey Simons