May 3, 2014 12:15 pm

This Sunday, Dr. Amy Mainzer and Chuck Nice “Rock” StarTalk Radio

Photo of Chuck Nice and Dr. Amy Mainzer from StarTalk Radio, by Laura Berland.

Comic co-host Chuck Nice makes guest host Dr. Amy Mainzer feel right at home on StarTalk Radio. Credit: Laura Berland.

This week, StarTalk Radio welcomes Dr. Amy Mainzer to the ranks of “Science All-Stars” who are courageously filling in for host Neil deGrasse Tyson on those occasions when he’s been off working on the new COSMOS series on FOX.

As an astrophysicist who works at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Amy is the ideal guide to take us on a tour of the giant chunks of rock and ice whizzing around our solar system. Admittedly, her Carl Sagan impression needs some work, but who better to answer your Cosmic Queries about the Kuiper Belt, the Oort Cloud, the Asteroid Belt, and the comets and asteroids they can send hurtling towards our Sun at 20-30 kps (40,000 mph!) than an asteroid expert who has worked as both Principal Investigator on the Spitzer Space Telescope and currently is the Deputy Project Scientist on the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE).

You’ll learn plenty about these small Solar System bodies – their similarities, their differences, their origins, and the dangers they represent. Amy talks about our efforts to learn more about them, including NEAR, New Horizons, the Rosetta mission to land a probe on a comet and ride along with it, and the Deep Impact mission where we crashed a probe into a comet in 2005. She discusses the discovery of the first known “Earth Trojan” – an asteroid discovered by WISE that is trapped in a gravitational resonance with Earth, following us in our orbit around the Sun.

Amy settles right in, joining the ranks of Dr. David Grinspoon, Mike Massimino and Bill Nye as StarTalk Radio Guest Hosts. And that is in no small part to the efforts of comic co-host Chuck Nice to make Amy feel right at home. In fact, all of our comic co-hosts have really stepped up to the plate with our guest hosts. Just listen to Leighann Lord with Dr. Funkyspoon and you’ll see what I mean. And Eugene Mirman has done more than just co-host an episode with Bill Nye – the two have been bringing the StarTalk Live! Roadshow to the furthest reaches of our nation: San Francisco, Austin, and this Sunday night at 6 PM, Boston. (Tickets still available – click here.)

So, if you’re not going to be in Boston this Sunday, tune in to hear Amy and Chuck “rock” StarTalk Radio as they answer your Cosmic Queries: Comets and Asteroids on our website and on iTunes, SoundCloud, Stitcher and more this Sunday, May 4at 7:00 PM ET.

That’s it for now. Keep Looking Up!

–Jeffrey Simons