April 5, 2014 10:47 am

This Sunday, Explore Venus with Dr. FunkySpoon

Talking science at StarTalk Live: Astrobiologist Dr. David Grinspoon and Astrophysicist Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson. Photo Credit: ©Stacey Severn.

Talking science at StarTalk Live: Astrobiologist Dr. David Grinspoon and Astrophysicist Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson. Photo Credit: ©Stacey Severn.

Ask most people who Dr. FunkySpoon is and you’ll be met with blank stares.

But if you listen to StarTalk Radio, you’re probably as big a fan of David Grinspoon as we are.

We first got to know Dr. Grinspoon during one of our most popular StarTalk Live! shows ever back in September of 2012. Curiosity had landed on Mars just weeks before the StarTalk Live! crew descended on The Bell House in Brooklyn NY. On stage that night, in addition to host Neil deGrasse Tyson and co-host Eugene Mirman, were Sara Silverman and Jim Gaffigan, but the standout of the evening was that guy, pictured above in the funky hat.

That’s because, as one of the scientific investigators on the Mars Science Laboratory, a.k.a. the Mars Curiosity Rover, David was the perfect person to explain the challenges and opportunities inherent in the Curiosity mission. The first half of the show focused on Satisfying Our Curiosity about Mars. The second half of the show was all about Exploring Our Funky Solar System, and it turned out that, as an astrobiologist, planetary scientist and curator of Astrobiology at The Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Dr. Grinspoon made an expert guide to the rest of our solar system as well.

Since then, David has set his sights on a different neighboring planet of ours: Venus. He’s now serving as an Interdisciplinary Scientist on Venus Express, the European Space Agency’s first mission to explore Venus. (His first book was on Venus, too: Venus Revealed, published in 1998.)

Clearly, the man knows a bit about our nearest neighbor.

Which is why this week’s episode of StarTalk Radio worked out so well.

Neil was off working on the COSMOS series for FOX, so we got Dr. FunkySpoon to come into the studio as guest host for our Cosmic Queries episode about Venus.

He’s joined in the studio by comic co-host Leighann Lord, and together they answer your questions about Venus, a planet baked by our Sun but shrouded in mystery.

You asked great questions, as always, so the episode is packed with interesting and surprising facts.

You probably knew that Venus rotated in the opposite direction from Earth and other planets, and that it’s day is longer than its year, but do you know why?

You may also know that Venus is covered with huge volcanoes, but did you know that it has no plate tectonics?

And did you know that even though the Russians haven’t had any success exploring Mars, they’re the only ones to get full color photos of Venus over the course of 23 years of their successful Venera program, during which they became the first nation to land a spacecraft on another planet and return images from its surface?

You’ll find out all that and more from Dr. FunkySpoon. From the runaway greenhouse environment to the possibility that life could exist in the clouds of sulfuric acid that sit atop the thick layer of CO2 that makes up Venus’ atmosphere, David is bursting with knowledge about his second favorite planet.

Cosmic Queries: Venus with Dr. FunkySpoon will be on our website and on iTunes, SoundCloud, Stitcher and more this Sunday, April 6 at 7:00 PM ET.

That’s it for now. Keep Looking Up!

–Jeffrey Simons

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