Local News

IU Scientists Contribute to Mars Rover Mission

From the Associated Press

Two Indiana University geologists have helped develop devices that will be on board the next Mars rover.

The Curiosity rover is part of NASA’s Mars Science Lab which launches Saturday and is expected to arrive on Mars in August 2012. The rover has 10 science instruments and a robotic arm that can drill into rocks, scoop up soil and deliver samples to analytical instruments. Its mission is to help determine whether life ever existed on the red planet.

IU researchers David Bish and Juergen Schieber helped develop two of the instruments.

Bish helped create a device that will use X-rays to test minerals for signs of past water or life.

Schieber worked on a high-definition color camera on the turret at the end of the rover’s robotic arm.

State of the News Uncategorized

Ear X-Tacy, Whiskey Row, Chief White’s Departure, Saturn Exploration, College Sports Realignment: Today on State of the News

Segment A: We’ll catch up on metro news with WFPL staff, including the latest on the Louisville Orchestra and Whiskey Row, as well as the departure of Police Chief Robert White. Join us at 502-814-8255 with your thoughts on the week’s news.

Segment B: We’ll listen to Phillip M. Bailey‘s conversation with Better Days owner Ben Johnson, and talk about the closing of Ear X-Tacy. WFPL’s Erica Peterson brings us a feature this week about rising power costs, and Devin Katayama spoke with Cassini Project Scientist Linda Spilker about the exploration of Saturn. We’ll listen to the interview and talk about it.

Segment C: The Courier-Journal’s Eric Crawford joins us to talk sports — namely, college conference realignment and the upcoming basketball season.

Local News

NASA Scientist Discusses Saturn Mission at U of L

A NASA scientist is visiting the University of Louisville this week to teach students and staff about the scientific mission exploring Saturn.

The Cassini mission is a joint venture from NASA and the European Space Agency, which sent a spacecraft to Saturn in 1997 to record data. Most recently, researchers have been following a storm that formed on Saturn a year ago, said NASA scientist Linda Spilker.

“In studying Saturn and Saturn’s weather we learn more about our own weather here on the earth. So we make these analogies by studying storm systems around other worlds and that’s where we’re particularly fascinated with this giant storm that only occurs maybe a few times in a century,” she said.

Here and Now Local News

Obama Speaks to UN on Palestine, Funding the US Solar Industry, Bob Edwards on Today’s Media: Today on Here and Now

1:06pm: President Barack Obama addresses the United Nations General Assembly today as diplomats scramble to craft a deal that would avoid a showdown vote over a Palestinian demand for statehood recognition. The deal reportedly calls for Israel and the Palestinians to begin peace talks towards a two-state solution with Israel accepting its pre-1967 borders and Palestinians recognizing Israel’s Jewish character. Land swaps would be negotiated, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas could still deliver his request for statehood recognition to the UN this week but no immediate action would be taken on it. Colum Lynch, UN reporter for the Washington Post, joins us to explain.

1:12pm: Two top executives at the bankrupt California solar energy company, Solyndra, say they will invoke their Fifth Amendment rights and refuse to answer questions when they appear at a House hearing on Friday. Lawyers for the executives say it would be inappropriate to offer testimony since the company is now the focus of a criminal investigation. Solyndra received $528 million in federally-backed loans from the Energy Department in 2009 and the company’s collapse is raising questions about other DOE investments in American solar companies. One of those companies, 1366 Technologies of Lexington, Massachusetts, just this month finalized a deal with DOE to receive $150 million in loan guarantees. While the solar industry is booming, some experts are concerned that American solar companies will face an uphill battle competing against Chinese companies that receive huge government subsidies. We’ll speak with Frank van Mierlo, president of 1366 Technologies Inc., and Erik Sherman, BNET high tech reporter

1:34pm: Some time between tomorrow and Saturday, somewhere between Edmonton, Alberta and Cape Town, South Africa, an out-of-service NASA satellite weighing 1,600 pounds is going to plummet to earth. But scientists say people have little reason to worry — the chance of anyone at all being hit is just one in 3,200. And the chance that it will be you is one in trillions. Kelly Beatty, planetary specialist and senior contributing editor for Sky and Telescope Magazine, joins us to talk about the satellite’s descent.

1:50pm: When Bob Edwards was growing up in a house just off Eastern Parkway near Crittenden Drive, he longed be a radio newsman. He got his start in radio working for WHEL in New Albany, left Louisville in 1969, and wound up in Washington DC where he joined a fledgling broadcast outfit known as National Public Radio. The rest is history — and the subject of Edwards’ new book A Voice in the Box: My Life in Radio. He spoke with us about the book, which details, among other things, his feelings about the state of the media, politics and his ouster from NPR after 24 years as the host of Morning Edition.

Local News

NASA Rocket Crashes With Kentucky Space Satellite on Board

A NASA rocket that crashed into the Pacific Ocean Friday was carrying a satellite developed by the Kentucky Space group. But  the loss was relatively minor.

Kentucky Space president Kris Kimel says these crashes are unfortunate, but not unheard of, and his agency will launch more satellites soon.

“We do have a backup and we’re hoping to fly that backup in the next twelve months,” he says. “We have another satellite that we’ve been building with the University of Rome that’s supposed to launch in April or the end of this month. So we may be launching another satellite that we’re involved with within the month.”

This was Kentucky Space’s first attempt to send a satellite into orbit. The device contained communications equipment and was among three student-designed satellites on board the rocket. Kimel says NASA has likely lost hundreds of millions of dollars on the rocket, but Kentucky Space is only out the cost of development.

“It’s hard to say how much,” he says. “The launch itself, we weren’t paying for the launch itself. But we obviously had invested about a $100,000 or so at minimum in the development of the satellite.”

Local News

Space Exploration Learning Center Opens At Shawnee

On the 25th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion, the Academy at Shawnee in Louisville celebrated the opening of an academic program inspired by the mission.

The Challenger Learning Center is intended to make science and math education more interesting by showing how the subjects are used in space exploration. Challenger astronaut Norman Thagard directed a learning center in Florida. He says the goal is not to inspire students to be astronauts, but to make them interested in science.

“The kids, if you ask them after they come through it, they’re all excited,” he says. “What they learn is science and engineering are fun and they may never have known that until they go through the experience. And they find out what it is and they go through it in an environment that excites them.”

This is the 48th Challenger Learning Center in the country. Mayor Greg Fischer says it’s an important step in improving students’ aptitude in math and science, since the United States has slipped in recent years.

“We used to be number one in everything,” he says. “Now we’re 10 or 20 or 30 and we say ‘How is this happening? ‘Well, sometimes it’s good old-fashioned things like we get outworked. Sometimes we don’t provide all the opportunities we should provide.”

Shawnee principal Keith Look says it’s one of several initiatives that will improve the school and the surrounding neighborhood.

“West Louisville is a special place. We now have a new anchor to the west Market Street corridor project. We have the future development of a science triangle between us and the Science Center and the planetarium. We have put all sorts of things on the map and new pictures,” he says.

A group of students at Shawnee has developed a project that will be sent into space on the last shuttle mission

Local News

Three Kentucky Space Payloads Headed To Space Station

An unmanned Japanese Spacecraft will launch Saturday with three payloads from the Kentucky Space scientific association on board.

The payloads each contain a science experiment organized by a school or business. They are based on technology developed by Kentucky Space and the NanoRacks company.

The payloads will remain on the International Space Station for several months. Kentucky Space sent several experiments to the station last year, and several more are planned for this year. President Kris Kimel says each experiment benefits the commonwealth. “For us to have this kind of access to the International Space Station—which is quite rare—and to have regular flight opportunities to space station with this partnership with NanoRacks has opened up a whole new array of new research and commercial and education opportunities for Kentucky,” he says.

“We are finding information out that, in some cases in the biomedical area, that we think has the potential to be game-changing for the further development of certain kinds of drugs and even medical procedures, perhaps on the issue of tissue regeneration or things of that nature.”

The experiments launching tomorrow test, among other things, plant growth and microscopes. These and other experiments may lead to breakthroughs in life sciences.

Local News

Space Shuttle Will Carry Shawnee Science Experiment

When the Space Shuttle Endeavour blasts off for the last time in April, a science project from Louisville high school students will be on board.

Students at the Academy at Shawnee have developed an experiment that will determine how Lactobacillus bacteria grow in lower gravity. Chemistry teacher Imogen Herrick says Lactobaciullus has been shown to decline in humans during space travels, and figuring out why that happens could help keep astronauts healthy.

“If you don’t have enough Lactobacillus, you could be susceptible to skin infections, general health ailments, digestive tract issues, so it’s definitely a bacteria that’s very necessary for the body to run well,” she says.

Shawnee is among more than dozen schools to have developed experiments that will be on board the shuttle. Once the experiment is complete, the students will share their results with NASA and each other.

“The real purpose of the whole project was to teach high school students all of the trials and tribulations that go along with doing a real science project from start to finish and then sharing that data as scientists do in the real world,” says Herrick.

Environment Local News

Planetarium To Broadcast Shuttle Launch

By Sheila Ash

The University of Louisville’s Gheens Science Hall and Rauch Planetarium will offer a free viewing of NASA’s final launch of space shuttle Discovery Monday.

“We want to give the public an opportunity to come together and view the live launch on the planetarium dome which is just such a wonderful experience in an of itself with our surround sound,” said Paula McGuffey, Assistant Director of the planetarium.

The launch from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center wraps up nearly 30 years of space travel for the shuttle.

There will be activities for children and video highlights from past shuttle missions. Doors open at 4:15 pm and the launch is scheduled for 4:40 pm.


Race and the Space Race

Saturday, February 13, 2010 9pm

Producer: Richard Paul and Soundprint
Listen Again

The Space Age began when America was going through a wrenching battle over Civil Rights. And because the heart of the old Confederacy was chosen as its base, NASA played an unintended role in Civil Rights history. In this program, we hear how this happened and we hear the stories of the people who broke the color line at NASA. Their stories of frustration and their stories of perseverance. Produced by Richard Paul with Soundprint and narrated by Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman in Space, “Race and the Space Race” tells the unlikely story of Civil Rights and the Space Program.