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May 2009 Extra: A big week in space

May 2009 Extra

It has been a busy week in space: Monday 11th May saw the launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis with the final servicing mission for the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope; Wednesday 13th May was the start of scientific operations on NASA's Kepler spacecraft; and on Thursday 14th May ESA's Planck and Herschel spacecraft launched successfully. All that and we still managed to put a Jodcast episode together.

JENAM - part 2

We started the show with four more interviews recorded at the Joint European and National Astronomy Meeting that was held in April.

Interview with Professor Ian Robson (UK ATC)

Jen talked to Professor Ian Robson, director of the UK Astronomy Technology Centre about the International Year of Astronomy. Ian talked about how the events have gone so far, Sun Worshippers at Glastonbury, the Autum Moonwatch and how you can get involved. There are still many events happening all around the world. In the UK these can be found on the UK IYA website including a list of places where From Earth to the Universe will visit. For other countries, check out your own country's IYA website.

Interview with Prof Tim de Zeeuw (ESO)

European Southern Observatory Director General Tim de Zeeuw talked to Neil about ESO's current and future telescopes. We hear about the VLT, ALMA and the future Extremely Large Telescope.

Interview with Dr Peter Curran (MSSL)

Peter Curran is part of the Swift-UVOT team researching Gamma-ray Bursts (GRBs). He tells Neil about his studies of GRB afterglows using gamma-ray, Xray and optical light. By studying the light over time and across the spectrum it is possible to study the blast wave, the density of matter around a star and the amount of energy released.

Interview with Prof Sir Arnold Wolfendale (University of Durham)

Prof Sir Arnold Wolfendale tells us about his career studying cosmic rays. Cosmic rays mainly comprise of protons accelerated by magnetic fields in things such as supernovae and other systems although electrons and heavier nuclei. For the past two years he has been investigating the possibility that cosmic rays could affect global warming. After two years of study he tells us that there is no connection between cosmic rays and the climate although there is a small, finite effect of the Sun. The conversation also covers neutrinos, Patrick Blackett, AGN, pulsars, and atomic clocks.

Planck and Herschel

At 14:12 BST on Thursday 14th May, two European Space Agency spacecraft were launched onboard an Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana. As scientists at Jodrell Bank has been involved in the construction and testing of instruments on board Planck there was a launch party at the Physics Department at the University of Manchester to celebrate. Jen and Neil caught up with Richard Davis, Ciska Kemper and Tess Jaffe to find out about Planck, Herschel and the Cosmic Microwave Background.

Planck is a third-generation space telescope which will map the cosmic microwave background over 9 frequency channels. It is cryogenically cooled and is much more sensitive than its predecessors COBE and WMAP.

Herschel is the largest infrared telescope that has been launched into space. It is studying wavelengths between 50 and 800 microns (1 micron = 1/1000 of a mm) and will be able to study thermal emission from cold dust.

Ask an Astronomer

Mark puts listener questions to Tim O'Brien.

Odds and Ends

In other news, a basketball visited the Hubble Space Telescope, listener ChrisB is asking for ideas for a school presentation and Rob Bowman has recorded an episode for the 365 Days of Astronomy podcast.

Show Credits

Interview:Prof Ian Robson and Jen Gupta
Interview:Prof Tim de Zeeuw and Neil Young
Interview:Dr Peter Curran and Neil Young
Interview:Prof Sir Arthur Wolfendale, Neil Young and Jen Gupta
Interview:Dr Richard Davis, Jen Gupta and Neil Young
Interview:Dr Tess Jaffe, Neil Young and Jen Gupta
Interview:Dr Ciska Kemper, Neil Young and Jen Gupta
Ask An Astronomer:Dr Tim O'Brien and Mark Purver
Presenters:Jen Gupta and Stuart Lowe
Editors:Stuart Lowe, Neil Young, Jen Gupta, Mark Purver and Tim O'Brien
Segment voice:Danny Wong-McSweeney
Website:Stuart Lowe
Cover art:Simulation of ESA's Planck spacecraft separating from the launcher Credit: ESA (image by AOES Medialab)

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