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April 2010 Extra: Back to the Present

April 2010 Extra

Our last episode was a very special edition from 1990 when the Jodcast was a 'postcast'. Of course we didn't really make the Jodcast back then but we had a lot of fun pretending that we did for our April Fool. Despite being an April Fool we tried our best to make it as authentic as we could to March/April 1990 so the information content wasn't incorrect but was based on the evidence available at the time.

We thought it would be interesting to bring everyone back up-to-date from 1990 by finding how things have changed. We have updates from Prof Mike Disney about what the Hubble Space Telescope has done in its 20 years in orbit, we find out about eMERLIN from Prof Richard Davis, and we hear about cosmology since COBE from Dr Richard Battye. We also provide updates on the news and other odds and ends from our special 1990 edition.

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Hubble Telescope 1990-2010

Stuart asked Professor Mike Disney (Cardiff University) about the work of the Hubble Space Telescope since its launch in April 1990. Hubble has produced many great images over the years and done lots of great science.


Professor Richard Davis (University of Manchester) talked about the upcoming upgrade to the Multi-element Radio Linked Interferometer Network (MERLIN) which sees the microwave links being replaced with optical fibres.

Cosmology following COBE

Dr Richard Battye (University of Manchester) talked about the results that came from COBE in the years after its launch and the impact these had on our understanding of the Universe. He also talked about balloon-bourne experiments, WMAP and Planck.

Odds and Ends

Supernova 1987A is still generating a lot of interest within the astronomical community. The Hubble Space Telescope has imaged SN 1987A many times since its launch.

On 14 February 1990, Voyager 1 took a "family portrait" of the Solar System. The two Voyager spacecraft continue to travel out of the Solar System and it is expected that Voyager will leave the "Solar bubble" in 5 years time and enter interstellar space.

The second Palomar Observatory sky survey (POSS-II) has since been digitized and is now available as part of the Digitized Sky Survey. In 2000, the Sloan Digital Sky Survey began operations and has produced deep images of over a quarter of the sky. The SDSS is one of the most cited astronomical projects and is the driving force behind Galaxy Zoo.

In 1990 no exoplants - planets around stars other than the Sun - were known (although a possible detection had been published in 1988). In 1992 a planet was discovered orbiting a pulsar and the first planet around a star more like the Sun was found in 1995. In the past 15 years over 450 planets have been discovered with more appearing all the time. Of coure, in 2006, Pluto was moved into the dwarf planet club.

The Hubble IMAX 3D film is now showing at the Glasgow Science Centre and the Science Museum in London as well as other locations around the world.

Show Credits

Interview:Prof Mike Disney and Stuart Lowe
Interview:Prof Richard Davis and Stuart Lowe
Interview:Dr Richard Battye and Stuart Lowe
Presenters:Stuart Lowe and Jen Gupta
Editors:Mark Purver and Stuart Lowe
Segment voice:Nadya Kunawicz
Website:Stuart Lowe
Cover art:Hubble at the end of Servicing Mission 4 on 19 May 2009 Credit: STS-125/NASA

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