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December 2017 Extra: The Fall and Rise of Nialh Whittington and the Rovers on Mars

December 2017 Extra

Commencing countdown, engines on! In the show this time, we talk to Prof. Andrew Coates about the hunt for life in our Solar System, Dr. Iain McDonald tells us about stars, planets and chromosomes in this month's JodBite, and your astronomy questions are answered by Prof. Tim O'Brien in Ask an Astronomer.

JodBite with Dr. Iain McDonald

Dr Iain McDonald from the University of Manchester talks to the Jodcast about his diverse range of research interests. Whilst his research has mainly focussed on evolved stars, he's also spent time confirming extrasolar planets and using mutations on the Y chromosome to shed a light on human history.

Interview with Prof. Andrew Coates

Professor Andrew Coates from the Mullard Space Science Laboratory, University College London talks to Emma about planetary science and space missions that he has been involved in. From spectroscopy on Cassini to the panoramic camera on the upcoming ExoMars rover, many aspects of his work aim to help answer one of the biggest questions there is: "is there life out there?"

Ask an Astronomer

Prof. Tim O'Brien answers your astronomical questions:

Odds and Ends

Coverage of the interstellar asteroid 'Oumuamua (which we looked at in the December 2017 news) has taken on a fantastical edge, with the Guardian's front page recently asking, "Could this be an alien spaceship?" Fortunately, the story behind the sensationalist headline is much more sane, detailing efforts by the Breakthrough Listen project to target the asteroid with the Green Bank radio telescope to check for any artificial emissions.

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) Division C Working Group on Star Names (WGSN) has formally approved 86 new names for stars this year. These names were taken from those used by other cultures, namely Australian Aboriginal, Chinese, Coptic, Hindu, Mayan, Polynesian, and South African. This is because apparently Western names are exhausted. This makes a total of 313 approved named stars to date. The story is here.

A 40-mile-wide black hole 8,000 light years from Earth has had its magnetic field measured, and it's pretty small - thousands of times weaker than it had been thought to be. At 461 plus/minus 12 gauss, it's only around an order of magnitude stronger than your average fridge magnet! The study was reported in Science, and helped to constrain models of accretion physics in black holes.

Show Credits

JodBite:Dr. Iain McDonald and Monique Henson
Interview:Prof. Andrew Coates and Emma Alexander
Ask An Astronomer:Prof. Tim O'Brien and Benjamin Shaw
Presenters:Emma Alexander, Naomi Asabre Frimpong and Jake Morgan
Editors:Alex Clarke, Andreea Dogaru, Jake Morgan and Tom Scragg
Segment Voice:Mike Peel
Pantomime Script:David Ault
Pantomime Cast:Emma Alexander, Megan Argo, Naomi Asabre Frimpong, David Ault, Joe Hansen, Luke Hart, Josh Hayes, Joseph Kwofie, Nialh McCallum, Jake Morgan, Tom Scragg and Charlie Walker
Website:Naomi Asabre Frimpong, Jake Morgan and Stuart Lowe
Producers:Naomi Asabre Frimpong and Jake Morgan
Cover art:Concept art of the ExoMars rover. CREDIT: ESA

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