Created with Sketch.
Third Pod from the Sun
28 minutes | 19 days ago
What's It Like Pretending to Live on Mars?
If someone offered you the chance to drop everything, fly to Hawaii, and spend four months trapped in a dome with seven strangers in the name of science, would you do it? For writer Kate Greene, the answer to that question was a resounding “yes.” Greene was one of eight people selected to crew the very first HI-SEAS Mars analogue mission in 2013. In her recent book Once Upon a Time I Lived on Mars, she looked back on that time and what it taught her about the psychological challenges of long-haul space travel. For decades, NASA has been running simulations on Earth to prepare astronauts for their time in space. But the six HI-SEAS missions taking place between 2013 and 2018 represented a shift in thinking towards the logistics of journeying to the red planet. The very first mission focused on something we all spend a lot of time thinking about: food. Greene’s crew spent four months in a habitat on the side of Hawaii’s Mauna Loa Volcano, tasked with chronicling their relationship to food over time to better understand a phenomenon called “menu fatigue.” They noted down what they craved, what they grew bored with, and what might keep them interested in their meals. Later missions lasted even longer, and focused on team cohesion, communication, and cooperation. These simulated missions highlight the inherent contradiction in what NASA looks for in long-haul astronaut candidates, says Greene. They need someone who doesn’t bore easily, who gets along well with others, who is averse to drama and risk-taking yet willing to jet off to another planet. Greene knew going in that she’d be living in cramped quarters with people she barely knew. She knew that she’d be limited to a small selection of shelf-stable and rehydrated “instant” meals. But the mission also affected Greene in ways she didn’t expect, forcing her to challenge her own preconceived notions about herself. In this episode of AGU’s podcast Third Pod from the Sun, AGU chatted with Greene about the qualities NASA might look for in a Mars-bound astronaut, what she packed for Mars, what she missed during her time in the dome, and how her experience compared to the isolation of our pandemic year. This episode was produced by Rachel Fritts and mixed by Kayla Surrey.
20 minutes | 2 months ago
What Tree Rings Can Tell Us About the U.S. Civil War
Many of us know that tree rings can tell us how old a tree is. But there’s so much more we can learn from these seemingly simple lines. In the mid 1800’s, right before the start of the U.S. Civil War, North America began to experience unusually low rainfall that lasted approximately 10 years. This drought, on par with the Dust Bowl of the 1930’s, may have played a role in the near extinction of the American Bison due to the migration of people to areas that were lusher and more conducive to farming. Max Torbenson, a postdoc at The Ohio State University in their Civil Engineering Department, studies tree rings to learn about past environments and climates. While he admits that it’s difficult to attribute the effects of the drought to altering any specific part of the Civil Wars, reports do describe issues in supply chains due to rivers drying up and shortages of water for troops and animals used for transportation. In the latest episode of AGU’s podcast Third Pod from the Sun, Max describes how the work he and others are doing can inform us about how climate change has been influencing wildlife and humans for hundreds of years. Listen as Max recounts his journey as a scientist, takes us to remote field locations full of danger, and fills us in on why he fell in love with U.S. This episode was produced and mixed by Shane M Hanlon.
28 minutes | 3 months ago
A Modern Way to Look for Aliens
If you were an ant living in an anthill in the Serengeti and you wanted to know whether an intelligent species lived on planet Earth, how could you tell? A particularly clever ant might pick up a radio signal and deduce that humanity exists, but how about subtler, indirect clues that, nevertheless, are a result of technological development? This thought experiment, posed by astrophysicist Jason Wright in a recent interview, is a good introduction to the type of out-of-the-box thinking that scientists need if they’re going to join the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). Wright, a professor at Pennsylvania State University in University Park, is a leader in the effort to reimagine SETI research and modernize it as a fully developed scientific discipline. Despite its prominent place in popular culture, SETI science has long been on the fringes of the space science community, partly because of a lack of support from funding agencies. Wright and other SETI scientists have been working to change that and give SETI all the necessary academic trappings: funding, curricula, conferences and symposia, and a canon of academic literature. Providing opportunities and training for graduate students is a critical component of any academic discipline, and the field of SETI has begun to do just that. “You can't have a field where everyone is a senior or emeritus professor,” said Penn State graduate student and SETI researcher Sofia Sheikh. “You need to have people at every career stage, or the field isn't going to continue.” In this episode of AGU’s podcast Third Pod from the Sun, Wright and Sheikh discuss what it means to search for signals of alien technology, how SETI research is modernizing for the 21st century, and how this emerging academic field is poised to be a leader in interdisciplinary research and inclusive practice. This episode was produced by Kimberly Cartier and mixed by Kayla Surrey.
5 minutes | 5 months ago
Special Release: The Beast of the Arctic
Scientists sent a remotely operated vehicle named Beast under the sea ice in Arctic winter. Jenessa Duncombe talks with scientist Christian Katlein about the race to characterize sea ice in the Arctic before it is too late. Read more at https://eos.org.
5 minutes | 5 months ago
Special Release: It's astrobiology, my dear WATSON
By drilling into ice sheets on Earth, a new instrument called WATSON can help us find biosignatures on icy ocean worlds across the solar system. Read more at https://eos.org.
4 minutes | 5 months ago
Special Release: Can Volcano Forecasting Make Visiting Whakaari Safe Again?
Last year’s explosive eruption at the New Zealand volcano tragically took tourists by surprise. Jenessa Duncombe talks with scientist David Dempsey about a new forecasting model that could issue alerts if another eruption is eminent. Read more at https://eos.org.
5 minutes | 5 months ago
Special Release: The Canadian Wildfire Chronicles
How have wildfires in Canada changed in the past 50 years? New research documents how a warming climate contributes to patterns in wildfire severity and frequency and how the fires contribute to climate change. Read more at https://eos.org.
36 minutes | 5 months ago
From Athlete to Astronaut
Leland Melvin’s scientific career began during his childhood in Lynchburg, Virginia, when he created a fantastic explosion in his living room with an at-home chemistry set. Little did Leland or his family know at the time that he would become both a professional athlete and a NASA astronaut, flying two missions to the International Space Station. In this special episode of AGU’s podcast Third Pod from the Sun, Leland recounts his circuitous journey from scientist to NFL wide receiver to astronaut. His inspirational story of overcoming odds, injuries and setbacks shows how anyone can achieve the impossible with enough determination and discipline. This episode was produced by Lauren Lipuma and Shane M Hanlon and mixed by Lauren Lipuma.
35 minutes | 6 months ago
Songs of the Arches (with Helicopters)
Utah’s famous bridges and spires hum with a deep, Earthly music, below the threshold of human perception. The wind that carved the sandstone of Arches National Park into spectacular arches and towers also plucks them, like giant guitar strings, making them ring at low frequencies. Geoscientist Riley Finnegan and her colleagues in the Geohazards research group at the University of Utah are recording these arch songs in the Park and around Utah with seismometers, the same basic technology geologists use to listen for earthquakes, to learn their characteristic vibration frequencies—and how human noise affects them. Passing helicopters can cause rock arches and spires to shake up to 100 times stronger than they do naturally. Why? Helicopters are loud. Below the distinctive chopper womp-womp, the blades produce sound waves at frequencies too low for humans to hear unaided. When these infrasound vibrations match pitches with the natural resonance of the rock feature, they reinforce the natural vibrations like a choir singing in unison. The extra push can amplify the hum to the level of a rock concert. In episode 37 of Third Pod from the Sun, Finnegan explains what she’s learned and helps us hear the songs of the arches. This episode was produced by Liza Lester and mixed by Kayla Surrey.
34 minutes | 6 months ago
Special Release: Mythical Monsters and their Real-life Inspirations (Part 2)
We’ve all heard stories about fantastical creatures that people swear they’ve seen and have evidence of but can never be confirmed. Think Bigfoot or the Loch Ness monster. Mermaids or the Kraken. While there’s no evidence backing the existence of these creatures, either in present day or at any point in the past, there must be a reason why such legends were created in the first place. In most cases, the legend in grounded in fact. During this Halloween season, we’re bringing you four stories from scientists who know a little something about the real-life animals that inspired these legendary creatures. In this episode, the second in a two-part series, we chatted with Rodrigo Salvador, Curator of Invertebrates at the Museum of New Zealand, about the connections between giant squids and the Kraken, and Danielle J. Serratos, Director/Curator of the Fundy Geological Museum, about the links between prehistoric aquatic reptiles and the Loch Ness monster, respectively. This episode was produced and mixed by Shane M Hanlon.
36 minutes | 6 months ago
Special Release: Mythical Monsters and their Real-life Inspirations (Part 1)
We’ve all heard stories about fantastical creatures that people swear they’ve seen and have evidence of but can never be confirmed. Think Bigfoot or the Loch Ness monster. Mermaids or the Kraken. While there’s no evidence backing the existence of these creatures, either in present day or at any point in the past, there must be a reason why such legends were created in the first place. In most cases, the legend in grounded in fact. During this Halloween season, we’re bringing you four stories from scientists who know a little something about the real-life animals that inspired these legendary creatures. In this first episode, we chatted with Cristina Brito, Director of the Centre for Overseas History at University of Lisbon, about the connections between mermaids and manatees, as well as Ryan Haupt, Ph.D candidate, Department of Geology and Geophysics, University of Wyoming and co-host of the podcast Science…sort of, about the connections between Bigfoot and prehistoric giant sloths. This episode was produced and mixed by Shane M Hanlon.
31 minutes | 7 months ago
Final Frontier? The Evolution of Planetary Science Missions
The latest episode of Third Pod from the Sun features an interview with planetary scientist Fran Bagenal, who has had a fascinating career working on NASA missions from Voyager to Juno and New Horizons. Currently working at the University of Colorado Boulder, Bagenal provides an overarching view of the different planetary missions going back a few decades and describes how the research and findings have built upon the innovations and discoveries that came before. Now, she is looking ahead to what we may learn about Saturn’s moon Titan during the upcoming Dragonfly mission. In this episode, Bagenal also discusses the importance of education that engages students and the need to support the different pathways people take to pursue science. Her message aims to inspire scientists and challenge them to think beyond current constraints. She encourages scientists to innovate to achieve something that is currently considered difficult to do, including the search for life on Jupiter’s moon Europa. She hopes that one day, scientists will be able to take on something they know is tough, such as exploring objects farther out in the solar system, or even something closer to home, like the surface and possible seismology of Earth’s sister planet Venus. Important missions like these will help continue driving the Earth and space sciences into the future. This episode was produced by Katie Broendel and mixed by Kayla Surrey.
25 minutes | 8 months ago
The Unusual Relationship Between Climate and Pandemics
Well-documented torrential rains and unusually cold temperatures affected the outcomes of many major battles during World War I from 1914 to 1918. Poet Mary Borden described the cold, muddy landscape of the Western Front as “the liquid grave of our armies” in her poem “The Song of the Mud” about 1916’s Battle of the Somme, during which more than one million soldiers were killed or wounded. The bad weather also affected migratory patterns of mallard ducks, the main animal host for the H1N1 influenza virus strain responsible for the “Spanish Flu” pandemic that claimed more than 50 million lives from 1917 to 1919. Scientists recently discovered a once-in-a-century climate anomaly brought the incessant rain and cold to Europe during the war years, increasing mortality during the war and during the flu pandemic in the years that followed. The findings show how changes in Earth’s climate can exacerbate human conflicts and pandemics. But other research shows the reverse effect: how human pandemics can alter the environment. A 2017 study found levels of lead pollution in the atmosphere dropped to basically zero during the infamous Black Death pandemic of 1349 to 1353. The findings showed human activity has polluted European air almost uninterruptedly for the last 2,000 years and only a devastating collapse in population and the economy reduced atmospheric pollution to natural levels. In this episode, climate scientist and historian Alexander More describes the relationship between climate and pandemics in the context of these two seemingly unconnected pieces of research and discusses what humans can learn from pandemics of the past. This episode was produced by and mixed by Lauren Lipuma.
25 minutes | 9 months ago
Putting Brains in Rock Machines
What happens when you cross medical science with geophysics?In one study published last year, the result was one-part interdisciplinary and one-part science fiction. Scientists have studied the presence of a magnetic mineral, magnetite, in organisms, but work on the human brain has been far and few between. Tiny chains of magnetite crystals in the cells of magnetotactic bacteria, for example, help the bacteria swim in the right direction. Could pigeons, turtles, or even, humans, have built-in compasses too? Stu Gilder, a geophysicist from Ludwig-Maximilian's University in Munich, wanted to find out. He and his coauthors, many of them medical professionals, published the first systematic look at magnetite in human brains. The results reveal that humans have concentrated areas of magnetite in the more “ancient” parts of the brain. This episode was produced by Jenessa Duncombe and mixed by Kayla Surrey.
31 minutes | 10 months ago
Escape from Thera
About 3,600 years ago, a colossal volcanic eruption blew apart the Greek island Thera, now the popular tourist destination known as Santorini. Falling volcanic rock and dust buried the Bronze Age settlement Akrotiri, on the south side of the island, preserving multi-story buildings, frescoes, tools, furniture and food, until archaeological excavations uncovered them in the last century, much like the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 CE famously buried Pompeii and Herculaneum. But unlike the Roman cities, Akrotiri has a notable lack of bodies. Unlike Vesuvius, Thera’s volcano gave its inhabitants substantial warning. Minor eruptions sent a column of ash 40 kilometers into the sky and rained hot pumice on the island. University of Hawaii volcanologist Krista Evans says evidence of those precursory volcanic burps can be found within the archaeological site and in geological deposits around the island. The empty settlement implies the people left, but traces of their distinctive pottery and arts do not subsequently appear in the archaeological record on Crete or other nearby islands in their trading network. It’s as if they people just disappeared. Evans explains how the people of Akrotiri likely fled south by boat toward Crete, 120 kilometers (75 miles) across the Mediterranean and what eruption models suggest may have been their fate. This episode was produced by Liza Lester and mixed by Kayla Surrey.
20 minutes | a year ago
Instruments of Unusual Size
Volcanic craters could be the largest musical instrument on Earth, producing unique sounds that tell scientists what is going on deep in a volcano’s belly. Chile’s Villarica volcano acted much like a gigantic horn when it erupted in 2015, created reverberating sounds that changed pitch as its lava lake rose to the crater rim. On the other hand, Ecuador’s Cotopaxi volcano has a deep, cylindrical crater that acts much like a massive organ pipe. The crater produced strange sounds scientists dubbed tornillos, the Spanish word for screw, when Cotopaxi began rumbling in 2015. Jeffrey Johnson, a geophysicist at Boise State University, studies the unusual low-frequency sounds made by volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and avalanches. Understanding each volcano’s unique voiceprint could alert scientists to changes going on inside the crater that may signal an impending eruption, according to Jeff. In this episode, Jeff describes how volcanoes and earthquakes produce infrasound – sound waves below the frequency of human hearing – and how the size and shape of a volcano’s crater defines the range of vibrations it can produce. Listen to Jeff recount the strange sounds geophysicists noticed during the eruption of Mt. St. Helens in 1980 and hear how earthquakes can make mountains ring like giant bells. This episode was produced and mixed by Lauren Lipuma.
19 minutes | a year ago
Special Release: Climate change, tree rings, and string theory
What’s it like to be one of the most well-known climate scientists around? People (e.g. your dad) should just trust what you say, right? Well…it doesn’t always work out like that. Kate Marvel, Associate Research Scientist at NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Columbia Engineering's Department of Applied Physics and Mathematics, started as a theoretical physicist before shifting to studying climate change. In addition to her research, she writes a regular column, “Hot Planet”, for Scientific American. She’s also an AGU Voices for Science Advocate This episode was produced and mixed by Shane M Hanlon.
26 minutes | a year ago
Mt. St. Helens: 40 Years Later
On May 18, 1980, Mt. St. Helens erupted in Washington state, capping off a series of volcanic events that began on March 27th of that year. The May 18th explosions is credited with causing 57 deaths, >$1 billion in property damage, and forever changed the surrounding landscape. The eruption created a column of ash that shot into the atmosphere and was deposited in 11 U.S. states,, landing as far away as Massachusetts, where 13 year old Seth Moran found his parent’s cars covered it in. That moment was a catalyst that inspired him into the field of volcanology, specifically volcano seismology, and to a career with the USGS. Moran is current the lead scientist at the Cascades Volcano Observatory in Washington state he studies and monitors Cascade volcanoes in Washington and Oregon. In this episode, Moran chats about his path to becoming a volcanic seismologist, the 1980 Mt. St. Helens eruption, and the monitoring and measures that were put in place following the event. This episode was produced and mixed by Shane M Hanlon.
20 minutes | a year ago
Third Pod Live: The Dirty Links between Soil and Climate
Asmeret Asefaw Berhe is a Professor of Soil Biogeochemistry at the Life and Environmental Sciences unit, University of California, Merced. She received her PhD in Biogeochemistry from the University of California, Berkeley; M. Sc. in Political Ecology from Michigan State University, and BS in Soil and Water Conservation from University of Asmara, Eritrea. She is a recipient of numerous awards including the National Science Foundation’s CAREER award, the Young Investigator Award from Sigma Xi, and the Hellman Family Foundations award for early career faculty. Basically, she rocks. Her research focuses on biogeochemical cycling of essential elements (esp. carbon and nitrogen), in particular in systems that experience physical perturbations (ex. erosion, fire, changes in climate). At the AAAS 2019 annual meeting in Seattle, we had a chance to sit down with her for a live interview where we talked about soil (not dirt), bribing lab mates to help with experiments, looking to the ground to mitigate climate change, and more! This episode was produced by and mixed by Shane M Hanlon.
9 minutes | a year ago
Third Pod Presents: Sci & Tell - James Garvin on Earth Day at 50
James Garvin is the Chief Scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. Dr. Garvin has been at NASA for 35 years in a variety of roles and missions, and is well known for his incredible work in NASA's Mars explorational programs. Listen to James talk about his beginnings in science, the legacy he wishes to leave behind, and what he hopes NASA will accomplish in the future. This episode was produced and mixed by Shane M Hanlon.
Terms of Service
Do Not Sell My Personal Information
© Stitcher 2021