Orbital Path

Orbital Path

orbital.prx.org
Space, stars, the universe, and us
Winter’s Night Sky
Dec 1 • 11 min
These days, astrophysicists like Dr. Michelle Thaller use instruments to probe the distant reaches of our galaxy, and far beyond. They use interferometry, the Hubble space telescope, and other technology impossible to imagine when the constellations of…
Aliens Again!
Nov 17 • 16 min
Almost two years ago, Orbital Path launched with an episode on our fascination with space aliens. But what’s really going on out there on KIC8462852?

Time and Space in the Kingdom of Bhutan
Nov 3 • 9 min
Physicists are coming to terms with a strange new concept of Time — strange and new, perhaps, to many western minds. But it’s a notion that feels at home in the mountain kingdom of Bhutan.
The 11 Dimensions of Brian Greene
Oct 20 • 29 min
It’s time we get over out three-dimensional selves. 
Brian Greene — world renowned astrophysicist, New York Times bestselling author, NOVA host, and serial Colbert guest — explains why.
Minisode 5: Scary Math
Sep 29 • 11 min
Michelle and NASA astronomer Andrew Booth retreat to the comfort of the hot tub — and Andrew reveals one of his deepest fears: Mathematics.
Episode 22: Journey to the Sun
Sep 15 • 18 min
People have dreamed of making this trip for millennia. Next year NASA launches the first ever voyage to the sun.
Minisode 4: Hot Tub Physics!
Sep 1 • 11 min
NASA astronomer Andrew Booth joins Michelle in the hot tub to drink a glass of chardonnay, and talk weird science.
Episode 21: First Light
Aug 18 • 22 min
There was a time before planets and suns. A time before oxygen. You could say there was time, even, before what we think of as light. Back in 1989, the Big Bang theory was still in question. But that year, a NASA team led by cosmologist John Mather…
Episode 20: Holy Sheet!
Aug 4 • 20 min
NASA is relying on hi-tech lasers — and some vintage U.S. Navy hand-me-downs — to learn about the polar regions of a remarkable, watery planet. It’s located in the Orion spur of our galaxy. NASA scientists have detected mountain ranges completely under…
Mini-sode 3: Dr. Thaller Helps You Prep for The Eclipse
Jul 20 • 11 min
The big one is coming! That is, the total solar eclipse of Aug. 21. Dr. Thaller shares her wisdom on how best to view the eclipse and its larger implications for science.
Mini-sode 2: What up, Jupiter?
Jun 30 • 6 min
Recently, we’ve started to get the first images back from Juno, which is on a mission to Jupiter. Host Dr. Michelle Thaller walks us through the results so far and how you can participate in what Juno discovers next.
Episode 19: We Are Stardust
Jun 21 • 16 min
Dr. Michelle Thaller visits the NASA lab that discovered that meteorites contain some of the very same chemical elements that we contain. Then, Michelle talks to a Vatican planetary scientist about how science and religion can meet on the topic of life…
Episode 18: Cassini Countdown
May 23 • 22 min
When the Cassini spacecraft blasted into space on October 15, 1997, even the most optimistic scientists would have had a hard time predicting the mission’s success. Dr. Michelle Thaller speaks with the Cassini mission’s Project Scientist Linda Spilker, as…
Making (Gravitational) Waves
Apr 21 • 26 min
Nearly 100 years after Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves — huge undulations in the fabric of space-time itself — in 2015, detectors here on Earth finally picked up the signal of these massive disturbances. Dr. Michelle Thaller pulls…
Mini-sode 1: NASA’s NICER Mission
Apr 3 • 6 min
Listeners, you requested more episodes, so we present the first of our mini episodes. They’ll arrive two weeks after each monthly regular episode, and include Michelle Thaller’s insight on the latest space news. Enjoy episode one: NASA’s NICER (Neutron…
Lessons in Landslides
Mar 20 • 22 min
Space science can help track what’s happening on Earth. In this podcast episode, Orbital Path talks landslides and the satellites that monitor them for the third anniversary of the deadliest landslide in US history. On March 22, 2014 a 650-foot hillside…
Space Robots to Europa!
Feb 24 • 18 min
Galileo discovered Europa, Jupiter’s fourth-largest moon, in 1610. In 1977, the Voyager spacecraft buzzed past and we realized it was covered in ice. It took a few more years to understand that it also likely had unfrozen liquid water oceans. Kevin Hand,…
How the World Came Together to Avoid Ozone Disaster
Jan 23 • 18 min
In 1985, the British Antarctic Survey discovered something that shocked scientists around the world: the ozone layer had a hole in it. And the hole was growing very quickly. When they were presented with the problem, politicians and world leaders quickly…
Warning: Space May Wreak Havoc on Your Body
Dec 16, 2016 • 14 min
Going to Mars is hot right now, just ask Matt Damon. But would you go if you knew your bones would turn into something called “pee brittle”? Former astronaut Michael Massimino reveals the uncomfortable side of liftoff. And Dr. Jennifer Fogarty from NASA’s…
In Search of Planet 9
Nov 18, 2016 • 16 min
An Orbital Path episode all about…an orbital path! Planet 9’s, to be exact. The replacement for Pluto as our solar system’s ninth planet is out there somewhere, and astronomers can see the ripples it creates, especially at this time of year.
Black Hole Breakthroughs
Oct 21, 2016 • 13 min
Scientific discovery can happen in two ways: “Eureka!” moments of sudden understanding, where researchers glean unexpected insight into new phenomena. Or, a slower, less glamorous hunt for truth that happens day-after-day, for years. But both methods can…
Done in the Sun
Sep 30, 2016 • 13 min
The sun can seem like a friendly celestial body. But just as sun decided when life on Earth could begin, it will also decide when life on Earth will definitely end. We’ll hear about the impressive fleet of spacecraft NASA uses to monitor the Sun,…
Howdy, Neighbor
Sep 2, 2016 • 12 min
When Proxima b’s discovery appeared in Nature on August 24, the media breathlessly announced a new Earth-like planet just 4.2 light years away from Earth. Astronomers have, for years, anticipated a planet orbiting Proxima Centauri. Michelle Thaller talks…
A Tale of Two Asteroids
Aug 22, 2016 • 15 min
The asteroid belt is portrayed in movies as a crowded place with massive rocks bouncing each other like pool balls, capable of sending a mile-wide missile hurtling toward Earth at any moment. The reality is much more fascinating. Host Dr. Michelle Thaller…
Chasing An Eclipse
Jul 15, 2016 • 17 min
Michael Kentrianakis loves eclipses and has seen them from all over the world. Host Michelle Thaller and Mike talk about the stages of the eclipse we can see in his video that went viral few months ago after an Alaska Airlines flight. That flight was…
A World Without Boundaries
Jun 15, 2016 • 18 min
From space, the view of earth has no boundaries for countries, no barriers to achievement. Michelle Thaller speaks with Aprille Ericcson, a senior engineer at NASA, about her career path and about current challenges recruiting more women and minorities…
Michelle & Her Mom
Apr 29, 2016 • 15 min
In this special Mother’s Day episode, Michelle talks with her mom about what it was like raising a space-obsessed daughter in Wisconsin and watching her grow into a scientist.
In Praise of Volcanoes
Apr 7, 2016 • 16 min
Astronomer Michelle Thaller talks with Ashley Davies, a research scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, about the importance of volcanoes in the creation of Earth and how the study of volcanos in space can help us understand life here. Davies has…
The Most Dramatic Sky
Feb 18, 2016 • 15 min
The most rare objects in the night sky are only visible in some extreme places. Dr. Michelle Thaller introduces us to Dr. Anna Moore, a scientist whose trips to Antarctica help us better understand the solar system.
Mass Extinctions Get Personal
Jan 15, 2016 • 17 min
Host Dr. Michelle Thaller talks to Prof. Lisa Randall, a theoretical particle physicist at Harvard, about her new book, Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs: The Astounding Interconnectedness of the Universe. The scientists explore what caused the dinosaurs’…
Must Be Aliens
Dec 11, 2015 • 13 min
Why are humans so quick to attribute unknowns to the work of aliens? Featuring guest Phil Plait, the “Bad Astronomer”.