Science Podcasts

Naked Scientists episode

Sat, 24th May 2008

Life on Mars

Mars (c) J. Bell (Cornell U.)

Hours before NASA's phoenix mission was due to land on Mars, the Naked Scientists took our own tour of the Martian landscape.  We discuss how looking in valleys could tell us what shaped the Martian surface, and how probing Martian mud could reveal signs of life past and present.  Also, we find out how scientists have watched the explosive death of a star, and how an asteroid collision millions of miles away could have seen the birth of the meteorite that killed off the dinosaurs.  Plus, in Kitchen Science, we show you how to make weightless water!

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In this edition of Naked Scientists

Full Transcript

  • 13:02 - Weightless Water

    Make a cup and their contents weightless and find out what it has got to do with space stations.

  • 15:54 - Travel time to Mars

    If a man voyages to Mars. If it takes 4.5 years to get to Mars and 4.5 years back I think it will be impossible for someone to spend 9 years aboard a space ship. What do you think?

  • 17:04 - What Shaped the Surface of Mars?

    When the Phoenix lander arrives on Mars, what can it expect to see? And what processes shaped the face of Mars as we see it today?

  • 23:28 - How fast is Gravity?

    If the light we see from the sun is eight minutes old what about the gravitational field? Does gravity travel at the same speed as light?

  • 31:19 - UV and Solar Panels

    Does the UV exposure make solar panels more effective on Mars?

  • 32:52 - The Phoenix Mission

    We talk with William Boynton, in charge of Thermal and Evolved Gas Analyser aboard Phoenix, about the imminent landing of the Mars Phoenix mission.

  • 39:09 - The Meteorite that Killed the Dinosaurs

    We talk to a scientist who thinks he has found some parts of the asteroid, still in orbit, which killed the dinosaurs.

  • 43:15 - Communication With Nearby Stars

    What kind of antenna (for instance, size) should be used to communicate with aliens in other stars, like Alfa Centauri? Knowing the possibility of life somewhere, in a star like our Sun, what kind of device should we use? Do we have any possibility of communication with our nea...



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has there ever been dinosaur bones found in britain flynn morgan age 5, Sun, 25th May 2008

I have a couple of questions for anyone who may know the answer. These questions mostly pertain to the lander it's self.

-When the batteries are fully drained due to lack of sunlight and the heaters then subsequently fail, what equipment will potentially be damaged? ie; the Batteries?

-Once the batteries are completely drained, would it be possible for them to be recharged?

-When the sunlight returns again, could the solar panels recharge the batteries, or is a slight power source required for the charging process? Could the panels even put out this kind of power?

Brett, B. Elliott, Mon, 26th May 2008

The Mars Rover missions shut down when the batteries are low. This happened during a dust storm at some point. Once the batteries have recharged, the Rover restarts. turnipsock, Mon, 26th May 2008

I was talking about the non-roving Phoenix. In approximately 100days Mars will be entering it's Winter phase and that specific hemisphere of Mars will receive no sunlight whatsoever for a few months total. The lander will also become buried in a few feet of ice a this time.

To better clarity my question, will the batteries be able to survive being completely drained for so long and, will they be able to survive the extreme cold? B. Elliott, Mon, 26th May 2008

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