Eruption at Fimmvörðuháls at dusk.
Eruption at Fimmvörðuháls at dusk.

Cosmic Queries – Space Volcanoes: Fire and Ice with Natalie Starkey

Boaworm, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
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About This Episode

What’s a supervolcano? On this episode, Neil deGrasse Tyson and comic co-host Matt Kirshen discover all types of volcanoes in the solar system with cosmochemist and author of Fire and Ice: The Volcanoes of the Solar System, Natalie Starkey. Is there such a thing as an ice volcano?

What types of volcanoes are present in our solar system? We discuss the volcanic activity on our neighbors, Mars and Venus. How did these planets end up so different from Earth? You’ll learn about probes being sent to Venus, cryovolcanoes, and the Voyager Mission. Are other planets’ moons cooler than ours? Are ice volcanoes actually more common than our own fiery ones? 

What even is a volcano? Find out how different volcanoes in the solar system work. Could there be fish getting spewed into the E Ring of Saturn? Is there life on Enceladus or Io? We break down the difference between magma and lava and what process it goes under to erupt. Should we be worried about supervolcanoes on our own planet? Is the volcanic caldera under Yellowstone really “due”? What determines the size of a volcano? How did Mars’s Olympus Mons get so big? Is there a reason we don’t have an Olympus Mons on Earth? 

Is there plate tectonics on Mars? Does volcanic activity cool the Earth’s interior? How is the Earth still warm? We discuss how the Earth’s molten interior created our magnetic field and how long it will continue to stay warm. Can asteroids generate volcanos? Can a volcano eruption send a rock to space? Could there be a planet made entirely of volcanoes? All that, plus, could we create an artificial volcano or cause an eruption ourselves? 

Thanks to our Patrons ILAN CAPONE, Ricardo Torres, Boiphamet, Sebastien Leroy, Parker, Katharine Hooper, and Alireza Sefat for supporting us this week.

NOTE: StarTalk+ Patrons can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free.


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