Conceptual image from MIT showing the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) mission.
Conceptual image from MIT showing the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) mission.

Mission – Exoplanets, with Mike Massimino

Shown: Conceptual image of the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) mission. Image credit: MIT.
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About This Episode

On this episode of StarTalk All-Stars we’re hunting for exoplanets and exploring the technology that will take us to the stars and beyond. Astro Mike Massimino, two-time space shuttle veteran and Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Columbia University, is back alongside comic co-host Chuck Nice and David Kipping, returning StarTalk All-Stars guest and Assistant Professor of Astronomy at Columbia University, to answer fan-submitted Cosmic Queries on a range of topics from exoplanets to sun-sized telescopes. You’ll hear about the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), and why WFIRST is on top of every astronomer’s “To Do” list when it comes to projects up for launch. Find out more about WFIRST’s proposed mission, which involves hunting for exoplanets and dark energy. Investigate NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), which began hunting for exoplanets in July 2018 and is expected to find thousands of planets during its two-year mission. Although somewhat similar in price, David explains the key differences between TESS and the Kepler Spacecraft. You’ll also learn how we look for dark energy and dark matter on Earth, which includes searching abandoned gold mines for collisions of high energy cosmic rays and dark matter. David helps us understand the science behind gravitational lensing. We ponder the feasibility of a telescope that can see the surfaces of exoplanets similar to the view of the Earth that Google Maps provides today. Discover why TESS is probably not the right telescope to find Planet 9 in our solar system and why the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) better fits the part. You’ll also find out if certain astronomical satellites are decommissioned spy satellites. We debate whether we’ll ever be able to see past the observable edge of the universe and if we’ll travel to exoplanets in the future. Chuck tells us why he’s not a fan of Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence (METI), and David gives us an update on the James Webb Space Telescope and when we can expect to see it launch. 

NOTE: All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free here: Mission – Exoplanets, with Mike Massimino.

In This Episode

  • Host

    Mike Massimino

    Mike Massimino
    All-Stars Host, Astronaut, Prof. of Mechanical Engineering, Columbia University
  • Co-Host

    Chuck Nice

    Chuck Nice
  • Guest

    David Kipping

    David Kipping
    Assistant Professor of Astronomy at Columbia University

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