Click here for an archive of selected past Hangouts.
The American Astronautical Society and the American Astronomical Society inaugurated a new “Future in Space” series of Google Hangouts in 2014. Here is a list of some past Hangouts, which are now scheduled for an hour on the 1st and 3rd Thursdays of each month at 3:00 pm eastern.
“Footsteps to Mars: Was the Desert World Once an Ocean Planet?”
November 3, 2016
“Future in Space: Beautiful Ballooning…And More”
October 20, 2016
“SOFIA’s Flight to the Stars: NASA’s Airborne Astronomy Program”
September 15, 2016
“The Nearest Earth-sized Planet Discovered Around Proxima Centauri”
September 8, 2016
The Next Footsteps to Mars: A Base Camp in the Mars System”
September 1, 2016
In this current series of Hangout discussions we will hear from experts on breaking the gravitational reins to enable the first human expedition beyond low earth orbit in a half century. Join Tony Darnell, Harley Thronson and Alberto Conti as they discuss with Tim Cichan and Steve Jolly, both from Lockheed Martin, and Darby Cooper from Boeing, a new scenario for human exploration of the Red Planet.
Living Earths: The Astronomical Answer to “Are We Alone?”
August 19, 2016
NASA has begun four concept studies of major space observatories that could launch sometime in the coming couple decades. In this fourth in our series on these studies, we discuss the Habitable Exoplanet (HabEx) concept. HabEx is a design for a highly capable observatory with one of the most ambitious and exciting goals: the astronomical search for life-bearing planets in the solar neighborhood.
The First Human Missions on Mars (II): Next Steps in the Footsteps to Mars
August 5, 2016
In this current series of Hangout discussions we will hear from experts on long-duration space habitation, who have been overseeing capabilities under development to enable the long human missions to the red Planet.
Cosmic Birth and Living Earths: A Flagship UVOIR Observatory in NASA’s Future? July 13, 2016
NASA has begun a series of studies of four concepts of major space observatories that could launch sometime in the next couple of decades. Please join our regular hosts Tony Darnell, Alberto Conti, and Harley Thronson, as they discuss with Dr. Aki Roberge and Mr. Lee Fienberg, both from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, the science that will be revealed by a large telescope.
Ripples in Space: Gravitational Waves in Our Future June 17, 2016
After decades of effort, the era of gravitational wave astronomy is finally here. This Hangout will feature a discussion of LISA Pathfinder, a mission led by the European Space Agency with contributions from several European Member States and NASA. Paul McNamara of ESA and Ira Thorpe of NASA will explain the exciting first results from LISA Pathfinder, which were published and announced on June 7. will be revealed by a telescope observing X-Rays emanating from our Universe.
The Mesmerizing Universe: X-Ray Vision for the Stars May 20, 2016
NASA has begun a series of studies of four concepts that will in a few years’ time produce candidate designs for a major space observatory to begin construction later next decade. One of these is the X-Ray Surveyor. The X-Ray Surveyor mission will probe some of the most explosive and high-energy objects in our Universe, and will provide insight into the seeds of Black Holes, the formation and evolution of galaxies and clusters of galaxies and even of the stars themselves. Please join our regular hosts Tony Darnell, Alberto Conti, and Harley Thronson, as they discuss with Dr. Alexey Vikhlinin from the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, Dr. Laura Lopez from Ohio State, Dr. Steve Allen from Stanford and Dr. Jessica Gaskin from NASA Marshall Space Flight Center the science that will be revealed by a telescope observing X-Rays emanating from our Universe.
Whose Bugs? Avoiding Planetary Contamination in the Scientific Exploration of Mars May 6, 2016
Scientists have been exploring the surface of Mars with increasingly sophisticated missions ever since NASA’s Viking missions in 1976. Each successful mission has revealed even more mysteries of the Red Planet. Now, as future missions may be closing in on whether Mars is home to life, scientists must also make sure that our robots are not carrying Earth life. Or, when samples one day are returned; Martian bugs are not brought home to Earth. Join Tony Darnell, Harley Thronson and Alberto Conti as they discuss with Drs. Jennifer Stern and Cassie Conley future scientific programs for Mars exploration and how both planets are protected against contaminating each other.
Exploring the Low Temperature Universe April 15, 2016
NASA has begun a series of studies of four concepts that will in a few years’ time produce candidate designs for a major space observatory to begin construction later next decade. We will be in the coming months discussing all four concept studies. Although cataclysmic explosions and the fiery furnaces of massive stars are attention-grabbers, many of the most critically important events and physical processes in astronomy take place in the coolest objects in the cosmos: regions within which stars and planets are born, as just one example. Please join our regular hosts, Tony Darnell, Alberto Conti, and Harley Thronson, as they discuss with Dr. Margaret Meixner from the Space Telescope Science Institute and Dr. David Leisawitz of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center the science that can be revealed by an observatory operating at the longest infrared wavelengths.
Scientific Exploration of Mars and Human Spaceflight April 1, 2016
Scientists have been exploring Mars with increasingly sophisticated missions ever since NASA’s Mariner 4 mission in 1964. Each successful mission has revealed even more mysteries of the Red Planet. Now, with space agencies and industrial partners developing future human missions in greater detail, scientists are coordinating with the human space flight community to develop joint strategies in preparation for the day when astronauts will explore the planet’s surface. Join Tony Darnell, Harley Thronson and Alberto Conti as they discuss with Drs. Pan Conrad and Lindsay Hays future scientific goals for Mars exploration and how working together with human exploration may make them possible.
How Science Missions are Selected for Operation on the International Space Station March 18, 2016
Have you ever wondered how science missions are selected for operation on the International Space Station? What are the technical challenges for building projects that will be operated onboard and why is the ISS important for their success? Join Tony Darnell, Harley Thronson and Alberto Conti as they discuss the scientific and technical challenges for operating a science-driven payload on the ISS with scientists who are planning, or are currently operating, instruments on the ISS: The Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) project, devoted to the study of neutron stars, and the Cloud-Aerosol Transport System (CATS), which is studying the structure of our Earth’s atmosphere.
Footsteps to Mars – Robotic Missions March 4, 2016
Today, almost 40 years since the first robotic landings on Mars by the Viking missions, advanced scientific exploration of Mars is in full swing, with ongoing investigations into the history of climate, the possibility of records of past life, and with a continuing focus on the habitability of the planet. Thanks to the past 16 years of the NASA/JPL Mars Exploration Program, the Red Planet is one the world’s most significant scientific frontier, with recent discoveries of organic molecules, variations in the trace gas methane, and a compelling geologic history involving sedimentary systems and the critical role of water. The next steps in Mars exploration are now at hand, with increasingly sophisticated missions that will probe the structure of the planet’s interior (InSight), analyze Martian materials from up to 2 m deep (ESA ExoMars 2018 Rover), and collect samples for eventual return to Earth (NASA’s Mars 2020 rover). These robotic missions will serve to pave the way for a transition in the 2020s to an era in which preparation for human exploration emerges as NASA continues its Journey to Mars into the 2030s. Please join our regular “Footsteps to Mars” hosts, Tony Darnell, Alberto Conti, and Harley Thronson who will discuss these missions and more with Drs. Dan McCleese (JPL) and Jim Garvin (NASA GSFC).
The Search for Planet Nine February 19, 2016
Konstantin Batygin and Michael Brown recently uncovered evidence that a giant planet in the outer reaches of our solar system is pushing around the orbits of the most distant objects known beyond Neptune. The orbits of these distant objects, in what is called the Kuiper Belt, contain the gravitational clues which reveal how big the planet — which they call Planet Nine — is and where it is hiding. They have embarked on a search for Planet Nine and hope that within a few years astronomers will be studying the new planet for clues to its origin and what information it holds about the formation of the solar system. Join Tony Darnell, Alberto Conti and Harley Thronson as they discuss the possibility of a ninth planet in our solar system.
Gravitational Waves February 12, 2016
One hundred years ago this month, Albert Einstein revolutionized our understanding of gravity — space and time were no longer a passive stage on which the universe evolved, but instead a dynamic participant. Perhaps Einstein’s most fascinating prediction is the existence of gravitational waves, disturbances in spacetime that are generated by cataclysms such as the merger of two black holes. Scientists are on the cusp of making the first direct detection of these waves using ground-based interferometers and are making the first steps towards building gravitational-wave observatories in space. These efforts promise to usher in an entirely new field of astronomy. Join Tony Darnell, Alberto Conti and Harley Thronson along with guests Shane Larson (Adler Planetarium/Northwestern University), and Jess McIver (Caltech) of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, for a discussion of the science and technology behind gravitational waves and the instruments used to observe them, including the Advanced Laser Interferometric Gravitational-wave Observatory (A-LIGO).
Footsteps to Mars: Where Will We First Land with Humans on Mars? February 5, 2016
NASA’s first Landing Sites/Exploration Zones Workshop for Human Missions to the surface of Mars was held this past October. The agency is soliciting proposals for locations on Mars that would be of high scientific research value while also providing natural resources to enable human explorers to land, live and work safely on the Red Planet. The first human explorers on the journey to Mars are expected to be mobile, with the ability to explore long distances from their habitat, a region being called an “Exploration Zone.” In current planning activities, NASA assumes an Exploration Zone radius of approximately 60 miles (100 km). NASA plans to use existing assets in orbit at Mars, such as the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) and the Odyssey spacecraft, to support the selection process of potential Exploration Zones. In this Hangout, participants in the workshop discuss the recommendations derived from the participation of some 200 scientists, engineers, and technologists on where to first land and explore the Red Planet.
How and Why We Try to Observe Gravity Waves November 20, 2015
One hundred years ago this month, Albert Einstein revolutionized our understanding of gravity: space and time were no longer a passive stage on which the universe evolved, but instead a dynamic participant. Perhaps Einstein’s most fascinating prediction is gravitational waves – disturbances in spacetime that are generated by cataclysms such as the merger of two black holes. Scientists are on the cusp of making the first direct detection of these waves using ground-based interferometers and are making the first steps towards building gravitational wave observatories in space. These efforts promise to usher in an entirely new field of astronomy. Join Tony Darnell, Alberto Conti and Harley Thronson along with guests Shane Larson (Adler Planetarium/Northwestern University), Joey Shapiro-Key (University of Texas) and Ira Thorpe (NASA Goddard) for a discussion of the science and technology behind gravitational waves and the instruments used to observe them.
Future in Space Hangout: Starshades and Coronagraphs: Essential Technologies for Finding Life in the Universe October 16, 2015
NASA is developing ambitious future missions intended to find signs of life on worlds around other stars. Those clues would be present in the planet’s atmosphere: water vapor indicating an ocean, oxygen from green plans, methane from bacteria. To achieve this challenging goal, we must somehow massively suppress the blazing light from the stars to see faint planets that orbit them. Two technologies being developed to achieve this: star shades and coronagraphs. Our guests today are experts in the technologies and the motivation for pursuing them.
Future in Space Hangout: How Engineers Design and Build the Most Ambitious Space Observatories September 18, 2015
Space observatories are among the most challenging and complex machines ever designed and operated, requiring precise operation of complex systems within a very challenging environment at enormous distances from human operators. How has this been done successfully for almost half a century? What are the trade secrets of observatory designers? What are the key capabilities that need to be developed and tested? And what does the future hold for even larger space observatories? Please join Tony Darnell Dr.Alberto Conti as we discuss the future of space telescopes.
Future in Space Hangout: Space Astronomy in the 2020s and Beyond August 14, 2015
Are we alone in the Universe? Are other Earth-like worlds common? Do any have signs of life? How did life emerge from a lifeless cosmic beginning? Curious humans have asked these questions for millennia, but for the first time we can foresee actually answering them. With the right technology, and the right telescope, we could soon search nearby exoplanets for signs of life, and tell the cosmic story of how this life came to be. Join Tony Darnell, Dr. Alberto Conti and me as we discuss the future of space astronomy in the 2020’s and beyond with Dr. Marc Postman and Dr. Jason Tumlinson of the Space Telescope Science Institute.
Future in Space Hangout: The Multitude of Planets July 17, 2015
Recent space telescope missions such as Kepler and Spitzer have given us unprecedented data that have shown that there are many, many planets orbiting other stars. Current estimates show that there are enough planets in our galaxy that for every star in the Milky Way, there are on average 1.6 planets in orbit around them. Many of these planets are like the Earth and have the potential to harbor life. In our first FutureInSpace Hangout, we will explore this relatively brand new study in space astronomy with expert members of the American Astronomical Society, Dr. Natalie Batalha and Dr Sara Seager. We will discuss the current state of exoplanet research and look at what exciting results may be in store for us as we deploy the next generation of space telescope like the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), the Wide-Field Infrared Space Telescope (WFIRST), the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) and the future High Definition Space Telescope (HDST).
Extreme Precipitation May 1, 2015
Hosted by the American Astronautical Society, American Meteorological Society and the International Association of Emergency Managers, Extreme Precipitation is a hangout presented by Northrop Grumman that is devoted to discussing the impacts and mitigation of heavy precipitation events to help create a Weather Ready Nation. You’ll hear from some of the top voices in weather from government, media and academia as they discuss what it takes to serve communities dealing with all kinds of extreme precipitation: hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding and winter storms.
Women in Weather March 25, 2015
Hosted by the American Astronautical Society and American Meteorological Society and presented by Northrop Grumman, Women in Weather is a Hangout that will discuss weather workforce issues and opportunities. You’ll hear from some of the top female voices across the weather space, some in organizations you may not know have weather professionals: government, television, the oil and gas industry, commercial aviation and the non-profit sector.
Overcoming Extreme Weather September 18, 2014
The one hour digital event, presented by Northrop Grumman, will bring together representatives from the national weather community to discuss challenges in forecasting and preparing for extreme weather. The panel will also discuss advances in science and technology designed to aid experts in delivering better information to protect of life and property. Participants: Laura Delgado López, Secure World Foundation (moderator); Dr. Louis Uccellini, director, National Weather Service, NOAA; Jason Samenow, weather editor, The Washington Post; Maria LaRosa, meteorologist, The Weather Channel; Dr. Marshall Shepherd, past president, American Meteorological Society and Georgia athletic association professor, University of Georgia; Amanda Mitchell, Millersville University graduate student.