WXXI AM News

NASA

NASA

Three veteran astronauts will be inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame this spring, joining the 99 others who hold the honor.

The new inductees include Bishop Kearney High School graduate Pam Melroy. 

During her career with NASA, the former Rochester resident completed three missions devoted to the construction of the International Space Station.  She is one of just two women to have commanded a space shuttle mission.

It has been 50 years since the Apollo 11 moon landing, and we discuss what it took for the U.S. to meet John F. Kennedy's goal. What kind of technology did we need to develop? And what did we learn from the mission?

Our guests share the legacy of the moon landing, and discuss the current state of the space program and research. We also preview a number of local events and exhibits commemorating the moon landing. In studio:

Event Horizon Telescope collaboration et al.

Humanity got its first glimpse of a black hole on Wednesday, and it looks like a flaming doughnut or a glowing eye. The picture was created with data assembled from eight radio telescopes around the world.

Rochester native and NASA astrophysicist Jeremy Schnittman said the image was an exciting and profound discovery.

"When Einstein says that space-time is curved," Schnittman explained, "that's a nice, intuitive picture, but it turns out that it really is true. This is the very fabric of the underlying nature of our existence."

Monday marked 33 years since the space shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds into its flight. All seven crew members, including a teacher, were killed. It's a tragedy that shook many Americans and, according to some writers, ended the space age of innocence. 

We talk with representatives from the Challenger Learning Center about how space exploration -- and spaceflight tragedies -- have been taught and viewed over decades. In studio:

  • Peter Robson, mission commander for the Challenger Learning Center in Rochester
  • Andy Raab, mission commander for the Challenger Learning Center in Rochester

Harris Corporation

Harris Corporation has been awarded a nearly  $196 million contract to help build a space-based telescope.  

The work involves the Wide Field Infrared Survey  Telescope, or  WFIRST, for short.

Much of the work is being done by the Harris operations in Rochester, and Senator Chuck Schumer says the federal contract from NASA will help support 160 local jobs.

Laura Abplanalp  is Director of Civil and Commercial Imaging for Harris Space and Intelligence Systems.

NASA says it's time to "touch the sun." In 2018, the agency will send a spacecraft close to the sun's surface. NASA says the mission could help us understand some of the mysteries involving the star: why its atmosphere is hotter than its surface; what allows it to fling winds out at supersonic speeds; and more.

Our guests walk us through the details and explain what they mean for the future of space research and travel. In studio:

  • Brian Koberlein, senior lecturer of physics at RIT, and blogger for Forbes and One Universe at a Time
  • Roger Dube, research professor and director of the Science Exploration Program at RIT

Early Monday morning, in the pre-dawn hours, a fiery meteor was seen streaking across the sky in the Midwest. No one was hurt and it was largely harmless, but it was so large that it could be seen as far away as Nebraska and New York. The sighting left many people asking where it came from.

NASA researchers study meteors and other Near-Earth Objects, as well as the possibility of these objects hitting the Earth and causing larger scale disasters. However, funding for this research may be in question under the Trump administration. We discuss all of this with our guests: