Broadcast 626 (Special Edition)

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Dr. Alan Stern, the Executive Director of the Southwest Research Institute Space Science and Engineering Division in Boulder, CO was the guest for the first hour of this program. Dr. Stern began the discussion by talking about Pluto, the importance of dwarf planets and the science involved in discovering and understanding these planetary bodies. This led to a detailed discussion of the recent International Astronomical Union's (IAU) decision to change the definition of planets to exclude Pluto and other dwarf planets in our solar system and elsewhere. Dr. Stern explained to us why this is a bad idea and why the IAU action will likely not stand the test of time and be considered largely irrelevant. His discussion and explanations are great and I urge all of you to listen to Dr. Stern because he correctly shines the light on this decision, the science involved in planetary science and the importance of the type of work being done by researchers in this field. In addition to talking about the Pluto issue, we talked about Hubble and the upcoming Hubble repair mission and since Dr. Stern is the PI for the NASA New Horizon Pluto-Kuiper Belt mission now underway, we got a first hand glimpse into the mission, what scientists hope to find, the potential mysteries, and the mission operations so fundamental to the success of this exploration project. We also spent some time discussing science, voting on science issues and democracy in science. Be sure to listen to this part of the program. As Dr. Stern said, science is about adopting good ideas and rejecting bad ideas, not voting on what is a good or bad idea. Dr. Stern told us about the Southwest Research Institute which is headquartered in San Antonio, Texas with the Space Science and Engineering Division in Boulder. But the Institute does far more than space research and is in many different locations employing around 3,000 people. They are also hiring so check out job opportunities at their website which is The website for the Boulder division is Dr. Stern will return to The Space Show so save your questions and comments for his next visit. The last segment of the show today was devoted to Open Lines. Nobody called in on open lines but there were several email and chat questions.



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19 Nov 2006 Dr. Alan Stern
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