Broadcast 3636 Michael Carroll

  • The Space Foundation Conference

  • The Space Foundation Conference

  • The Space Foundation Conference

  • The Space Foundation Conference

The Space Foundation Conference

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Guest:  Michael Carroll; Topics:  Michael's book "Envisioning Exoplanets: Searching for Life in the Galaxy," exoplanet history, searches, findings, new search tools coming on line, inspiration for students plus lots more.

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We welcomed Michael Carroll to the program to discuss his new book, "Envisioning Exoplanets: Searching for Life in the Galaxy," Michael share is excellent current exoplanet knowledge, findings, and exploration goals with us.  I started the discussion by asking our guest how he developed his interest in exoplanets.  Don't miss but like many of us, his interest in space, life out there, other planets and such was developed as a young child so seeing it evolve into an exoplanet interest was no surprise.  In response to general questions, our guest suggested that the universe was likely teeming with life, possibly even in our solar system.  He said this was a very exciting time, a golden era of opportunity. 

In specific commentary about exoplanets, he suggested most were around red dwarfs and why.  He explained why those orbiting yellow suns similar to the Earth system were harder to detect.  He citied several exoplanet systems that have recently been in the news such as the Trappist-1 planetary system.  Next up was our first caller Ft. Worth John but I broke in as I had a health update I wanted to give about Space Show listener and caller Marshall.  I provided listeners with his Covid update and wished him well from us all.  I then asked John for his question or comment and thanked Michael and John for allowing me to interrupt the discussion.  John wanted to know about searching for and finding O2 in the atmosphere of exoplanets.  Our guest said this was still very hard to do, described some of the spectral analysis challenges in doing it but thought we would soon improve with better telescopes and tools and be able to do it.  John also asked him about his red dwarf comment which led to more about his yellow sun comment.

Michael next spoke about new observatories coming on line that were far more sensitive than what we have now.  He said the technology was out pacing the budgets.  He then explained why a bigger telescope was better for finding exoplanets and addressed the potential capabilities of the JWST once it becomes operational.  He mentioned many existing telescopes including the HST.  Also mentioned were new exoplanet search missions such as TESS, the ESA Cheops and others.  He mentioned that the larger Neptune size exoplanets were easier to find due to their size.  Listener Mary with an email out of Denver asked about exoplanet research in both China and Russia.  Michael suggested most of the research was the US and Europe but he mentioned others contributing countries to the field.  He talked about his interviews with exoplanet researchers at both Goddard and NASA.  Listener James sent in a note wondering if any exoplanet moons had not yet been discovered. The answer was a qualified no but our guest talked about progress being made in the area and some searches which were not yet definitive. 

Fremont John called to suggest that chance played a part in life and that the development of life on a planet required very long term sustainability.  John referenced the Drake Equation and the Fermi Paradox.  Don't miss the discussion John and Michael had about the need for very long term life conditions to be sustainable to have life, i.e. the role played by chance.  John suggested Earth was lucky.  What do you think?  Please post your thoughts on our blog.

Exoplanet research budgets came up with a questions from Shelly who wanted to know if our guest thought the exoplanet budgets were secure.  Our guest said this was unknown but made the case for them to be secure.  Another listener sent in an email wanting to know if there were entrepreneurial and private capital opportunities arising in the exoplanet research field.  Our guest had interesting things to say in response to listener Franklin.  Don't miss these comments.  The final listener comment was in an email by Carl from Kansas city.  Carl wanted to know if the exoplanet field was inspiring young students and others to go into related fields in their higher education and even in their work.  He said it was very inspiring and provided us with a few examples. 

Before the program ended, Michael talked about art and sci-fi with exoplanets, answered my questions about the scientists "envisioning" exoplanets and then summarized his thoughts and his great book which I certainly recommend to you.  In closing he told us about a new novel he was writing that involved time travel.  I invited him back on the show to discuss that book when it comes out later this year.  Remember, if you buy his book through Amazon, use the OGLF link to Amazon on our home page as Amazon will donate a portion of the sales price to TSS.

Please post your comments/questions for Michael Carroll on our blog.  You can reach our guest through me.




We will discuss Michael's new book, "Envisioning Exoplanets: Searching For Life In The Galaxy"

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29 Jan 2021 Michael Carroll
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