This Week in Space 97 Transcript

Please be advised this transcript is AI-generated and may not be word for word. Time codes refer to the approximate times in the ad-supported version of the show.

00:00 - Rod Pyle (Host)
On this episode. This week in space, we're talking about the Europa Clipper mission to Jupiter's moon with project staff scientists, aaron Leonard. Stay with us Podcasts you love from people you trust. This is this week in space, episode number 97, recorded on February 9th 2024 attempt no landing there. Hello everyone, and a warm welcome from a cold, uncaring solar system. And you're back to this week in space, the Europa Clipper edition. I'm Rod Pyle, editor, chief of ad astra magazine. It's my honor to be joined, as always, by the intriguing Tarek Malik, editor in space. Editor, chief of space comm. How are you today?

00:50 - Tariq Malik (Host)
I'll take, I'll take. Editor of space I'll take that. No, I think that that sounds like a good title to have. So, oh, doing, well, doing. Now, rod, I finally figured out we're gonna watch the solar eclipse later this year, so where I have a little bit, and hopefully in Saranac Lake in In New York, seems like a really pretty place to go see it. But we're still working out some travel arrangements. We'll see.

01:10 - Rod Pyle (Host)
We'll see, but it'll be stale by then I'll be down in Austin, texas, where it'll be nice and fresh by the time, be stale. Today we are going to be joined as our pleasure to be joined by Aaron Leonard, who's a project staff scientist on the Europa Clipper mission at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Before that, couple of housekeeping moments. First, I want people to remember that twit needs your help and we want to keep our show free To you. So please consider joining club twit for seven dollars a month. We'd appreciate it and the network would too.

01:47 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Now my joke I was waiting on like pins and needles.

01:52 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Yeah well, those pins will soon be puncturing your, your posterior.

01:56 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Hey Tariq.

01:58 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Yes, Rod. What does Earth say to tease the other planets?

02:02 - Tariq Malik (Host)
I don't know, I don't know. What does Earth say?

02:05 - Rod Pyle (Host)
you guys have no life.

02:10 - Tariq Malik (Host)
I didn't know our home planet was a jerk.

02:11 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Wow, yeah well, and because that I found that joke this time. Oh. I like it the jerky credit for it, as always. We invite you no, no, we implore you to please join the lame jokes Space joke squad and set us your best or worst base joke. You guys aren't keeping up, so get with it.

Don't forget to do us a solid and make sure to like, subscribe and all that cool podcast stuff. Now let's get the headlines, and our first headline is not a happy one. This is a space news and and just about every other Press outlet in the country in the last couple of days, and so we're talking about the JPL layoffs. Now I just want to predicate this by saying you know, I've worked in and out of the lab and around the lab for Decades because I live close to it. So of course we follow the news because it's a local NASA field center and We've had rounds of layoffs Probably on average about every eight to ten years for decades, sometimes savage, but for some reason this time, which is in the eight to ten percent range of the staff and contractors, made International headlines. Yeah, yeah, which was kind of interesting.

03:24 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Well, yeah, which I know so so just to just to kind of put the the facts out there, basically this week NASA leadership at JPL as well as as at headquarters because the the NASA administrator, bill Nelson, had a whole Statement on on this but they announced that they were they were laying off about 530 employees, that's 8%, and 40 contractors, that's about 8% of the workforce there at At at the jet propulsion laboratory with them and they're saying that it's it's part of the efforts because of just some budget stuff that they're facing. They say specifically that it's because of the lack of an actual official fiscal year 2024 budget that Congress keeps passing these continuing resolutions, which is Affecting their ability to plan what they need to spend, plus cuts to the Mars sample return mission, which is a huge project, of course. At at jet propulsion laboratory they land things on Mars. That's like what they're known for, you know, and this project that has been under increasing scrutiny because of its, its, its budget, you know, in in in Washington and and and its hurdles as well. There was like a recent report about just how challenging it was and that it was gonna be more difficult and more Expensive than than than than previously thought has been Kind of like a key, a key driver, and so the, the folks at Space News and I believe this was Jeff Faust yes, it was him, the, the, the man with the plan over at Space News.

You know he flagged that that that these layoffs were in response to NASA's decision back in November to cut budget spending on the Mars sample return mission, because they're operating on this continuing resolution at 2023 levels, not at 2024 levels or anything. That that doesn't include for the extra spending they need to really develop the sample return mission, which is like a. You know, there there's there's big differences there, like in the in the, the house, they have like a billion dollar funding mission for for this 949 million, but then there's only 300 million of funding for that mission in in the Senate and they don't know NASA doesn't know what they can plan for. So they have to, like, make their spending Decisions now for what they might end up getting. It's just really hard to see because and I think that to your point and I'll try to keep it short, but to your point about why this cut, these cuts are getting the, the attention now right is Because of the highs that were coming off of.

You know, just last week NASA said goodbye to the ingenuity helicopter, a JPL project that was designed for one month, lasted three years, designed for five flights, flew more than 70.

They forgot these two nuclear powered rovers exploring Mars, doing gang buster work, and they are known for daring, mighty things. So the over, in the last few Few months, they have come off of all of these highs, of all these amazing things that they've been doing, and they're not low profile. I mean the the helicopter itself was international news. And then you get hit a week later with these substantial workforce layoffs From the people that brought you all of that and that's kind of, I think, the sticker shock from the public side. It's like we have these people that can do these amazing things, build things that last, you know, years, decades, even on other planets, and now we're gonna cut funding there because of what's going on in Washington right now, which doesn't make a lot of sense, because if you want to do the big things kind of have to pay for them, you know, and it's why we've seen a lot of challenges with other parts of the space program too.

07:06 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Well, I think you bring up a good point about the, the value for money spent at JPL. So there's been a lot of talk about oh, this is because of Mars sample return that budgets ballooned to ten billion dollars, which is in James Webb's space telescope range. So it's a lot, and we've been studying Mars sample return since the late 60s. Soviets looked hard at it, we looked hard at it. In both cases it was always gonna be expensive. In the old days they were talking about, I think, two or three Saturn 5 launches to make it work. So it's a big, heavy program. It was gonna cost a lot of money. Let's just bear in mind I Suggest that, as you pointed out many times over on this show, you know the value return that JPL gives us yeah you get a rover like opportunity that's supposed to last three months and last the 14 freaking years.

I know you know what would happen on the Mars sample return. I mean, you're still gonna have rovers left on the planet, a fetch rover, I believe and maybe even two helicopters.

We don't you know after all is said and done. So it's just you know and just for perspective Not that I'm pointing any particular fingers here, but oh yes, I am. The Mars sample return budget is about 113th of what the F-35 will cost within a couple of years. Not that we don't need fighter planes. Good Lord people, can you just shut the tap off and stop paying for it? All right, I'll shut up. Now spacecom brings us axiom three astronauts.

08:39 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Splashdown. That's right. This is like hot off the presses because this happened this morning. But the latest private mission to the International Space Station is in the books. That's axiom spaces, a x3 Mission which launched for astronauts to the space station on January 18th. It came back to Earth today. That is about 21 days of in orbit time and that is the longest the longest private mission to the space station for axiom space. So that's a new record.

This mission was really interesting for a couple reasons. Number one it was the first all-European axiom space kind of private mission to fly on a SpaceX rocket, launched on the SpaceX crew Dragon freedom, and it included, like their chief astronaut, axiom space, that's Michael Lopez Allegria. If that name sounds familiar, it's because he's a former NASA astronaut who also commanded the International Space Station and this is a second flight, so he's the first two-time flyer on Axiom space. He's the he I commanded the first mission to a x1. Peggy Whitson commanded a x2 last year and and then it had Another familiar name in private space flight Walter Via day, I think it's how you pronounce it. He is an Italian Air Force Colonel and the reason it sounds familiar is because he also launched on on a Virgin Galactic Mission, their first kind of commercial flight last year, so he's got some orbital time in him. He was the pilot for the mission. Then you have Turkey's first out, astronaut Alper. Just your, of, just your, of watch Jezero, of easy for you to say Easy for you to say.

I'm very embarrassed now but Jezero of a chi and he was the free sea turkey's first astronaut and he had a whole science mission in campaign. He actually looked at the president while he was up there and then rounding up the crew. And this is an interesting one and this is a sweetens Marcus one, a European space agency reserve Astronaut, and so he's the first of the reserve astronaut course to fly him. That's a program that ESA put together where they sign people on for countries that don't like maybe have the funding to Train an astronaut full-time but they'll have them in reserve and then if a flight, if the country buys a flight, and they'll train the ash out to fly. So interesting, interesting path to space for him.

He took some amazing photos, by the way, marcus one, of the earth from space, including on his last night in orbit, like sunsets and like nighttime. Earth is absolutely gorgeous that people should go back and check out. But you know the 56 different experiments over the last three weeks and so it wasn't just space tourism for tourism sake and finally they got like an extra four or five days out of it because their their landing was delayed by by weather on earth. They landed about just off the shore of Daytona Beach, florida, and, and, and so they had to wait for clear weather, and that was whether they'd been delaying, like NASA's launch of the pace mission, to the last week too. So it was a Lot of impeding, a lot of traffic going up and coming down.

11:55 - Rod Pyle (Host)
And finally from spacecom, we have what sounds like the next Tom Hanks mystery mega movie Renaissance era astronomy text hide secret message.

12:05 - Tariq Malik (Host)
That's right, that's right. So this one came from Elizabeth Howell over at spacecom. She found this story and it's absolutely awesome. Basically, the Rochester Institute of Technology, which is in Buffalo, new York, received a couple of Renaissance era books as like gifts, that were from like a collector, someone that had them, and one of them actually is by Copernicus. But the other is this 15th century book by a 13th century scientist and monk called Johannes Day and his another name Sacrobusco I think I've pronounced that correctly and it's Johannes's book. That has these scientists, these researchers at the university peaked, because they think it's what's called a plim set. Right? Do you know what a plim set is, rod? Because I had to look this word up today.

12:59 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Not until you suggest it no.

13:00 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Yeah, so it is, it is. It is a book where the you know the material that they used to make these books was really precious, and if they don't want a book but they want to write another one, they would wash it off and then write a new book on top of it, and apparently they think that's what happened with this book that they have on the parchment, yeah.

So that the parchment has this previous book underneath it. What is there now? And the interesting thing about these two books together is that Johannes's book, which is in Latin and it's called the sphere Monday on the sphere of the world, puts the earth at the center of the whole universe, right. And then they have this book with the book, the 16th century book by Nicholas Copernicus, which is that earth is not the center, that the sun is the center. So you've got these kind of juxtaposing views of earth's role in the cosmos, and so they're going to start using instruments to look at Johannes's book where they can kind of look past the surface text and see the remains of the original text behind it, and we're going to see, like, what's in there in the near future and it's just kind of a neat, kind of mystery story for ancient astronomy that I think, as you mentioned, would make Dan proud, dan Brown proud.

14:21 - Rod Pyle (Host)
And, and we'll finally prove that the earth is in fact flat, because we've been working on that for a long time. All right, and finally, your last headline Ant Pruitt's Kid. Oh, give a nod to Ant.

14:36 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Yeah, yeah. So I saw, I saw in Ant's Twitter that his son has formally declared for Oregon to attend there and play, and play football. So just a big, big, huge congrats. Congrats to shout out their big achievement, obviously big, big milestone for the family. And yeah, go go ducks.

14:57 - Rod Pyle (Host)
And Ant was was our previous board up and co-producer and friend of the family. So hats off to Ant. Be nice to your kid, he's working hard. All right, so back with JPL's Aaron Leonard of the Europa Clipper mission Go nowhere, okay, aaron, thanks so much for joining us today. It's a real pleasure having you here.

15:18 - Erin Leonard (Guest)
Thanks for having me.

15:19 - Rod Pyle (Host)
I appreciate you taking time out of your busy day, creating the future of humanity. Can you tell us a little bit about what you do with Europa Clipper and how you got there?

15:30 - Erin Leonard (Guest)
Yeah, so on Europa Clipper, I'm a project staff scientist, which means I work in the project science group for the project scientist and what we really do there is. One of the things we do is kind of bridge the communication gap between the scientists on the team and the engineering team and just make sure that sort of information is flowing freely between between the two. Right, Because the engineers are building the spacecraft which is really great and the scientists have to be able to get all the scientists science that they need from the spacecraft eventually. So we want to make sure that all that information and communication is flowing very freely. The other thing I kind of do is we have 10 investigations on Europa Clipper and so just kind of organizing them all together and making sure that they are moving in the same direction. We're moving together as one team. That's another part of my job.

16:21 - Rod Pyle (Host)
So years ago I wrote a book about the Curiosity Project and part of that involved going to a couple of the landing site selection workshops that they had. And I don't know if your job has any similarity to the dynamic I saw there, but watching the science people and that includes geologists and geophysicists and lots of other people and the engineers debate about landing sites where the course the scientists want all the interesting rumpled up rocks and valleys and canons and mountains and all that, and the engineers are saying, now just give me a nice flat plane like a pool table made out of dirt. I mean, do you have to mediate those kind of concerns or is it more immediate than that?

17:01 - Erin Leonard (Guest)
Definitely. I mean, we are thinking about how we're going to operate the spacecraft, and even direct analogies of that come up. The scientists want every little bit that they can possibly get. They want to eke every little bit of science that they possibly can out of every observation, out of every flyby, and the engineers also want that. But they also want to make sure the spacecraft is safe and that we stay within different constraints. So it's always a compromise between those two things, and scientists and engineers don't always speak the exact same language either. So making sure you're bridging that sort of language gap between the two groups also, I think, is critical.

17:46 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Can I ask Erin about your path just to space, right? Because I was doing some research earlier. I saw that you studied astrophysics and planetary science at Berkeley and then you have a PhD, so we should be calling you doctor, I think, right In planetary geology, and I'm just curious if that was something that you had always been interested in that then led you to the role that you have now, or did you kind of fall into planetary geology by accident, through some event that just grabbed you and wouldn't let you go?

18:25 - Erin Leonard (Guest)
These are fortunate events, I'll say so. I came to planetary science. I went to school, like you said, at Berkeley, for originally I really wanted to do math. All I knew is that I was good at math and so it was great. And then, as soon as they stopped using numbers in math just what they do really in college and stuff it became a little too theoretical for me and so I was like why don't I do applied math? Applied math is essentially physics. Okay, but physics is really broad. Why don't we just pick a branch of physics? Astrophysics sounds great.

I have always been into space. My dad works as a rocket scientist for the Air Force for a long time while I was growing up, so he really introduced me to space when I was little, and so I've always been fascinated with space, so astrophysics really called to me. And then, after a couple of years of doing astrophysics in college, that also became a little just out there for me lots of black holes, dark energy, dark matter, things you can't see, things will never really be able to prove one way or another, things that get a little philosophical, and so I wanted to do something a little more tangible, and so I found Planetary Science, really fell in love with Planetary Science and just started working on icy satellites for my PhD. So I didn't even know anything really about Europa before I started my PhD and I hadn't really taken much of any geology before I started my PhD and now I call myself a geologist. I've done some structural geology on Earth and on icy bodies around the solar system.

20:00 - Tariq Malik (Host)
That's amazing, that's amazing.

20:02 - Erin Leonard (Guest)
Yeah, so kind of a random, a randomish walk, not too random randomish walk.

20:06 - Rod Pyle (Host)
See Tark, we had had better parental support, we would have been better mathematicians. That's where I blame it.

20:13 - Tariq Malik (Host)
It's interesting because the first story and then I'm sorry, rod, you can go ahead the first story I ever did ForceBasecom I ever wrote as a member of the team, like 20, whatever years ago was about Europa and it's a possible ocean there. So I'm very enthralled at how you got there as well, because it's kind of like an. This mission is like a little bit of a bookend for me hopefully not an end, but like I guess the part of that goes to the next shelf.

20:43 - Erin Leonard (Guest)
Yes, Next chapter? Yeah, next book in the series.

20:48 - Rod Pyle (Host)
So we've heard a lot about icy moons over the last couple of decades, and with good reason. What made Europa a good choice as a target, as opposed to Enceladus or somewhere else?

21:00 - Erin Leonard (Guest)
Yeah, so well. Yeah, so, like you mentioned, with Enceladus, right, we think Europa is one of the best places to look for life in our solar system. That also includes Enceladus. Europa is and for slightly different reasons, europa and Enceladus have both their strengths and their weaknesses in that sort of habitability question, whether they're potentially habitable by extraterrestrial life. Europa has the benefit well one, of being a little closer. It also, I would say, has the benefit of having salts on the surface and evidence for salt, since salts are really important, right, because it's giving us that evidence that water and rock are interacting within Europa, and it's also you're producing oxidants on the surface that, if you can get them into a reducing ocean, would provide an energy source for life that might be in that ocean.

21:56 - Tariq Malik (Host)
And I mean like Europa, just just for folks that might not be aware. I mean it's, it's not like a small Moon that we're talking about. This is the sixth largest moon in the solar system, one of the five prime that Galileo himself saw. That's why they're you know, they're called the Galilean Moons themselves. But the ocean, like how long have we known about the iciness of Europa and that it is this target that we want to go and send a mission like Europa Clipper To? Because it, I mean I mentioned, you know, the last 20 years for me, but this, this, it feels like in the last few years, the Oceaness of the icy part of a Europa seems to have really Just like we've been learning much, much more of it now and I'm just curious if you can kind of like explain how we, how we, figured out that it wasn't just a big ball of rock in the first, yeah, yeah, so I mean we knew it wasn't just a big ball of rock.

22:49 - Erin Leonard (Guest)
Ever since Voyager flew by, I Voyage to and and captured images of Europa and we thought, right, when Voyager was going out to the outer solar system, that we were just Going to kind of see all these dead and cratered icy moons out there.

And then, when you took pictures of Europa, when you took pictures of Io, organa, me, right, you saw these really potentially very active moons Out in the outer solar system, something we totally didn't really expect. So, like you said, europa is about the size of our moon, it has an ice shell with a liquid water ocean underneath, and the way we think we know it has that liquid water ocean underneath the ice shell Was through data taken by the Galileo spacecraft, which was in the Jovian system in the late 90s and early 2000s, and it detected what we call an induced field, induced magnetic field around Europa. And so Europa is living in Jupiter's Magnetic field environment and as it moves around, jupiter experiences Jupiter's varying magnetic field. And if you have a conductor that's moving through a varying magnetic field, you actually induce another magnetic field. And so what Galileo? What the magnetometer and the plasma instruments measured at Europa was that induced field, and so we know that Europa has this Conductive layer within it that we think is a salty liquid water ocean.

24:08 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Wow, wow.

24:11 - Rod Pyle (Host)
So, excuse me, one of the things that was so compelling about Enceladus was these massive plumes of what we assume, or Warm ocean water coming out, and I know there's been work done on on Future methods of collecting those. Do have we confirmed plumes? We have you Looms at Europa? Is that still a question?

24:33 - Erin Leonard (Guest)
Oh, definitely not personally. But yes, also, yeah, we, we have not, I would say, confirmed plumes at Europa. There are definitely hints of plumes at Europa, but they're definitely not, we'll say, as obvious as the ones at Enceladus. Of course we didn't know about the plumes at Enceladus until we went there with the Cassini spacecraft, you, and really got to see and understand more about the plume at Enceladus. But Enceladus is also very small and it has a very large plume.

So it's, you know, just to give you a sense of the size, right, it's like, I think it's like smaller than the state of Texas or it's, it's, it's very small moon Enceladus is, and so Europa is a lot larger, which means its gravitational field is a lot larger, which means that if Europa has plumes, they're not going to be as like, as Extensive, they're not going to be as geyser either, not going to go quite as far away from the moon, they're not going to be as obvious and as easy to see.

And so that's one of the reasons that we may not have detected firmly detected plumes at Europa yet. But there have been a couple of tentative detections with with the Hubble space telescope and you know, I think there's still a debate in the scientific community whether, whether that those are actual detections, but they're really intriguing and that's something we're definitely going to be looking for at Europa With Europa clipper, and a lot of the instruments will be able to contribute to that, and so I think by the time that Europa clipper Finishes its prime mission, we will definitely have an answer on whether Europa has plumes or not so if there are plumes, does this spacecraft have any way of Mass spectrometer something to directly test them?

26:12 - Rod Pyle (Host)
or do you have to do it by inference with spectra or something?

26:16 - Erin Leonard (Guest)
So both right. We do have a mass spectrometer, mass specs, and a dust detector pseudo, that'll both. If we find a plume and fly through a plume, that they'll be able to sample that plume.

26:27 - Rod Pyle (Host)
That's great.

26:29 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Yeah, I was. You mentioned like the salty, like hints and clues. That just got me thinking and I'm sorry if this sounds pedantic. But what if I compare it to the ocean on earth, like I know how salty that is, you know I've been in the ocean Is? Is that what it would taste? Like you know?

26:51 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Yeah, what is? Your ocean tastes like.

26:56 - Erin Leonard (Guest)
It should be. We think it right now that it's a similar saltiness to to earth's ocean. So it would be actually very similar, we think to, to earth's ocean. Of course we're gonna go back with the clipper and get better measurements of that induced magnetic field which will tell us about how salty that ocean might be. So we're gonna constrain that better. But in the parameter space that we have right now for the saltiness of Europa's ocean it's about the same as earth's ocean.

27:20 - Tariq Malik (Host)
And and our, our ocean, you know, even our saltwater ocean is full of life on earth. And so I assume that the one of the big draws is what that could mean for life. On, on, don't. I guess under, I guess Europa right, because it would be in the subsurface Area. I mean, do we have any clues about how warm that might be, or or or what it would be like down there, what the chances are, right?

27:45 - Erin Leonard (Guest)
Yeah, so one of the reasons we think Europa is such a good place to look for life, like you said, is because of that liquid water ocean, and we think we think, from what we know on earth right now, we think that's where life originated on earth, right at these mid ocean ridges, where there was heat, there was rock, there was water, and you have these, you know, black smokers, white smokers, producing all of this sort of interesting chemistry down at the ocean floor, and we think something like that could be going on on Europa too, where we have, we know we have a rocky core, we have heat because we're generating heat as as we orbit Jupiter.

So, as Europa orbits Jupiter, it's in a slightly eccentric orbit, which means the orbit's not quite circular, which means that it has a differential force that it exerts on Europa as it goes around, and that differential force kind of causes Europa to squeeze and flex and breathe almost a little bit as it goes around Jupiter, and that generates a lot of heat in the rocky Interior. So we have rock, we have heat, we have water from that liquid water ocean and then time right. Those are the four main Ingredients that we think we need for life and Europa seems to have all those, so we're very excited about what we could potentially find in Europa's ocean.

28:55 - Rod Pyle (Host)
So I have a two-part question. The first half and they're they're large, large questions. The first half is I know that the the pathway to the Europa Clipper mission has been a challenging one. It's been on on the books one way or another for a long time, I think, maybe close to 20 years.

29:18 - Erin Leonard (Guest)
Something like that.

29:18 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Yeah, depends on when you start counting, but yeah, so can you talk a little bit about, about Whatever you know about that, because I remember being talked about long ago was on, it was off, it was up, it was down. But, rockin, we're gonna put it on. Oh, we'll put it in a SLS. Oh wait, that's expensive. Let's do something else, yeah.

29:35 - Erin Leonard (Guest)
There's a great book out and I'm totally blanking on the author's name right now, so maybe you don't want to include this, but it's called the mission. You can talk about that if you'd like. But so I'm not super familiar. I haven't been around in the field for two decades but I've been working on Clipper for about 10 years now, since ever since I started. Grad school is actually when I started working on Clipper, which is when the instrument Opportunity, announcement of opportunity came out when they selected instruments, and so I've been working on Clipper ever since it really got it's start in phase a or um, yeah, in phase a and so. So I've been around for that 10 years.

But before that, like you said, there was a long pathway, even in the 10 years before that, on getting Clipper to that stage, and that really has been around ever since. The Galileo mission was was winding down in the early 2000s, and so we have the Galileo mission winding down in the early 2000s. We know Europa's a really interesting target from all that data that Gallaud did collect then, and so right away it was started Thinking about a mission to Europa. And you know, over the years since then it's been, you know, formulating that mission it's been, you know, budget Uncertainty and budget issues and Overcoming those both in Congress and just in general. Right, there's been a lot of challenges. The roads been very winding. The concept for the mission changed a lot in that 10 years between, we'll say, 2004 and 2014, for a lack of a better Time frame and what we ended up with with is Europa Clipper, a mission that could Really explore the habitability of of Europa and also fit into a budget that everyone could swallow.

31:26 - Rod Pyle (Host)
And I know you can't say this, but I would personally like to remind those in Congress and the executive branch who might be listening, if any, that this, this data, that that drove some of the decisions about your Oka, came from the Galileo mission, which was saved from certain doom by the clever people at JPL because, for a variety of reasons, related mostly to decisions about the space shuttle, galileo's Antenna did not deploy properly, and a lot of this work was done, dribbling out on the equivalent of 300 Bod modem, which I don't think Aaron even probably was alive when we were using them, but I was to try and get the data back from from the Jovian system.

So brilliant work by JPL at that time and we should open the pipeline for more cash.

32:17 - Erin Leonard (Guest)
Oh yeah, I mean all that data from Galileo was taken on a tape recorder and I mean I am old enough to know what tape recorder are. So pretty, pretty amazing really.

32:28 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Well, it really is. And just speaking of that kind of technological brilliance from the lab Because the contract that I had that they had to let go was a book we did every year about some of the technological highlights from JPL, which I really enjoyed doing it's worth remembering that the voyages have been out there for 45 years, however long it's been Operating on tape recorders and it looks like a almost like a one-inch TV video deck from the 1970s 1980s, with that tape going back and forth for 45 years driving those things. Anyway, sorry, this is Rod getting into old man mode here. Let's talk a little bit and then I'm going to turn it back to Tariq. But let's talk a little bit about how you you kind of touched on it, but it's always foreign to me when people can actually understand math well enough to go get PhDs. That's a concept that I can't get my head wrapped around. I, when I was in grad school, I asked my advisor about going into the PhD program and he said you ought to go back and work at television.

Okay, so so yeah, what's the pathway for, say, we got a younger person listening to this show that's interested in this kind of thing? What was your pathway into this?

33:44 - Erin Leonard (Guest)
Yeah, so my pathway into the job I had now was really again kind of a series of fortunate events, but also a lot of hard work, right. So it's. I went to undergrad, like I said for, for a degree that was related to something that I knew I wanted to do at some point, but I kind of like we talked about random walked a little bit towards that when I went to grad school. I think you know, the the most important thing in grad school is just is persistence. There's a lot of challenges that you're facing in grad school, both you know mentally and also just you know being a grad school is a totally different entity than being an undergrad and you're really. You really have to be your own person and develop your own pathway and being that sort of independent and persevering and persevering through that is is really critical, right. And then I would say the way I ended up at JPL and with Europa Clipper is is really a bit of luck and then also perseverance and asking a lot of questions to the right people.

I, my advisor at UCLA, was actually writing a paper with Bob Papalardo at JPL, who's the project scientist now the project scientist for Europa Clipper, but he wasn't at the time and I wasn't planning on doing anything in the summer between undergrad and grad school. I was going to take time off like a normal person and go do something interesting. But he was like no, no, no, don't do that, that's silly. Why don't you go work with this guy at JPL and like figure out what you're going to do your PhD on? And so I did that, thankfully, and that summer I did some geologic mapping of Europa and that laid the groundwork for my PhD and everything I did in my PhD and then for all the work I've done after that. So it's really sometimes it's about being in the right place at the right time, but it's also about persevering, asking questions, talking to as many people as you can and trusting yourself.

35:59 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Well, bravo, thank you. That's a great answer.

36:01 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Well, I have. I have so many more questions about this mission and Europa, aaron, but first, first, I think it's time we'll take a really quick break and then we'll come right back to it. Well, aaron, I understand now why we're interested in Europa. It sounds like it's a fascinating place. Obviously it's. You know. We've been looking at it really closely since since Voyager.

But Europa Clipper seems to be a spacecraft of like a different, a different family altogether. Right, it's got this, this moon in its crosshairs, and I had the pleasure of seeing it just from the little gallery at JPL last year, which was really exciting to see, because you realize that the spacecraft you think about oh, hey, there's a photo of me Love it. It's so much, so much bigger than you actually think it is when you see it up close and in person. And I was looking at just some like fast facts about about the spacecraft and saw like it's going to have like solar arrays the size of a basketball court. You've got 24 engines on it and, and I guess, nine different instruments that are going to be doing different things and and I'm just wondering, how hard is it to build something to?

go to a moon like this that where you know what you want to find out, but you don't know exactly what it's going to look like. And then how do you build that?

37:31 - Erin Leonard (Guest)
Yeah, no, it's been a big engineering challenge rate, and it's also complicated by the fact that you're in this really intense radiation environment of Jupiter, right, jupiter is so big, it has these large and very energetic radiation belts and magnetic field and that's messing with you constantly too while you're in the system, right, so that just adds even more complexity on top of the engineering of having nine instruments. Like you said, we actually say 10 investigations because we include the communications dish as well as one of our investigations because we use that for science also. But, yeah, it's a huge feat of engineering really.

38:08 - Tariq Malik (Host)
No, it's like like more than six tons. That's crazy 1300 pounds at launch right.

38:13 - Erin Leonard (Guest)
Yeah, no, and it is, like you said, really big and yeah, you can see it in the high bay. There's a YouTube link that everyone can watch it in the high bay, and that's right. There's usually a little mannequin in the shot and you can kind of get a sense of scale for how large it is. It's not in the high bay right at this moment because it's up in a TVAC and thermal vacuum testing, but it'll be back in the next month or so.

38:35 - Tariq Malik (Host)
And for our listeners, if you go to Europanasagov, there's a little live button in the upper right hand quarter called the Clipper Cam and that's where you can like see all the fun things when it's going on.

38:45 - Rod Pyle (Host)
That's where you can take over control the probe. Can I ask a quick question there? Have you heard any talks up at JPL by a guy named John Cassani over the years? Yeah, absolutely. Have you ever heard? I just have to go through this. This is a story I love to tell his story about preparing Voyager and the radiation problems.

39:06 - Erin Leonard (Guest)
Yeah, yeah. So, yeah, so I've that's, I think, like one of the talks I've heard. I've heard him give a talk on Voyager too.

39:13 - Rod Pyle (Host)
So his talks are always fun because he kind of loves to to stroll off the reservation. But they were preparing for a launch. I think they were pretty close, like within months or weeks, and, as John tells it, he was, you know, down in the workshop working on something and one of the guys came in and said we got a radiation problem. He said, well, yeah, we know there's radiation there. And they said no, there's, there's also going to be tons. I think it was tons of static generated by the wiring in the spacecraft. So we sent them off to the Safeway down the street to buy some Reynolds wrap to wrap the cable system, yeah, but I thought this has to be the cheapest NASA fix in history, because the Reynolds wrap was not procured through the system but it was bought down the street at the grocery store and I thought that's pretty cool.

39:57 - Erin Leonard (Guest)
Oh yeah, we have very a lot of similar concerns on Europa clipper too. Right, we call them EMI, emc, electromagnetic interference and compatibility concerns. So you have all these electronics on your spacecraft that are also producing noise, and for some of the instruments on Europa clipper, particularly the ice penetrating radar, it needs silence quote, unquote electromagnetic silence, for lack of a better term to really get really good data, and so Europa clipper has a large concerns about electromagnetic interference and compatibility and a lot of the investigations, the instruments and there all the electronics in the spacecraft have to be quiet so that we can take the data that we need.

40:39 - Rod Pyle (Host)
So could you just give us kind of a thumbnail of what the instrument package is and what they do?

40:44 - Erin Leonard (Guest)
Yeah, so, okay, we'll start with the remote sensing instruments. So we have ice EIS, which is the camera. We have mice, or the visible camera. We have mice, which is the infrared spectrometer. We have ETHEMUS, which is the far infrared, more like thermal, thermal emissions. We have Europa UVS, which is the UV spectrometer. We have reason, which is the ice penetrating radar. And then, moving more into like the in situ instruments, we have ECM, which is the magnetometer, hims, which is the plasma spectrometer we have. We have gravity radio science again, which is that it was. We call it investigation. It's not technically an instrument but it's uses the communications dish, that huge dish that you see on the spacecraft to do science at Europa. And then we have mass specs, the mass spectrometer, and SUDA, the dust analyzer. So lots of like. Again we're kind of across the electromagnetic spectrum in the, in the remote sensing instruments, and then also we have those in situ instruments that are taking data where we are.

41:55 - Rod Pyle (Host)
And for those who are not watching the YouTube stream on this, which you probably should be, our brilliant John Salonino, on the board, was rolling his cursor over those instrument packages as you were describing that, which is something I could never have done. So, thank you, john, you're a saint.

42:11 - Erin Leonard (Guest)
One of the unique things to about clippers that all of those instruments are going to be taking data at the same time. So all of the all of the instruments that have cameras associated with them are all pointed at Europa and all taking data at the same time, which sounds like something maybe logical that you would think happens all the time, but actually, typically on different spacecraft some, some of the instruments are pointed in different directions and you have to choose which ones you're going to observe with when you fly by a target on Europa. On Europa clipper, all of those instruments are pointed the same direction on the native deck and all the instruments will be taking data at the same time, which is again just going to produce invaluable science.

42:50 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Sorry, Tarkov. One quick follow up Are these? Are these very large orbits that are essentially a fly by, or are they tight orbits around Europe?

43:01 - Erin Leonard (Guest)
Yeah, so we're actually orbiting Jupiter and we're performing 49 fly bys of Europa, and so one of the reasons that we do that really the primary reason that we're doing that is because of the really intense radiation environment around Jupiter, and so Europa is in that really intense radiation environment. We want to stay out of that radiation environment as much as possible. So we do these really long like looping orbits around Jupiter and these fly bys of Europa so we can stay out of that radiation environment, reduce costs, reduce mass of the spacecraft, things like that.

43:34 - Rod Pyle (Host)
And this spacecraft is solar panel powered, so you don't have to worry about plutonium disposal at the end of mission right, yeah.

43:44 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Everything Aaron JPL builds seems to last forever, and so we just kind of said goodbye last week to the Ingenuity spacecraft, the Ingenuity helicopter on Mars that was supposed to fly for a month and last for three years. Yeah, is 49 orbits kind of like the lifetime, because of that radiation environment that you think? Or could you squeeze a few more?

44:06 - Erin Leonard (Guest)
I'm sure, well, we would love there to be an extended mission, right. So that's the prime mission, those 49 fly bys, that's what we'll have achieved, our science goals, after those 49 fly bys. And then I'm sure we'll have more science goals, even maybe potentially even better science goals for a potential extended mission. And we won't know how long that extended mission could be until we really start flying the spacecraft, seeing how it reacts to the radiation environment, seeing how much propellant we're using, things like that, right. So we don't know how long it's going to last, and you're never guaranteed an extended mission, but we do expect that it'll probably last longer than that.

44:46 - Tariq Malik (Host)
And if you were taking readings concurrently with all of the instruments at the same time, you know I was looking at some of the key questions of how deep is the ocean? You know what's the chemistry like? I would assume you know it might have like like what are those, those currents and whatnot in our own ocean? And I would, I would. I guess the question is, is taking simultaneous measurements like that Does it allow you to, I guess, marry all of those conditions of what's happening at those different levels at the same time to give you like like a clear snapshot, versus having to piece together over a multiple?

45:25 - Erin Leonard (Guest)
Definitely Right, you hit the nail right on the head. That's exactly what it is right. When you're really trying to address these big questions about the habitability of an ocean, the habitability of a body, you require different lines of evidence and you really want to have all those lines of evidence at the same time. Right, and you're not trying to piece together and have random holes in your puzzle. Right, you want to have as much data as from as many different Viewpoints, if you will, from different from, like the infrared, from the UV, from, you know, the magnetometer, from the mass spectrometer, all at the same time to really create that holistic picture, because habitability is not a yes or no, an easy yes or no question. You really need all these lines of evidence to come together to really determine whether the ocean might be habitable.

46:17 - Rod Pyle (Host)
All right, well, I have a burning question, but first we need to go to a break. So go nowhere, we'll be right back. So this is the the wonderful question that Tarek tossed in, so I'm gonna steal it from him. If you had one big question you wanted to answer on, I mean, hopefully will answer a lot of questions on this, this mission, but if you had one big question or Solution you were looking for, what would it be?

46:41 - Erin Leonard (Guest)
Yeah. So as a geologist, I am interested in all of the really amazing and enigmatic surface features on on Europa. We have these really long and really complex ridges and bands that stretch across Europa surface. We have these really crazy looking chaos, terrains, and so really, you know, getting a better understanding of how some of those features form Is what I'm personally really interested in. But one of the Fundamental keys to understanding that geology is really about how thick the ice shell is right. So we, we have a couple, we have a range, we have a guess of how thick we think Europa's ice shell is. But really getting that nailed down Is something I am really interested in and I'm really excited for to see what clipper produces on that.

47:27 - Rod Pyle (Host)
So sorry, tarek, I have a follow-up. So I guess, if, if that's something you think about when you, when you lie down to go off slumber at night, I suspect you probably also spend time following what, what some of the preliminary work is on getting through that ice shell someday.

47:45 - Erin Leonard (Guest)
Oh, definitely yeah.

47:47 - Rod Pyle (Host)
And I haven't seen updates on that in a couple of years. But I've seen everything from melters to little squirmy robots that were tested up in the Arctic that you know would kind of snake their way down to. I forget what the name of it was, but there was another one that was an inverted rover that, once below the ice, would drive upside down her ice sheets and all that yeah is there any Technology at this point that's kind of being favored for that?

I realize I'm sort of asking outside your your program immediately, but yeah, no, I've been involved with a couple of those studies.

48:19 - Erin Leonard (Guest)
I think you know my. My personal favorite is is Something probably to do with melting, because if you start melting You're gonna melt through the ice shell right.

You might take a longer amount of time. But if you put plutonium on a piece of, on a hunk of spacecraft, you're going through the ice shell, whether you want to or not, on some timescale right. So I think that's probably my my current preferred favorite for for really, for that reason it's almost well. I don't want to say it's Would definitely work because I won't jinx everything for the future, but you know I'm gonna knock on the wood cleanly simple though compare to.

48:57 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Drowing or something right.

48:58 - Erin Leonard (Guest)
The physics really makes sense, and we've. We've learned a lot of lessons from when we tried to drill on other Planetary bodies. Right, there's always surprises, are always lessons to be learned when you're trying to on other planetary bodies. So it seems more like I can't, I'm gonna knock on with a fail safe, oh my god, but yeah, so that's that's my current favorite. The problem with Having to crawl through cracks and things like that is we really don't know whether cracks it would extend all the way through the ice shell. Again, there's a lot of flexing going on on Europa as it's orbiting Jupiter, and so we really don't know if cracks stay open, if they would even go very far, how deep they would really go, and so there's a there's a lot of you know complications with that as well. I.

49:41 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Was gonna ask about Europa Clippers relationship with the potential landing mission as well, but there was something and and if it's a little off topic, please let me know but I've seen two science-fiction movies and where Europa is like the center star, and and in in the first one and it's In the first one we are clearly warned in 2010, yeah, that we could go to all of the, the worlds and those solar system except Europa and Exactly and and then in the Europa report we find out why we don't want to attempt the landing there, and I'm not gonna spoil it for everyone.

50:22 - Rod Pyle (Host)
But there there is a surprise you can't spoil a funky beat movie, my friend.

50:29 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Yeah, I mean there, there, there are. There are surprising creatures that will just say that the same Europa spiders, yeah, I guess the question is, as a scientist yeah, have we not learned our lessons yet about going to this place, or or Is it just too tantalizing a target that we have to figure out, because I could see the like? Following a serious note, the the contamination concerns of anything like even what happens with Europa Clipper, when, when it can't stay in orbit anymore, we would want to protect Europa for it Absolutely. And how big of a worry of of both the Kent, the contamination to the moon itself, would we have to be for that, for that sort of thing. And then do we have to protect against contamination for whatever lander you know from the moon itself to?

51:19 - Erin Leonard (Guest)
yeah, first I'll just say I mean, I think the reason you know, those examples are like crop up in the popular culture, right, is because of how interesting Europa is, right, I mean it's, it sparks people's imaginations. It's just really great. But yeah, we definitely have to think about contamination of, or controlling the contamination of, europa, right. And so for the, the disposal plan for Europa Clipper, for when it can't be in orbit anymore Because we're out of propellant, we can't keep it in that us orbit anymore. We're gonna actually dispose of it in Ganymede, on Ganymede right now. So right now, the disposal plan is to crash it into Ganymede, which would be really cool.

Of course, we don't like to think about crashing the spacecraft when we haven't even launched it yet, but that is the disposal plan all those poor farmers in the sky, right?

52:04 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Yeah, we're gonna have a surprise right, and so we definitely have concerns about contaminating Europa.

52:08 - Erin Leonard (Guest)
The spacecraft has to be very clean. For that reason we have to, you know, show that there there's such a small probability of Contaminating Europa. I think it's like it's under 0.001%, like it's some of the crazy low number, maybe even 10 to the maximum, I don't even remember exactly but it really really low percentage chance of an introducing anything from Earth onto Europa. And that would definitely be true with anything in the future that lands on Europa as well. And that's one of the you know reasons why. It's another reason why it's Difficult to engineer the spacecraft, for they're going to any, really any body that is that has the potential to have life Is we don't want. We want to make sure that it is life from that body right and not something that we took with us From Earth and that we're just we've now convinced ourselves is life somewhere else.

53:11 - Tariq Malik (Host)
That that Ganymede is the largest moon in the solar system.

53:15 - Erin Leonard (Guest)
I mean, isn't it?

53:15 - Tariq Malik (Host)
I see as well, or or it's just less to worry about than than Europa. Yeah, so if it's.

53:21 - Erin Leonard (Guest)
It's also an icy moon, it also has a liquid water ocean and it's actually so big that we think there's another layer of ice underneath that because of how big and how Pressurized it is. But the ice shalom Ganymede is is really thick, and so we don't think there's a lot of, or really any, communication between the surface and the subsurface ocean on Ganymede, and so, again, crashing something into the surface of Ganymede would never make it into the ocean. Whereas we have that concern on Europa, we do think there's exchange between the surface and the subsurface ocean, and so we want to make sure that we don't put anything on the surface that could contaminate the ocean.

54:00 - Rod Pyle (Host)
So I'll I'll ask for your indulgence up front because I'm going back to your father's time here, but If I recall properly, the Viking landers are still the gold standard for sterilization. They went through this shake and bake process of I mean shaking was for launch test but they were scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed with solvents and adiabacterials and so forth during assembly and then baked in ovens that I think 300 degrees for 40 hours, if I remember correctly, which you could do with electronics back then, because they're pretty crude and fairly large scale and very heavily built. My understanding is that most modern electronics, especially the Understanding is that most modern electronics and spacecraft won't stand up to that kind of abuse. So how do you go about doing that level of sterilization with something that may go to a living body?

54:49 - Erin Leonard (Guest)
Yeah, you know that's a really good question that I don't fully know the answer to you. I knew that. I know they do bake out a lot of the components of the spacecraft and then I know the um. I guess I know a little more about what they do on the other end of that to make sure that they're not um, uh, including other you know other microbes or bacteria on the spacecraft. So there's a lot of uh in.

Sometimes in in the high bay You'll see they're all in bunny suits right All the time. That's to help with that contamination, make sure they're not introducing skin particles or hair particles or whatever um onto the spacecraft. And then sometimes in the high bay you'll see the people come in there and they have these almost like giant little q-tips and they're like wiping different parts of the spacecraft to um and that they'll then take back and test and make sure that they haven't exceeded a certain amount of of contamination on the spacecraft. And so yeah, I'm not entirely sure how they, how they keep the electronics Under under contamination control, but I know they do a lot of testing Um after they've done different procedures like baking out and just cleaning in general To make sure that they haven't contaminated the spacecraft.

55:59 - Rod Pyle (Host)
So I'm going to ask you to put on your science fiction hat for a moment and, uh, jpl management, pardon me for asking this question, but I'm a friend of the family, so I have to Just in very broad terms, in your personal opinion not locking anyone to anything and not giving away any secret Itar control information Um, what would have to happen between the arrival of this spacecraft and the commitment to go do a surface sample and perhaps say, get down to the ocean mission?

56:33 - Erin Leonard (Guest)
Yeah, I think that creating a landed mission or a mission that's going to get to the Europa's ocean is that technology. It exists, we have that technology, we could do it. One of the things that I've heard thrown around a lot is we don't have that technology. That's not true. We do that technology exists, we could do those things, but we don't. Again, we don't know how thick Europa's ice shell is. We don't know what Europa's surface looks like, down to a level that we would typically expect when we land on a body. So Mars has really spoiled us, right? We have images down to a quarter of a centimeter per pixel, or something ridiculous like that. The highest resolution images that we have of Europa right now are six meters per pixel, and that's in one tiny postage spot on Europa. And so we again. So six meters per pixel.

57:38 - Tariq Malik (Host)
That's like the size of a bus Per pixel.

57:39 - Erin Leonard (Guest)
Yeah, we couldn't see if there were buses roving around on Europa right now. So Clipper is really going to enable any potential future mission to Europa through those two, even just those two basic things taking images of the surface down to a really high resolution I think ice can get down to half a meter per pixel, which would make engineers a lot more comfortable landing on a surface like that and then also understanding the thickness of the ice shell, especially if you're going to try and get through the ice shell. Right now, we don't even know if there are liquid pockets of water in the ice shell. I mean, again, we have the technology we could do that, but it's all about reducing that risk, right? We want to make sure that we understand where we're going so that we can build the right thing to go there to do what we want to do.

58:26 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Well, I hope it all goes well. Aaron, we definitely wish you the best. I just realized that we got this far into our discussion and I forgot to say when Europa Clipper is launching, because it's launching this year?

58:38 - Erin Leonard (Guest)
Yes, it's launching in October.

58:41 - Tariq Malik (Host)
The last date I saw was October 10th on a Falcon Heavy rocket SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket so hoping that we'll have a nice Europa Halloween there. And I was curious because we have talked a lot about the specifics of the mission, the spacecraft itself, the science that it can do. But I'm curious if there's one thing to you that is like special, that's your favorite thing either about the spacecraft or the mission, or maybe it's about Europa that we haven't talked about. That's purely like a fact for joy, your favorite part of this whole mission overall.

59:19 - Erin Leonard (Guest)
I think we've talked a lot about my favorite parts about the mission. Again, one just that all of the instruments are going to be taking data at the same time really unique, really powerful for a mission. It's one of my favorite things about this mission and it also creates this environment on the team of all having to work together. Right, so there's 10 investigations, nine instruments, but we really are one team because we're all taking data together and we all have this one goal of understanding Europa's habitability and we need all the lines of evidence to do that, and so that's really one of my favorite things about Europa. Clipper, In general, I would say my favorite thing about Europa man, I just again, as a geologist, I can't get over the surface. I mean, you just you look at it, it's crazy, it's like nothing else that we see in the solar system. Google it, look it up. It's amazing. There's not another surface like it, and it's crazy, Wow.

01:00:18 - Tariq Malik (Host)
And hopefully one of those concurrent observations will be a new epic and amazing images of the surface. Can you imagine a sunrise on Europa, you know, while it's taking like measurement data of the ocean. All right, I can't wait.

01:00:33 - Rod Pyle (Host)
I know you're waiting for a black monolith Tarke, admit it.

01:00:37 - Erin Leonard (Guest)
I think a lot of people are yeah.

01:00:39 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Well, I certainly am, and I was around to see that movie the first time. Aaron, thank you so much for joining us today for our first so far and only Europa Clip episode, which has made this exciting, and I want to remind everybody if you have comments or questions, feel free to send them along to twist at twittv, aaron. Where's the best place to track your personal progress or programmatic progress towards this mission?

01:01:07 - Erin Leonard (Guest)
Well, you can always follow us on Europanasagov and I have a website on JPL's, on JPL's space, so you can find that as well. If you want information about me personally, but more interesting, probably, europanasagov, look for the launch in this October. It's going to be really exciting and we're all very, very excited.

01:01:30 - Rod Pyle (Host)
See Tarke. That's. That's what somebody who's modest is like. Look at the program.

01:01:35 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Whatever. Whatever Do you mean? But?

01:01:38 - Rod Pyle (Host)
speaking of a modest, since I, since I use a lot of I-adjectives to describe you, where can we track you playing your video games, tarke?

01:01:46 - Tariq Malik (Host)
Well, you can find me at spacecom, as always, or on the Twitter at tarkejmalik. You know, this weekend I don't think we got a lot of launch stuff going on, so I'm going to just take it easy. And it's not space and it's not water, but the Teen Age Mutant Ninja Turtles have arrived in Fortnite and I'll be checking that out. Maybe we'll find mutant Ninja Turtles on Europa, right? We don't know, we don't know until we go there, so you never know.

01:02:11 - Rod Pyle (Host)
Is it just my age that this is embarrassing, aaron, I hope, if the JPL technology highlights book comes back, that I'll have a chance to sit down and interview you about this massive success next year. So fingers crossed, because I've enjoyed doing that for a long time. And, of course, you can find me at pilebookscom, my increasingly creaky website, and at astramagazinecom, which is updated every quarter. Don't forget to drop us a line, as I mentioned, at twist at twittv. That's TWIS at twittv. We welcome your comments, suggestions and ideas most of them anyway, but we do answer all our emails at least I do. And don't forget to check out spacecom, the websites and the name. You can keep up on everything. Europa Clipper right there, and the National Space Society at nssorg. Both are good places to satisfy your spaceflight cravings.

New episodes of this podcast publish every Friday on your favorite pod catcher, so make sure to subscribe, tell your friends and give us reviews. We'll take whatever you got, as long as it's five stars or five thumbs or five something, and you can head to our website at twittvtwis. Finally, don't forget you can get all the great programming on the twit network ad free on club twit, as well as some extras that are only available there for about $7 a month. You've heard Leo talk about the tough times facing podcasters. We're certainly experiencing those, so please step up and be counted. This may even be better than NPR. Ooh, now I've thrown down the gauntlet, haven't?

01:03:39 - Tariq Malik (Host)
I Very gross. It's going to come after us, but it's certainly cheaper than NPR.

01:03:43 - Rod Pyle (Host)
So hey, be counted. You can also follow the twit tech podcast network at twit on Twitter and on Facebook and twittv on Instagram. Thank you very much, everybody, and we'll see you next week.


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