Physics World Stories Podcast

Physics is full of captivating stories, from ongoing endeavours to explain the cosmos to ingenious innovations that shape the world around us. In the Physics World Stories podcast, Andrew Glester talks to the people behind some of the most intriguing and inspiring scientific stories. Listen to the podcast to hear from a diverse mix of scientists, engineers, artists and other commentators. Find out more about the stories in this podcast by visiting the Physics World website. If you enjoy what you hear, then also check out the Physics World Weekly podcast, a science-news podcast presented by our award-winning science journalists.


Deflecting asteroids and exploring a metal world

You could be forgiven for thinking the themes in this month’s episode of Physics World Stories have been stolen from Hollywood. Podcast host Andrew Glester profiles two upcoming NASA missions to asteroids: one that will explore an all-metal world, and the other will deliberately smash into a near-Earth asteroid.

Glester’s first guest is Jim Bell from Arizona State University who is involved in the mission to the asteroid Psyche, which launches in 2022 and arrives in 2026. Located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter with an average diameter of 226 km, Psyche consists largely of metal. Astronomers speculate that the asteroid is the exposed core of an early planet that lost its rocky outer layers due to a number of violent collisions billions of years ago.

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The asteroid trillionaires

Also joining the podcast is Angela Stickle from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. Stickle is a project scientist in the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission, scheduled to launch in November aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

Sounding like a remake of Armageddon or Deep Impact, the solar-powered DART craft will hurtle towards the binary near-Earth asteroid Didymos, before crashing into the smaller of the two bodies in late 2022. By observing the changes in the asteroid’s orbit, mission scientists are testing the feasibility of deflecting a large Earth-bound asteroid – should that perilous scenario transpire in the future.


 2021-07-09  50m