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Space dust, a new space telescope, and what it can tell us about our cosmic origins

River to River, hosted by Ben Kieffer

A scientist describes how the study of space dust — a substance sometimes as small as a few molecules — can reveal much about our cosmos.

Since it launched into low orbit in 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope has offered the world some of the most detailed visible-light images ever taken. With the launch of the James Webb Telescope in December 2021, scientists across the world anticipate a much deeper view into the universe than ever before.

On this episode of River to River, host Ben Kieffer speaks with astrophysicist Massimo Marengo about his research on dust that fills the reaches between celestial bodies and how the Webb will offer new insights into this cosmic particulate.


  • Massimo Marengo, professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Iowa State University
Ben Kieffer is the host of IPR's River to River
Zachary Oren Smith is a reporter covering Eastern Iowa