© 2023 Iowa Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Iowa Scientists Share Data from Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn

Niall Kennedy
The night side of Saturn is lit up by reflections from its rings. This picture from the Cassini spacecraft revealed new rings created from an ice fountain on a nearby moon.

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, with an Iowa-made instrument aboard, is near the end of its 20 year voyage.

On this edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with Bill Kurth, research scientist in the department of physics and astronomy at the University of Iowa, about the significance of the Cassini mission and spacecraft, currently in orbit around Saturn.

"Cassini is kind of a veteran. It arrived in orbit at Saturn in 2004, in the summer. That was about a seven year journey from the Earth," he says. "So we've been in orbit for almost 13 years."

He says that the Iowa instrument he receives data from is the "ears of the spacecraft" that listens for naturally occurring radio waves, particularly during the planet's thunderstorms, which can last up to nine months.

Kurth is also lead investigator for the JUNO waves instrument investigating storms and auroras on Jupiter.

Also joining the conversation is Jasper Halekas, associate professor of physics and astronomy at the UI, who recently received an Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal from NASA for his work on the MAVEN mission on Mars.

Ben Kieffer is the host of IPR's River to River