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Blue Dot: Exploring the future: latest proposals from NASA's Innovative Advanced Concepts program


NASA recently announced seed funding for a set of fascinating and futuristic proposals that may someday become reality. Like something out of science fiction, these ideas are on the cutting edge of what we can do. But they are doable, which is one of the main criteria for selecting them. Dave talks to two of the researchers whose proposals have been selected as well as the acting executive overseeing the program for NASA HQ.

Ethan Schaler from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory explains the ideas behind how to best explore ocean worlds like Europa using tiny (think phone size) robotic swimmers to someday finally unravel what the oceans of this icy satellite of Jupiter is actually like. Mike LaPointe, acting executive director for the NIAC program then tells Dave about how projects get chosen and goes through a few of the more interesting ones.

Finally, Dave is joined by MIT Planetary Science professor Sara Seager to talk about her team's plans to use balloons to collect and then return samples from the atmosphere of Venus which have recently shown tantalizing signals that there may be microbial life there.

Dave Schlom is the longtime host and creator of Blue Dot. From surfing to Voyager in interstellar space, rock guitar to orcas in our imperiled oceans, the topics on Blue Dot are as varied as the host’s interests and connections -- which are pretty limitless! An internationally respected space history journalist, Dave is also deeply fascinated by all aspects of the grand workings of nature’s awesome machinery on scales ranging from galactic to subatomic. And topics take in all aspects of the arts and sciences.
Matt Fidler is a producer and sound designer with over 15 years’ experience producing nationally distributed public radio programs. He has worked for shows such as Freakonomics Radio, Selected Shorts, Studio 360, The New Yorker Radio Hour and The Takeaway. In 2017, Matt launched the language podcast Very Bad Words, hitting the #28 spot in the iTunes podcast charts.