Private Spacecraft Makes Historic Moon Landing | New Cloud Seeding Technique

Episode 715,   Feb 23, 09:00 PM

The Odysseus lander, made by Intuitive Machines and launched by SpaceX a week ago, is the first commercial mission to soft-land on the moon. Also, scientists try swapping silver iodide for liquid propane to keep long-running cloud seeding programs effective in warmer temperatures.

Private Spacecraft Makes Historic Moon Landing

Thursday evening, the Odysseus moon lander successfully soft-landed on the moon, becoming the first U.S spacecraft to do so in over 50 years. The lander mission wasn’t created by NASA or another government space agency, but by the company Intuitive Machines, making it the first commercial mission to successfully soft-land on the surface of the moon. The mission was part of a NASA program called the Commercial Lunar Payload Services program, which aims to make lunar missions faster and cheaper. There are other commercial moon missions planned for later this year. Umair Irfan, senior correspondent at Vox, joins guest host Sophie Bushwick for an update on the mission.

They’ll also talk about other stories from the week in science, including the move by some automakers toward plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, work on freezing antimatter, a strange meat-rice hybrid, and progress towards a universal snake antivenom.

A New Recipe For Cloud Seeding To Boost Snowfall In Idaho

We’re taught in school that water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

“It usually happens like that in the lake or on the ground,” said Derek Blestrud, a Senior Atmospheric Scientist at Idaho Power.

But the process differs in the sky, he said. Clouds contain supercool water that doesn’t turn to ice until it reaches about -40 degrees F. That is, unless some other substance initiates the freezing.

“Water’s really dumb,” Blestrud likes to say. “It doesn’t know how to freeze unless something else teaches it how to freeze.”

That’s where scientists like Blestrud step in. They help clouds produce more snow through cloud seeding, which involves releasing tiny particles that serve as nuclei for snowflakes to form.

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