Transcripts of Michelle_Thaller_Canned_interview_youtube_hq

(off screen) “So joining us now from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center is Dr. Michelle Thaller. Thanks for joining us.” (Thaller) “Thank you, great to be here.’ (off screen) “So tell us what exactly is a supermoon and will it affect Earth?” (Thaller) “Well a supermoon happens when you get a full moon near a perigee. And perigees are a word for the closest approach the moon makes to the Earth every month. Apogee is the farthest away. You see the moon’s orbit is not a perfect circle. It’s actually a little elliptical. Sometimes it’s a little farther away. Sometimes it’s a little closer. And that means that the size of the moon seems to change in the sky. And when you get a full moon that happens when the moon is very close, that’s called a supermoon. Now as far as the affects on the Earth…nothing very direct. The actual size of the moon in the sky doesn’t change very much. It’s only about 12 percent larger than an average full moon. And as you may know, the highest tides of the month happen at full moon and new moon. These are called the spring tides of each month. And because the moon is a little closer than normal, that means the tides will be a little bit higher than normal as well. But we’re talking about a change of less than an inch. So one of the challenges about measuring what they call the perigean tide, the high tides associated with a supermoon, is even measuring it at all. It’s a fun thing to actually detect. It’s not something that you can easily see. (off screen) “So what is the best time to view the supermoon and will it look different from other full moons?” (Thaller) “Well to me the best time to view any full moon is right at sunset because that’s when it rises. And when you see the moon with respect to the horizon with buildings and trees or whatever it just seems to look so much more spectacular. It looks larger. In reality the size changes not that much. The moon at perigee or closest is just a little bit larger than the moon when its farther away. Um there really isn’t a best time at night to view this. Kind of a trivia that the actual moment of supermoon when it’s both closest and the most full is going to be at 7:30 a.m. this Sunday. But that’s actually after the moon has set. So I would say anytime on Saturday night, go out and look at this beautiful big, bright, full moon. My personal favorite time is right after sunset. (off screen) “NASA has a major observatory in orbit around the moon right now call the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. What are some of the cool things you’re seeing.” (Thaller) “Well yeah so we actually have an observatory orbiting the moon right now. And we are returning spectacular high-resolution images of the entire lunar surface. We can see all the Apollo landing sites, the footprints of the astronauts. The poles of the moon are fascinating places. There are actually craters both at the north and south pole of the moon where the sun never shines. You never get any sunlight at all. And of course those are very difficult to image. . But we’re actually bouncing lasers down to the moon. We’re studying the topography of these craters. And there’s evidence that there may be ice actually frozen into the soil in these permanently shadowed craters. So there may be more water on the moon, frozen water, than we suspected. So LRO is telling us so much about how the moon came to be, how it changes over time. We’ve recorded the coldest temperature in the entire solar system with LRO in one of these permanently shadowed craters. It’s about 23 Celsius above absolute zero, which is actually much colder than 400 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. So just a fascinating place and we’re finding out new things all the time. There’s so much more to learn about this familiar object in the sky. (off screen) “I understand that LRO has taken some really incredible images. Can you talk about some of those?” (Thaller) “Well I know that certainly some of my favorite images are of the Apollo landing sites. In some cases you can actually see the American flag still up. I’m also a particular fan of the central mountain peak inside Tycho Crater. You can see this gorgeous mountain right inside the crater. There are boulders on it that are as big as baseball stadiums. And I just love the variation of the lunar terrain. There are dark lava plains that are relatively smooth. There are high regions where it’s very rocky and bouldery. It tells us about the evolution of the solar system. You can actually see the scars left by huge impacts. Here again we have that gorgeous mountain inside Tycho Crater. That one boulder you see in the middle is the size of an entire football stadium. It’s incredibly huge. The moon is a relic of a more exciting and more violent time in our solar system’s formation when the planets were coming together. Lots of things were colliding. We think the moon may have been created during a super collision where the Earth was actually hit by something the size of a planet. So the moon is so serene and we see it, it’s so familiar to us. It’s also dramatic and violent and the stories associated with it just really fire my imagination.” (off screen) “So tell us, where can we learn more about the moon.” (Thaller) “Well I would say if you want to go through some of the best images NASA has of the moon, go to the LRO website. That would be NASA.GOV/LRO for Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. Look at the Apollo landing sites. Look at the giant mountains on the moon. Have fun fun exploring your closest neighbor in space. (off screen) “Thank you so much for joining us.”(Thaller) “Great to be here today. Enjoy the supermoon.”