Transcripts of Jim Garvin- Meteor Showers

Interviewer: So sky-watchers all across North America are in for a special treat this weekend. That's because there's a new meteor shower and North America happens to be in a prime position to see it Here to tell us more about this new shower, what we can expect to see and when and why, is Dr. Jim Garvin from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. Thanks for joining us. Jim: Well thanks for having me, and what a great show we expect to see. Interviewer: So tell us, what's causing this new meteor shower, and is it something that could be dangerous? Jim: Well the meteor shower is made by the trail of dust from a comet that goes around the Sun roughly every five years and we on planet Earth will be flying right through that dusty trail. encountering all those small sand-sized and dust-sized particles as they hit our upper atmosphere. And this is a perfectly safe phenomenon that gives an appreciation of how our solar system works and how small bodies interact with our planets and our Sun. So it's science in action for all of us to see, and kind of a forensic thing, it's like CSI does the comets. We'll be trying to learn from this interaction, so we can better understand these small objects that are so countably numerous really countably infinite in our solar system, so enjoy the show. Interviewer: Now tell us, how can we see this meteor shower? Jim: Well to see this shower, really all you have to do is go out at night, pretty much after 11:00, but prime time would be about 2 in the morning in the east coast, and just look up. Look up with your good ole bare eyeballs or glasses if you have them, and sort of look up in between the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper, coming out of a constellation that is named for a spotted camel, or a giraffe, and that constellation is Camelopardalis. We will be able to see these meteors, these shooting stars, radiate from about there. We think these will be extremely exciting, 60 to 100 or more per hour, one of the biggest light shows we could possibly have and that we've had in the last 100 years. But again, there is some uncertainty as to how spectacular it could be. Interviewer: NASA has a mission that's going to be going to an asteroid soon, could you tell us a little bit about this mission and tell us why it's important to study asteroids. JIm: So asteroids and comets are small bodies There are millions of them in the solar system, and our planets and all the planets and the Sun interact with them all the time. NASA has a mission, we call it OSIRIS-REx, that will go visit one of the most interesting and primitive of these objects, which has recently been named Bennu. And this object is about five football fields across, and we think it contains the chemical building blocks of some of the very special stuff we need on early planets to start making the molecules that can turn into things like life or other very important building blocks for all of our planet. So we'll be visiting this particular asteroid, a potentially hazardous asteroid, in 2018 after launching in 2016 and then in the early '20s returning samples, hundreds of grams if not more to Earth for our laboratories to study. And this will give us a kind of a scientific gift that will keep on giving for generations. We'll be able to study them again and again better and better as equipment gets better. So we want to get to know the small stuff in the our solar system, just as well as those big planets. that make our solar system the way it is. Interviewer: And tell us, where can we learn more about this upcoming mission and also the meteor shower? Jim: Well if you go to the web, to, that's Osiris named for the great Egyptian god, dash R-E-X, you go there and there are links to the mission, to this particular meteor shower, and to lots of other key sites to understand about these kind of phenomenon in our solar system. Interviewer: Dr. Garvin thanks so much for joining us. Jim: Thanks for having me.