Episode 3: SETI with MeerKAT

with Dr Griffin Foster

In this episode Dr Griffin Foster describes the planned hunt for extraterrestrial intelligence with South Africa’s MeerKAT telescope!

Griffin is from the University of Oxford and is the project scientist for Breakthrough Listen – a program to hunt for signs of extraterrestrial intelligence using radio telescopes.

Griffin explains, in a surprisingly down-to-earth and practical way, why we might expect intelligent extraterrestrial lifeforms to exist elsewhere in the Universe, how they might be trying to communicate and how we might search for these signals.

Griffin and the Breakthrough Listen team plan to conduct part of their search with the new MeerKAT radio telescope. MeerKAT is one of the world’s most advanced radio telescopes and is located in the Karoo in South Africa.

Episode Links:

BL@MeerKAT announcement: https://breakthroughinitiatives.org/news/23

Berkeley SETI Research Center: http://seti.berkeley.edu/

This week’s guest:

Episode 2: Instruments and Singing Asteroids

with Dr Amanda Sickafoose and Vanessa Lorenzo

In Episode 2, we hear from Dr Amanda Sickafoose who tells us about the complicated instrumentation her team are building for South African telescopes and some of her fascinating work on our Solar System.

Vanessa Lorenzo also talks to us about her time as artist-in-residence at the SAAO and her installation giving a voice to rocks and asteroids.

Vanessa demonstrating her prototype exhibition at the SAAO. 
The performer Mélanie Martinoli explores the augmented rocks in the VR version of 
‘Always Calling Home’, by Vanessa Lorenzo, 2018-ongoing. Photo by the artist CC BY 4.0. 

Episode Links:

https://www.hybridoa.org/

This week’s guests:

Episode 1: SALT and Near-Earth Asteroids

with Dr Moses Mogotsi and Dr Nicolas Erasmus

Welcome to the very first episode of The Cosmic Savannah!

In this episode, we introduce ourselves and our vision for the podcast, SALT Astronomer Dr Moses Mogotsi describes what it’s like to use the biggest optical telescope in the Southern Hemisphere and Dr Nicolas Erasmus tells us about the hunt for near-earth asteroids.

The Sutherland Plateau, SAAO.
SAAO Researcher Dr Nicolas Erasmus and his MSc student Petro Janse Van Rensburg observed a large (1-2 km) asteroid passing Earth at about 75 times the distance to the moon. But in the background, a distant spiral galaxy!

The Cosmic Savannah is created and hosted by Dr Jacinta Delhaize and Dr Daniel Cunnama.

Jacinta is a radio astronomer based at the University of Cape Town. She is a South African Radio Astronomical Observatory (SARAO) Postdoctoral Research Fellow. Dan is the Science Engagement Astronomer at the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO).

Episode Links:
SAAO: http://www.saao.ac.za
ATLAS: http://atlas.fallingstar.com
SALT: http://www.salt.ac.za
Minor Planet Center: https://minorplanetcenter.net/

SARAO: https://www.ska.ac.za/about/sarao/
UCT Astronomy: http://www.ast.uct.ac.za/
African VLBI Network: https://www.ska.ac.za/science-engineering/avn/

This week’s guests: