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MaryLiz BenderFebruary 13, 2019

Planetary Radio: 10 Must-Listen Episodes About Space Exploration

The first episode of Planetary Radio was released in 2002. Our podcast and radio show has grown immensely since then. Host Mat Kaplan has interviewed hundreds of the greatest minds in the solar system, sharing their passion for space exploration and science. To introduce you to this vast catalog, our staff has assembled this Top 10 list of favorite episodes:

1. A Conversation with Sally Ride

April 12, 2005

Twenty-two years after she became the first American woman in space, Sally Ride devoted herself to bringing the wonder of science to young people, and especially girls. In this episode from 2005, which was recorded seven years before Ride’s passing, she discusses Sally Ride Science and shares her thoughts on the Space Shuttle’s return to flight.

2. Ann Druyan on New Honors for Carl Sagan

September 22, 2008

Just after NASA’s announcement of the Carl Sagan Postdoctoral Fellowships in Exoplanet Exploration, Mat speaks with Ann Druyan, Carl’s widow and longtime collaborator. In this episode, she explains how she continues their work, and Bill Nye shares memories in his own tribute.

3. A Martian Birthday Party for Ray Bradbury

August 25, 2003

Mat Kaplan converses with Ray Bradbury and many of his admirers during The Planetary Society's celebration of Ray’s 83rd birthday in 2003, seven years prior to his passing. The party included a trip to Mount Wilson, high above southern California, where telescopes were trained on Mars as it passed closer to Earth than it had in more than 60,000 years.

4. A Conversation with Freeman Dyson

June 13, 2018

There’s so much more to Freeman Dyson than the Dyson Sphere. The mathematician, physicist, futurist and author is one of the greatest and most original minds of our era. He has much to say to Mat Kaplan about the future of space exploration and humanity in this thought-provoking episode.

5. A Visit With Sir Arthur C. Clarke

March 24, 2003

One of the world's most famous authors and visionaries joins Mat from his home in Sri Lanka, just five years before his passing. In this wonderful episode, he discusses his latest novel, and what to watch for on the frontiers of science.

6. Talking With Mary Roach, Author of Packing for Mars

August 16, 2010

The author of Stiff says life in the void is hard but worth the trouble. Mary Roach joins Mat Kaplan to talk about her hilarious and very informative book that looks at the indignities and trials of space travel.

7. New Mexico Cave Adventure With Penny Boston and the First International Planetary Caves Workshop

November 21, 2011

Come on a unique tour of Carlsbad Caverns National Park where we make two descents with our guide and renowned cave scientist, Penny Boston. Penny led the First International Planetary Caves Workshop attendees, drawing comparisons between cave geology and what may be possible on worlds throughout our solar system.

8. Celebrating Cassini… Live

September 27, 2017

More than 1,100 fans of the completed 20-year mission to Saturn join us for a live tribute. Mat Kaplan and KPCC Science Reporter Jacob Margolis welcome mission leaders and The Society’s Emily Lakdawalla to Caltech’s Beckman Auditorium stage. You’ll also hear a musical tribute to Cassini’s Grand Finale.

9. ALMA Adventure

March 19, 2013

This episode follows Mat’s journey to Chile’s Atacama Desert, home to the ALMA Observatory, the radio telescope that is humanity’s most ambitious astronomy project. Join Mat among the giant dishes at 5,000 meters or 16,500 feet above sea level.

10. Planetary Radio Live! We See Thee Rise: The Canadian Space Program

October 7, 2014

In this Planetary Radio Live! show, we celebrate Canada’s presence in space with 1,600 Canadian space enthusiasts. Mat Kaplan and Bill Nye host a lively discussion at the University of Toronto featuring Canadian space writer Elizabeth Howell, University of Western Ontario planetary scientist Gordon “Oz” Osinski, and Canadian Space Agency astronaut Jeremy Hansen.

Do you have a favorite Planetary Radio episode that we didn’t feature on this list? Please share it with us in the comments below. And, thank you for making Planetary Radio, along with everything we do at The Planetary Society, possible.

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MaryLiz Bender
MaryLiz Bender

Associate Producer of Planetary Radio, Digital Content Coordinator for The Planetary Society
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