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Field Test: Planetary Deep Drill

Planetary Deep Drill auger above gypsum borehole

Air Date: 12/15/2015
Run Time: 28:50

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  • Kris Zacny, Vice President and Director of Exploration Technology, Honeybee Robotics
  • Mike Malaska, Scientist, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  • Bill Abbey, Technical Staff, Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Topics: Rosetta and Philae, Planetary Society Projects, mission status, Akatsuki (Planet-C), Planetary Deep Drill, comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko, Planetary Radio, Venus

Support Planetary Radio

Drilling through many meters of ice to Europa’s ocean or to the pristine sub-surface layers of Mars will be hard. The Planetary Deep Drill prototype has shown that it may be a practical approach. Join Mat Kaplan and Planetary Society colleagues at the field test site deep in California’s desert. Emily Lakdawalla has good news from Venus and comet 67/P. Mat returns with Bruce Betts for What’s Up and a special, light-hearted feature celebrating relativity.

The Planetary Society and Planetary Deep Drill

Kris Zacny

The Planetary Society and Planetary Deep Drill
The nearly 4 meter high Planetary Deep Drill completely suspended above the many meters deep hole it was drilling into gypsum in its first field test in December 2015. Planetary Society staff for scale (left to right): Merc Boyan, Andrew Pauly, Bruce Betts, and Mat Kaplan.

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Trivia Contest

This week's prizes are a lovely Planetary Radio t-shirt and a set of 2016 Year In Space Desk and Wall Calendars.

This week's question:

What are the four worlds in our solar system that sand dunes have been discovered on?

To submit your answer:

Complete the contest entry form at or write to us at no later than Tuesday, December 22nd at 8am Pacific Time. Be sure to include your name and mailing address.

Last week's question:

What was the first Japanese lunar orbiter? Careful, this is tricky.


The answer will be revealed next week.

Question from the week before:

What was the seventh moon discovered in our solar system? (After our Moon, the four Galilean moons, and Titan?)


Iapetus was the seventh moon discovered (by Giovanni Cassini).


No trivia contest spoilers please!

Bryan See: 12/15/2015 09:05 CST

We're really disappointed that we can't get to hear an audio treat of Star Wars: The Force Awakens that opens this week. May be you'll want to interview the crew there next week or two?

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