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Planetary Radio Live: Near Earth Objects—The Killer Asteroid Threat

Artist's concept of near-Earth asteroids

Air Date: 02/22/2017
Run Time: 1:38:52

Listen to the full show:

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  • Bruce Betts, Director of Science and Technology / LightSail Program Manager, The Planetary Society
  • Paul Chodas, Manager, NASA NEO Program Office, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  • Lindley Johnson, Planetary Defense Officer, NASA
  • Amy Mainzer, NEOWISE Principal Investigator, Jet Propulsion Lab

Topics: near-Earth asteroids, Planetary Radio Live, Earth impact hazard, asteroids, events and announcements, Planetary Radio, Earth

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Leaders of the quest to find, understand and protect ourselves from the asteroids and comets called Near Earth Objects gathered with host Mat Kaplan for a live conversation about this existential threat from space. This special episode presents excerpts of that lively discussion with JPL Senior Research Scientist Amy Mainzer, Manager of NASA/JPL’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies Paul Chodas, and NASA’s Planetary Defense Officer Lindley Johnson. Also on stage was Planetary Society Director of Science and Technology Bruce Betts. Bruce stayed for this week’s What’s Up segment.


NASA / JPL-Caltech

Artist's concept of the Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) space telescope in Earth orbit.
Radar movie of Comet 45PHMP created by the Arecibo Observatory

Arecibo Observatory

Radar movie of Comet 45PHMP created by the Arecibo Observatory
Planetary Radio Live—Incoming!

Geovanni Somoza

Planetary Radio Live—Incoming!

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Trivia Contest

This week's prizes are a Planetary Radio t-shirt, now available in both men’s and women’s styles. Also, a 200-point astronomy account, and a Planetary Society rubber asteroid.

This week's question:

Where in the solar system would you find a crater named Valentine, after Saint Valentine?

To submit your answer:

Complete the contest entry form at or write to us at no later than Wednesday, March 1st at 8am Pacific Time. Be sure to include your name and mailing address.

Last week's question:

Name the person who is not from the Soviet Union, Russia or the United States who has spent the most time in space.


The answer will be revealed next week.

Question from the week before:

What was the first star to be photographed besides the Sun? It has been used to define zero magnitude on the stellar brightness scale.


Vega was the first star other than the sun to be photographed. It happened in 1850.


No trivia contest spoilers please!

Mike Paine: 02/28/2017 02:58 CST

This was an excellent show. Wish I could have been there. I have been following developments with Spaceguard ever since the Australian government cut funds for Duncan Steel's search program in 1996 (Lou Friedman sent letters to Australian TPS members). They also cut funds to Rob McNaught in 2014 a few months before a comet that he discovered whizzed past Mars. That Mars encounter should have been a wake up call for the danger from comets. It turned out to be "only" 700m in diameter. Comet Hale-Bopp, that passed through the inner solar system in 1997 was 60 kilometres in diameter. I heard very little about comets in the show.

Jim Scarborough : 03/03/2017 05:28 CST

I just finished this podcast on my commute. Could you please share the slides here? A few sounded very intriguing.

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