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Planetary Radio Show Archives: 2018

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Yuri’s Night 2018!

April 18, 2018 • 54:38

Host Mat Kaplan once again attends the worldwide party for space. Join him at the Los Angeles celebration under Space Shuttle Endeavour.

Why Mars? We’ve Got the Answers

May 16, 2018 • 38:54

The great adventure awaits! Mat Kaplan hosts an entertaining panel discussion at the 2018 Humans to Mars Summit in Washington DC. Eight guests provide their diverse and inspiring reasons for humans to visit the Red Planet.

Visiting the Earth-Like Worlds of TRAPPIST-1

April 11, 2018 • 31:23

We have begun to understand the composition of worlds that are hundreds of trillions of kilometers from Earth. Astronomer Nikole Lewis is co-leader of a team that has used the Hubble Space Telescope to do this with the four Earth-like planets circling a star called TRAPPIST-1.

Visiting the Birthplace of PlanetVac

March 07, 2018 • 44:54

Space is hard. Sample collection and return is harder still. That’s why the radically-simplified PlanetVac system from Honeybee Robotics is so intriguing.

The Eyes of a New Mars Rover: Mastcam-Z

February 21, 2018 • 49:31

Mat Kaplan attended a meeting of the science team for the zoom lens camera that will be atop the Mars 2020 rover mast. Planetary Scientist Jim Bell tells us how this new system will show us the Red Planet as we’ve never seen it before.

Stephen Hawking: Spaceflight Pioneer!

March 21, 2018 • 39:06

He is known for his breakthrough physics and popularizing of science, but Dr. Hawking also wanted to fly in space. Erik Viirre led the medical team that helped Stephen experience weightlessness.

SpaceX Builds a Big Falcon Rocket

September 26, 2018 • 40:54

A mostly SpaceX episode as the ambitious company provides updated details regarding its huge new rocket and introduces its first astronauts. Mat Kaplan shares more from the company’s headquarters, while Planetary Society Digital Editor explains and explores the BFR.

Space, SETI, the Singularity and Shostak

February 07, 2018 • 59:04

Where is everybody? That was the question physicist Enrico Fermi asked when he wondered why we hadn’t yet met ET. What will happen if we do? Will humans lose the will to explore?

Space, Rockets, and a Senatorial Encounter in Huntsville, Alabama

August 29, 2018 • 56:12

Host Mat Kaplan begins a two-episode visit to Huntsville and the Marshall Space Flight Center, recorded this week at the US Space and Rocket Center with astronaut Don Thomas, 94-year-old Apollo engineer Alex McCool, and Alabama Senator Doug Jones.

Space Policy Edition: Space Policy Directive 2—This Time it's Commercial

June 01, 2018 • 1:11:49

President Trump just signed a new space policy directive targeting the regulations surrounding commercial spaceflight. Casey Dreier, Jason Callahan, and Mat Kaplan dive into the implications of the new directive and what it means for the relationship between government and space. They also break down all of the good news in the House's new funding bill for NASA, and highlight NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine's turnaround on climate change.

Space Policy Edition: Space Force! With Special Guest Brian Weeden

July 06, 2018 • 1:46:33

President Trump recently ordered the creation of Space Force—but what does that mean? What are the implications for militarization of space? National security expert Dr. Brian Weeden joins the show to explain the announcement.

Space Policy Edition: Lori Garver on what a NASA Administrator (and Deputy) actually does

April 06, 2018 • 1:17:07

Lori Garver, former Deputy Administrator of NASA, talks with Casey about what the Deputy and Administrator jobs are like day-to-day, how decisions actually get made at the top, and why the current lack of confirmed leadership hurts the space agency.

Space Policy Edition: How NASA Came to Be

October 05, 2018 • 69:26.39

Happy 60th, NASA. In celebration of the space agency’s birthday, we do the audio equivalent of pulling out NASA’s baby book and explore its origin story.

Space Policy Edition: Did NASA Ace its Midterms? With Special Guest Louise Prockter

September 07, 2018 • 1:25:07

We talk with planetary scientist and Lunar and Planetary Institute Director Louise Prockter, who co-led creation of a new report evaluating the performance of NASA's planetary science division.

Space Policy Edition: Destination…Mars? Contradictions and Principles

August 03, 2018 • 60:02

The Senate just held a hearing on NASA's efforts to send humans to...Mars? A week later, the same committee advanced legislation to extend the life of the International Space Station to 2030, six years beyond the current end-date and two years beyond the current hardware safety ratings.

Space Policy Edition: A Commercial Future for the Space Station?

May 04, 2018 • 1:03:03

After announcing it intends to divest from the International Space Station in 2025, NASA quietly released a new report on its transition plans, laying out a series of principles that will set the future of U.S. astronauts in low-Earth orbit. Can a private entity really take over the space station? Where did this idea come from anyway?

Space Policy Edition Special: The 2019 President’s Budget Request Unveiled

February 16, 2018 • 53:12

As promised, Casey Dreier and Jason Callahan are back with a special review of the just-released FY 2019 President’s Budget Request (PBR) for NASA. It contains good news, bad news and odd news. What is likely to stand? What will Congress ignore, going its own way? NASA’s new lunar ambitions, Mars Sample Return, WFIRST and more hang in the balance. Let the debate begin.

Space Policy Edition #23 - Blitzing Congress: Planetary Society volunteers visit Capitol Hill

March 02, 2018 • 35:33

Society members from 21 states descended on the U.S. capitol for a "blitz" of 178 meetings in two days. Casey and special guest Matt Renninger explain why that is such an important activity, and blitzers Leah and Stefanie Griffith share their story of coming to Washington to speak for space.

Space Policy Edition #21: Bill Nye and the State of the Union

February 02, 2018 • 30:28

Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye attended the State of the Union address on January 30th, he also spent the day meeting with sixteen different members of Congress to promote science on Capitol Hill. In this special abbreviated show, Casey Dreier and Mat Kaplan welcome their colleague Matt Renninger, who joined Bill on Capitol Hill, to discuss the goals of The Planetary Society and the reasons why it was important for Bill to attend.

Space Policy Edition #20: Looking back on the year in space policy. Also, your questions!

January 05, 2018 • 63:48

It’s the space policy guys’ turn to look back at a year that saw great achievements in space. Were they matched by events in Washington DC?

Something Old and Something New: Exciting Research on the International Space Station

July 11, 2018 • 50:45

Sextants have helped sailors find their way across oceans for centuries. Now one is onboard the International Space Station so that astronauts can learn to find their way across the solar system even if other technologies fail.

Return to Fiery Mercury With BepiColombo

September 19, 2018 • 37:21

Elsa Montagnon is Spacecraft Operations Manager for the European/Japanese mission leaving for our solar system’s innermost planet very soon. She joins us to talk about the long journey ahead.

Pluto Occults! Join Us on the Mountain

August 22, 2018 • 36:24

Pluto passed in front of a star on the evening of August 14. Mat Kaplan joined pro and amateur astronomers on a mountain to observe this rare event. It may reveal more about the dwarf planet’s tenuous atmosphere and other properties.

Planetary Radio Live! – Celebrating Curiosity on Mars

April 25, 2018 • 1:35:21

Join us for an utterly fascinating live conversation with Emily Lakdawalla about her brand new book, The Design and Engineering of Curiosity: How the Mars Rover Performs Its Job. Also joining us at Caltech were Curiosity Project Scientist Ashwin Vasavada and JPL Research Scientist Abigail Fraeman.

Opportunity, Phone Home!

September 12, 2018 • 33:30

The dust is settling on the Red Planet. Is the remaining Mars Exploration Rover about to rise and shine after three months of slumber? MER Project Manager John Callas returns with a realistic yet hopeful assessment.

Mysterious Tabby’s Star, With Tabby Herself

January 10, 2018 • 44:46

It may not host an alien “megastructure” but Tabby’s Star still guards many mysteries of science. Astronomer and astrophysicist Tabetha “Tabby” Boyajian leads the worldwide team that is revealing this strange light in the sky.

Looking Back, Looking Forward with the Planetary Society All-Stars

January 03, 2018 • 1:18:51

Mat’s first-ever four-way conversation with Jason Davis, Casey Dreier and Emily Lakdawalla reviews the biggest 2017 events in space exploration and provides their predictions of what to look for in the new year.

Living in Space!

January 24, 2018 • 37:55

Mat Kaplan talks with participants in the National Space Society’s recent Space Settlement Summit about human destiny in space.

Kathryn Sullivan, Space Dentistry and More at the International Space Development Conference

June 20, 2018 • 45:51

Freeman Dyson wasn’t the only space star at the ISDC. Mat talks with former astronaut and NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan, leaders of the Cassini mission, innovative students and an expert on dental care in space.

John Logsdon and the Dawn of the Space Age

October 03, 2018 • 48:48

The Dean of space policy, John Logsdon, returns with stories and a new book of original documents that shaped the US space program from the birth of NASA to SpaceX. Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye reports in from this year’s International Astronautical Congress in German, while Senior Editor Emily Lakdawalla wraps up a working tour of New Zealand. Then join Bruce and Mat for this week’s What’s Up.

It’s Rocket Science: Testing PlanetVac in the Mojave Desert

June 06, 2018 • 48:59

Join Mat Kaplan in California’s Mojave Desert for special coverage of not one but two rocket flights and a real world test of PlanetVac, the innovative, radically simple way to collect surface samples from other worlds.

It’s Asteroid Week with NASA’s Planetary Defense Officer

June 27, 2018 • 40:44

The dinosaurs regret their lack of a space program. 200 million years later, humans are gearing up to defend themselves from a species-ending rock.

It’s a Hard Rain on Titan

January 17, 2018 • 43:41

A computer model based on our best data about Saturn’s cloud-shrouded moon says that torrential liquid methane pounds the surface far more frequently than previously expected. Sean Faulk and Jonathan Mitchell of UCLA explain.

Hayabusa2 Reaches a Dark Diamond in Space

July 25, 2018 • 53:21

Japan’s Hayabusa2 is just 6 kilometers from asteroid Ryugu as it prepares to snatch samples of the space rock for return to Earth. ISAS/JAXA Director General and former Hayabusa Mission Project Manager Hitoshi Kuninaka joins us for a conversation about the spacecraft and what’s ahead.

Going to Sea to Sail Through Space: Orion Ocean Recovery Testing

January 31, 2018 • 38:30

Join Mat Kaplan on a visit to Naval Base San Diego and the USS Anchorage, the amphibious ship that has just completed a round of Orion spacecraft recovery testing and practice.

Giving Mysterious Venus the Love (and Science) She Deserves

August 15, 2018 • 55:54

We have so much to learn about Venus, says JPL scientist Sue Smrekar. What we learn will help us understand our own world and Mars.

Experience A Message From Earth - Inspired by the Voyager Golden Record

February 28, 2018 • 49:04

It has been 40 years since Carl Sagan and others shared the best of humanity with the stars. A new online multimedia project has been created as a 21st century homage to the Golden Record.

Dwarf Planet Ceres Thrills as a Dying Visitor Closes In

July 04, 2018

Ceres is the queen of the asteroid belt. Her first Earthly visitor is nearing its last days in spectacular style. Dawn Mission Director and Chief Engineer Marc Rayman returns with stunning images taken from just 35 kilometers or 22 miles above the dwarf planet, and a preview of the spacecraft’s last days.

Diving Into That Lake on Mars

August 01, 2018 • 47:34

Our world was rocked by last week’s announcement of good radar evidence for a liquid water “lake” under the Red Planet’s south pole. Senior Editor Emily Lakdawalla introduces us to the story that is then taken up by two of host Mat Kaplan’s favorite Martians. The Goddard Space Flight Center’s James Garvin headed NASA’s Mars exploration program, while NASA Ames astrobiologist Chris McKay co-founded the Mars Underground more than 35 years ago.

Dark Energy’s Co-Discoverer and the Leader of Chinese Space Science

August 08, 2018 • 39:25

It has been 20 years since we learned the expansion of the universe is accelerating due to the mysterious force called dark energy. Saul Perlmutter shared the Nobel Prize in Physics because of his contributions.

Chasing New Horizons to Pluto with Alan Stern and David Grinspoon

May 23, 2018 • 54:41

The New Horizons mission was a triumph, revealing Pluto as an utterly unique and beautiful world. But the mission first had to survive challenge after challenge, fighting to be developed, meeting a nearly impossible launch deadline, and then narrowly avoiding disaster when it was barely a week from its destination.

Celebrating Astronomy Day with the Giant Magellan Telescope

October 10, 2018 • 60:36

Happy Astronomy Day, October 13, 2018! We salute humankind’s long history of stargazing by checking in on what will be our planet’s largest telescope. Patrick McCarthy is an astronomer and a leader of the Giant Magellan Telescope project. He returns with a report on the instrument’s status, followed by a fascinating tour of the GMT facility.

Big Science, Big Rocket at the Marshall Space Flight Center

September 05, 2018 • 49:38.05

Mat Kaplan’s Huntsville, Alabama trip wraps up with a tour of the historic and history-making Marshall Space Flight Center. Join him at the control center for research underway on the International Space Station, under a tent where a critical component of the Space Launch System rocket is getting finishing touches, in a conversation about the Fermi spacecraft’s search for the universe’s biggest explosions, and with the Center’s Associate Director for Technical efforts.

Back to Saturn for Brand New Cassini Science

October 17, 2018 • 36:23

Our most frequent guest returns with exciting, just-published research enabled by the 20-year mission’s enormous success. Linda Spilker has served as Cassini Project Scientist for 8 years, and was Deputy Project Scientist for the previous 13. You’ll also get the chance to win Bruce Betts’ great new intro to astronomy book in this week’s space trivia contest.

An African Observatory Hunts Killer Asteroids

July 18, 2018 • 42:55

One of the Planetary Society’s 2018 Shoemaker Near-Earth Object grants has gone to astronomers searching the sky from a mountaintop in the North African nation of Morocco.

Amy Mainzer: Asteroid Hunter

May 09, 2018 • 36:21

After taking over 10 million images of more than 30,000 solar system objects, the NEOWISE mission is finally in its last months. Principal Investigator Amy Mainzer returns with an update on this phenomenal success and a look ahead toward a much more powerful asteroid and comet hunter called NEOCam.

Amateur Astronomers Work To Save Earth From Asteroids!

March 14, 2018 • 36:35

Seven astronomers have been selected to receive Shoemaker NEO (Near Earth Object) grants from the Planetary Society. They and their observatories span the planet. We’ll meet an American and an Australian. Society Chief Scientist Bruce Betts provides an overview of the grant program and later returns for this week’s edition of What’s Up. The Planetary Society’s Kate Howells reports on the outlook for space funding in Canada’s newly-released federal budget. She and Society CEO Bill Nye also met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

All Shook Up: The InSight Mission to Mars

May 02, 2018 • 1:21:50

No mission to Mars has done what InSight will do. The lander’s spectacularly sensitive instruments will use the Red Planet’s heat and marsquakes to reveal its deep interior while also revealing secrets of other rocky worlds like our own Earth.

AI, Space, and Humanity’s Future—A Conversation with David Brin

April 04, 2018 • 1:08:03

The multi-award winning science fiction author, futurist and speaker returns to Planetary Radio for a wide-ranging conversation about robots and humans in space, empathetic artificial intelligences, how we can survive the Singularity and much more.

A Space Station Crashes to Earth

March 28, 2018 • 50:01

By the time you hear this week’s episode, China’s Tiangong-1 may have spectacularly re-entered our planet’s atmosphere, raining metal on an unpredictable location.

A Sacred Place: The National Air and Space Museum with Ellen Stofan

May 30, 2018 • 35:00

Planetary geologist Ellen Stofan has just become Director of the most popular museum in the United States. The NASM protects and shares the greatest collection of space and aviation treasures on Earth.

A New Congressional Caucus Backs Planetary Science

February 14, 2018 • 41:58

Republican Randy Hultgren and Democrat Derek Kilmer celebrate formation of the new bipartisan, bicameral caucus of US representatives and senators. They have united behind exploration of our and other solar systems. Bill Nye shares his eye and ear witness account of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch and landing. The new What’s Up space trivia contest takes its inspiration from the Tesla Roadster now on its way to Mars.

A Conversation with Freeman Dyson

June 13, 2018 • 39:38

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.

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