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Planetary RadioAugust 15, 2018

Giving Mysterious Venus the Love (and Science) She Deserves

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On This Episode
Sue Smrekar
Sue Smrekar

Principal Scientist, Jet Propulsion Lab

Nicky Fox
Nicky Fox

Parker Solar Probe project scientist, Johns Hopkins University / Applied Physics Lab

Betsy Congdon
Betsy Congdon

Lead Thermal Engineer on the Parker Solar Probe's Heat Shield, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab

Headshot of Bruce Betts
Bruce Betts

Chief Scientist / LightSail Program Manager, The Planetary Society

MaryLiz Bender
MaryLiz Bender

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

Headshot of Mat Kaplan
Mat Kaplan

Planetary Radio Host and Producer

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. Sue joins us this week to make a great case for a new Venus orbiter. The Parker Solar Probe has begun its exciting journey to “touch the Sun.” Our MaryLiz Bender talks with mission leaders before and after the launch. Bruce Betts and Mat Kaplan have two great space trivia contests to wrap up right after they take us on another What’s Up tour of the solar system and back through the history of space exploration.

Two views of Venus

Mattias Malmer / NASA / JPL

Two views of Venus
Venus as it rougly appears to the human eye, from Mariner 10 images (left), compared with a global radar map of the surface from Magellan (right).


Fracture patterns associated with arachnoids, one of the many indications of the relationship between volcanism and faulting on the surface of Venus.
Delta IV Heavy Parker Solar Probe launch

Ryan Chylinski

Delta IV Heavy Parker Solar Probe launch
The United Launch Alliance Delta 4-Heavy rocket launched the Parker Solar Probe into space on August 12, 2018 at 3:31 a.m. EDT (0731 GMT) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.
Members of the Parker Solar Probe team

Ryan Chylinski

Members of the Parker Solar Probe team
Members of the Parker Solar Probe team pose for a picture just after their successful launch on August 12, 2018 at NASA's Kennedy Space Center.

Trivia Contest

This Week’s Prizes:
A svelte Planetary Radio t-shirt from the Planetary Society Chop Shop store, a 200-point astronomy account, and a download code for Distant Suns VR (iOS only).

This week's question:

How many Venus flybys will be required for the Parker Solar Probe to adjust its orbit around the Sun?

To submit your answer:

Complete the contest entry form at or write to us at [email protected] no later than Wednesday, August 22nd at 8am Pacific Time. Be sure to include your name and mailing address.

Last week's question:

Who is the singer/songwriter who referred to an experience watching the Perseid meteor shower as “I’ve seen it raining fire in the sky.”


The answer will be revealed next week.

Answer to the July 25 space trivia contest question:

The next time Mars will be closer to Earth than the just-completed 2018 approach will be September 11, 2035.

Answer to the August 1 space trivia contest question:

The most abundant chemical element in the universe, by far, is hydrogen.

Listen more: interview, atmospheres, space weather, astronomy, podcasts and videos, the Sun, personal stories, spacecraft, weather and climate, solar observing spacecraft, planetary astronomy, astronomy and astrophysics spacecraft, astronomy by planetary missions, mission status, Venus, Planetary Radio, explaining technology, transit of Venus, explaining science, Planetary Society

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