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Planetary Radio Episodes

For every week since 2002, Planetary Radio has visited with a scientist, engineer, project manager, advocate or writer who provides a unique perspective on the quest for knowledge about our solar system and beyond. We also showcase regular features that raise your space IQ while they put a smile on your face.

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Earthrise! Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Apollo 8

December 19, 2018 • 50:52

This is the 50th anniversary of the most audacious space mission in history. Apollo 8 blazed a path for the first moon landing seven months later, and gave a troubled nation reason for hope and pride.

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.

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.

Planetary Radio Live on the Eve of the Eclipse

August 30, 2017 • 1:14:00

With hours to go before the Great American Eclipse, nine outstanding guests joined host Mat Kaplan for Planetary Radio Live in front of 1,100 rowdy eclipse and space science fans.

Dark Energy Attracts? Astrophysicists Jason Rhodes and Alina Kiessling

August 09, 2017 • 1:00:15

JPL astrophysicists Alina Kiessling and Jason Rhodes were brought together by their fascination over the mystery of dark energy. They talk with Planetary Radio about their research and the many missions they are contributing to, including WFIRST, a unique new space telescope.

An Eye on the Sun (In the Middle of a Lake)

August 02, 2017 • 52:28

The world’s most powerful solar telescope has just been renamed for the man responsible for its creation. We’ll meet astrophysicist and helioseismologist Phil Goode, and we’ll enjoy a tour of the Goode Solar Telescope.

Planetary Radio Live! Living on Mars

July 26, 2017 • 1:26:43

Will humans live, work and thrive on Mars? What challenges must be met before we can become Martians? On July 20th, the anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, Mat Kaplan welcomed an outstanding panel of experts for conversation in front of a Pasadena, California audience.

A Cosmic Voyage with Astronomer Sandra Faber

July 05, 2017 • 1:04:12

Veteran astronomer and cosmologist Sandra Faber has just been awarded the Gruber Prize for Cosmology, honoring more than forty years of pioneering work. She talks with Mat Kaplan on this week’s show.

Happy Asteroid Day!

June 28, 2017 • 39:08

Asteroid Day, June 30th, marks the anniversary of the great Tunguska impact that leveled a Siberian forest. It reminds us that a Near Earth Object can destroy a city or even a civilization. Former Minor Planet Center Director Tim Spahr reviews our efforts to find and understand these bodies.

Julie Webster and the Art of Spacecraft Endurance

June 14, 2017 • 47:53

How do you keep a dazzlingly complex spacecraft in good health after 20 years in space? That’s the challenge for Julie Webster and her team of engineers supporting the Cassini mission at Saturn.

Space Policy Edition #12 – Is Space Policy Stagnant? With Special Guest Marcia Smith

May 05, 2017 • 1:27:25

Moon or Mars? Should NASA depend on private companies? What’s the goal of human spaceflight? These questions were debated three decades ago, yet are just as relevant today. Does that mean space policy is stagnant?

Aerospace Corporation President and CEO Steve Isakowitz

April 12, 2017 • 58:09

The Aerospace Corporation has been innovating since 1960. Now it’s headed by a former leader of “New Space” company Virgin Galactic. President and CEO Steve Isakowitz talks about the evolving culture of the space industry.

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

February 22, 2017 • 1:38:52

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.

Anatomy of a Rover—Getting Down to Mars

July 26, 2016 • 36:40

It takes a lot of terrific components to create a successful spacecraft like Curiosity, the Mars Science Laboratory. We’ll visit JPL to learn about the Terminal Descent Sensor radar that will once again help land a rover on the Red Planet.

NASA’s Science Leader John Grunsfeld

May 17, 2016 • 28:50

John Grunsfeld closes our coverage of the Space Foundation’s 32nd annual Space Symposium in Colorado Springs. We also meet the leaders of the New Generation Space Leaders Program.

A Death Valley Conversation About Life, The Universe and Everything With Tyler Nordgren and Jill Tarter

April 26, 2016 • 1:11:38

Beautiful Death Valley National Park was the setting for a fascinating conversation with famed SETI researcher Jill Tarter and celebrated astronomer, artist and photographer Tyler Nordgren.

NASA’s New Planetary Defense Office

February 02, 2016 • 50:35

Lindley Johnson has just been named NASA's first Planetary Defense Officer. He's joined on this week's PlanRad by astronomer Kelly Fast, the new manager of the Near Earth Object Observation Program.

Flying High on SOFIA

September 08, 2015 • 32:25

Planetary Radio returns to SOFIA, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, but this time we fly in the giant 747 turned telescope platform. It was a night to remember.

The Royal Observatory, Greenwich and the Quest for Longitude

July 28, 2015 • 43:09

Come with us on a visit to the home of the prime meridian for a conversation with the curator of the Royal Observatory, Greenwich about the race to create a practical means for determining longitude.

Saving the Planet: Voices From the Planetary Defense Conference

June 30, 2015 • 28:50

We’ve already brought you Planetary Radio Live from the 2015 PDC near Rome, Italy. Now you’ll hear a small sampling of the scientists, engineers, policymakers and media experts who spent five days considering how humanity will respond to a potentially disastrous threat. Bruce Betts celebrates the great Jupiter-Venus conjunction in What’s Up. Bill Nye and Emily Lakdawalla return next week.

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