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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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Where Do We Come From? – Exploring the Origins of Life Lab

November 07, 2018 • 38:27

They may be the most important questions in all of science: Where do we come from? Are we alone? Researchers Ralph Pudritz and Maikel Rheinstadter are working on these puzzles with their new Planetary Simulator, possibly edging toward the natural creation of self-replicating molecules.

Sailing to an Asteroid on the Light of the Sun

October 24, 2018 • 49:25

LightSail 2 is not the only solar sail in the universe. NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and the Jet Propulsion Lab are preparing to send NEA Scout on a long, light-propelled journey to a near Earth asteroid.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Found! Beagle 2 on Mars

February 17, 2015 • 28:50

The Beagle 2 Mars lander disappeared after it separated from the Mars Express orbiter on Christmas Day, 2003. Eleven years later, it has been found, partially-deployed on the Martian surface. Longtime Beagle 2 mission leader Mark Sims tells the story.

The Gemini Planet Imager: Worlds Made Visible

January 13, 2014 • 31:19

Principal Investigator and physicist Bruce Macintosh joins astronomer Franck Marchis to celebrate first light from the most powerful instrument for imaging exoplanets.

A 2014 Preview From Emily Lakdawalla

January 06, 2014 • 28:50

24 spacecraft are either busy exploring the solar system or speeding toward an exciting destination. The Planetary Society's Senior Editor takes us on a whirlwind advance tour.

Amy Mainzer Is Hunting Asteroids With NEOWISE

December 30, 2013 • 34:11

Take a spacecraft that can no longer survey the realm of galaxies and repurpose it to discover thousands of much nearer asteroids and comets. Put it to sleep for 2.5 years, then wake it up and start discovering even more! JPL’s Amy Mainzer is Principal Investigator for NEOWISE, the mission using this amazing space telescope.

A Big Week for Space Science at the AGU and Beyond

December 16, 2013 • 28:50

The annual fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union revealed lots of science, some of it astounding. Emily Lakdawalla was there with Advocacy and Outreach Coordinator Casey Dreier, whose news was not quite as good.

Comet ISON: Much More Than a Memory

December 09, 2013 • 28:50

Maybe it wasn’t “the comet of the century,” but ISON has left a scientific legacy that is beyond compare. That’s according to Karl Battams of NASA’s Comet ISON Observing Campaign on this week’s show.

Alyssa Rhoden and the Rise of the Europa Underground

November 25, 2013 • 30:20

Alyssa Rhoden studies Jupiter’s moon Europa…from a distance. She, many other scientists and millions of space exploration fans around the globe want to see a mission to this ice world that hides a vast, warm ocean. That’s why she and several colleagues have created Destination: Europa, and they want your help.

Planetary Radio Live Celebrates the Launch of MAVEN

November 18, 2013 • 28:50

The successful launch of MAVEN was covered by Mat Kaplan, Bruce Betts and Emily Lakdawalla, with special, launch site reports from Jim Bell and Bill Nye.

Emily Lakawalla's DPS Report

October 14, 2013 • 28:50

The Planetary Society’s Senior Editor and Planetary Evangelist recaps this year’s revealing meeting of the Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS).

Gregory and James Benford on the "Starship Century"

September 30, 2013 • 28:50

“Starship Century—Toward the Grandest Horizon” is the new collection of fact and fiction assembled by Gregory and James Benford. The brothers are among the leaders of a renaissance in research and thinking about interstellar travel. They have returned to Planetary Radio to talk about this story of human destiny among the stars.

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