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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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Ice Worlds, A Moon Landing and Blasting an Asteroid

April 03, 2019 • 41:45

When will we return to Uranus and Neptune? Planetary scientist Amy Simon explains why a mission to the so-called ice giants is a high priority as she tells us about these mysterious, blue worlds.

China on the Final Frontier

March 06, 2019 • 51:32

With missions like Chang’e 4 on the far side of the Moon, China has firmly established itself as a leader in space exploration. Space journalist Andrew Jones helps us explore the nation’s ambitious near and long-term plans.

Space Policy Edition: When a (Space) Cowboy Came to Washington

February 28, 2019 • 89:57

Historian John Logsdon discusses his new book, Ronald Reagan and the Space Frontier It explores the legacy of the 40th president’s major space policy decisions. We look at four major topics: early efforts at commercializing space, the survival crisis for planetary exploration, the Space Shuttle, and the decision to build the space station.

A Fond Farewell to Spirit and Opportunity

February 20, 2019 • 68:44

The Mars Exploration Rover mission was declared complete on February 13, 2019. On the very next day, MER Project Manager John Callas and Deputy Project Scientist Abigail Fraeman came to Planetary Society headquarters for an extended and emotional conversation with Mat Kaplan and Emily Lakdawalla.

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.

At the Space Settlement Summit With Former NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden

December 12, 2018 • 50:06

He led NASA for eight years, but not till he had flown on four Space Shuttle missions and enjoyed a long military career. Charlie Bolden talks with Mat about his time at the space agency and where we’re headed on the final frontier.

Moon Mission 3D from Queen Guitarist Brian May and David Eicher

November 14, 2018 • 35:13

You haven’t seen the best pictures from the Apollo era and other great space achievements till you’ve seen them in 3D. Queen guitarist and astrophysicist Brian May is also mad about stereoscopic imagery.

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.

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.

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.

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 #17: The 75th Anniversary of the Rocket Age, with Dr. Michael Neufeld

October 06, 2017 • 90:19

Fifteen years before Sputnik, on a bright 1942 afternoon in northern Germany, a thundering machine of metal and fire pierced the sky, ultimately touching the edge of space for the first time in history. It opened a new era of opportunity and terror with rocket technology. Dr. Michael Neufeld joins us discuss the significance of this test and how it happened.

Ed Stone and Forty Years of Voyager in Space

August 16, 2017 • 32:00

It is most space fans’ favorite planetary science mission, and with good reason. We visit with the man who has been in charge of Voyager mission science for more than four decades.

20 Years on Mars with Matt Golombek

July 12, 2017 • 49:44

When the Pathfinder lander reached Mars 20 years ago it began a Martian renaissance that has never paused. JPL scientist Matt Golombek was the mission’s Project Scientist. He looks back and to the future of our explorations at the Red Planet.

Thomas Edison, Eclipse Chaser!

June 21, 2017 • 1:02:38

Former NPR science reporter David Baron discusses the stories of men and women who made their way across the American West to view and document the total solar eclipse of 1878.

Visiting Worlds Fantastic with Bonnie Buratti

May 10, 2017 • 56:09

Veteran Jet Propulsion Lab planetary scientist Bonnie Buratti talks with Mat about the wonder of our solar neighborhood that she explores in "Worlds Fantastic, Worlds Familiar—A Guided Tour of the Solar System."

Nazis in Space? Rod Pyle’s Amazing Stories of the Space Age

February 15, 2017 • 52:45

Rod Pyle reveals bizarre yet fascinating space projects of the past in his new book. Pyle also exposes previously classified information about missions and spacecraft you thought you knew.

A Giant Telescope and Remembering John Glenn

December 13, 2016 • 49:22

Space historian John Logsdon remembers American hero John Glenn. Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye was a big fan of the Friendship 7 astronaut—less so the new Star Wars movie. Then we get an update on the Giant Magellan Telescope from Patrick McCarthy.

Charley Kohlhase and the Greatest Voyage

October 18, 2016 • 58:54

How did the Voyager spacecraft manage to weave their magnificent way through the outer planets of our solar system? Mission Design Manager Charley Kohlhase led the team that crunched the numbers to select the best possible trajectory from 10,000 candidates.

OSIRIS-REx: The Voyage to Bennu Begins, With Dante Lauretta

September 13, 2016 • 28:50

In two years a Near Earth Asteroid now known as Bennu will have a visitor from Earth. OSIRIS-REx Principal Investigator Dante Lauretta reports on his mission’s successful launch.

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