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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

André Bormanis and Emily Lakdawalla on Life, the Universe and Everything

November 01, 2017 • 1:06:54

Join us for a wide-ranging, salon-style conversation about space exploration, science, art and more. Mat’s guests are astronomer, television producer/writer and former Star Trek science advisor André Bormanis and Planetary Society Senior Editor Emily Lakdawalla.

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.

Earth Microbes! Welcome to Mars

February 07, 2017 • 33:41

University of Arkansas grad student Rebecca Mickol and her team have demonstrated that some Earth bacteria can survive in the extremely thin atmosphere of Mars. Could Martian bacteria thrive under the same conditions?

Ben Miller Says The Aliens are Coming!

January 10, 2017 • 1:13:11

We are joined by British physicist turned comedian and actor Ben Miller, author of The Aliens are Coming! The Extraordinary Science Behind our Search for Life in the Universe.

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.

Civilizations Among the Clustered Stars?

January 26, 2016 • 41:48

New research indicates that globular clusters—collections of up to a million stars—could provide stable environments for life, along with opportunities for interstellar civilizations. Lead author Rosanne Di Stefano joins us to explain.

A New Era For SETI Research: More on the Breakthrough Initiatives

August 11, 2015 • 39:23

We follow last week’s conversation with Ann Druyan about the $100 million funding of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence by visiting with two of the scientists who will do the work: Dan Werthimer of UC Berkeley and Karen O’Neil of the Green Bank Telescope.

Ann Druyan and the Breakthrough SETI Initiatives

August 04, 2015 • 30:07

The Breakthrough Initiatives will pump $100 million into the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence in the next 10 years, vastly expanding humanity’s quest to learn if it has company in the universe. Among the leaders of this brave new project is Cosmos creator Ann Druyan. Join us for a special, extended conversation with Ann.

Exploring the Seas of Earth and Other Worlds

June 23, 2015 • 28:50

We return to the beautiful Aquarium of the Pacific in southern California for a fascinating conversation about ocean science. What we learn down here is furthering our research around the solar system. William Patzert, Jerry Schubel and Steven Vance join Mat Kaplan on stage. Emily Lakdawalla tells us what Curiosity, the Mars Science Laboratory rover, has been doing lately. Bruce Betts is keeping his eye on converging Jupiter and Venus.

Ancient Water Was Here Before the Sun

October 21, 2014 • 28:50

Ilse Cleeves is lead author of a paper that concludes up to half of our solar system’s water is older than the solar system itself. The implications for life across the galaxy are profound.

Smashing Holes in Mars to Look for Life

September 02, 2014 • 28:50

Explore Mars wants to look for life on the Red Planet. Not past life. Life thriving under the Martian surface right now. Chris Carberry will tell us how the ExoLance project might find it.

The Search for Extraterrestrial Polluters?

August 12, 2014 • 28:50

Harvard’s Henry Lin led work that determined the soon-to-be-launched James Webb Space Telescope may be able to detect an alien civilization by analyzing its atmosphere.

Was a Natural Fuel Cell Key to the Origin of Life on Earth?

July 01, 2014 • 28:50

There’s so much we don’t know about the origin of life here or anywhere else in the universe. But there must have been an energy source. Researcher Laurie Barge led work that simulated the natural formation of a fuel cell that may have taken place in Earth’s primordial oceans.

Microbes in Orbit: Cheryl Nickerson’s Revealing Biomedical Research

April 08, 2014 • 42:43

You may have heard that the sometimes deadly Salmonella bacterium becomes stronger in microgravity. Cheryl Nickerson tell us about this and other results her team has conducted in low Earth orbit.

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