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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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We’re Sending a Flying Machine to Titan

July 10, 2019 • 56:45

NASA has given the go-ahead for Dragonfly, a flying rotorcraft that will explore Saturn’s mysterious moon Titan. Mission Principal Investigator Elizabeth “Zibi” Turtle helps us celebrate.

LightSail Takes Flight!

July 03, 2019 • 50:29

A giant SpaceX Falcon Heavy lifted off in the early hours of June 25th. One week later, the LightSail 2 solar sail was released to begin its epic mission. You’ll join the thrilling launch, meet LightSail team members and leaders of other missions, and get a solar sail update in this very special episode.

Flight by Light: A LightSail 2 Mission Preview

June 19, 2019 • 48:22

The day is almost here. With the launch of a Falcon Heavy rocket, The Planetary Society will begin its mission to prove that a tiny, orbiting spacecraft can be propelled by the light of the Sun.

Starchaser: Extraordinary Astronomer Jay Pasachoff

June 05, 2019 • 61:21

Jay Pasachoff visits Planetary Society headquarters for a conversation about the latest edition of his and Alex Filippenko’s monumental textbook The Cosmos.

A Last Visit With LightSail 2 at the Cubesat Developers Workshop

May 15, 2019 • 45:05

Mat Kaplan visits Cal Poly San Luis Obispo for a last, clean room visit with LightSail 2, the Planetary Society’s solar sailing cubesat. While there, Mat also talked to attendees at the Cubesat Developers Workshop, including the creator of the tiny “Pocket Rocket” engine for small spacecraft.

Exploring the Latest Planetary Science Discoveries With Emily Lakdawalla

December 20, 2017 • 37:56

A holiday edition of Planetary Radio welcomes the Planetary Society’s Senior Editor back from the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union. Emily reports on amazing developments in planetary science she discovered at the huge conference.

Sailing on the Light of the Sun With Lou Friedman

September 06, 2017 • 49:21

The co-founder and Executive Director Emeritus of The Planetary Society returns for a conversation about the allure of sailing through space.

Spectacular Jupiter!

June 07, 2017 • 42:47

Have you seen its stunning image of Jupiter’s south pole? The Juno orbiter is surpassing expectations and delivering surprising science. Scott Bolton, the mission’s Principal Investigator, is back with a thrilling report.

Ready for Space: LightSail 2 Update

March 22, 2017 • 34:49

The Planetary Society’s LightSail 2 solar sail spacecraft is ready to be packed away for its ride to orbit on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket. Mat Kaplan checks the mission’s status with team members.

Subcontractors: Making Space Happen

August 09, 2016 • 28:50

You may never hear their names, but there are thousands of small to medium-sized companies without which space exploration and development wouldn’t happen.

Getting Humans to Mars

May 31, 2016 • 56:31

Three NASA leaders talk with host Mat Kaplan about the progress we're making toward leaving footprints on the Red Planet.

A Big Test for LightSail 2

May 24, 2016 • 29:57

The Planetary Society’s solar sail spacecraft was in the middle of a critical test as we spoke with the Society’s Bruce Betts and Jason Davis.

Planetary Radio Extra: LightSail Update

February 09, 2016 • 21:10

The Planetary Society's Bruce Betts and Jason Davis join host Mat Kaplan for a status report on LightSail 2, the Society's next solar sail, now being prepared for launch as soon as late this year.

Planet 9 From Outer Space!

February 09, 2016 • 49:10

Mike Brown and Konstantin Batygin fully expect a new and undemotable ninth planet will be found in the outer reaches of the solar system. The Caltech researchers talk about their findings and much more.

Planetary Radio Extra: Planetary Society Experts 2015 Review

January 05, 2016 • 61:40

Bruce Betts, Jason Davis, Casey Dreier and Emily Lakdawalla gather with Mat Kaplan for a fascinating and informative Planetary Radio Extra year-in-review roundtable discussion.

2015: A Great Year for Space Exploration

December 29, 2015 • 28:50

Our year-end review features the “best of 2015” lists from Jason Davis, Casey Dreier, Emily Lakdawalla and Bill Nye the Science Guy. What’s Up offers planets, a comet, and a nice prize package for the space trivia contest.

Big Rockets and Little LightSails

October 13, 2015 • 28:50

Digital editor Jason Davis is a lucky guy. He follows and reports on human spaceflight progress, as well as the progress of the LightSail solar sail, which is about a year from its next flight.

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.

LightSail Triumphant! A Mission Press Conference

June 16, 2015 • 28:50

After a roller coaster ride that included a maddening eight-day silence, the LightSail test mission finally achieved all of its major goals. Leaders of the mission team gathered on June 10th to take questions from the media, and share their thoughts and emotions with the general public. Today’s show presents highlights of that briefing. Emily Lakdawalla is seeing things on Pluto, and she’s not alone. Bruce Betts takes Mat Kaplan on a walk in space during this week’s What’s Up segment.

Cassini Update AND LightSail Spreads its Wings!

June 09, 2015 • 28:50

Cassini Project Scientist Linda Spilker, returns with another update on the magnificent mission at Saturn. You’ll also hear Bill Nye and the moment when LightSail began to deploy its solar sail.

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