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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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Return to Fiery Mercury With BepiColombo

September 19, 2018 • 37:21

Elsa Montagnon is Spacecraft Operations Manager for the European/Japanese mission leaving for our solar system’s innermost planet very soon. She joins us to talk about the long journey ahead.

Opportunity, Phone Home!

September 12, 2018 • 33:30

The dust is settling on the Red Planet. Is the remaining Mars Exploration Rover about to rise and shine after three months of slumber? MER Project Manager John Callas returns with a realistic yet hopeful assessment.

Space Policy Edition: Did NASA Ace its Midterms? With Special Guest Louise Prockter

September 07, 2018 • 1:25:07

We talk with planetary scientist and Lunar and Planetary Institute Director Louise Prockter, who co-led creation of a new report evaluating the performance of NASA's planetary science division.

Big Science, Big Rocket at the Marshall Space Flight Center

September 05, 2018 • 49:38.05

Mat Kaplan’s Huntsville, Alabama trip wraps up with a tour of the historic and history-making Marshall Space Flight Center. Join him at the control center for research underway on the International Space Station, under a tent where a critical component of the Space Launch System rocket is getting finishing touches, in a conversation about the Fermi spacecraft’s search for the universe’s biggest explosions, and with the Center’s Associate Director for Technical efforts.

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.

Hayabusa2 Reaches a Dark Diamond in Space

July 25, 2018 • 53:21

Japan’s Hayabusa2 is just 6 kilometers from asteroid Ryugu as it prepares to snatch samples of the space rock for return to Earth. ISAS/JAXA Director General and former Hayabusa Mission Project Manager Hitoshi Kuninaka joins us for a conversation about the spacecraft and what’s ahead.

Space Policy Edition: Space Force! With Special Guest Brian Weeden

July 06, 2018 • 1:46:33

President Trump recently ordered the creation of Space Force—but what does that mean? What are the implications for militarization of space? National security expert Dr. Brian Weeden joins the show to explain the announcement.

Dwarf Planet Ceres Thrills as a Dying Visitor Closes In

July 04, 2018

Ceres is the queen of the asteroid belt. Her first Earthly visitor is nearing its last days in spectacular style. Dawn Mission Director and Chief Engineer Marc Rayman returns with stunning images taken from just 35 kilometers or 22 miles above the dwarf planet, and a preview of the spacecraft’s last days.

It’s Asteroid Week with NASA’s Planetary Defense Officer

June 27, 2018 • 40:44

The dinosaurs regret their lack of a space program. 200 million years later, humans are gearing up to defend themselves from a species-ending rock.

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.

A Sacred Place: The National Air and Space Museum with Ellen Stofan

May 30, 2018 • 35:00

Planetary geologist Ellen Stofan has just become Director of the most popular museum in the United States. The NASM protects and shares the greatest collection of space and aviation treasures on Earth.

Chasing New Horizons to Pluto with Alan Stern and David Grinspoon

May 23, 2018 • 54:41

The New Horizons mission was a triumph, revealing Pluto as an utterly unique and beautiful world. But the mission first had to survive challenge after challenge, fighting to be developed, meeting a nearly impossible launch deadline, and then narrowly avoiding disaster when it was barely a week from its destination.

Why Mars? We’ve Got the Answers

May 16, 2018 • 38:54

The great adventure awaits! Mat Kaplan hosts an entertaining panel discussion at the 2018 Humans to Mars Summit in Washington DC. Eight guests provide their diverse and inspiring reasons for humans to visit the Red Planet.

Amy Mainzer: Asteroid Hunter

May 09, 2018 • 36:21

After taking over 10 million images of more than 30,000 solar system objects, the NEOWISE mission is finally in its last months. Principal Investigator Amy Mainzer returns with an update on this phenomenal success and a look ahead toward a much more powerful asteroid and comet hunter called NEOCam.

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.

Yuri’s Night 2018!

April 18, 2018 • 54:38

Host Mat Kaplan once again attends the worldwide party for space. Join him at the Los Angeles celebration under Space Shuttle Endeavour.

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.

AI, Space, and Humanity’s Future—A Conversation with David Brin

April 04, 2018 • 1:08:03

The multi-award winning science fiction author, futurist and speaker returns to Planetary Radio for a wide-ranging conversation about robots and humans in space, empathetic artificial intelligences, how we can survive the Singularity and much more.

Stephen Hawking: Spaceflight Pioneer!

March 21, 2018 • 39:06

He is known for his breakthrough physics and popularizing of science, but Dr. Hawking also wanted to fly in space. Erik Viirre led the medical team that helped Stephen experience weightlessness.

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