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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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Asteroid Bennu’s Visitor From Earth

January 23, 2019 • 31:32

Spacecraft OSIRIS REx is now orbiting a 260-meter asteroid named Bennu. Principal investigator Dante Lauretta returns to tell us what has already been learned, and to preview the excitement that is still to come, including the probe’s descent to the surface for collection of a pristine sample.

Space Policy Edition: Shutdown

January 18, 2019 • 58:54

In a government shutdown seemingly without end, we bring you two stories from individuals directly impacted by the crisis. NASA scientist and union representative Lee Stone discusses the missed paychecks, loss of science, and lasting negative consequences to the public sector scientific workforce.

Flying the Skies of Saturn’s Moon Titan

January 16, 2019 • 45:47

magine soaring over what may be the solar system’s most Earth-like world, if you ignore the chill. If funded, the nuclear electric-powered Dragonfly will do exactly this. Principal Investigator Elizabeth “Zibi” Turtle shares her enthusiasm.

New Horizons Flyby: Join the Celebration!

January 09, 2019 • 62:18

Join us at the Applied Physics Lab in Maryland for the New Horizons encounter with the most distant object ever visited. You’ll meet mission leaders, friends and even a rock and roll star as we dive deep into this triumph of exploration.

A Mission to Earth: OSIRIS-REx

January 02, 2019 • 37:00

Why do so many spacecraft that are headed across our solar system turn their instruments back to Earth during flybys? OSIRIS-REx was no exception. The answers come from mission scientist Vicky Hamilton

Countdown to Ultima: Alan Stern and New Horizons

December 26, 2018 • 42:27

The New Horizons spacecraft will reach faraway Kuiper Belt object 2014 MU69 in the first minutes of 2019. Will the body informally known as Ultima Thule be as mysterious and exciting as Pluto?

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.

Last Week, Mars. This week, An Asteroid Called Bennu.

December 05, 2018 • 40:17

The InSight lander has only just arrived on Mars. Now, OSIRIS REx has reached asteroid Bennu after traveling through deep space for a year and a half.

Space Policy Edition: After the Midterms—Looking Ahead with Marcia Smith

November 16, 2018 • 50:08

The counting continues as we publish this month’s special episode, with a handful of seats in the US Senate and House still up for grabs. But with the Democratic takeover of the House assured, and several longtime space advocates turned out, change is certainly coming.

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.

Celebrating Kepler

October 31, 2018 • 43:04

The Kepler mission has ended. Listen to highlights of the October 30th media briefing that included the father of the fantastically successful planet finder, William Borucki. Then catch the thoughts of Planetary Society editors and commentators Jason Davis and Emily Lakdawalla.

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.

Back to Saturn for Brand New Cassini Science

October 17, 2018 • 36:23

Our most frequent guest returns with exciting, just-published research enabled by the 20-year mission’s enormous success. Linda Spilker has served as Cassini Project Scientist for 8 years, and was Deputy Project Scientist for the previous 13. You’ll also get the chance to win Bruce Betts’ great new intro to astronomy book in this week’s space trivia contest.

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.

SpaceX Builds a Big Falcon Rocket

September 26, 2018 • 40:54

A mostly SpaceX episode as the ambitious company provides updated details regarding its huge new rocket and introduces its first astronauts. Mat Kaplan shares more from the company’s headquarters, while Planetary Society Digital Editor explains and explores the BFR.

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.

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