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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.

Living in Space!

January 24, 2018 • 37:55

Mat Kaplan talks with participants in the National Space Society’s recent Space Settlement Summit about human destiny in space.

It’s a Hard Rain on Titan

January 17, 2018 • 43:41

A computer model based on our best data about Saturn’s cloud-shrouded moon says that torrential liquid methane pounds the surface far more frequently than previously expected. Sean Faulk and Jonathan Mitchell of UCLA explain.

A Visitor From the Stars: ‘Oumuamua

December 06, 2017 • 47:23

The first confirmed interstellar visitor to our solar system is a needle-shaped asteroid given the Hawaiian name ‘Oumuamua. Karen Meech leads the team that is learning as much about it as possible before it leaves our neighborhood, never to return.

Bob Richards of Moon Express

November 29, 2017 • 58:22

Moon Express Founder and CEO Bob Richards shares an inspiring vision for a return to the Moon. It includes introduction of a sophisticated line of robotic spacecraft, the first of which may make a soft landing next year.

Andy Weir’s New Novel Puts a City on the Moon

November 08, 2017 • 50:26

The author of #1 bestseller "The Martian" is back with "Artemis," a superbly-researched, rollicking adventure in the first city on the Moon.

Planetary Radio Live on the Eve of the Eclipse

August 30, 2017 • 1:14:00

With hours to go before the Great American Eclipse, nine outstanding guests joined host Mat Kaplan for Planetary Radio Live in front of 1,100 rowdy eclipse and space science fans.

Dark Energy Attracts? Astrophysicists Jason Rhodes and Alina Kiessling

August 09, 2017 • 1:00:15

JPL astrophysicists Alina Kiessling and Jason Rhodes were brought together by their fascination over the mystery of dark energy. They talk with Planetary Radio about their research and the many missions they are contributing to, including WFIRST, a unique new space telescope.

An Eye on the Sun (In the Middle of a Lake)

August 02, 2017 • 52:28

The world’s most powerful solar telescope has just been renamed for the man responsible for its creation. We’ll meet astrophysicist and helioseismologist Phil Goode, and we’ll enjoy a tour of the Goode Solar Telescope.

Space Policy Edition #12 – Is Space Policy Stagnant? With Special Guest Marcia Smith

May 05, 2017 • 1:27:25

Moon or Mars? Should NASA depend on private companies? What’s the goal of human spaceflight? These questions were debated three decades ago, yet are just as relevant today. Does that mean space policy is stagnant?

The Worlds of TRAPPIST-1

March 01, 2017 • 33:56

The discovery of seven, Earth-sized planets in a nearby solar system was announced last week. Astrophysicist and planetary scientist Sara Seager joins us to share her excitement about this find that includes three planets in the habitable zone.

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?

Space Policy Edition #2: Why Juno? Why Jupiter? Why Now?

July 01, 2016 • 1:09:14

This month Jason Callahan, Casey Dreier and Mat Kaplan ask whether the Moon vs. Mars human destination debate makes sense, highlight a new report on the science potential of CubeSats by the National Academies, and explain how a thrilling planetary science mission like Juno gets a thumbs up from NASA.

Countdown to Jupiter

June 28, 2016 • 40:14

Juno will enter Jupiter orbit on July 4th. Mat Kaplan talks with the mission’s Principal Investigator, Scott Bolton at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Bill Nye helps prepare us for this exciting encounter and the science that will follow.

At Space Symposium With the Leader of the European Space Agency

May 03, 2016 • 31:22

The annual Space Symposium in Colorado is a must-attend event for space leaders from around the world. Our coverage begins with United Arab Emirates Space Agency Director General Mohammed Nasser Al Ahbabi, and then moves to ESA Director General Jan Woerner and Chief Scientist Bernard Foing.

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.

Master of the Moon Rocks: NASA Astromaterials Curator Francis McCubbin

January 12, 2016 • 38:18

Francis McCubbin is the new Astromaterials Curator at NASA's Johnson Space Center, where the priceless collection includes the Apollo moonrocks. Join host Mat Kaplan's visit.

A Conversation With Congressman Lamar Smith

September 30, 2014 • 28:50

The Chairman of the powerful Science, Space and Technology Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives joins us for a talk about planetary science, Europa, a human flyby of Mars and much more.

At Spacefest VI With Apollo Astronaut Gene Cernan and a Host of Proud Space Geeks

May 27, 2014 • 34:47

Planetary Radio visited Spacefest in Pasadena to talk with planetary scientist and space artist Dan Durda, Marc Rayman of the Dawn asteroid mission, and a guy who calls himself the Space Cowboy. We also eavesdrop on Apollo 17 Commander Gene Cernan and his lifelong fan, Griffith Observatory Curator Laura Danly.

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