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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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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.

Chris Carberry and Getting Humans to Mars

June 02, 2015 • 28:50

Explore Mars revealed the 2015 Humans to Mars Report at a recent conference in Washington. CEO Chris Carberry gives us a quick tour of this inspiring assessment of what it will take to get more than robots to the Red Planet.

The Launch of LightSail

May 26, 2015 • 28:50

This special edition takes you behind the scenes on May 20, 2015 as LightSail is lifted into orbit. You’ll hear the thrilling launch, meet key team members as they prepare for the big moment, and hear a special status report from Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye.

Spiraling Closer to Ceres With the Dawn Mission’s Marc Rayman

May 19, 2015 • 33:59

It’s the biggest dwarf planet between here and Pluto, and it has a new permanent resident. The Dawn spacecraft is orbiting Ceres in the asteroid belt, revealing it as never before. What are those bright spots anyway? We spend time with Dawn’s Chief Engineer and Director, Marc Rayman.

Alan Stern and the Rise of Pluto

May 12, 2015 • 28:50

Humankind’s arrival at Pluto is barely two months away. The science and images have already started to flow from New Horizons, according to the mission’s Principal Investigator, Alan Stern. Alan returns to Planetary Radio this week.

Countdown to LightSail: An Update

April 28, 2015 • 28:50

The road to space has been a rocky one for most spacecraft, and LightSail is no different. Challenges remain even with the May 20th launch of a test mission approaching. Embedded LightSail reporter Jason Davis checks in with the latest news.

Saving the Planet at the Planetary Defense Conference

April 21, 2015 • 28:50

Planetary Radio Live was the only public event at the just-completed Planetary Defense Conference in Italy. Join us for excerpts from an all-star celebration of worldwide efforts to find, track, characterize and eventually deflect killer Near-Earth Objects.

Leaving Behind a Life on Mars—Former Curiosity Project Scientist John Grotzinger

March 17, 2015 • 34:46

The Mars Science Laboratory rover has accomplished its primary goals on the Red Planet, and John Grotzinger has left his central role to become Chair of the Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences at the California Institute of Technology. He shares his thoughts about the ongoing mission and much more.

Jonathan Goff Says Let’s Redirect an Asteroid

February 24, 2015 • 28:50

ARM is the Asteroid Redirect Mission, and sometimes it seems that it doesn’t have a friend in the world. But it does, and Jonathan Goff of Altius Space Machines is one.

LightSail Prepares to Take Flight

January 27, 2015 • 28:50

The Planetary Society has just announced that LightSail will be launched into orbit on its first test flight in May. We’ll talk with Project Manager Doug Stetson and embedded LightSail reporter Jason Davis about what to expect.

2014: The Year in Space

December 30, 2014 • 28:50

Our annual review of the greatest events and accomplishments over the last year features analysis and commentary by Bill Nye the Science Guy, Emily Lakdawalla, Jason Davis, Casey Dreier and Bruce Betts, along with a special new year’s gift of Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Orion Launches Into History

December 09, 2014 • 28:50

NASA’s Orion spacecraft has taken its first step toward Mars and an asteroid mission. The Planetary Society’s Jason Davis was at the Kennedy Space Center for the December 5 mission.

Digging Deep With Kris Zacny and the Planetary Deep Drill

November 11, 2014 • 28:50

If there’s life on Mars, it’s probably deep beneath the surface. That’s just one reason we need a tool like Planetary Deep Drill on the red planet and other mysterious worlds around our solar system. Honeybee Robotics’ Kris Zacny introduces us to the innovative prototype.

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.

Alan Stern and a Big Milestone on the Way to Pluto

August 26, 2014 • 28:50

New Horizons passed through the orbit of Neptune on August 25th. By cosmic coincidence, this was the 25th anniversary of Voyager 2’s flyby of that big, blue world. We catch Principal Investigator Alan Stern right after a celebration in Washington.

Journey to the Center of Jupiter: Creating Fantastic Pressure With the World’s Largest Lasers

August 19, 2014 • 29:52

Physicist Gilbert "Rip" Collins of the Lawrence Livermore National Lab will tell us about recent use of the world’s most powerful lasers to recreate conditions at the cores of giant planets.

Planetary Radio Live: The LightSail Countdown Begins!

July 15, 2014 • 28:50

LightSail, the Planetary Society’s innovative solar sail cubesat, will ride into space on the huge SpaceX Falcon Heavy, now in development. Bill Nye and others join us for a live celebration of this announcement.

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