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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.

Living Under the Sea With NASA Aquanaut David Coan

August 18, 2015 • 32:12

Mat Kaplan talked with engineer and NEEMO Expedition 20 team member David Coan while he was hard at work with astronauts and other engineers living in the Aquarius undersea habitat.

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.

Ann Druyan and the Breakthrough SETI Initiatives

August 04, 2015 • 30:07

The Breakthrough Initiatives will pump $100 million into the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence in the next 10 years, vastly expanding humanity’s quest to learn if it has company in the universe. Among the leaders of this brave new project is Cosmos creator Ann Druyan. Join us for a special, extended conversation with Ann.

The Royal Observatory, Greenwich and the Quest for Longitude

July 28, 2015 • 43:09

Come with us on a visit to the home of the prime meridian for a conversation with the curator of the Royal Observatory, Greenwich about the race to create a practical means for determining longitude.

Planetary Radio Live at the New Horizons Pluto Encounter

July 21, 2015 • 28:50

Join our live audience for highlights of an amazing evening, featuring Jim Bell, Bruce Betts, Mike Brown, Emily Lakdawalla, Linda Spilker, and Bill Nye the Science Guy.

A Small, Distant World: Kepler 138b

July 14, 2015 • 28:50

SETI Institute scientist Jason Rowe returns to tell us about the smallest exoplanet so far that has had its size and mass determined. Jason also talks with Mat about our ever-expanding knowledge of these worlds that circle faraway stars.

Emily Lakdawalla’s Pluto Preview

July 07, 2015 • 28:50

Two visits with the Planetary Society Senior Editor this week, as Emily first provides an update on the Rosetta comet mission and then returns with an extended look ahead at the New Horizons Pluto encounter next week.

Saving the Planet: Voices From the Planetary Defense Conference

June 30, 2015 • 28:50

We’ve already brought you Planetary Radio Live from the 2015 PDC near Rome, Italy. Now you’ll hear a small sampling of the scientists, engineers, policymakers and media experts who spent five days considering how humanity will respond to a potentially disastrous threat. Bruce Betts celebrates the great Jupiter-Venus conjunction in What’s Up. Bill Nye and Emily Lakdawalla return next week.

Exploring the Seas of Earth and Other Worlds

June 23, 2015 • 28:50

We return to the beautiful Aquarium of the Pacific in southern California for a fascinating conversation about ocean science. What we learn down here is furthering our research around the solar system. William Patzert, Jerry Schubel and Steven Vance join Mat Kaplan on stage. Emily Lakdawalla tells us what Curiosity, the Mars Science Laboratory rover, has been doing lately. Bruce Betts is keeping his eye on converging Jupiter and Venus.

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.

Sean Solomon on the Climactic End of the MESSENGER Mission to Mercury

May 05, 2015 • 28:50

We open with the countdown to destruction—the MESSENGER spacecraft’s impact on Mercury ended its spectacularly successful mission. Principal Investigator Sean Solomon joins us immediately after this big finish.

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.

Rob Manning and Landing on Mars

April 14, 2015 • 39:56

Landing on Mars is hard, and the bigger you are, the harder it gets. Rob Manning returns to tell us about one of NASA’s best hopes for getting much bigger spacecraft down there—spacecraft that may one day carry humans.

Humans Orbiting Mars: Report on the Workshop

April 07, 2015 • 37:28

A human mission to orbit Mars might be possible by 2033, and it might be accomplished at reasonable cost and with existing or nearly-ready technology. Three leaders of a recent Washington DC conference on this topic provide a report.

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