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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.

Inside Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo

November 08, 2016 • 45:42

Host Mat Kaplan traveled to California’s Mojave Desert for a tour of Virgin Galactic’s The Spaceship Company, where the second SpaceShipTwo was built and is undergoing flight tests. TSC Executive VP Enrico Palermo was his guide.

Space Policy Edition #6: Election 2016! Where Do Clinton and Trump Stand on Space?

November 04, 2016 • 1:02:15

Just in time for election day in the USA, we take stock of the major candidates' space policies (as far as they go), comparing statements and policy op-eds put out by both campaigns. We also look at the broader implications and challenges of the coming Presidential transition for NASA.

Matt Taylor Rocks Rosetta

November 01, 2016 • 39:13

Mat Kaplan talks with Matt Taylor, the Rosetta Project Scientist, just two weeks after the spacecraft touched down on 67/P.

Alan Stern and a Triumph at Pluto

October 25, 2016 • 38:02

Alan Stern of the New Horizons mission to Pluto and beyond was in Pasadena for the annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society’s Division for Planetary Sciences. He joined Mat Kaplan for a very special conversation down the street at Planetary Society HQ.

Charley Kohlhase and the Greatest Voyage

October 18, 2016 • 58:54

How did the Voyager spacecraft manage to weave their magnificent way through the outer planets of our solar system? Mission Design Manager Charley Kohlhase led the team that crunched the numbers to select the best possible trajectory from 10,000 candidates.

Trekkin’ Across the Universe With Andrew Fazekas

October 11, 2016 • 46:06

The Night Sky Guy, Andrew Fazekas, talks about his beautiful new, Star Trek-inspired guide to the real wonders of astronomy.

Space Policy Edition #5: The U.S. Senate takes on the politics of Mars

October 07, 2016 • 1:03:18

We take a deep dive into new space legislation working its way through the US Senate. It embraces Mars and NASA's big rocket. But Elon Musk and SpaceX just announced an ambitious new plan to colonize Mars. Does this upset the political establishment? Or will they find a cold reception in the halls of Congress? Also, where does science fit into the politics of space?

Farewell Rosetta!

October 04, 2016 • 30:38

The European Space Agency’s magnificent Rosetta mission ended last week as the spacecraft gently touched down on the comet it has revealed.

Rocket Road Trip!

September 27, 2016 • 33:17

Planetary Society Digital Editor Jason Davis returns with the story of the ten-day trek across the South he just completed with two Society colleagues.

Cassini at Saturn: The Final Year

September 20, 2016 • 29:02

The great Cassini spacecraft has a year to go before it plunges into the ringed planet. Project Scientist Linda Spilker returns with more amazing mission science.

OSIRIS-REx: The Voyage to Bennu Begins, With Dante Lauretta

September 13, 2016 • 28:50

In two years a Near Earth Asteroid now known as Bennu will have a visitor from Earth. OSIRIS-REx Principal Investigator Dante Lauretta reports on his mission’s successful launch.

Spinoffs! Sharing NASA Technology

September 06, 2016 • 28:50

In its nearly five decades, NASA has created or improved thousands of technologies, processes and innovations. Dan Lockney is in charge of making sure these solutions are found and utilized by industries and others in need.

Space Policy Edition #4: Near Earth Asteroids—Why we go, how we find them, and maybe mine them

September 02, 2016 • 1:04:18

In honor of OSIRIS-REx—NASA’s newest asteroid mission—we explore the policy and history of near-Earth Objects: why NASA explores them, how the government plans to find and defending the planet, and the how policy can keep up with ambitious plans to mine asteroids.

The Pale Red Dot: A Planet Called Proxima b

August 30, 2016 • 35:32

The announcement was made just days ago. Co-discoverer Michael Endl tells us about the discovery of a roughly Earth-mass planet orbiting in the habitable zone of the closest star to our own.

Could the Soviet Union Have Won the Space Race?

August 23, 2016 • 46:49

Space historian and policy expert John Logsdon joins Mat Kaplan for a fascinating conversation about how the US could have lost the race to the moon.

Sailing the Canyons of Titan

August 16, 2016 • 38:39

Steep canyons on Saturn's moon Titan are filled with liquid methane. That's the discovery just announced by an international team of Cassini scientists, including Alex Hayes.

Subcontractors: Making Space Happen

August 09, 2016 • 28:50

You may never hear their names, but there are thousands of small to medium-sized companies without which space exploration and development wouldn’t happen.

Space Policy Edition #3: Plutonium-238, Europa via SLS, Cost of the Next Mars Rover Rises

August 05, 2016 • 1:03:06

In our third episode, we debate the risks and rewards of tying the future of a Europa mission to the fate of NASA's massive Space Launch System rocket. Also, NASA just announced that the next Mars rover will cost $2.4 billion—$900 million more than initially thought. But the mission is not considered over budget. Why not? Lastly, the U.S. just generated 50 grams of Plutonium-238, the largest amount in nearly thirty years. We celebrate the successful effort to create this critically important, though highly toxic, power source for deep space spacecraft.

Interstellar Dreams Turn Real

August 02, 2016 • 1:26:01

Philip Lubin and his former student Travis Brashears have had quite a year. Their bold plan to send tiny probes to nearby stars is now supported by NASA and the Breakthrough Starshot $100 million dollar initiative. Hear their amazing story.

Anatomy of a Rover—Getting Down to Mars

July 26, 2016 • 36:40

It takes a lot of terrific components to create a successful spacecraft like Curiosity, the Mars Science Laboratory. We’ll visit JPL to learn about the Terminal Descent Sensor radar that will once again help land a rover on the Red Planet.

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