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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.

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.

Robert Bigelow and His Expandable Space Habs

March 31, 2015 • 28:50

Bigelow Aerospace’s BEAM expandable/inflatable space module will be attached to the International Space Station later this year. Mat travels to the company’s headquarters for a conversation with founder and CEO Robert Bigelow.

Big News From Little Worlds

March 24, 2015 • 28:50

Senior Editor Emily Lakdawalla has returned from the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Texas with the latest revelations about our solar system. She shares them in an extended report.

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.

Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides on LauncherOne and the Return of SpaceShipTwo

March 10, 2015 • 28:50

6,000 job-seekers came to the new Long Beach, California home of Virgin Galactic’s LauncherOne rocket on a recent morning. We sit down with CEO George Whitesides for a conversation about this new effort and the return of SpaceShipTwo.

Jim Bell Welcomes “The Interstellar Age”

March 03, 2015 • 46:07

Planetary scientist and author Jim Bell has just written “The Interstellar Age—Inside the Forty-Year Voyager Mission.” He talks with Mat Kaplan about the magnificent grand tour of the outer solar system that is now headed toward the stars.

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.

Found! Beagle 2 on Mars

February 17, 2015 • 28:50

The Beagle 2 Mars lander disappeared after it separated from the Mars Express orbiter on Christmas Day, 2003. Eleven years later, it has been found, partially-deployed on the Martian surface. Longtime Beagle 2 mission leader Mark Sims tells the story.

Planetary Radio Extra: A Deep Dive into the New NASA Budget—A New Mission to Europa, But the End of Opportunity?

February 10, 2015 • 40:02

The just-released budget for the US space agency has much that fans of planetary science can be grateful for, though the news is not all pos.

Year of the Icy Worlds

February 10, 2015 • 28:50

We’ll visit the Jet Propulsion Lab on its Icy Worlds Day to learn more about spacecraft exploring Ceres, Enceladus and Europa from leaders of these missions.

Tales From a 4 Billion Year Old Piece of Mars...On Earth

February 03, 2015 • 28:50

Robina Shaheen and Mark Thiemens tell us how an ancient Mars meteorite has revealed much about the red planet. Mat holds a tiny fragment of the rock in their UC San Diego lab.

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.

A Recipe for a Small Planet

January 20, 2015 • 28:50

Astronomer and planetary scientist Courtney Dressing is the lead author of research that may have found the formula for the mass and composition of Earth-like planets. She reveals the ingredients and why she spent time at JPL while in high school.

Dr. J and the World’s Biggest Telescope

January 13, 2015 • 36:11

Joe Liske, host of Hubblecast, is also the top scientist on the European Southern Observatory’s European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), now under construction on a Chilean mountaintop. “Dr. J” tells us what this largest ever telescope will help us discover.

The Exciting Year Ahead on the Final Frontier

January 06, 2015 • 28:50

The Planetary Society’s experts look forward to a great year of firsts in the solar system and beyond.

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