It was another party for space exploration last Friday as Planetary Radio Live once again took the stage at Southern California Public Radio's Crawford Family Forum. This week's episode of the show features selected excerpts, including a surprise call from Bill Nye. The Science Guy checked in from New York where he has been enjoying his new status as a contestant on Dancing With the Stars.
We also had a great conversation with Brian Day of the LADEE mission just minutes before the launch. Brian was at the Wallops Flight Facility on the Virginia coastline. He told us what makes this spacecraft special, including the laser communication system it will test. It will pave the way for future missions to vastly increase the amount of data they can send back to Earth. Of course, LADEE's science mission is to investigate the moon's barely there but signficant atmosphere. Brian told us this so-called "exosphere" is the most common in the solar system.
I was lucky to have two great planetary scientists with me at the Forum. Professor David Paige of UCLA is the Principal Investigator for the Diviner experiment on the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, still mapping the moon after four years in close orbit. And our own Bruce Betts kicked things off with a live edition of What's Up, and then stuck around for the following discussion.
We're grateful to our hosts at SCPR. They did their usual great job, including the live webcast that you can now watch on demand. And we couldn't have had a better crowd.
LADEE seems to have solved the software glitch that caused a brief shutdown of its four reaction wheels. It is currently in Earth orbit, as planned, but will reach the moon in less than four weeks. Read more about the mission in Emily's blog. Planetary Radio returns next week with our special show about the MAVEN mission that leaves for Mars in November.