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Planetary RadioAugust 30, 2016

The Pale Red Dot: A Planet Called Proxima b

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On This Episode
Michael Endl

Research Scientist and Lecturer, McDonald Observatory, University of Texas at Austin

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. Juno has made its first science flyby of Jupiter. Emily Lakdawalla gives us an early report. Are you ready for the first interplanetary Olympics? Bruce and Mat review the listener-submitted out-of-this-world sports on What’s Up. Bill Nye is away this week.

Artist's impression of the surface of planet Proxima Centauri b

ESO / M. Kornmesser

Artist's impression of the surface of planet Proxima Centauri b
This artist’s impression shows a view of the surface of the planet Proxima b orbiting the red dwarf star Proxima Centauri, the closest star to the Solar System. The double star Alpha Centauri AB also appears in the image to the upper-right of Proxima itself. Proxima b is a little more massive than the Earth and orbits in the habitable zone around Proxima Centauri, where the temperature is suitable for liquid water to exist on its surface.

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Trivia Contest

This week's prizes are a gorgeous Planetary Society rubber asteroid and a 200-point astronomy account.

This week's question:

Which Space Shuttle Orbiter was the only one to have traveled by land, sea and air? (Slightly tricky!)

To submit your answer:

Complete the contest entry form at or write to us at no later than Tuesday, September 6th at 8am Pacific Time. Be sure to include your name and mailing address.

Last week's question:

What is the apparent brightness ranking of the Scorpius star Antares in the night sky?


The answer will be revealed next week.

Question from the week before:

If you designed an Olympic event for another world in our solar system, what would it be and where would it be? Mat and Bruce will very subjectively judge the coolness and/or humor of responses.


Our winners proposed wonderful events for the Interplanetary Olympics. Listen to them on the show.

Europan Olympics

Torsten Zimmer

Europan Olympics

Listen more: Kepler, fun, mission status, Planetary Radio, extrasolar planets, Jupiter

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