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Planetary RadioJuly 10, 2019

We’re Sending a Flying Machine to Titan

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On This Episode
Troy Hudson head shot
Troy Hudson

Troy Hudson is a Planetary Geologist and Instrument Engineer, Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Elizabeth "Zibi" Turtle

Dragonfly Principal Investigator, JHU Applied Physics Lab

Bruce Betts Head Shot 2015
Bruce Betts

Chief Scientist / LightSail Program Manager, The Planetary Society

Mat Kaplan
Mat Kaplan

Planetary Radio Host and Producer, The Planetary Society

NASA has given the go-ahead for Dragonfly, a flying rotorcraft that will explore Saturn’s mysterious moon Titan. Mission Principal Investigator Elizabeth “Zibi” Turtle helps us celebrate. Troy Hudson tells us about the ongoing effort to rescue the Mole on Mars lander InSight. And Bruce Betts provides the latest on LightSail 2’s attempt to sail on the light of the sun.

Artist's impression of Dragonfly in flight over Titan

Johns Hopkins APL

Artist's impression of Dragonfly in flight over Titan
Dragonfly Mission Concept


Dragonfly Mission Concept
Dragonfly is a dual-quadcopter lander that would take advantage of the environment on Titan to fly to multiple locations, hundreds of kilometers apart, to sample materials and determine surface composition to investigate Titan's organic chemistry and habitability, monitor atmospheric and surface conditions, image landforms to investigate geological processes, and perform seismic studies. It was selected as one of two possible missions for the next New Frontiers launch opportunity in 2017.
Earth from LightSail 2

The Planetary Society / Processed by Seán Doran

Earth from LightSail 2
This image of Earth, looking toward the Caribbean Sea oriented with north at the top, was captured by LightSail 2 on 7 July 2019 at 23:32 UTC. Lens flares are visible in the bottom left and upper right. To the left of Earth, a piece of spectraline that was used to hold the spacecraft's solar panels closed is visible.

Trivia Contest

This week's prizes:

A 200-point astronomy account, a Planetary Society KickAsteroid rubber asteroid AND Bruce Betts’ Astronomy for Kids.

This week's question:

With regard to spacecraft, what does ADCS stand for?

To submit your answer:

Complete the contest entry form at or write to us at no later than Wednesday, July 17th at 8am Pacific Time. Be sure to include your name and mailing address.

Last week's question:

What are the four formal tracking station locations for LightSail 2? Latitude and longitude not required!


The answer will be revealed next week.

Question from the June 13 space trivia contest:

What does the label of the Mini-DVD on LightSail 2 say? It contains the names of all Planetary Society members and others, along with selfies.


Printed on the LightSail 2 Mini-DVD is “LightSail, Citizen Funded Flight by Light.”

Listen more: Dragonfly, Titan, mission status, podcasts and videos, Future Robotic Missions, Planetary Radio, explaining technology, pics of hardware on earth, LightSail, explaining science, Saturn's moons, Saturn

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