Planetary Radio • Mar 07, 2018

Visiting the Birthplace of PlanetVac

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On This Episode

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Mat Kaplan

Senior Communications Adviser and former Host of Planetary Radio for The Planetary Society

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Bruce Betts

Chief Scientist / LightSail Program Manager for The Planetary Society

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Jason Davis

Senior Editor for The Planetary Society

Justin Spring

Senior Project Engineer for Honeybee Robotics

Kathryn Luczek

Project Engineer for Honeybee Robotics

Space is hard. Sample collection and return is harder still. That’s why the radically-simplified PlanetVac system from Honeybee Robotics is so intriguing. Join Planetary Society Chief Scientist Bruce Betts and host Mat Kaplan on a tour of Honeybee that includes a PlanetVac demo. Bruce returns for this week’s What’s Up jaunt around the night sky. Planetary Society Digital Editor Jason Davis shares big news about the LightSail 2 solar sail and the next SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch.

PlanetVac Sample Collection
PlanetVac Sample Collection Attached to a lander leg, PlanetVac collects a surface sample by using an inert gas to move regolith into the sample container.
Honeybee Robotics' giant freezer
Honeybee Robotics' giant freezer Mat Kaplan talks with Honeybee Robotics project engineers Justin Spring and Kathryn Luczek about the company’s giant freezer.Image: Bruce Betts
A bucket of Mars regolith simulant
A bucket of Mars regolith simulant Mat Kaplan digs into a bucket of Mars regolith simulant with Honeybee Robotics project engineers Kathyrn Luczek and Justin Spring.Image: Bruce Betts
3D-printed PlanetVac prototypes
3D-printed PlanetVac prototypes A variety of 3D-printed PlanetVac prototypes at Honeybee Robotics.Image: Bruce Betts
Mars vacuum chamber
Mars vacuum chamber The Mars vacuum chamber at Honeybee Robotics.Image: Bruce Betts
Honeybee Robotics deep freeze
Honeybee Robotics deep freeze Mat Kaplan enters the Honeybee Robotics deep freeze with PlanetVac engineer Justin Spring.Image: Bruce Betts

This week's question:

How many missions in NASA’s Mercury program carried humans into space?

To submit your answer:

Complete the contest entry form at or write to us at [email protected] no later than Wednesday, March 14th at 8am Pacific Time. Be sure to include your name and mailing address.

Last week's question:

What is the second brightest star in the night sky as seen from either hemisphere?


The answer will be revealed next week.

Question from the week before:

What two planets in our solar system have about the same surface gravity?


We wanted to hear that Mercury and Mars are the closest in surface gravity, but would have also accepted Venus and Uranus.