Planetary Radio • Mar 29, 2016

Ashwin Vasavada, Leader of Scientists Roving Mars

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On This Episode

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Ashwin Vasavada

Mars Science Laboratory Project Scientist for Jet Propulsion Laboratory

The new Mars Science Laboratory Project Scientist is not new to the mission. Ashwin Vasavada has worked on the Curiosity rover since 2004. Emily Lakdawalla returns from one of her favorite planetary science conferences. So many new rocket engines! Bill Nye says this is a good thing. The What’s Up segment offers a rubber asteroid, ninjas and a gorgeous night sky.

Ashwin Vasavada
Ashwin Vasavada Ashwin Vasavada of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory became the project scientist for the Mars Science Laboratory Project in January 2015.Image: NASA / JPL-Caltech

This week's question:

What was the first spacecraft to orbit the moon?

To submit your answer:

Complete the contest entry form at or write to us at [email protected] no later than Tuesday, April 5th at 8am Pacific Time. Be sure to include your name and mailing address.

Last week's question:

We want to honor Laika the dog by turning her name into a space acronym. What should LAIKA stand for? It could be a spacecraft, an instrument, a type of planetary name it. Winners will be picked based on evaluation of your entry’s creativity, humor or both.


The answer will be revealed next week.

Question from the week before:

How many science instruments does the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter carry?


There are four science instruments (or four suites of instruments for a total of eight) now on their way to Mars aboard ESA’s ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter.