Planetary Radio • Apr 13, 2015

Rob Manning and Landing on Mars

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On This Episode

20140305 Rob Manning

Rob Manning

Chief Engineer, Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Landing on Mars is hard, and the bigger you are, the harder it gets. Rob Manning returns to tell us about one of NASA’s best hopes for getting much bigger spacecraft down there—spacecraft that may one day carry humans. Emily Lakdawalla quizzes Mat on the atmospheres of moons. Bill Nye discovers that everyone is talking about getting to Mars. Bruce and Mat take a virtual trip down under, and offer another signed copy of Jim Bell’s “The Interstellar Age” in the space trivia contest.

Supersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator
Supersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator The six-meter Supersonic Inflatable Aerodynamic Decelerator (SIAD) is spin tested in the Jet Propulsion Lab’s high bay clean room.Image: Mat Kaplan
Artist's concept of the Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) at Mars
Artist's concept of the Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) at Mars Image: NASA

Related Links:

This week's prize is Jim Bell’s excellent book, "The Interstellar Age: Inside the Forty-Year Voyager Mission," signed by the author.

This week's question:

What is the orbital period of Neptune’s moon Triton?

To submit your answer:

Complete the contest entry form at or write to us at [email protected] no later than Tuesday, April 21st at 8am Pacific Time. Be sure to include your name and mailing address.

Last week's question:

What are trans-Neptunian objects in a 2:1 orbital relationship with Neptune called? (2 orbits of Neptune, 1 orbit of the body)


The answer will be revealed next week.

Question from the week before:

What constellation appears on the flags of Australia and New Zealand? (Come on Southern Hemisphere patriots and fans!)


The constellation on the flags of Australia and New Zealand is the Southern Cross or Crux.