Planetary Radio • May 23, 2018

Chasing New Horizons to Pluto with Alan Stern and David Grinspoon

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On This Episode

David grinspoon

David Grinspoon

Astrobiologist, science communicator and author

Stern A Photo High Res Speaking

Alan Stern

New Horizons Principal Investigator

Bruce betts portrait hq library

Bruce Betts

Chief Scientist / LightSail Program Manager for The Planetary Society

Kaplan mat headshot 0114a print

Mat Kaplan

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

The New Horizons mission was a triumph, revealing Pluto as an utterly unique and beautiful world. But the mission first had to survive challenge after challenge, fighting to be developed, meeting a nearly impossible launch deadline, and then narrowly avoiding disaster when it was barely a week from its destination. The entire dramatic tale has now been told by Principal Investigator Alan Stern and his co-author, astrobiologist David Grinspoon. They join Mat Kaplan to talk about their book, Chasing New Horizons—Inside the Epic First Mission to Pluto. A signed copy of the book will go to the winner of this episode’s space trivia contest. Emily Lakdawalla has returned from an international gathering of Mercury scientists with a special report. The Planetary Society’s Senior Editor also marks the launch of a Chinese lunar orbiter.

Alan Stern and David Grinspoon
Alan Stern and David Grinspoon Alan Stern and David Grinspoon on stage in the Griffith Observatory’s Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon TheaterImage: Mat Kaplan
High-resolution enhanced-color global MVIC portrait of Pluto
High-resolution enhanced-color global MVIC portrait of Pluto This beautiful high-resolution image of Pluto is from a single observation with the MVIC imager on the Ralph instrument. It is an enhanced-color view made of three images captured through infrared, red, and blue filters. The three individual images were denoised, deconvolved, and enlarged by a factor of 2 before being combined into this stunning portrait.Image: NASA / JHUAPL / SwRI

This week's question:

What hardware did The Planetary Society provide to the Phoenix Mars lander mission?

To submit your answer:

Complete the contest entry form at or write to us at [email protected] no later than Wednesday, May 23rd at 8am Pacific Time. Be sure to include your name and mailing address.

Last week's question:

Who was the first person to orbit the Moon alone in his spacecraft?


The answer will be revealed next week.

Question from the week before:

Who is the only person to have discovered planets or moons in the 18th century?


William Herschel was the only person to discover a planet or moons in the 18th century.