Planetary Radio • May 23, 2018

Chasing New Horizons to Pluto with Alan Stern and David Grinspoon

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On This Episode

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David Grinspoon

Astrobiologist, science communicator and author

Stern A Photo High Res Speaking

Alan Stern

New Horizons Principal Investigator

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Bruce Betts

Chief Scientist / LightSail Program Manager for The Planetary Society

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Mat Kaplan

Planetary Radio Host and Producer 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.