Planetary Radio • Jun 07, 2016

Chris McKay, Larry Niven and Andy Weir at the Contact Conference

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On This Episode

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Chris McKay

Senior Scientist for NASA Ames Research Center

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Larry Niven

Science Fiction Writer

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Andy Weir

Author of The Martian and Project Hail Mary

Space art and science fiction joined science fact at the 2016 Contact Conference in Sunnyvale, California. We talk with three well-known visionaries. Emily Lakdawalla tells us what to expect in planetary science this month. Bill Nye discusses independent plans by SpaceX and Lockheed Martin for getting humans to Mars in the 2020s. Bruce Betts and Mat Kaplan are just wild about Mars and Jupiter.

Fact and fiction Contact Conference all-stars
Fact and fiction Contact Conference all-stars Left to right: Carol Stoker, Michael Sims, Kim Stanley Robinson, Andy Weir, Penny Boston, Chris McKay and Larry Niven.Image: Mat Kaplan

This week's question:

How many NASA field centers are named after former astronauts?

To submit your answer:

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

Last week's question:

During the current closest approach, how big is the disc of Mars as seen from Earth as measured in arc-seconds?


The answer will be revealed next week.

Question from the week before:

As seen from above Jupiter north pole, does the Great Red Spot travel clockwise or counterclockwise?


As seen from above Jupiter’s north pole (if that were possible) the Great Red Spot moves counterclockwise.