Planetary Radio • Jun 27, 2018

It’s Asteroid Week with NASA’s Planetary Defense Officer

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On This Episode

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Lindley Johnson

Planetary Defense Officer for NASA

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Kelly Fast

Near-Earth Object Observations Program Manager for NASA Planetary Defense Coordination Office

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Bill Nye

Chief Executive Officer for The Planetary Society

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Bruce Betts

Chief Scientist / LightSail Program Manager for The Planetary Society

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Mat Kaplan

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

The dinosaurs regret their lack of a space program. 200 million years later, humans are gearing up to defend themselves from a species-ending rock. The many challenges involved are addressed in a new strategic action plan created by sixteen agencies of the US government. NASA’s Planetary Defense Officer, Lindley Johnson, and his associate, Kelly Fast, take us inside the plan. Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye the Science Guy applauds the growing worldwide attention to Near Earth Objects. By the time you read this Hayabusa2 will have reached asteroid Ryugu. Senior editor Emily Lakdawalla has a mission update. And Bruce Betts is all over Asteroid Week in a new What’s Up segment.

Artist's concept of near-Earth asteroids
Artist's concept of near-Earth asteroids Artist's view of asteroids passing Earth.Image: ESA / P.Carril

This week's question:

Why is the near-Earth asteroid Hayabusa2 is visiting named Ryugu?

To submit your answer:

Complete the contest entry form at or write to us at [email protected] no later than Wednesday, July 4th at 8am Pacific Time. Be sure to include your name and mailing address.

Last week's question:

What is the International Space Station’s approximate altitude range above Earth’s surface? Unique or humorous units are welcome but won’t help you win.


The answer will be revealed next week.

Question from the week before:

Who was in Earth orbit at the same time as the first woman in space, Valentina Tereshkova?


Cosmonaut Valery Bykovski reached orbit in Vostok 5 2 days before Valentina Teryshkova. They would come within 5 kilometers of each other back in June of 1963.