Planetary Radio • Jul 18, 2018

An African Observatory Hunts Killer Asteroids

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On This Episode

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Timothy Spahr

NEO Sciences LLP CEO and Shoemaker NEO Selection Committee Chair

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Michael Ory

Morocco Oukaïmeden Sky Survey (MOSS)

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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

One of the Planetary Society’s 2018 Shoemaker Near-Earth Object grants has gone to astronomers searching the sky from a mountaintop in the North African nation of Morocco. Observer Michel Ory tells us about their work. Tim Spahr ran the Minor Planet Center for many years. He has moved from that worldwide coordinator for asteroid and comet discoveries to NEO Sciences LLC, and served once again as chair of the Shoemaker NEO judging committee. Wait till you hear what poor Yuri Gagarin had for lunch as he orbited Earth. That’s just one thing you’ll learn from this week’s What’s Up segment.

Michael Ory
Michael Ory
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Benkhaldoun and Ory Zouhair Benkhaldoun, the director of Oukaïmeden Observatory at Cadi Ayyad University (left), and Michel Ory, asteroid hunter for the Morocco Oukaïmeden Sky Survey.Image: Morocco Oukaïmeden Sky Survey

This week's question:

After Apollo 11, what was the first American mission to fly an all-veteran crew? (All members had previously been in space.)

To submit your answer:

Complete the contest entry form at or write to us at [email protected] no later than Wednesday, July 25th at 8am Pacific Time. Be sure to include your name and mailing address.

Last week's question:

What is the numerical value for the eccentricity of Mars' orbit? In other words, how uncircular is it?


The answer will be revealed next week.

Question from the week before:

What did Yuri Gagarin eat in space?


Poor Yuri Gagarin’s meal in space was a tube of beef and liver goop followed by one filled with chocolate sauce.