Planetary Radio • Jul 31, 2019

A Helicopter for Mars and a Major LightSail Announcement

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20190731 mimi aung

MiMi Aung

Mars Helicopter Project Manager for Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Jason headshot sept 2020

Jason Davis

Senior Editor for The Planetary Society

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

It will be the first flying machine on another world. Mars Helicopter Project Manager MiMi Aung shares her plans. There’s big news about The Planetary Society’s LightSail 2! You’ll hear it from embedded reporter Jason Davis and from LightSail Program Manager Bruce Betts, along with Bruce’s regular What’s Up look at the night sky.

LightSail 2 During Sail Deployment Sequence (Camera 2)
LightSail 2 During Sail Deployment Sequence (Camera 2) This image was taken during the LightSail 2 sail deployment sequence on 23 July 2019 at 11:48 PDT (18:48 UTC). Baja California and Mexico are visible in the background. LightSail 2's dual 185-degree fisheye camera lenses can each capture more than half of the sail. This image has been de-distorted and color corrected.Image: The Planetary Society
LightSail 2 Sail Deployment From Camera 2
LightSail 2 Sail Deployment From Camera 2 View of the deployment of half of LightSail 2's square sail from Camera 2, which happened on 23 July 2019 at 18:47 UTC. The animation runs at about 100 times actual speed.Image: The Planetary Society
Mars Helicopter
Mars Helicopter In this artist concept, the Mars Helicopter sits on the surface of the Red Planet near the 2020 rover, ready to take flight.Image: NASA

This week's prizes:

A priceless Planetary Society KickAsteroid rubber asteroid, a 200-point, and Voyager's Greatest Hits: 8 Tracks for the Epic Trek to Interstellar Space by Alexandra Siy

This week's question:

What is the most obvious strip of land in the first high resolution image downloaded from LightSail 2 AFTER sail deployment?

To submit your answer:

Complete the contest entry form at or write to us at [email protected] no later than Wednesday, August 7th at 8am Pacific Time. Be sure to include your name and mailing address.

Last week's question:

What is the lowermost element in the LightSail 2 logo (seen on the patch, sticker and elsewhere) that is not just a line?


The answer will be revealed next week.

Question from the July 4 space trivia contest:

Before being named Eagle and Columbia, what were the Apollo 11 Lunar Module and Command Module named?


The unofficial names of the Apollo 11 Lunar Module and Command Module were Haystack and Snowcone till they were renamed Eagle and Columbia.


NOTE: This automated transcript is currently being edited by a human. Check back soon.:

[00:00:00] A helicopter on Mars and a very big announcement this week on planetary radio.

Welcome. I'm at Kaplan of the planetary Society with more of the Human Adventure across our solar system and beyond Mimi Ang and her team at the jet propulsion lab are putting the final touches on the first flying machine. Heading for the red. Actually the first flying machine headed anywhere off Earth join me in minutes for a great conversation about this tiny Innovative example of exciting space technology and speaking of tiny Innovative space Tech Jason Davis of the planetary Society is here to share that big news.

As you know, the society's lightsail to cubesat is in Orbit and has deployed its 5.6 meters sale. The core mission team has been working to stabilize the spacecraft and iron out a few remaining [00:01:00] problems. Just getting light sail up there and unfurling the sale were pretty impressive, but these didn't mean the mission was.

Now well, alright Jason, I've teased everybody. What is the big news which is becoming available only as this episode becomes available online and elsewhere. Yeah, you've got the hot off the press scoop here. Yeah. So today the light sail team is announcing that they have successfully raised the spacecraft's orbit using nothing but solar sailing so that that is the entire goal the mission and they're calling it a mission success at this point.

So woohoo. Yeah exciting. It really is. This is a demonstration of of what that solar sailing can work in. Yeah, yeah, so the entire concept of this spacecraft which now is actually goes back to 2009. So 10 years ago. This whole thing started [00:02:00] was to demonstrate that you could successfully control a solar sail in low earth orbit and specifically one that's deployed from a very small space and a cubesat and that you could use solar sailing to raise the orbit of the spacecraft.

And then the idea was that that technology could then go to the next step other spacecraft or other agencies or private organizations could use the technology and do more ambitious missions essentially and use it elsewhere. We launched about a month ago actually a little more than a month ago at this point deployed successfully got the solar sail out last week.

The team refined some of their orbit raising Manoeuvres after sale deployment and then in the past few days, they have been able to measure as steady uptick in the spacecrafts apogee. That's the high point of its orbit that is enough for them to say that hey this works. It is successful and called a success.

Fantastic now as of yesterday because we haven't seen any new data. But as of [00:03:00] yesterday, how much had the orbit actually been raised at this point is we are speaking. It is one point seven kilometers by the time this goes on air. I would expect it to be higher than that, maybe closer to 2 kilometers interestingly as the apogee the high point in light sails orbit Rises the perigee descends, which is a little too.

Irving yes, so when light sail was designed back in 2009 and they started selecting the hardware components for it cubesats were still a relatively new technology. So the attitude control system that we're using for the spacecraft actually doesn't have a finite enough control over the which way the sale was pointing to keep the orbits circular you could definitely do that that light sales only capable of kind of either your aimed at the Sun or you're not aimed at the.

What we do we only raise the orbit on one side of the orbit and as the high point of light sails orbit goes up [00:04:00] that actually shifts the orbit so that the low Point comes closer to the atmosphere. That means eventually we're going to start seeing a lot more atmospheric drag and this orbit raising portion of the mission should only last about one.

So that's what's ahead we'll keep raising it for a while and then we'll what just let it decay on its own. Yeah, it'll stay in orbit the orbital models. They have showed that it will stay in orbit about a year if we still have control over the spacecraft will probably be looking at other things that they can do with it.

Maybe definitely taking a lot more pictures. But yeah, that's part of the experiment, you know, this is never been done before and they'll be seeing if their orbital models of about a year workout. Who knows we'll have to wait and see. Yay, exciting. We got this far speaking of pictures. There are some spectacular images which people can see where where's the best place to go planetary dot-org actually sailed up planetary dot-org will take you to our main light sale page and you can click [00:05:00] images and it'll take you straight into our image library and you'll see all the latest stuff from the spacecraft.

Really? Fantastic Jason. Thank you very much for this update. And I are you should by the time people can hear this. There should be a brand new blog from Jason available at planetary dot-org or sailed on planetary dot-org if people want to. See White Sale do they have an opportunity to do that?

How do they figure out when to look? Yes, so if you use the sale dot planetary dot-org link, there's also a link in there for our mission control dashboard that shows real data coming in from the spacecraft that also shows where it is currently and it does predictions based on where you're located for when you might be able to see the spacecraft.

So definitely check that out and if you're in range of the spacecraft take. For it, huh? It's amazing Jason after years and years of work. Thank you for everything. You've done to help make this Mission so accessible to the rest of us [00:06:00] and good luck to all of us as it continues. Yeah. Thanks Matt.

It's been fun ride Jason Davis sees our digital editor and the embedded reporter for the light sail project following the progress the success now of light sail to. It was just a couple of weeks ago that we talked with Zippy Turtle about dragonfly the very Advanced rotorcraft that will fly through the Skies of Saturn's moon Titan in the 2030s.

We won't have to wait nearly that long to see a more modest but still very daring aircraft become the first to fly on another world. That world is Mars and the aircraft is the Mars helicopter long time JPL engineer me. Niang is the. Helicopter project manager may be great to get you on the phone there at JPL as I understand it.

You've just come out of a meeting about your mission. The Mars helicopter. It is delightful to talk to you about this pretty delightful flying [00:07:00] machine that you want to send to Mars. Thanks for joining us. Thank you for having me. I don't know. If you've seen the the comments on the YouTube video that you folks have posted about the mission will link to it from this week's show page at planetary dot org slash radio.

There is this great animation that shows the Mars helicopter doing its stuff across the red planet. Simulated of course, the one of your YouTube viewers made the comment that it looked to him like a Mars keto which I thought was pretty cute and and not far off. I'm less than two kilograms or about 4 pounds.

It's a pretty small little device, isn't it? I mean it may faintly resemble some drones and small robotic helicopters here on Earth, but I bet it's a lot tougher a lot more has gone into this. Yes, it's much tougher because the atmosphere of Mars is extremely thin compared to the air density at Earth's it's less than 1% So [00:08:00] the vehicle has to be very light, you know, and of course be able to sing very fast.

So that's always say, you know, if you're going to have a start-up in a Mars helicopter. Make it really light and make sure we can spin really fast and more to the story, I guess because you've got to deal with the temperature extremes, right? And what about the radiation environment? Did you have to take those into account?

Yes, definitely the temperature plays a huge role that Marcela copter will be a standalone rotorcraft once we've been deployed on the ground will be carried by the March 20 20 Rover to the surface of Mars. And then once the Rover deploys us on the ground. The helicopter never goes back to their over again.

It's going to be communicating wirelessly through what we call a base station via that wireless live line. So to speak the helicopter will be receiving commands and sending data back and Rover will relay. So in that Standalone mode. This helicopter has to be able to survive the [00:09:00] cold temperatures at night.

It has to also be able to keep this energy balance right positive. So meaning it has to collect some solar energy on a solar panel and storage in the batteries within and then use the energy for surviving the night as well as for flying so yes on top of being the first. Rotorcraft to fly autonomously on the surface of Mars in the very very thin are answering that question.

Can we fly at Mach of doing the technology demonstration flight at Mars the autonomous function such as autonomous survival too cold nights and autonomous energy management and autonomist, you know, a self-management of activities in being lightly remotely operated from Earth. All that has to be built into that less than 2 kilogram limit.

Understand that you tested in a big vacuum chamber, that's not surprising. But how did you simulate Mars has low gravity? [00:10:00] Yes, very good question. Basically, we built a system called a gravity offload system in the chamber 25 foot diameter space simulator chamber at JPL and then we pump it down to near vacuum and fill it back to with carbon dioxide to simulate Mars atmosphere right at to the right density and.

In the chamber, we have that the very height top maybe about 40 feet up we put on a being very significant being and then from there hung a gravity offload system. That is. An independent system that has constant torque control to be taking off the difference in the force difference between the Earth's gravity and Mars gravity.

So basically we build a gravity offload system and provided a constant offload to the helicopter and that's attached to the helicopter. But the difference that is taking off [00:11:00] is independent of what the helicopter is doing just developing. That sounds like. It was must have been pretty impressive. I mean as the helicopter was was doing it stuff in the chamber tip before this system to be able to respond quickly sounds pretty cool.

You are right on one of the things that happens when a team, you know, like ours right that's building something for the first time to do a first-of-a-kind function on a distant planet parallel to inventing the article itself in our case the marsala copter. We had to be in parallel inventing the test environment continuously from day one and you've pointed out for example this gravity offload system right there.

So we had to do that that in fact came, you know late in the game even in the earlier days, you know, when we were saying we're going to build this rotor system, right that has to spin 2302 29 hundred RPM. Even just the first thought of hot, where do we [00:12:00] go? Right we ended up going to the 25-foot chamber.

But remember that's the answer. We know now right when we started this there was no such thing as a place to go. The Mars environment that's already been simulated from you. So yes, the invention started very early on when we were able to, you know, ready to test even the first piece right the rotor system.

So yes, it's been parallel invention parallel Tamar's helicopter how to test has been a parallel invention. You've got a lot of other technology packed into this little bitty package. I read that it has over a thousand parts and that you included aerogel which is that wonderful material that has such interesting properties.

How are you making use of aerogel? Oh, so the aerogel it turned out we considered it in the beginning and it's to keep the. Helicopter fuselage warm, you know the electronics warm. So I'm going to give you a long answer. Okay, the Martian knife very cold. Right? [00:13:00] Guess I'm too like minus 90 degrees Celsius or so, you know that level of coldness, right?

So the electronics part in the battery that we carry in the helicopter in the park called a fuselage you're seeing pictures. You looks like the cute-looking portion on the. Bottom that that temperature has to be maintained to the warmer temperatures that the circuit boards can take and that the battery we want to maintain the battery too.

So what we do is then we put a fuselage skin around it. It's a special material that we developed that has to be wrapped around it and enclosed inside we can put either aerogel which is what we're going to put in in the beginning, but we were able to modify the design and saying just by the. CO2, the carbon dioxide gas that strapped, you know between the battery and the circuit boards and the fuselage skin.

Just a carbon dioxide gas itself plus to Surf sufficiently as insulation thermal insulation. So as a design matured we were able to do enough with [00:14:00] just a carbon dioxide that will service insulation and I imagine even as light as aerogel is you you saved another few fractions of of an ounce. Oh absolutely for us.

We were accounting every gram so our chief engineer chief engineer and basically DD technical innovative. Helicopter, you know Bob lrm. He was managing Mass to the Graham and there were. Fabulous arguments with like certain, you know subsystem lead trying to get a few grams out of him in the early days was brutal right when you have when you're hanging onto Messin 2,000 grams dried.

And also you want to put margin early on right? Yeah. He was not letting go off even grams easily. Yes. How smart is this little helicopter? I mean, is it going to fly autonomously once you tell it where you want it to go? Yes, it has to be smart. It has to be autonomous. It has to operate with very light [00:15:00] instructions from Earth.

We're too far away for anything else, right? It has to be very small set of instructions, you know at this time get up and fly, you know Point ABC right take images come back land and send telemetry. Data back to our base station is that level of instructions below that parsing of such level instructions down to in activity is right all the way to spinning the rotors and you know, controlling the servos and flying and then lending and following the instructions all that has to be done autonomously by the computer on board.

Hmm, which is pretty impressive again in such a small package. I know you're not carrying any instruments, but you know that a lot of. I would never have forgiven any of you if you hadn't at least brought a camera and I understand that the camera you've got is pretty good. Yes, we're carrying a small camera don't take color images and it's exciting because it will be the first pictures of Mars taken from an aerial Vantage Point having said that, [00:16:00] you know, the real primary focus right of this technology demonstration mission is to confirm our models.

Flight at Mars. Yeah confirming and then repeating the flight that we have proven that we approve any Works in our test chamber but really executing that on the surface of Mars and sit right with the Real Environment the real atmosphere the real terrain the real temperatures proving all of that and then doing further and further flights and verifying our models is the primary.

Objectives and do the product that we're seeking then we'll move on to the next, you know, larger Next Generation helicopters for future more capable Vehicles. So that's the primary objective secondary to that is that we are carrying this color camera and we'll be able to take images and that will also be as exciting but I have to emphasize though.

We are there to show how to fly sure the how first I can't [00:17:00] wait to see some of those images especially looking back at curiosity. Well from from some height, you know, we had a zippy turtle on the show just a couple of weeks ago. I think talking about dragonfly and one of the things that came up with zbi was how excited she and her team are about the Mars helicopter because.

It's a very different place from Titan of course, but but still this excitement of knowing that you are also sending a flying machine to another world. Have you added it had any thoughts about dragonfly or contact with them? Yes. Absolutely. In fact this last meeting I was in there was a review that.

My Greeks gave it was tearing these the the director of apl's face division right face sector. Yeah, so we were just talking about that and saying yes, they were very excited for dragon fly. And in fact that Mars helicopter will be the first slide in the atmosphere of. Any other planetary Target outside of Earth's and we [00:18:00] as human beings have never flown by dorota crop on a another planet or planetary Target while Mars helicopters doing the first is extremely exciting that dragonflies going to be doing that too so that they to substantiate that we are inserting aerial Dimension to our space exploration because we do space exploration with examining planetary targets from orbit, right and Rovers on the surface.

But we haven't utilized the aerial Dimension. We're inserting the whole new dimension together. This would be great. Absolutely. Okay back to your mission if everything goes well. How far and how high do you expect Mars helicopter to fly we're going to fly at about 5 meter height. We will fly increasingly further let our flights will be flying out of an experimental area.

Okay, like a 10 meter by 10 meter experimental area. We call it. So we take off from there and it will Landing will be landing back on there. And so will first do a hover flight and then we would [00:19:00] repeat a letter A Modest level flight, you know going. Leaders in possibly a couple of tens of meters and then we will go further and further out up to a hundred and fifty meters out and back to about 300 meters round trip.

I have a little drone that but my daughter's got me for one of my birthday's and anybody who owns one of these little amateur guys little toys. Knows that you get a certain amount of flying time and then you got to plug it back in for quite a while and you know, fortunately as you said you're bringing along a little solar panel mounted right on top of the Mars helicopter, how many flights and how long will it do you expect there to be able to fly on one of these little sojourns and then how long before you might be ready to fly again?

We plan to fly up to 90 seconds. We can recharge over one day and then possibly, you know. Days, we can fly again close to the next day or in the next two days. Hey, here's something that just occurred to me. As you know, we [00:20:00] learned was spared in Opportunity. Especially those handy Martian dust devils would come along now and then and clean off the solar panels and an extended the life of the Mars exploration Rovers.

Do you bring along in a sense your own window wiper? Because you you're gonna blow the dust off. Yeah, no, we don't unfortunately again, maybe future generation helicopter could write remember this. The first ever and we were just trying to demonstrate feasibility. So no we don't have this fancy wiper.

But again, this is where I want to motivate the future Generations, right? Yeah, you know, we're doing the Pathfinder but there is so much room to advance the makes more capable helicopters and and it all involves like you're saying capability wipe up dust to be able to fur, you know fly longer, you know further all of those possible, but they take advancement in.

Knowledge he's like the battery specific energy, right? That's a big metric. [00:21:00] You know, I mean that more capable of battery is you'll be able to find longer further right or light materials computers cameras Gyros accelerometers with very high quality and low mass. You can see like how technology can significantly improve, you know, all of these metrics, you know, one thing just now I didn't answer is yes in terms of how many flights you mentioned are.

And the Baseline plan right now is to fly up to five flights in a 30-day experiment window that's assigned for Mars helicopter. Do you foresee a day when maybe there will be something more? Like what they hope to do with dragonfly. Although of course, it won't reach tighten until the 2030s flying around on Mars.

You know, they have an advantage. They've got that nice thick atmosphere where you have to deal with the 1% but you obviously see a bright future for rotorcraft other flying machines on the red planet. Oh, absolutely. [00:22:00] Absolutely. I mean just like on Earth. We need the aerial Dimension, right? It would be very complimentary highly complementary to The Rovers on the surface and spacecraft in orbit something moving in the air.

As you know, you will be able to do reconnaissance, you know far ahead of robers or human beings right when the human beings get to Mars exploring you would want those sub centimeter level high definition images before you send a Rover or a human, you know many kilometers ahead. So in terms of reconnaissance, you can also imagine getting access to places that we can get to today.

You know, let's sides of steep steep Cliffs, you know deep inside deep volcanoes. They are places. We simply can't get to by astronauts or Rovers right you but by being able to fly it will get us to places that we can get to today. Absolutely. It would I can see that that's so cool. I would just imagine flying down into the down to the floor of the valise.

An heiress or something like that, very [00:23:00] exciting. I read that you join JPL 27 years ago since then you've worked on a lot of projects including the deep space Network one of the JPL managers. I heard you say who interviewed you for your first job there. He was talking about all the things that you might be involved with and tell you what you had expertise with and he said apparently told you that you sounded like a kid in a candy store.

Do you still feel that way? Yes, yes, and I remember the moment when he said that yes, it's the thing that excites me is making first-of-a-kind missions become real, right? It happened best excitement. Right first of a kind and I'm passionate about. Increasingly autonomous capability we will develop to advance space exploration and I'm getting chance to do that, you know over these years that I've been here.

So it's an extraordinary and time has gone by really fast. It doesn't seem like it was that long ago who are what inspired you to become a stem professionals? [00:24:00] Oh, wow. Well, I guess I've it comes to all from my deep love of math and my mother was a mankini HD, so I probably got that from her. And so I left math that's from day to day what I like to do.

And then on the side of just fascination with space that just I think a lot of us have it right? What's up, there is a life out there. Are we alone, you know, what's in space right that mystery. Just been in. You know, it has what he called it. They fascinated me since I was a child. So as you know, you grow up and.

Your life experience and education all that leads you to a point when time came to interview for jobs when I was finishing up. My master's degree in electrical engineering Professor pointed out. Hey, you know jet propulsion laboratory, you know, they have the deep space Network and I was specializing in Communications and Signal processing.

That's just what I'd love to do. It was a perfect intersection of math and. [00:25:00] Engineering and application and then I remember the professor saying hey, they had the deep space Network tracking these tiny weak little signals, you know coming from deep space. And so I remember that and so II definitely apply to end gotta make sure I got on to the interview, you know through the process at the University and we have all my prioritization.

I could give as a student got the interview, but from that first interview, it was just it was a perfect match. I love the interview and then I was invited to come out here to Jay. To interview and that was just I was just High, you know, it was just incredible because technically what I want to do what I love to do and how I was going to be applied in space and I think that's what that manager was reflecting.

You know, when he said you're like a kid in the candy store. I'm like, oh you're doing this I can do that, you know with my what I like to do or what I've learned. This is what I can do. So it's been like that ever since and now you get to play with a martian helicopter. I got just one more question for you.

Do you and your team have a pet name for the Mars? Something you [00:26:00] use internally that you're willing to share. Okay, I guess it's the Moment of Truth. All right, I guess I'm gonna let it out. It's gonna be interesting. We actually don't we don't but we do have a. I am going to say that I don't oh no, we came so close Okay, I would yeah, I know we don't have a pet name.

All right, there is a funny class that if I'll have to think about it. I'll have to call you back if I'm all right. Well, we got a year now almost exactly a year until the launch of the 2020 Rover and your Marsh helicopter will be tucked away safely inside there. I hope that sometime between now and then as we get closer to Launch.

Maybe you'll be able to share that with with all of us out here who are looking forward to this Mission with such enthusiasm. Maybe thank you. It's been great talking with you. It's been great talking to you. Thank you very much for inviting [00:27:00] me. That's me me on she is the project manager for the Mars helicopter headed to Mars a year from now on the 2020 Rover arriving at the red planet after it's seven minutes of Terror in 2021.

She's at the jet propulsion laboratory near Pasadena. California. Time for what up and getting upper or higher on planetary radio. We are joined by the program manager for lightsail light till 2 in this case Bruce Betts. He's also the chief scientist to the planetary Society. Congratulations program manager to you and the entire team as we heard from Jason at the top of the show light sail to is a success.

Yay. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you and thank. To all the team, especially the core team has been working so hard the last few weeks keeping our flying and fixing things and then all the members and backers who made this Mission [00:28:00] possible. It's pretty darn exciting and you're celebrating out of the country.

You're not even here with us for this big occasion. It's true. I'm here virtually. No, I'm they're virtually I'm here barely in Rocking I can germinate. For appropriately the International Symposium on solar sailing which is only held every two to three years but happens to be now a little bit before the show there.

So I'll be announcing our glorious news to the world and the world's experts on solar sailing who are here except the ones back in the u.s. Running light sail to while they don't your colleagues there and I can. They don't yet know about our Declaration of success. They do know that we've been doing pretty well so far.

I assume you've been getting some bats on the back. Yeah, and a lot of a lot of questions, of course everyone interested in the thing that's actually up there sailing. A [00:29:00] lot of people have put in a lot of work over a lot of years all around the world. It's impressively International but all of it theoretical or upcoming or ground deployments, except of course for it grows from.

Junko iguchi is here and hmm light sail to all right. Well, it's good to know. There's an International Community of solar sails that we are proud members of go on tell us what's up in the night sky light sail to okay. I'm just going to apologize now to everyone. I'm sorry. But once again, it's just it's a light sail episode and I'll get back to normal space stuff, but.

Cut me some slack. If you wouldn't mind kind of into it right now this whole mission operations thing solar sailing conference. So yes lightsail to is up and there's a chance you may see it or not see it as I guess you discussed earlier with Jason, but you can also more easily [00:30:00] and more reliably see Jupiter rising in the East and during the day so it's actually up in the South and the southwest and the early evening looking like the brightest star like object.

Saturn is looking yellowish. To its left in the South and the perseid meteor shower Peaks on the 12th and 13th of August. So we've got increased meteor activity several days before and after that's the good news. The bad news is the moon will be almost full at the peak which will limit the number of meteors visible this here still on average second-best shower the year so you can sneak around the moon or a look at it One Direction.

You got a chance we move onto this week in space history. Let's see. It was 2019 that light sail to changed its orbit using controlled solar sailing for the first time in a small cube set size vehicle. Oh, yeah other stuff happened 1971 Bob Loblaw [00:31:00] Apollo 15 now sorry Apollo 15. I'm sorry. I have I'm not showing proper reference that they did cool stuff.

They put a Rover on the moon and drove a dune. The on the moon for the first time this week in 1971, and it's the 15th anniversary of the launch of the messenger spacecraft that explored and orbited Mercury. We move on to random space fact. Light sail to has been 10 years in the making that's it.

We started in 2008 2009. That's it. It's not particularly random, but it's very good space fact orderly space fact. Well get back to random ones soon. I promise. I can't guarantee. It'll be next week but soon trivia why we necessarily go off the light sail bandwagon. I asked you before being named eagle [00:32:00] and Columbia.

What were the Apollo 11 lunar module and Command Module named? How'd we do map boy. You got me with this one. I had no idea and most of our entrance the ones who I think delivered what you were hoping for. They also by and large had no idea we got about half of the people who entered gave the sort of official designation.

Of the lunar module. Lm5 and the Command Module or command service module CSM 107, but I bet you were looking for what we got from Brian Hoffman in Idaho snow cone and Haystack. Yes indeed snow cone The Command Module on the haystack the lunar module. Was used both an internal and external Communications during mission planning early mission planning for someone said, hey, we need some more official and none of that goofy peanuts stuff from Apollo 10, which was quite awesome.

By the way. [00:33:00] Congratulations Brian. I believe a first-time winner you are going to receive a 200 point. I telescope dotnet astronomy. A planetary Society kick asteroid rubber asteroid and that great book by teasel Muir Harmony, very appropriate Apollo to the Moon a history in 50 objects where she takes 50 objects that had something to do with getting to the moon in the Apollo program and and wraps this Grand Story around them and you know to this is not too surprising because she is a curator and.

Historian at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC. So in a good position to do this kind of book. Anyway, enjoy it I did when I went through it. Let's go on. I've got some other good stuff here from our Poet Laureate day Fairchild. He didn't come up with the names you were looking for but CSM - 107 only seem to thrive when teamed up with its buddy whom it new as [00:34:00] lm5, but humans change their names and so Columbia was branded.

And let us all repeat with me the eagle now has landed Devon huebel recent winner. I think in North Carolina, maybe it wouldn't have been such a great idea. Yeah Tranquility base here. The haystack has landed nice. I mean I'm thinking if they went for snow cone and. Haystack that would have come up with some other name for the base Ranch base here.

The haystack is landed. I'll just go on Robert laporta in Connecticut. I knew this one. This is just one of the great coincidences of all time Jules Verne in his book from the Earth to the Moon. He named the spacecraft more of a cannon shell. Actually. There was also launched from Florida and carried three men to the Moon.

He called it Colombian, which I always thought was pretty cool. We had a number of haiku. I in honor of [00:35:00] Apollo 11. This one came from Sven new house. You're a you're a temporary neighbor there in Germany Eagle on the moon a giant leap for mankind. It's time to go back and that's it. We're ready to go on.

So I'm thinking light sail to question in the first high-resolution image down LinkedIn released after after sale deployment. It showed a mostly deployed sale. What is the most obvious strip of land in the picture? Go to planetary dot org slash radio contest. Good one and I think I know the answer.

So I've seen that beautiful photo you have this time until the seventh. That would be Wednesday August 7 at 8 a.m. Pacific time to get us the answer and win yourself a 200 point. I telescope dotnet account that International network of remote operated telescopes that anybody can use with their cool interface worth a couple hundred bucks.

Also, of [00:36:00] course a good rubber asteroid and let's throw in voyagers great. It's a book. It's a really cool book from Alexandra. Sayar. See I'm not sure I apologize Alexandra the Epic Trek to Interstellar space marking pretty much the 42nd anniversary of the beginning of the missions of Voyager 1 and 2.

As long as we're talking about history making space exploration this week. Anyway, we'll send you that book. If you're the lucky one who makes it through with the correct answer with that you're ready to what go to bed or start writing your presentation for tomorrow to make that big announcement.

Oh I should do that. Okay. Whatever anyway, hey everybody go out there look up the night sky and think about schnitzel and knockwurst. I know I am. Thank you and good night. I don't recommend that when it's late at night. But but you enjoy tomorrow and bask in the glory my [00:37:00] friend. Congratulations again, thank you.

Thank you. That's Bruce Pat's. He is the chief scientist of the planetary society and program manager for the entire lightsail program including like sale, too. Planetary radios produced by the planetary Society in Pasadena, California and is made possible by its triumphant members Mary Lou's vendor is our associate producer Josh toil can post our theme which was arranged and performed by Peter Schlosser.

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Kaplan Ad Astra.