Planetary Radio • Sep 22, 2015

Zibi Turtle and a Mission to the Ice Giants

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Elizabeth "Zibi" Turtle

Planetary Scientist at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab and Dragonfly Principal Investigator

They are the most neglected planets in our solar system, but that status may be changing. Planetary scientist Elizabeth “Zibi” Turtle celebrates NASA’s announcement that it will study a mission to Uranus or Neptune. Emily Lakdawalla has the latest progress report for Curiosity, rolling across Mars. Bill Nye had a blast reading “The Martian.” Someone will win the Xtronaut game in the new What’s Up space trivia contest.

Neptune in natural color from Voyager 2
Neptune in natural color from Voyager 2 This Voyager 2 Narrow Angle Camera image of Neptune was taken on August 20, 1989 as the spacecraft approached the planet for a flyby on August 25. The Great Dark Spot, flanked by cirrus clouds, is at center. A smaller dark storm, Dark Spot Jr., is rotating into view at bottom left. Additionally, a patch of white cirrus clouds to its north, named "Scooter" for its rapid motion relative to other features, is visible. This image was constructed using orange, green and synthetic violet (50/50 blend of green filter and UV filter images) taken between 626 and 643 UT.Image: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Justin Cowart

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This week's prize is a prototype version of “Xtronaut,” Dante Lauretta’s game about directing planetary science missions. You’ll also get to join a chat session with Dante, and receive the final version of the game when it’s released.

This week's question:

What word generally refers to three celestial bodies in a line? (Bruce thinks it’s a funny word.)

To submit your answer:

Complete the contest entry form at or write to us at [email protected] no later than Tuesday, September 29th at 8am Pacific Time. Be sure to include your name and mailing address.

Last week's question:

Who provided the voice of the robot in the classic 60s TV series,“Lost in Space?”


The answer will be revealed next week.

Question from the week before:

SOFIA’s telescope has an effective diameter of 2.5 meters, but it’s actually somewhat larger than that. What is the actual diameter of its mirror?


The actual diameter of the infrared telescope aboard the SOFIA aircraft is 2.7 meters.