Planetary Radio: Space Exploration, Astronomy and Science

The Planetary Society


Planetary Radio brings you the human adventure across our solar system and beyond. We visit each week with the scientists, engineers, leaders, advocates and astronauts who are taking us across the final frontier. Regular features raise your space IQ while they put a smile on your face. Join host Mat Kaplan and Planetary Society colleagues including Bill Nye the Science Guy, Bruce Betts, and Emily Lakdawalla as they dive deep into the latest space news. The monthly Space Policy Edition takes you inside the DC beltway where the future of the US space program hangs in the balance. Visit for the space trivia contest, an episode guide, and much more.

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1133 episodes

The Science You’ve Enabled

The Planetary Society has just announced the latest awards in its Science and Technology Enabled by the Public (STEP) Grant program. With regular host Sarah Al-Ahmed on vacation, Mat Kaplan returns to introduce the principal investigator for a project that will prepare us to grow food on the Moon and Mars. Another PI and his team plan to analyze extreme life in super salty lakes. Planetary Society Chief Scientist Bruce Betts heads the STEP Grant program. He’ll give us an overview, and a quick look at the satisfying success of the previous projects. Stick around as Mat joins Bruce for this week’s What’s Up. Discover more at: HTTPS://WWW.PLANETARY.ORG/PLANETARY-RADIO/2023-STEP-GRANT-PRINCIPAL-INVESTIGATORS See for privacy information.

May 31
Exoplanet enigma: Unpacking the discovery of a "forbidden" planet

This week on Planetary Radio, Shubham Kanodia, the lead on a paper about a so-called“forbidden planet,” TOI 5202 b, joins us to talk about this strange world and why it's upending our understanding of planetary formation. Then Bruce Betts and Sarah Al-Ahmed will team up for What's Up, a look back at this week in space history, and a preview of the upcoming night sky. Discover more at: See for privacy information.

May 24
Inspiring the next generation through space education

In this week's episode of Planetary Radio, we're honoring the educators who inspire young, curious minds to explore the marvels of the Cosmos. We’ll speak with guests from The Planetary Academy, the Griffith Observatory School Program, and Mt. Wilson's STEM Education program, all of whom are paving the way for the next generation of space enthusiasts and explorers. Then we'll check in Bruce Betts for What's Up so you know what to watch for in the upcoming night sky. Discover more at: See for privacy information.

1h 15m
May 17
The case for saving VERITAS

NASA's VERITAS mission to Venus is currently on an indefinite hold. Darby Dyar, Deputy Principal Investigator for the mission, joins Planetary Radio to share the human story behind the spacecraft. She provides an insightful overview of the mission's background, its intended scientific contributions, and how listeners can help advocate for the mission. Then Bruce Betts guides us through upcoming night sky events and looks forward to asteroid Apophis' close flyby of Earth in 2029. Discover more at: See for privacy information.

1h 0m
May 10
Space Policy Edition: SpaceX's Starship vs. the environment, with Eric Roesch

Prior to Starship's inaugural launch, environmental policy expert Eric Roesch was outspoken about the possibility of catastrophe. As the rocket launched, it kicked up massive clouds of dust and decimated its launchpad, scattering large chunks of concrete into delicate marine and coastal sanctuaries nearby. Eric blames both SpaceX and its regulatory body, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), for allowing the company to skirt responsibility in its environmental reporting and mitigating its impact on its surrounding wilderness. He joins the show to discuss the proper role of environmental regulations, why he believes the FAA was irresponsible in approving SpaceX's launch licenses, and how you can simultaneously protect the environment and local wildlife while still pursuing an ambitious path to space. Discover more at:  See for privacy information.

1h 20m
May 05
Adventures at the 2023 Planetary Defense Conference

Planetary Radio creator Mat Kaplan shares a look behind the scenes at the 2023 Planetary Defense Conference in Vienna, Austria. You’ll hear exclusive interviews with planetary defense specialists from around the planet as they gather to push the boundaries of asteroid and comet deflection technologies. Stick around for What’s Up with Bruce Betts, an update on the night sky, and a look forward to the upcoming Eta Aquarid meteor shower. Discover more at: See for privacy information.

May 03
Juice mission liftoff: A new era of icy moon exploration begins

Join us as we celebrate the successful launch of the European Space Agency's Juice mission! Our special guest, project scientist Olivier Witasse, shares the thrilling details about the launch and the next steps for this groundbreaking mission to explore Jupiter’s icy moons. We'll also recap the inspiring events of last week's Planetary Society Digital Day of Action, where space enthusiasts and advocates united to make an impact on the future of space exploration. Don't miss our resident astronomer, Bruce Betts, as he guides us through the upcoming night sky in What's Up. Discover more at: See for privacy information.

Apr 26
Under Alien Skies with Phil Plait

Phil Plait, the Bad Astronomer, joins Planetary Radio to discuss his new book, “Under Alien Skies: A Sightseer’s Guide to the Galaxy.” The book takes the reader on an imaginary journey to 10 spectacular locations in space and shares the strange and beautiful experience visitors would have if they could witness it for themselves. Stick around after the break for What’s Up with Bruce Betts and a chance to win a copy of “Under Alien Skies” in our space trivia contest. Discover more at: See for privacy information.

Apr 19
Yuri’s Night: For all SpaceKind

Join us as we delve into the heart of LA's 2023 Yuri's Night party, a celebration commemorating Yuri Gagarin's pioneering 1961 voyage into space. We'll bring you exclusive interviews and insights from a stellar lineup, including Star Trek cast members, NASA's Jet Propulsion Labs Director Laurie Leshin, and astronaut Jessica Watkins. Together, they'll celebrate the future of space exploration and what it means to be SpaceKind. Don’t miss our What’s Up segment for the latest stargazing opportunities and info on the upcoming rare hybrid eclipse on April 20th. Discover more at:  See for privacy information.

Apr 12
Space Policy Edition: The motives behind NASA's billions — Jean Toal Eisen on how Congress funds the final frontier

For over a decade, Jean Toal Eisen drafted legislation directing billions of dollars to NASA as senior staff on the Senate Appropriations Committee. She joins the show to unveil the crucial roles played by committee staff like herself, how decisions and priorities are made behind closed doors, and the motivations and drivers of the people who control the fates of billions of dollars of taxpayer funding for the U.S. space program. Discover more at: See for privacy information.

Apr 07
Two Years of Hope: Celebrating the Emirates Mars Mission

Join us as we celebrate the accomplishments of a truly inspiring space mission - the United Arab Emirates' Hope probe, which has spent two amazing years orbiting Mars! Our guest, Mohsen Al Awadhi, Director of the Space Missions Department at the UAE Space Agency, shares insights into the mission's journey and teases the next exciting chapter: observing Mars' mysterious moon, Deimos. We're also counting down to the launch of the European Space Agency's highly anticipated JUICE mission, set to explore the enigmatic moons of Jupiter. We update you on NASA's VERITAS mission to Venus and share how you can contribute to the campaign to save this crucial exploratory mission. We'll wrap up the episode with our favorite stargazer, Bruce Betts, who'll guide us through a sneak peek at the upcoming night sky in What's Up. Discover more at: See for privacy information.

Apr 05
Volcanic Venus? New insights from vintage data

Is Venus hiding volcanic secrets beneath its shroud of clouds? Robbie Herrick and Scott Hensley, the minds behind a new paper on recent potential volcanic activity on Venus, join Planetary Radio to discuss their discovery and what it means for the future of Venusian exploration. Then we turn to the night sky with our resident stargazer, Bruce Betts, for What's Up and our space trivia contest. Discover more at: See for privacy information.

Mar 29
Getting psyched for Psyche

NASA’s Psyche mission to explore a metallic asteroid will launch later this year. Lindy Elkins-Tanton, the principal investigator for Psyche, joins Planetary Radio to share the mission’s status and look forward to the wonders that await when the spacecraft reaches its heavy metal target. We also keep you updated on exciting news from Venus, and let you know what to catch in the upcoming night sky in What’s Up. Discover more at: See for privacy information.

Mar 22
Universal Harmonies: Sonifying images for science and accessibility

Kim Arcand from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory joins Planetary Radio to share her team’s new album “Universal Harmonies.” It’s a beautiful collection of sonified observations taken by the space telescope that aims to make space images more accessible to people with low or no vision. The Planetary Society team celebrates the release of their new member community app and shares an update on the Boeing Starliner. Stick around for a chance to win a vinyl version of “Universal Harmonies” in this week’s space trivia contest. Discover more at: See for privacy information.

Mar 15
Looking back on Voyager’s 45th Anniversary

Planetary Radio’s creator Mat Kaplan guest hosts for this look back at the Jet Propulsion Lab’s celebration of the 45th anniversary of the Voyager mission. Stick around for his conversation with Ann Druyan, creative director for the Golden Record carried by the probes. Mat and Bruce Betts reunite for this week’s What’s Up and space trivia contest. Discover more at: See for privacy information.

1h 15m
Mar 08
Space Policy Edition: The Tricky Ethics of Space Settlement

Humanity is on the cusp of attempting permanent settlement on other worlds. But who gets to go? How will we govern ourselves or enforce laws off Earth? How can you have property rights, labor rights, or even individual rights when the very air you breathe is limited and potentially controlled by your employer? Dr. Erika Nesvold, astrophysicist and author of the new book “Off-Earth: Ethical Questions and Quandaries for Living in Outer Space” explores the ethical challenges facing our species as it dips its toe into living beyond our home planet. See for privacy information.

1h 11m
Mar 03
The Canadian Lunar Rover with Peter Visscher

In this week’s episode, Director of Canadensys West Peter Visscher fills us in on the upcoming Canadian lunar rover. Visscher has been working on the rover for years. Bruce Betts also returns to the show for another installment of What's Up. Discover more at: HTTPS://WWW.PLANETARY.ORG/PLANETARY-RADIO/2023-CANADIAN-LUNAR-ROVER-PETER-VISSCHER See for privacy information.

Mar 01
Martian rock collecting: From meteorites to Mars Sample Return

Exciting updates to the plans to return samples from Mars to Earth are underway. Meenakshi Wadhwa, principal scientist for Mars Sample Return at NASA JPL, shares what we have learned from our studies of Martian meteorites and fills us in on the upcoming Mars Sample Return missions. Stick around for our review of the night sky and a look back at this week in space history in What’s Up with Bruce Betts.   Discover more at:  See for privacy information.

Feb 22
Are we alone? The search for alien technosignatures

A new volunteer science project to search for alien technosignatures has launched! Jean-Luc Margot and Megan Li from UCLA join us to share the exciting debut of their Planetary Society STEP Grant-funded SETI project on Zooniverse. Our public education specialist Kate Howells reflects on the tenth anniversary of the Chelyabinsk Meteor Event, and don’t miss your chance to win a comfy Planetary Society beanie in this week’s Space Trivia Contest. Discover more at: HTTPS://WWW.PLANETARY.ORG/PLANETARY-RADIO/2023-ARE-WE-ALONE-SETI See for privacy information.

Feb 15
More on Mars’ Watery History

Mars expert Tanya Harrison shares the details on some of the newest discoveries about Mars’ history, including the discovery of an impact crater thought to be linked to a megatsunami in Mars’ ancient ocean and the discovery of opals, a water-rich gem, in Gale Crater. Stick around for What’s Up as we let you know what to look for this week in the night sky. Discover more at:  See for privacy information.

Feb 08
Space Policy Edition: The White House's Matt Daniels on the U.S.'s New Cislunar Strategy

For the first time in history, the White House laid out a national policy for science and technology in the vast expanse of cislunar space. This policy is not just for NASA — it's an all-of-government approach to establish the infrastructure and capabilities to enable a multitude of national and private actors to reach for the Moon and its environs. Dr. Matt Daniels of the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy chaired the group that defined this new strategy; he joins the show to discuss the strategy, its ambitions, and implications for the future of lunar exploration and development.  Discover more at: See for privacy information.

1h 17m
Feb 03
JWST confirms its first exoplanet

The James Webb Space Telescope has confirmed the discovery of its first exoplanet. Jacob Lustig-Yaeger, one of the leads on the team that made the detection, joins us to discuss the details. We share info on the Juno mission to Jupiter's next flybys of Io, let you know how to spot the "green comet" visiting our part of the Solar System, and provide insights on the night sky in What's Up. Discover more at See for privacy information.

Feb 01
Juno Journeys to Jupiter’s Moons

Dive into the latest discoveries about Jupiter’s moons Ganymede, Europa, and Io with Scott Bolton, the principal investigator for NASA’s Juno mission. We share analysis of the data collected by the spacecraft and look forward to upcoming exploratory missions to Jupiter’s moons from ESA and NASA. Stick around for this week’s What’s Up and our space trivia contest. Discover more: at See for privacy information.

Jan 25
Martian Mic Drop

Jason Achilles, a musician who partnered with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to help put one of the first microphones on Mars, shares his journey and the joy of listening to the sounds of Mars. We also highlight an upcoming opportunity to view comet 2022 E3 (ZTF). Stick around for more on the night sky and our space trivia contest with What’s Up. Discover more at: See for privacy information.

Jan 18
Celebrating NASA’s Artemis I mission to the Moon

Jeremy Graeber, the assistant launch director at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, joins us to recount his experience on the night of Artemis I’s historic launch. We celebrate the success of the mission and share a short segment about The Planetary Society’s new Space Life Goals list. Bruce Betts pops in to share more about this week in space history and what to keep an eye out for in the night sky in this week’s What’s Up. Discover more at: HTTPS://WWW.PLANETARY.ORG/PLANETARY-RADIO/2023-CELEBRATING-ARTEMIS-1 See for privacy information.

Jan 11
Space Policy Edition: JPL Director wants "every brain" to have the chance to work in space exploration

After the delay of the Psyche mission, an independent review board faulted management and workforce problems at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory as one of the causes. This month we feature the JPL Director, Dr. Laurie Leshin, to discuss what the lab is doing in response to these critiques, how NASA can compete with the private sector for top talent, and why our society needs to improve the diversity of its workforce to ensure every brain possible can work in space exploration. See for privacy information.

1h 3m
Jan 06
Planetary Radio stories with Mat Kaplan

New host Sarah Al-Ahmed bids a fond farewell to Mat Kaplan, Planetary Radio’s former host, with a heartwarming compilation of messages from fans, followed by a special interview with Mat about his two decades as creator and producer of the show. Be sure to catch Sarah and Bruce Betts in this week’s What’s Up as they share a special gaming-themed trivia question. Discover more at HTTPS://WWW.PLANETARY.ORG/PLANETARY-RADIO/2023-STORIES-WITH-MAT-KAPLAN See for privacy information.

1h 4m
Jan 04
Planetary Society All-Stars Review the Year in Space

It’s Mat Kaplan’s last episode as host of Planetary Radio. He has gathered several of his colleagues to celebrate an outstanding year across the Solar System and beyond. New host Sarah Al-Ahmed sticks around to join Bruce Betts and Mat for her first What’s Up appearance, including listeners’ suggestions for what Mat should take on next! Discover more at See for privacy information.

1h 8m
Dec 28, 2022
Artemis 1 Orion capsule comes home, and the best of Planetary Radio

Host Mat Kaplan returned to Naval Base San Diego to greet the return of the Artemis 1 Orion spacecraft aboard the USS Portland. Stay with us for a collage of entertaining excerpts of 10 of the very best Planetary Radio episodes produced over the last two decades. Incoming host Sarah Al-Ahmed points to a new article about the JWST’s stunning infrared image of Neptune. Don’t miss Mat serenading Bruce Betts in this week’s What’s Up! Discover more at See for privacy information.

1h 16m
Dec 21, 2022
One Last Blast: Author of ‘The Martian’ Andy Weir with JPL Chief Engineer Rob Manning

A rollicking conversation with two of the most entertaining, most creative Planetary Radio guests across our 20-year history about the role of creativity in space and life. Andy Weir’s “The Martian” and “Project Hail Mary” have been New York Times number one bestsellers. Rob Manning oversees all engineering operations at the Jet Propulsion Lab, and knows as much as any human being about how to land on the red planet. Sarah Al-Ahmed helps Mat Kaplan celebrate the success of Artemis 1, while Bruce Betts receives his 20th anniversary gift from Mat! Discover more at See for privacy information.

1h 23m
Dec 14, 2022