Planetary Radio: Space Exploration, Astronomy and Science

The Planetary Society

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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 Sarah Al-Ahmed and Planetary Society colleagues including Bill Nye the Science Guy and Bruce Betts as they dive deep into space science and exploration. The monthly Space Policy Edition takes you inside the DC beltway where the future of the US space program hangs in the balance. Visit planetary.org/radio for an episode guide and much more.

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1178 episodes

OSIRIS-REx becomes APEX

After NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft's successful sample retrieval from asteroid Bennu, it's onto its next adventure as OSIRIS-APEX, the Apophis Explorer. Scott Guzewich, deputy project scientist for APEX, joins Planetary Radio to discuss the next steps for the mission as we count down to asteroid Apophis’ flyby of Earth in 2029. Then Bruce Betts, The Planetary Society’s chief scientist, pops in for What's Up and a look at other multi-world missions. Discover more at: https://www.planetary.org/planetary-radio/2024-osiris-apex https://www.planetary.org/planetary-radio/2023-osiris-apex  See omnystudio.com/listener https://omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

55m
Feb 21
The Space Race: Honoring the first African-American space explorers

This week on Planetary Radio, we take a peek behind the scenes at National Geographic's new documentary, “The Space Race,” which celebrates the triumphs and struggles of the first African-American space pioneers and astronauts. Co-directors Diego Hurtado de Mendoza and Lisa Cortés, space pioneer Ed Dwight, and astronaut Leland Melvin join us to discuss the film. But first, Casey Dreier, The Planetary Society's chief of space policy, and Jack Kiraly, our director of government relations, give an update on the U.S. budget gridlock that caused the recent layoff of hundreds of people at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Twitch streamer Moohoodles joins the show later to talk about her upcoming stream with Planetary Radio, and we close out with What's Up with Bruce Betts and a new random space fact. Discover more at: https://www.planetary.org/planetary-radio/2024-space-race See omnystudio.com/listener https://omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

1h 3m
Feb 14
Exploring solar eclipses through time

This week on Planetary Radio, we delve into the evolution of humanity's relationship with one of our planet's most awe-inspiring phenomena: total solar eclipses. Ed Krupp, the director of Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, will share insights from the fascinating field of archaeoastronomy. We'll explore how cultures throughout history have interpreted and imbued solar eclipses with meaning. We'll also introduce The Planetary Society's latest addition, Asa Stahl, our new science editor. Then Bruce Betts, The Planetary Society's chief scientist, shares a new random space fact and his experience with historic astronomical sites. Discover more at: https://www.planetary.org/planetary-radio/2024-solar-eclipses-through-time  See omnystudio.com/listener https://omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

52m
Feb 07
Space Policy Edition: Space isn’t black — it’s grey

It’s a policy paper episode! Laura Delgado López joins the show to break down “Clearing the Fog: The Grey Zones of Space Governance” by Jessica West and Jordan Miller. Grey zones are harmful or disruptive space activities that fall short of provoking a military response — ideally. But the ambiguity, by its nature, could generate unplanned escalation and conflict. What are these grey zones, and why do they exist? What are their consequences to humanity, even for those in nations not actively pursuing spaceflight? And by what means can we reduce the uncertainty and, therefore the risk to space operations at Earth and beyond? Laura Delgado López has worked in space policy in the Washington, D.C., area for nearly 15 years and is currently a visiting fellow with the Americas Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), where she researches and writes on international space cooperation in Latin America. She selected this episode’s paper, which can be accessed for free at the Centre for International Governance Innovation’s website https://www.cigionline.org/publications/clearing-the-fog-the-grey-zones-of-space-governance/. Discover more at: https://www.planetary.org/planetary-radio/grey-zones-in-space-governance  See omnystudio.com/listener https://omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

1h 20m
Feb 02
The 20th landing anniversary of Spirit and Opportunity

January marks 20 years since NASA’s twin Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, touched down on the surface of the red planet. Matt Golombek, project scientist for the Mars Exploration Rover Project, joins Planetary Radio to celebrate. But first, the countdown to the next great American total solar eclipse continues. Kate Howells, The Planetary Society’s public education specialist and Canadian space policy adviser, explains why this periodic alignment of our Earth, Moon, and Sun is more rare on the scale of the Universe than you might think. Stick around for What’s Up with Bruce Betts, our chief scientist, as we honor the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter and the Mars missions that made it possible. Discover more at: https://www.planetary.org/planetary-radio/2024-20th-anniversary-spirit-and-opportunity See omnystudio.com/listener https://omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

1h 4m
Jan 31
Blazing a trail to the Moon

We're celebrating lunar missions and the space advocacy that helps make them happen this week on Planetary Radio. Casey Dreier and Jack Kiraly, chief of space policy and director of government relations at The Planetary Society, update you on our next Day of Action in Washington, D.C. Kate Howells, our public education specialist, shares the triumph and challenges of the Japanese space agency's SLIM lunar lander, as Japan becomes the fifth nation to make a successful soft landing on the Moon. We begin our coverage of the upcoming 2024 total solar eclipse in Mexico, the United States, and Canada on April 8th with Bethany Ehlmann, the president of our board of directors and the principal investigator of NASA's upcoming Lunar Trailblazer mission. She joins us for a mission update and a look at how eclipses affect spacecraft near the Earth and Moon. We'll top off this lunar celebration with Bruce Betts, our Chief Scientist and everyone's favorite master of random space facts, as he shares some history about an iconic Apollo image. Discover more at: https://www.planetary.org/planetary-radio/2024-blazing-a-trail-to-the-moon  See omnystudio.com/listener https://omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

59m
Jan 24
What’s hidden inside planets?

Venture into the hearts of worlds and uncover how we study planetary interiors this week on Planetary Radio. Sabine Stanley, professor of planetary physics at Johns Hopkins University and author of the new book "What's Hidden Inside Planets?" discusses some of the amazing things that lie under the surfaces of the worlds in our Solar System. But first, Mat Kaplan, senior communications advisor at The Planetary Society, gives an update on the first Commercial Lunar Payload Services mission and the timeline for NASA's Artemis program. We close out this show with Bruce Betts, our chief scientist, as he shares information on our new book, "Casting Shadows: Solar and Lunar Eclipses with The Planetary Society." Discover more at: https://www.planetary.org/planetary-radio/2024-whats -hidden-inside-planets https://www.planetary.org/planetary-radio/2024-whats See omnystudio.com/listener https://omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

1h 13m
Jan 17
JWST finds a new lead in the search for life on a mysterious exoplanet

This week on Planetary Radio, we're diving into one of the most remarkable new exoplanet discoveries with the help of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). JWST has detected signs of methane and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of K2-18 b. This discovery could reshape our search for life beyond Earth and teach us more about the enigmatic class of exoplanets known as sub-Neptunes. Our guest, Knicole Colón, is the deputy project scientist for exoplanet science for JWST. She'll fill us in on all of the details. Stick around for What's Up with Bruce Betts, the chief scientist of The Planetary Society.  Discover more at: https://www.planetary.org/planetary-radio/2024-jwst-new-lead-in-search-for-life https://www.planetary.org/planetary-radio/2024-JWST-new-lead-in-search-for-life  See omnystudio.com/listener https://omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

51m
Jan 10
Space Policy Edition: India’s growing space ambitions

The history of India’s space program is, in many ways, the inverse of that of the US and Russia. While the two superpowers were outpacing each other in space spectaculars in their early decades, India — which began its space program around the same time in 1963 — prioritized practical programs by developing its own launch capability and launching satellites for weather, communications, and regional positioning systems. It is only in the 21st century that India began embracing the more symbolic feats of spaceflight, first with its launches of robotic spacecraft, including the Chandrayaan series and the Mars Orbiter Mission, and now by establishing its own human spaceflight program. Buoyed by the success of Chandrayaan-3, as well as recognizing increasing competition with China, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced ambitious plans for Indian space stations and lunar missions in the coming decades. UK-based space writer Gurbir Singh, who literally wrote the book on the Indian space program, aptly titled joins the show to help us understand the history and motivations behind these achievements and India’s growing ambitions in space. See omnystudio.com/listener https://omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

1h 3m
Jan 05
Revisiting the discovery of phosphorus on Enceladus

This week on Planetary Radio, we are revisiting one of the biggest recent headlines in planetary science, the detection of Phosphorus in the oceans of Saturn’s moon Enceladus. Phosphorus is a key ingredient for life on Earth, and this discovery marks the first time it has been found in an ocean off of Earth. Chris Glein, a lead scientist at the Southwest Research Institute, joins us to discuss the discovery and its implications for the search for life. Then Bruce Betts returns for What's Up. Discover more at: https://www.planetary.org/planetary-radio/2024-revisiting-phosphorus-on-enceladus See omnystudio.com/listener https://omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

59m
Jan 03
Looking back on 2023

Members of The Planetary Society staff revisit some of 2023's most exhilarating moments and groundbreaking discoveries in space this week on Planetary Radio. Kate Howells, Public Education Specialist, announces the winners of The Planetary Society's Best of 2023 awards. Jack Kiraly, Director of Government Relations, shares the strides made in space advocacy. Then Rae Paoletta, Director of Content and Engagement, and Mat Kaplan, Senior Communications advisor and former host of Planetary Radio, return to break down their favorite space moments of the year. Stick around until the end for What's Up with Bruce Betts, the Chief Scientist of The Planetary Society, as he looks forward to the next year of space science and exploration. Discover more at: https://www.planetary.org/planetary-radio/2023-looking-back  See omnystudio.com/listener https://omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

59m
Dec 27, 2023
Dragonfly soars to final design phase

NASA's Dragonfly mission to Saturn's moon Titan has been authorized to proceed with work on final mission design and fabrication, known as Phase C. This week on Planetary Radio, we get an update on the mission's progress and new timeline. You'll hear from Bobby Braun, head of the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab's Space Exploration Sector, Elizabeth (Zibi) Turtle, the principal investigator for Dragonfly, and Ken Hibbard, mission systems engineer for the spacecraft. If that doesn't convince you that Dragonfly is one of the most epic things humanity has attempted to date, stick around for What's Up with Bruce Betts as he shares even more reasons for us to explore Titan.   Discover more at: https://www.planetary.org/planetary-radio/2023-dragonfly-final-design-phase  See omnystudio.com/listener https://omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

1h 13m
Dec 20, 2023
An astrogeologic experience with Kirby Runyon

Sometimes, when you want to learn more about other worlds, all you have to do is step out your door. Mat Kaplan, Planetary Radio's creator and former host, takes us on an adventure with planetary geologist Kirby Runyon as they tour New Mexico, U.S.'s varied geology and compare it to other worlds. They'll explore the dunes of White Sands National Park, the Mars-like geology of Kilbourne Hole, and the rocks in the Carrizozo Lava flow. Then Bruce Betts, the chief scientist of The Planetary Society, and host Sarah Al-Ahmed discuss the most otherworldly places they've been in this week's What's Up. Discover more at: https://www.planetary.org/planetary-radio/2023-astrogeologic-experience  See omnystudio.com/listener https://omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

1h 0m
Dec 13, 2023
The mystery of the largest marsquake ever recorded

What caused the largest marsquake ever recorded? Benjamin Fernando, a post-doctoral fellow from the University of Oxford, joins Planetary Radio this week to talk about the 4.7-magnitude marsquake recorded by NASA’s InSight Mars lander and the international effort it took to pinpoint the cause of the quake. Then Bruce Betts, the chief scientist of The Planetary Society, and host Sarah Al-Ahmed chat about their earthquake experiences and share a fresh Random Space Fact in this week's What's Up.  Discover more at: https://www.planetary.org/planetary-radio/2023-largest-marsquake  See omnystudio.com/listener https://omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

49m
Dec 06, 2023
Space Policy Edition: Was the Space Shuttle a policy failure?

Was the Space Shuttle a successful program? In many ways, yes: it endured for 30 years, launched hundreds of astronauts into space, and built the International Space Station. But, according to the goals of lower costs, rapid reusability, and reliability NASA stated at its conception, the Space Shuttle program was a failure. In this new recurring feature on SPE, Jack and Casey read through a classic paper in space policy and discuss its arguments, its conclusions, and whether the paper stands up to this day. Read along with us and suggest future episodes in our Planetary Society online member community. https://community.planetary.org/ Discover more at: https://www.planetary.org/planetary-radio/space-shuttle-policy-failure See omnystudio.com/listener https://omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

59m
Dec 01, 2023
Lucy's first asteroid flyby reveals a surprise moon

On Nov. 1, 2023, NASA's Lucy spacecraft, which is on a mission to investigate Jupiter's Trojan asteroids, made its first flyby of asteroid Dinkinesh. Hal Levison and Simone Marchi, the mission's principal and deputy principal investigators, join Planetary Radio to discuss the asteroid rendezvous and the surprising discovery of Dinkinesh's moon. Stick around for What's Up with Bruce Betts, the chief scientist of The Planetary Society, as he digests the discovery. Discover more at: https://www.planetary.org/planetary-radio/2023-lucys-first-asteroid-flyby  See omnystudio.com/listener https://omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

53m
Nov 29, 2023
Deep Sky: A JWST IMAX experience

Deep Sky, a newly released IMAX documentary, tells the emotional and hopeful story of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). Nathaniel Kahn, an Oscar-nominated filmmaker and the director of Deep Sky, joins Planetary Radio this week to discuss the film's decade-long creation process and the magic of JWST images on the big screen. Then Bruce Betts, the chief scientist of The Planetary Society, joins for What's Up and a new random space fact. Discover more at: https://www.planetary.org/planetary-radio/2023-deep-sky See omnystudio.com/listener https://omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

55m
Nov 22, 2023
NASA’s STEM program looks to the Moon

Steven Smith, an Education Specialist from NASA's Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (or STEM) Program, joins Planetary Radio to share some of the unique opportunities available for students in the lead-up to humanity's return to the Moon. Then Bruce Betts, the chief scientist of The Planetary Society, pops in for What's Up and a new random space fact. Discover more at: https://www.planetary.org/planetary-radio/2023-nasa-stem See omnystudio.com/listener https://omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

59m
Nov 15, 2023
A City on Mars

Can we build permanent human settlements in space? It might be more complex than you think. Kelly and Zach Weinersmith join Planetary Radio this week to discuss their new book, "A City on Mars: Can We Settle Space, Should We Settle Space, and Have We Really Thought This Through?" Then Bruce Betts, the chief scientist of The Planetary Society, and host Sarah Al-Ahmed chat about some of the most significant challenges humanity might face as we build habitats beyond Earth. Discover more at: https://www.planetary.org/planetary-radio/2023-a-city-on-mars  See omnystudio.com/listener https://omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

53m
Nov 08, 2023
Space Policy Edition: What went wrong with Mars Sample Return

NASA’s Mars Sample Return mission was supposed to be lean, fast, and focused — no extra science instruments, no dedicated communications systems, and launching in 2026. But the effort has foundered under its own complexity and mismanagement. MSR’s total cost is likely to double to $10 billion or more and not launch until 2030 at the earliest. This month’s guest, Orlando Figueroa, chaired an independent review board which recently evaluated this project and identified management failures, unexpected design complexities, and external events such as the war in Ukraine as contributing to MSR’s difficulties. We review the board’s conclusions and recommendations for how NASA can fix MSR’s problems and ensure a successful return of the samples already selected by the Perseverance rover. Discover more at: https://www.planetary.org/planetary-radio/spe-what-went-wrong-with-msr See omnystudio.com/listener https://omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

1h 28m
Nov 03, 2023
Psyche and Eclipse Company blast off

On October 13, 2023, NASA's Psyche mission's principal investigator, Lindy Elkins-Tanton, watched her team's spacecraft blast off on its voyage to explore a metallic asteroid. She joins Planetary Radio this week for an emotional retelling of that day. Then Jesse Tomlinson and Stephen Watkins from the Eclipse Company tell us about their partnership with The Planetary Society and the launch of their new eclipse map for the upcoming 2024 total solar eclipse in North America. Stick around for What's Up with Bruce Betts, the chief scientist of The Planetary Society, as we muse about the space moments that spark wonder. Discover more at: https://www.planetary.org/planetary-radio/2023-psyche-and-eclipse-company  See omnystudio.com/listener https://omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

58m
Nov 01, 2023
Simulating Psyche: Modeling craters on a metallic world

NASA's Psyche mission launched on Oct. 13, 2023 on a journey to explore its namesake, the metallic asteroid Psyche. Simone Marchi, co-investigator for the Psyche mission, joins Planetary Radio to share the creative ways their mission team is working to understand cratering on metallic worlds, including everything from computer modeling to blasting metallic meteorites with projectiles. The Planetary Society's Public Education Specialist Kate Howells will discuss the Japanese Space Agency's newest moon mission, SLIM. Then, Bruce Betts, the chief scientist of The Planetary Society, will share his experiences with crater modeling and a fresh random space fact. Discover more at: https://www.planetary.org/planetary-radio/2023-craters-on-psyche  See omnystudio.com/listener https://omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

55m
Oct 25, 2023
InSight's revelation on Mars’ rotation

Data from the now-retired NASA InSight mission suggests that Mars' rotation is speeding up. The InSight RISE instrument's principal investigator, Sebastien Le Maistre, from the Royal Observatory of Belgium, joins Planetary Radio to get into the details. The Planetary Society's Digital Community Manager, Ambre Trujillo, shares her experience observing the October 14 annular solar eclipse and her adventure to the OSIRIS-REx sample return capsule opening at Johnson Space Center. Then, our Director of Government Relations, Jack Kiraly, shares the triumphs of The Planetary Society's in-person Day of Action. Stick around for What's Up with Bruce Betts, the chief scientist of The Planetary Society, as he shares an asteroid mission-themed random space fact. Discover more at: https://www.planetary.org/planetary-radio/2023-insight-mars-rotation See omnystudio.com/listener https://omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

59m
Oct 18, 2023
Celebrating the OSIRIS-REx sample return

On September 24th, NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft triumphantly delivered a sample from asteroid Bennu to Earth. Rae Paoletta, the Director of Content and Engagement at The Planetary Society, joins Planetary Radio to recount her firsthand experience of the sample's return in Utah. She introduces us to Mike Puzio, the young man who named asteroid Bennu, and his father, Larry Puzio. Then Danny Glavin, the co-investigator for OSIRIS-REx, shares the next steps for the asteroid samples and the spacecraft. Stick around for What's Up with Bruce Betts, the chief scientist of The Planetary Society, as we digest this huge moment in space history.  Discover more at: https://www.planetary.org/planetary-radio/2023-osiris-rex-sample-return  See omnystudio.com/listener https://omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

57m
Oct 11, 2023
2023 NASA Innovative Advance Concepts Symposium: Part 2

Join Planetary Radio host Sarah Al-Ahmed for part two of her trip to the 2023 NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Symposium in Houston, Texas.  You'll hear from Mike LaPointe and John Nelson, the NIAC Program Executive and Deputy Program Executive along with Theresa Benyo (NASA Glenn Research Center), Lynn Rothschild (NASA Ames Research Center), and Javid Bayandor (State University of New York). Stick around for What's Up with Bruce Betts, the chief scientist of The Planetary Society, to learn more about his favorite science conferences.    Discover more at: https://www.planetary.org/planetary-radio/2023-niac-part-2  See omnystudio.com/listener https://omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

49m
Oct 04, 2023
2023 NASA Innovative Advance Concepts Symposium: Part 1

Join Planetary Radio host Sarah Al-Ahmed on a trip to the 2023 NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Symposium in Houston, Texas. In this jam-packed two-part series, you'll hear Sarah's interviews with the inspiring NIAC fellows who are thinking up the technologies that could change the future of space exploration. In this episode, you’ll hear from Congrui Grace Jin (University of Nebraska, Lincoln), Quinn Morley (Planet Enterprises), Ronald Polidan (Lunar Resources, Inc.), and Edward Balaban (NASA Ames Research Center). Stick around for What's Up with Bruce Betts, the chief scientist of The Planetary Society, for a discussion about the advances in space exploration during our lifetimes. See omnystudio.com/listener https://omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

59m
Sep 27, 2023
Alone but not lonely with Louis Friedman

Louis Friedman, one of the three co-founders of The Planetary Society, joins Planetary Radio to discuss his new book, "Alone but Not Lonely: Exploring for Extraterrestrial Life." The book takes us on a realistic but hopeful reflection on the search for life, from habitable worlds to the technologies that might allow us to explore exoplanets without leaving our stellar backyard. Then stick around for What's Up with Bruce Betts, chief scientist of The Planetary Society, as we get his hot take on life in the universe.   Discover more at: https://www.planetary.org/planetary-radio/2023-alone-but-not-lonely  See omnystudio.com/listener https://omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

58m
Sep 20, 2023
Io and Voyager 2: Lost oceans and found signals

This week on Planetary Radio, we're traveling back in time to uncover the luminous infancy of Jupiter and its impact on its enigmatic moon, Io. Carver Bierson, a postdoctoral researcher at Arizona State University, tells the tale of how Jupiter's radiant beginnings might have turned Io from a water-rich moon into a world with lakes of lava. You'll also hear from two legendary figures of space exploration, Voyager project manager Suzanne Dodd and Voyager project scientist Linda Spilker, as they delve into the endeavor to reestablish contact with the iconic Voyager 2 spacecraft with our senior communications advisor, Mat Kaplan. And don't miss "What's Up" with our chief scientist, Bruce Betts, as he answers a question from our Planetary Society member community. Discover more at: https://www.planetary.org/planetary-radio/2023-lost-oceans-and-found-signals https://www.planetary.org/planetary-radio/2023-lost-oceans-found-signals  See omnystudio.com/listener https://omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

57m
Sep 13, 2023
Subsurface oceans: The hidden potential of Earth-like exoplanets

Lujendra Ojha, assistant professor at Rutgers University, joins Planetary Radio to discuss how subsurface liquid water on exoplanets orbiting red dwarf stars could increase the likelihood of finding habitable worlds beyond our Solar System. Then we check in with Bruce Betts, chief scientist of The Planetary Society, for What's Up. Discover more at: https://www.planetary.org/planetary-radio/2023-subsurface-oceans See omnystudio.com/listener https://omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

50m
Sep 06, 2023
A new algorithm finds its first potentially hazardous asteroid

A next-generation asteroid discovery algorithm, HelioLinc3D, has successfully identified its first potentially hazardous asteroid. Mario Jurić and Ari Heinze from the University of Washington join Planetary Radio to discuss the upcoming Vera Rubin Observatory and how their team's new asteroid detection algorithm can help defend our world. The Planetary Society editorial director, Rae Paoletta, marks the successful landing of the Indian Space Research Organization's (ISRO's) Chandrayaan-3 mission on the Moon. Then Bruce Betts, the chief scientist of The Planetary Society, pops in for What's Up and a conversation about space dreams.    Discover more at: https://www.planetary.org/planetary-radio/2023-algorithm-potentially-hazardous-asteroid  See omnystudio.com/listener https://omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

58m
Aug 30, 2023