Planetary Radio

Sunday 10:30AM - 11:00AM & Monday 11:30PM - Midnight

January 2014 - Present
The Planetary Society's travel show that takes you to the final frontier, featuring commentary by Society CEO Bill Nye the Science Guy. Public radio's only long format, weekly series devoted to space exploration and the scientists, engineers, astronauts and visionaries who lead it. Most episodes include an in-depth interview along with regular segments that include: Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye the Science Guy's weekly commentaries...Emily Lakdawalla's Snapshots From Space...What's Up! ( the night sky, with other fun and intriguing space info and a weekly contest.) Several episodes each year are recorded live before an enthusiastic audience, often with live music. We also cover special space events, like the landing of the Curiosity Mars Rover, and take listeners to the places where scientists learn about the cosmos, like Chile's Atacama Desert. Every week, Planetary Radio visits with a scientist, engineer, astronaut, project manager, advocate, visionary or writer who can provide a unique perspective on the quest for knowledge about our solar system and beyond. We also showcase regular features that raise your space IQ while they put a smile on your face. Past guests have included Buzz Aldrin, Sally Ride, X Prize Founder Peter Diamandis, Ray Bradbury, Bill Nye the Science Guy, Steve Squyres of the Mars Exploration Rover Project, Galileo's Daughter author Dava Sobel, interplanetary volcano expert Rosaly Lopes, the European Space Agency's Bernard Foing and scores of other leaders.

This week on Planetary Radio:


On December 11th President Donald Trump signed a memorandum that firmly points the US space effort toward the Moon, but without providing many details. Planetary Society Director of Space Policy Casey Dreier fills in some of the gaps left by this executive directive. Poor Venus! Digital Editor Jason Davis explains why the cloud-shrouded furnace planet has been ignored by NASA for many years. Cowabunga! Bruce Betts and Mat Kaplan head for the warm beaches of Southern California for an on location edition of What’s Up.



The first confirmed interstellar visitor to our solar system is a needle-shaped asteroid given the Hawaiian name ‘Oumuamua. Karen Meech leads the team that is learning as much about it as possible before it leaves our neighborhood, never to return. Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye wants to talk with Mat about a couple of space announcements this week. The perfect gift for any young space explorer is one of the prizes in this week’s What’s Up space trivia contest.

Moon Express Founder and CEO Bob Richards shares an inspiring vision for a return to the Moon. It includes introduction of a sophisticated line of robotic spacecraft, the first of which may make a soft landing next year. Sample return and Mars missions would follow. Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye returns with concern for the future capabilities of a Hubble telescope descendant. And Bruce Betts surprises Mat Kaplan with an anniversary celebration that’s fit for the cosmos.

Canada has a new Space Advisory Board, and the Planetary Society’s Kate Howells is a member. Mat Kaplan also talks with Jeff Kuhn and Thomas Rimmele, two of the scientists working toward completion of the biggest solar telescope in history. Emily Lakdawalla has issued her annual recommendation of books for children. Have you written your #spacehaiku? The Planetary Society is collecting poems from around the world. Bruce and Mat present a few in this week’s What’s Up segment.

They may disagree about nearly every other issue, but many Republican and Democratic congressional representatives find common ground where there is no ground—in space. Adam Schiff’s California district includes the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He is as enthusiastic a fan of the final frontier as you are likely to find under the capitol dome in Washington D.C. Planetary Society Digital Editor Jason Davis has just returned from the famed Mirror Lab at the University of Arizona. He witnessed the creation of a mirror that will soon become part of the Giant Magellan Telescope. Bruce Betts is all over the first, confirmed interstellar object to enter our solar system. He tells us about it in this week’s What’s Up.

The author of #1 bestseller The Martian is back with Artemis, a superbly-researched, rollicking adventure in the first city on the Moon. You might win a copy of the book in the new What’s Up space trivia contest. Emily Lakdawalla has returned from the 2017 Division for Planetary Sciences meeting with several reports on the process of planetary science and the vital element of creativity in all of science.

Join us for a wide-ranging, salon-style conversation about space exploration, science, art and more. Mat’s guests are astronomer, television producer/writer and former Star Trek science advisor André Bormanis and Planetary Society Senior Editor Emily Lakdawalla. Bruce Betts is at his most scary in a What’s Up segment recorded on Halloween.

Are we alone? The nearly sixty-year effort to answer that question has gotten a big boost from the Breakthrough Initiatives, funded by Yuri Milner and led by former NASA Ames Research Center director Pete Worden, who is our guest this week. Planetary Society Digital Editor Jason Davis has written an outstanding overview of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. As we look and listen to the skies for ET, Bruce Betts keeps us up on where our own family of planets is. He joins Mat for another What’s Up segment and a new space trivia contest.

Astronomer Pamela Gay is probably best known as co-host of the Astronomy Cast podcast, but she is also Principal Investigator for the CosmoQuest virtual research facility. It offers fun and rewarding citizen science opportunities, including its newest, Image Detective. She tells us how anyone can work with images of Earth taken by astronauts, turning them into terrific scientific resources. Bill Nye the Science Guy says the first observation of two neutron stars colliding is pure science gold. Distant dwarf planet Haumea has rings! Bruce Betts tells us about the Planetary Society’s connection to this story in this week’s What’s Up.

Dawn Mission Director and Chief Engineer Marc Rayman helps us salute the ion-engine powered spacecraft that first orbited asteroid Vesta in the main asteroid belt and then moved to dwarf planet Ceres, revealing two fascinating worlds. The new US National Space Council met in Washington DC last week. Director of Space Policy Casey Dreier reviews it. Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye reports from Australia where he addressed the International Astronautical Congress. More space art can be yours if you win the latest What’s Up space trivia contest.

The Australian government announced that it would create a national space agency at the 68th annual International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide. We’ll talk with IAC 2017 CEO Brett Biddington about what this means for his country. Last week’s IAC was also where Elon Musk provided more details about his audacious plan to put hundreds of humans on Mars by the mid-2020s. Digital Editor Jason Davis has the scoop. A really easy space trivia contest question could win you space art and much more as you hear What’s Up in the night sky.

More than 1,100 fans of the just-completed 20-year mission to Saturn joined us for a live tribute. The Planetary Society’s Mat Kaplan and KPCC Science Reporter Jacob Margolis welcomed mission leaders and the Society’s Emily Lakdawalla to Caltech’s Beckman Auditorium stage. You’ll also hear a musical tribute to Cassini’s Grand Finale. Mat and Bruce Betts add space limited edition space art to the prize package in the What’s Up space trivia contest.

Join us at JPL and Caltech on the bittersweet morning the Cassini spacecraft plunged into Saturn.  We’ll hear from several of the mission’s leaders, including John Grunsfeld, Earl Maize, Linda Spilker and Ellen Stofan.   Bill Nye salutes the mission team and calls for continued exploration of space.  The Cassini theme continues as Bruce Betts reveals What’s Up.

Robert Zubrin of the Mars Society talks with Gregory Benford, David Brin, Geoffrey Landis and Larry Niven about terraforming Mars, the origin of life, the drive to explore and more.  Emily Lakdawalla tells us what expect when the Cassini Mission comes to a spectacular end.  The Cassini theme continues through this week’s What’s Up segment with Bruce Betts.

The co-founder and Executive Director Emeritus of the Planetary Society returns for a conversation about the allure of sailing through space.  Digital editor Jason Davis reviews three exciting space sail projects, and LightSail Program Manager Bruce Betts provides a LightSail 2 update before giving us his regular What’s Up report.  There are two space trivia contests to close out before we offer a new opportunity to win the weekly prize package.

With hours to go before the Great American Eclipse, Mat Kaplan hosted a Planetary Radio Live session in front of 1,100 rowdy eclipse and space science fans.  Also at Southern Illinois University Carbondale for the show was the Jenny Johnson Band with its new song, “Solar Eclipse.”   Bruce Betts arrives with a post-eclipse What’s Up report.  The guys have found one last rubber asteroid to give away in the space trivia contest.


It’s the Grandest Finale. The spectacular Cassini mission’s exploration of Saturn will end on September 15th when the spacecraft plunges into the planet. Cassini Project Scientist Linda Spilker is back with one last mission update. Mat also announces a live Cassini celebration on the evening of September 18, 2017. Bruce Betts and Mat Kaplan are back from the Great American Eclipse’s path of totality with another What’s Up segment and a new space trivia contest that features the eclipse.

It is most space fans’ favorite planetary science mission, and with good reason. We visit with the man who has been in charge of Voyager mission science for more than four decades. You’ve got an extra week to enter the space trivia contest, part of this week’s What’s Up segment with Bruce Betts and Mat Kaplan.

JPL astrophysicists Alina Kiessling and Jason Rhodes were brought together by their fascination over the mystery of dark energy. They talk with Planetary Radio about their research and the many missions they are contributing to, including WFIRST, a unique new space telescope. Director of Space Policy Casey Dreier reviews the US Senate’s 2018 NASA budget proposal. CEO Bill Nye says enjoy the Great American Eclipse, but be careful! All this and What’s Up with Bruce Betts.

The world’s most powerful solar telescope sits in Big Bear Lake, high above southern California. It has just been renamed for the man responsible for its creation. We’ll meet astrophysicist and helioseismologist Phil Goode, and we’ll enjoy a tour of the Goode Solar Telescope. All you need to safely enjoy the coming Great American Eclipse are a couple of pieces of cardboard and a pushpin. Emily Lakdawalla explains. A discovery at Saturn’s moon Titan has Bill Nye thinking again about the discovery of life elsewhere in the universe. With an eclipse and a meteor shower on deck, Bruce Betts has much to share in this week’s What’s Up.

Will humans live, work and thrive on Mars? What challenges must be met before we can become Martians? On July 20th, the anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, Mat Kaplan welcomed an outstanding panel of experts for conversation in front of a Pasadena, California audience. Mat also talked with the six men and women who are nearing the end of the eight-month HI-SEAS V Mars analog mission in Hawaii. Later, Bruce Betts arrived on stage with another examination of the current night sky, along with a new space trivia contest.

The Cassini Mission has less than two months to go before it ends with a spectacular plunge into the beautiful ringed world. Planetary Society Senior Editor Emily Lakdawalla has prepared a guide to the last orbits by the historic spacecraft. Bill Nye provides examples from his new book of how we will benefit from space applications and the way nerds solve problems. His impressions may not be ready for prime time, but Bruce Betts’ guide to the night sky and Random Space Facts are always entertaining.

When the Pathfinder lander reached Mars 20 years ago it began a Martian renaissance that has never paused. JPL scientist Matt Golombek was the mission’s Project Scientist. He looks back and to the future of our explorations at the red planet. Planetary Society Director of Space Policy Casey Dreier shares his thoughts about the return of the National Space Council just authorized by President Drumpf. Got your eclipse glasses? You might win a pair, along with the new Planetary Radio t-shirt and an iTelescope astronomy account on What’s Up. Bill Nye is on book tour.

Veteran astronomer and cosmologist Sandra Faber has just been awarded the Gruber Prize for Cosmology, honoring more than forty years of pioneering work. She talks with Mat Kaplan on this week’s show. Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye tells us about his contribution to a conversation about protecting other worlds from aggressive life here on Earth. Bruce Betts takes us to the broiling highlands of Venus and the frigid plains of Mars for the space trivia contest.

Asteroid Day, June 30th, marks the anniversary of the great Tunguska impact that leveled a Siberian forest. It reminds us that a Near Earth Object can destroy a city or even a civilization. Former Minor Planet Center Director Tim Spahr reviews our efforts to find and understand these bodies. Bruce Betts unveils a new round of Planetary Society grants that will support this work. Bill Nye wonders how future Mars rovers will communicate with Earth if aging satellite fail without replacements.

The great inventor was just one of many men and women who made their way across the American West to view and document the total solar eclipse of 1878. Edison would test a new heat-detecting instrument. Vassar astronomer Maria Mitchell and her female colleagues demonstrated that women could conduct science under difficult conditions. David Baron’s American Eclipse– A Nation’s Epic Race to Catch the Shadow of the Moon and Win the Glory of the World brilliantly tells their stories. Emily Lakdawalla and Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye contribute their own reports from the final frontier

How do you keep a dazzlingly complex spacecraft in good health after 20 years in space? That’s the challenge for Julie Webster and her team of engineers supporting the Cassini mission at Saturn. Jason Davis reports on the possible discovery of the asteroid impact that wiped out most of Earth’s life. Bill Nye the Science Guy is following the youthful wanderings of Jupiter. Cassini is the source of this week’s space trivia contest on What’s Up

Have you seen its stunning image of Jupiter’s south pole? The Juno orbiter is surpassing expectations and delivering surprising science. Scott Bolton, the mission’s Principal Investigator, is back with a thrilling report. We’ve reached another key milestone along LightSail 2’s road to space. Planetary Society Digital Editor Jason Davis fills us in. Bill Nye gets from India to William Shatner in less than three minutes, and Bruce Betts escorts us across the night sky in What’s Up.

He walked with Neil Armstrong on the moon, but that may not be his greatest legacy. Buzz Aldrin was joined by other space stars at the recent Humans To Mars Summit. Bill Nye returns with his sense of awe turned up to eleven by the images of Jupiter returned by Juno. Casey Dreier finds good and bad news for science in the White House’s proposed 2018 budget. And there’s a lively night sky to explore in this week’s What’s Up segment.

Astronauts may soon ride on US rockets and in US spaceships for the first time since the last Space Shuttle flight. Jon Cowart of NASA is working with SpaceX toward the first launch of a Dragon spacecraft with humans on board. See the moons of Saturn as you’ve never seen them before in Emily Lakdawalla’s new composite image. Bruce Betts has just returned from Japan with a What’s Up update on the Planetary Defense Conference. Bill Nye has the week off.

The human journey to the Red Planet is long and hard, but Mat’s conversation with three NASA Associate Administrators at the Humans to Mars Summit was filled with cautious optimism. Emily Lakdawalla shares a beautiful image of Saturn almost lost in the myriad stars of the Milky Way. The first Space Launch System rocket won’t carry astronauts, and Bill Nye says that’s probably a good thing. Bruce Betts reports in from the Planetary Defense Conference in Tokyo for this week’s What’s Up.

Veteran Jet Propulsion Lab planetary scientist Bonnie Buratti talks with Mat about the wonder of our solar neighborhood that she explores in Worlds Fantastic, Worlds Familiar—A Guided Tour of the Solar System. Emily Lakdawalla reviews a busy and challenging time for Curiosity, the Mars Science Laboratory rover. Bill Nye says thousands of small satellites may bring broadband internet access to the third world, but they may also bring new space debris challenges. And Bruce Betts somehow bring together Skylab, gold and hamsters in the new What’s Up.

Our ongoing coverage of preparation for the Great American Eclipse takes us to Southern Illinois University Carbondale where a huge celebration is planned. Senior Editor Emily Lakdawalla is back! She was at JPL when Cassini began the final phase of its Saturn journey. How many confirmed planets are there in our galaxy? Bruce Betts will answer that question and offer another space trivia quiz in What’s Up.

It was a big week for the Science Guy, and for science. Bill Nye served as honorary co-chair of the March for Science in Washington DC. His new Netflix series, Bill Nye Saves the World, premiered the next day, Friday, April 21st. Two of the show’s thirteen episodes are devoted to space science and exploration. Bill talks about all this in a special conversation with Mat Kaplan. Planetary Society Senior Editor Jason Davis marks the beginning of the end for the Cassini mission at Saturn. While Bruce Betts and Mat are fresh out of rubber asteroids, there’s no shortage of Random Space Facts and cosmic comedy in What’s Up.

The University of Texas at Austin’s observatory is high in the hills of west Texas. In this special episode, Mat Kaplan joins the tens of thousands who visit it each year. The occasion was the re-dedication of the vastly upgraded Hobby-Eberly Telescope, third largest on Earth. The great instrument may help us understand the mysterious force known as dark energy.

The Aerospace Corporation has been innovating since 1960. Now it’s headed by a former leader of “New Space” company Virgin Galactic. President and CEO Steve Isakowitz talks about the evolving culture of the space industry. Heard about NASA’s new human spacecraft plans? Jason Davis has, and he’ll fill us in. Another near-miss for Earth has reinforced Bill Nye’s concern about Near Earth Objects. Someone is going to win a March for Science pin in the new space trivia contest.

Mars was once a warm and wet world. Then its dense, protective atmosphere mostly vanished. Learning why was one of the greatest mysteries in planetary science. The answer has just been delivered by the MAVEN orbiter. Principal Investigator Bruce Jakosky will take us through it. Bill Nye the Science Guy co-chairs the March for Science. We’ll talk to him about this new effort and the successful relaunch of a SpaceX booster. Last chance to win a rubber asteroid is in this week’s What’s Up space trivia contest!

The longtime editor of outstanding online space news source Universe Today has just written about nine robotic missions of exploration in Incredible Stories From Space—A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos. NASA considers putting astronauts on the very first Space Launch System rocket. Jason Davis gives has the scoop. Bill Nye and Mat marvel at the discovery of a billion-star black hole that has been kicked out of a distant galaxy. Bruce Betts reminds us in What’s Up that Men in Black Agents J and K know a lot more about the galaxy than we do.

The Planetary Society’s LightSail 2 solar sail spacecraft is ready to be packed away for its ride to orbit on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket. Mat Kaplan checks the mission’s status with team members including Project Manager Dave Spencer and Society CEO Bill Nye the Science Guy. In addition to his regular What’s Up segment, LightSail Program Manager Bruce Betts provides his assessment of the effort. Casey Dreier reviews the just-announced NASA budget proposal from the Drumpf Administration

It’s coming! Will you be in the path of totality? Astronomers Without Borders President Mike Simmons says be there if you can. He also tells us about AWB’s Google-funded outreach program that will use the August 21st total solar eclipse as a starting point. Casey Dreier explains the NASA Authorization bill just passed by the House. Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye has a message about space exploration for POTUS, while Mat and Bruce visit Mars and Venus.

Planetary geologist Kirby Runyon is lead author of an abstract that proposes a new, geophysical definition of what a planet is. It would grant our solar system 110 planets, including Pluto and the moon. Up, up and away with Digital Editor Jason Davis on WorldView’s balloon ride to just below the edge of space. It’s the asteroid of love and it’s the destination of this week’s space trivia contest. Bill Nye has the week off.

The discovery of seven, Earth-sized planets in a nearby solar system was announced last week. Astrophysicist and planetary scientist Sara Seager was part of the NASA press conference. Now she joins us to share her excitement about this find that includes three planets in the habitable zone. Digital Editor Jason Davis says we’re a little closer to orbiting and landing on Jupiter’s moon Europa. Bill Nye comments on SpaceX plans to send two people around the moon in 2018. And it’s not too late to catch a high and bright Venus according to What’s Up astronomer Bruce Betts.

Leaders of the quest to find, understand and protect ourselves from the asteroids and comets called Near Earth Objects gathered with host Mat Kaplan for a live conversation about this existential threat from space. This special episode presents excerpts of that lively discussion with JPL Senior Research Scientist Amy Mainzer, Manager of NASA/JPL’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies Paul Chodas, and NASA’s Planetary Defense Officer Lindley Johnson. Also on stage was Planetary Society Director of Science and Technology Bruce Betts. Bruce stayed for this week’s What’s Up segment.

Rod Pyle reveals bizarre yet fascinating space projects of the past in his new book. Pyle also exposes previously classified information about missions and spacecraft you thought you knew. Bill Nye throws his support behind a just-released Europa lander study conducted by NASA. Who’s that artist with a statue on the moon? Bruce Betts will tell all in this week’s What’s Up.

University of Arkansas grad student Rebecca Mickol and her team have demonstrated that some Earth bacteria can survive in the extremely thin atmosphere of Mars. Could Martian bacteria thrive under the same conditions? Jason Davis looks at the Mars vs. moon debate among some space explorers. Bill Nye says former NASA Administrator Charles Bolden is concerned about at least one area of activity conducted by the agency. Mat visits during Bruce Betts’ live astronomy class for this week’s What’s Up.

Planetary Radio’s most frequent guest, Project Scientist Linda Spilker, returns with another update on the Cassini mission that is approaching its grand finale. Senior editor Emily Lakdawalla has a special announcement. Humans on Mars by 2033? Bill Nye sees a glimmer of hope. Our solar system’s biggest volcano is on the Red Planet. How big? Bruce and Mat share some dimensions on What’s Up.

Earth’s southernmost active volcano may also be its most remote. Rosaly Lopes and Michael Carroll recently spent a few frigid days on the slopes of Antarctica’s Mount Erebus. What they learned may help us understand volcanos on other worlds. Emily Lakdawalla shows us stunning new, close-up images of Saturn’s rings. Bill Nye says a LightSail solar sail prototype has gone on display in a London museum. How could black holes help answer a space trivia contest question about Earth and Saturn? Also, an encore presentation of a visit with the late Gene Cernan, last astronaut to walk on the moon.

For well over three years, planetary scientist Ellen Stofan has worked directly with NASA Administrator Charles Bolden to help coordinate and expand the myriad science efforts by the agency. We talk with her as she ends this remarkable tenure. Emily Lakdawalla says don’t miss Hidden Figures. Bill Nye checks in from Japan with a tribute to the late Apollo moonwalker Gene Cernan. A year on Jupiter or the lifetime of this show? We’ll learn which is longer in this week’s What Up.

British physicist turned comedian and actor Ben Miller has written The Aliens are Coming– The Extraordinary Science Behind our Search for Life in the Universe. It starts with the Big Bang and takes readers on a fascinating ride through astrobiology and the challenge of communicating with another species. Emily Lakdawalla tells us about the two asteroid missions chosen by NASA last week. Bill Nye just met with the new NASA Associate Administrator for its Science Directorate. We learn that the oldest woman to reach space is living there right now.

CEO Randa Milliron introduces us to Interorbital Systems, which wants to put your payload in orbit for as little as $8,000. Can they do it? Emily Lakdawalla returns with a preview of 2017’s biggest solar system exploration events. Bill Nye the Science Guy congratulates and thanks outgoing NASA Chief Scientist Ellen Stofan. We’re giving away another beautiful science/science fiction fine art print in this week’s What’s Up segment.

MAVEN, the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution orbiter, has gone a long way toward solving the mystery of the Red Planet’s missing water and air. The University of Colorado’s Nick Schneider says it is also revealing gorgeous clouds, auroras and glowing skies. From the Sun to Pluto–so many North Poles! Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye the Science Guy has seen them in a recent blog post from Emily Lakdawalla. What do the late John Glenn and baseball great Ted Williams have in common? Far more than you may know, as we learn from Bruce Betts in this week’s year-ending What’s Up segment.

Marilynn Flynn, Simon Kregar and Rick Sternbach are masters of space art. They talk about how their work furthers science and captures the imagination. The winner of this week’s space trivia contest will win a beautiful print by Marilyn Flynn. Emily Lakdawalla shows us the shy side of Mars’ moon Phobos. Mat Kaplan and Bill Nye the Science Guy take up the water on Ceres and the just-completed National Geographic Channel Mars miniseries

Space historian John Logsdon remembers American hero John Glenn. Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye was a big fan of the Friendship 7 astronaut. Then we get an update on the Giant Magellan Telescope from Patrick McCarthy. Emily Lakdawalla explains how a Martian breeze has made the Curiosity rover’s work more challenging. John Glenn is also the focus of this week’s space trivia contest.

No one is more excited about eclipses than famed solar astronomer and author Jay Pasachoff. He looks forward to the total solar eclipse in August of 2017. With Emily Lakdawalla away, Mat Kaplan welcomes back Planetary Society Digital Editor Jason Davis. Bill Nye is following major space developments in Europe. Enter the space trivia contest for another shot at winning the award-winning space exploration board game Xtronaut.

The SETI Institute is about much more than the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. President and CEO Bill Diamond of the Institute explains. Bill Nye reviews two more stories that illustrate how hard it is to go to Mars. Join the Rocket Road Trip with our special audio preview of this new Planetary Society video series. And you might win “Xtronaut: The Game of Solar System Exploration,” in this week’s What’s Up space trivia contest. Emily Lakdawalla has the week off.

The National Geographic Channel’s “Mars” miniseries has begun. Mat Kaplan attended a kickoff for the ambitious docudrama last summer. You’ll hear from series technical advisor Bobby Braun, author of “The Martian” Andy Weir, Cosmos creator Ann Druyan and more. It took two years, but Emily Lakdawalla has completed an important visual document focused on Mars rover Opportunity. Bill Nye steps aside for Planetary Society Director of Space Policy Casey Dreier with a look toward Donald Drumpf’s NASA. One listener will win a spectacular new Pluto globe in the What’s Up space trivia contest.

Back to the annual meeting of the AAS Division for Planetary Sciences this week, where Mat Kaplan visited with experts on worlds of ice including Titan and Pluto, with a side trip to the dunes of Iran. Emily Lakdawalla checks in from a planning session for the next camera that will land on Mars. Bill Nye considers the outlook for space exploration in the Drumpf administration. Our What’s Up segment travels to a moon of Saturn to find characters from the Lord of the Rings.

Host Mat Kaplan traveled to California’s Mojave Desert for a tour of Virgin Galactic’s The Spaceship Company, where the second SpaceShipTwo was built and is undergoing flight tests. TSC Executive VP Enrico Palermo was his guide. Emily Lakdawalla provides a taste of this busy month throughout the solar system. NASA has reached an important milestone according to Bill Nye the Science Guy. And “The Honeymooners” are Bruce and Mat’s special guests on Whats’ Up.

Last year it was New Horizons at Pluto. In 2016, the thrilling end of the Rosetta comet mission generated the greatest public interest and enthusiasm.  Mat Kaplan talks with Matt Taylor, the Rosetta Project Scientist, just two weeks after the spacecraft touched down on 67/P. Emily says there’s reason for hope and joy after the Schiaparelli crash on Mars. Bill Nye is counting down to the US election. Mat Kaplan and Bruce Betts offer a slightly tardy Halloween edition of What’s Up.

Alan Stern of the New Horizons mission to Pluto and beyond was in Pasadena for the annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society’s Division for Planetary Sciences.  He joined Mat Kaplan for a very special conversation down the street at Planetary Society HQ.  Emily Lakdawalla and Bruce Betts report in from the DPS meeting, where Bill Nye the Science Guy is heard giving Alan Stern and his team the Society’s Cosmos award. 

The Night Sky Guy, Andrew Fazekas, talks about his beautiful new, Star Trek-inspired guide to the real wonders of astronomy. Emily Lakdawalla has done wondrous things with images from India’s Mars Orbiter Mission. Bill Nye the Science Guy wants NASA to set a deadline for humans to reach Mars. Don’t mess with Bruce Betts when he tells you what’s up in the night sky. We’ll give away “Star Trek, The Official Guide to Our Universe,” in the space trivia contest.

The European Space Agency’s magnificent Rosetta mission ended last week as the spacecraft gently touched down on the comet it has revealed. You’ll hear highlights of the final countdown, and Emily Lakdawalla’s impressions gained at the European Space Operations Center. Bill Nye was there to hear Elon Musk explain his plans to colonize Mars. Bruce Betts gets the comfy chair in this week’s What’s Up segment.

Planetary Society Digital Editor Jason Davis returns with the story of the ten-day trek across the South he just completed with two Society colleagues. Emily Lakdawalla has the announcement of new evidence for water plumes on Jupiter’s moon Europa. Bill Nye reports from the International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico. Those cosmic cut-ups, Bruce Betts and Mat Kaplan, have a new What’s Up space trivia contest and much more.

The great Cassini spacecraft has a year to go before it plunges into the ringed planet. Project Scientist Linda Spilker returns with more amazing mission science. Emily Lakdawalla introduces us to the wonders of Gaia and its one billion stars. Bruce Betts and Mat Kaplan have their usual good time exploring the current night sky and offering another space trivia contest. Bill Nye is away.


In two years a Near Earth Asteroid now known as Bennu will have a visitor from Earth. OSIRIS REx Principal Investigator Dante Lauretta reports on his mission’s successful launch. Bill Nye was in Florida for last week’s liftoff. Emily Lakdawalla shares the details of Rosetta’s last days, ending with a gentle impact on comet 67/P. Bruce Betts and Mat Kaplan reveal the amazing story behind a Soviet space shuttle that has traveled extensively, but not into space.

In its nearly five decades, NASA has created or improved thousands of technologies, processes and innovations. Dan Lockney is in charge of making sure these solutions are found and utilized by industries and others in need. You really must see (and hear) the latest from Juno at Jupiter and the Rosetta comet probe. Bill Nye laments the loss of a SpaceX Falcon 9 even as he looks forward to the imminent launch of OSIRIS REx. This week’s space trivia contest is a jump back to the earliest days of humans in space.

The announcement was made just days ago. Co-discoverer Michael Endl tells us about the discovery of a roughly Earth-mass planet orbiting in the habitable zone of the closest star to our own. Juno has made its first science flyby of Jupiter. Emily Lakdawalla gives us an early report. Are you ready for the first interplanetary Olympics? Bruce and Mat review the listener-submitted out-of-this-world sports on What’s Up. Bill Nye is away this week.

Space historian and policy expert John Logsdon joins Mat Kaplan for a fascinating conversation about how the US could have lost the race to the moon. Emily Lakdawalla prepares us for the launch of OSIRIS REx to asteroid Bennu. Bill Nye looks forward to the great North American total solar eclipse. What the current night sky offers, and a new space trivia contest make this week’s What’s Up segment shine

Steep canyons on Saturn’s moon Titan are filled with liquid methane. That’s the discovery just announced by an international team of Cassini scientists, including Alex Hayes. Emily Lakdawalla takes us up to Curiosity on Mars, while Bill Nye celebrates the US National Park Service. It’s a Deep Space What’s Up segment with Bruce Betts.

You may never hear their names, but there are thousands of small to medium-sized companies without which space exploration and development wouldn’t happen. Bill Nye talks about STEAMed education through space, and Bruce Betts previews what may be a really great meteor shower. Emily Lakdawalla is on vacation.

Philip Lubin and his former student Travis Brashears have had quite a year. Their bold plan to send tiny probes to nearby stars is now supported by NASA and the Breakthrough Starshot $100 million dollar initiative. Hear their amazing story. Emily Lakdawalla tells us August promises to be an exciting month. Bill Nye finds reason to celebrate science through findings that indicate Martian gullies weren’t carved by liquid water. We’ll head for central Africa with Bruce Betts for a surprising relationship with the Moon.

It takes a lot of terrific components to create a successful spacecraft like Curiosity, the Mars Science Laboratory. We’ll visit JPL to learn about the Terminal Descent Sensor radar that will once again help land a rover on the Red Planet. Emily Lakdawalla has tales of science, science fiction and cosplay from ComicCon. Bill Nye has returned from the frigid, icy wastes of Greenland. There a space celebrity cameo performance in this week’s What’s Up segment.

We celebrate the 47th anniversary of the first moon landing with the reprise of a conversation with author and NBC space reporter Jay Barbree about his trusted friend Neil Armstrong. Jason Davis brings us a special report on NASA’s 2020 Mars rover. Emily Lakdawalla reminds us that New Horizons at Pluto was anything but the end of exploration in our solar system. Bruce Betts poses a fascinating question in this week’s What’s Up trivia contest

Return with us to the evening of July 4, 2016 and the exciting arrival at Jupiter of the Juno orbiter. You’ll hear the moment of successful orbital insertion. Several of the mission’s key contributors reveal how Juno accomplished this feat, along with what they hope the spacecraft will tell us about the giant planet. A Juno pin and t-shirt are waiting for the winner of the new What’s Up space trivia contest.

She has spent most of her life working toward a bright future for humanity in space, and Lori Garver has lost none of her passion. She visited the Planetary Society for a wide-ranging conversation with Mat Kaplan. Join Emily Lakdawalla as we hear Juno enter the realm of Jupiter. Digital Editor Jason Davis takes us to the spectacular test of a vital Space Launch System rocket engine. Celebrating the 4th of July in space with Bruce Betts.

Juno will enter Jupiter orbit on July 4th. Mat Kaplan talks with the mission’s Principal Investigator, Scott Bolton at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Bill Nye helps prepare us for this exciting encounter and the science that will follow. Emily Lakdawalla has the scoop on China’s next lunar mission—a rover on the Moon’s mysterious farside. And a Chinese mission from the past is at the core of this week’s space trivia contest on What’s Up.

OSIRIS-REx will launch toward Near Earth Asteroid Bennu soon. In an early celebration of Asteroid Day, mission leader Dante Lauretta tells us how learning about asteroids may teach us about our own origins, and help us avoid a cataclysmic impact. Emily Lakdawalla has prepared a minute-by-minute timeline for the high anxiety July 4th arrival of Juno at Jupiter. Bruce Betts and Mat Kaplan invent a new kind of quilting party under a spectacular summer night sky.

The Juno spacecraft will enter orbit at Jupiter on July 4th. It carries a camera that will send back spectacular images from just above the swirling clouds of that mighty planet. Planetary scientist Candy Hansen will tell us how we can help decide what it will view. You can watch Emily Lakdawalla deliver illustrated presentations to two very different audiences. Bruce Betts becomes the masked astronomer on this week’s What’s Up.

Space art and science fiction joined science fact at the 2016 Contact Conference in Sunnyvale, California. We talk with three well-known visionaries. Emily Lakdawalla tells us what to expect in planetary science this month. Bill Nye discusses independent plans by SpaceX and Lockheed Martin for getting humans to Mars in the 2020s. Bruce Betts and Mat Kaplan are just wild about Mars and Jupiter.

Three NASA leaders talk with host Mat Kaplan about the progress we’re making toward leaving footprints on the Red Planet. Emily Lakdawalla showcases great new space images from the amateur community. Bill Nye tells us how a LightSail technical challenge has been solved. Bruce Betts can’t take his eyes off Mars as it makes its closest pass of Earth in years. Don’t miss the new arrangement of our theme!

The Planetary Society’s solar sail spacecraft was in the middle of a critical test as we spoke with the Society’s Bruce Betts and Jason Davis. Mat Kaplan tells Senior Editor Emily Lakdawalla why he’s a bit frustrated by some media descriptions of the beautiful new Hubble image of Mars. And Bruce returns for the regular What’s Up segment, including a chance to win Offworld Trading Company, the new economic strategy game set on a future Mars.

Astronaut and NASA Associate Administrator John Grunsfeld closes our coverage of the Space Foundation’s 32nd annual Space Symposium in Colorado Springs. We also meet the leaders of the New Generation Space Leaders Program. Emily has made it easy to be wowed by spectacular new images of comet 67/P taken by Europe’s Rosetta spacecraft. Bruce and Mat will pick three winners of a great new game in the What’s Up space trivia contest.

The annual Space Symposium in Colorado is a must-attend event for space leaders from around the world. Our coverage begins with ESA Director General Jan Woerner and Chief Scientist Bernard Foing. Emily Lakdawalla shows us the moon as you’ve never seen it before. SpaceX is rolling on to Mars according to Bill Nye. Bruce Betts and Mat Kaplan learn what a psychopomp has to do with one of our solar system’s most distant worlds.

Beautiful Death Valley National Park was the setting for a fascinating conversation with famed SETI researcher Jill Tarter and celebrated astronomer, artist and photographer Tyler Nordgren. Curiosity has drilled another hole in Mars. Emily Lakdawalla tells us why and where. Someone will win three of Tyler Nordgren’s great posters on this week’s What’s Up segment with Bruce Betts and Mat Kaplan.

Our special coverage from the Los Angeles Yuri’s Night party continues with Chris Lewicki of Planetary Resources along with Bob Pappalardo and Bobak “Mohawk Guy” Ferdowsi who are preparing an orbiter for Jupiter’s ocean world Europa. Emily Lakdawalla takes us on a 3D trek across Mars. Bill Nye reports on the just-completed 2016 Space Symposium. Bruce Betts reveals the identity of the first astronaut to lose his lunch in space.

Happy Yuri’s Night! We’re partying under Space Shuttle Endeavour in the first of two shows featuring interviews from the worldwide celebration of space. Star Trek’s Robert Picardo will talk about his new video newsletter, the Planetary Post, and we’ll visit with Samantha Cristoforetti, who returned last June from 200 days aboard the International Space Station. Emily Lakdawalla reports on the spacecraft exploring our solar system this month, while Bruce Betts tells us What’s Up.

Michel Mayor and his team rocked the astronomy world with their 1995 announcement, but this modest man says it was a discovery whose time had come. Emily Lakdawalla returns to mysterious dwarf planet Ceres. Seen the latest Blue Origin launch and landing? Bill Nye has. Which acronym for Laika the space dog’s name will be best in show?

The new Mars Science Laboratory Project Scientist is not new to the mission. Ashwin Vasavada has worked on the Curiosity rover since 2004. Emily Lakdawalla returns from one of her favorite planetary science conferences. So many new rocket engines! Bill Nye says this is a good thing. The What’s Up segment offers a rubber asteroid, ninjas and a gorgeous night sky.

Our live conversation about “Planet 9” and the amazing diversity of our solar system, featuring Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown of Caltech, Senior Editor Emily Lakdawalla, Bill Nye the Science Guy and Cassini Project Scientist Linda Spilker. We close with a special K9 edition of What’s Up!

NASA has given the go-ahead for creation of the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope. It might help reveal the nature of dark energy and point the way to life among the stars. Europe and Russia are celebrating the ExoMars spacecraft now headed for Mars. Emily Lakdawalla tells us why. Spacewalks, re-entry…traveling in space is hard and dangerous! Bruce Betts tells a harrowing tale or two on this week’s What’s Up. Bill Nye is on the road this week.

Julielynn Wong came directly from her 30-day long HERA IX deep space simulation to our microphone. We talk with her about the experience, and her progress toward 3D medical device printing solutions for astronauts and Earthbound humans. Emily Lakdawalla looks forward to “What’s Up in the Solar System” this month. Bill Nye welcomes Scott Kelly back to Earth. A mystery prize for this week’s space trivia contest?

Famed science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson is back with Aurora, a cautionary tale about just how difficult interstellar travel may be. Emily Lakdawalla reveals the used space shuttle part that has gone to Mars. Bill Nye hopes Congress will boost space exploration, but not by calling it a “renaissance.” Bruce and Mat get all starry-eyed on this week’s What’s Up.

Cassini Mission Project Scientist Linda Spilker returns with the latest discoveries at the beautiful ringed planet, its moons and its rings. Emily Lakdawalla has assembled a crazy animation of distant Earth from a long dormant but just reawakened space camera. Bill Nye the Science Guy provides ample evidence that space has become a marketplace. A family of accomplished astronomers provides the answer to this week’s space trivia contest in our What’s Up segment, along with a new opportunity to win OK Go swag.

Have you seen it? OK Go has gone where no band has gone before to make a music video. Mat talks with Damian Kulash and Tim Nordwind about the hazards, thrill and promise of making art in free fall. Emily Lakdawalla reveals another attempt to put a microphone on Mars. Bill Nye steps aside so that Casey Dreier can give us his first impression of the new budget proposed for NASA. And Mat drops in on Bruce’s live, online astronomy class to learn What’s Up.

Mike Brown and Konstantin Batygin fully expect a new and undemotable ninth planet will be found in the outer reaches of the solar system. The Caltech researchers talk about their findings and much more. Emily Lakdawalla has made a wealth of Chinese lunar lander images much more accessible. Have gravity waves been discovered? Bill Nye hopes so, as he also remembers Apollo 14 moonwalker Edgar Mitchell. Bruce and Mat enjoy a celebrity Random Space Fact and get their first talking answer to the space trivia contest.

Lindley Johnson has just been named NASA’s first Planetary Defense Officer. He’s joined on this week’s PlanRad by astronomer Kelly Fast, the new manager of the Near Earth Object Observation Program. Emily Lakdawalla presents her “What’s Up in the Solar System” mission review for February. Bill Nye has birthday greetings for Voyager’s Ed Stone. Bruce and Mat learn that finding your way across the galaxy with pulsars can be very entertaining.

New research indicates that globular clusters—collections of up to a million stars—could provide stable environments for life, along with opportunities for interstellar civilizations. Lead author Rosanne Di Stefano joins us to explain. Emily Lakdawalla and Bill Nye examine the science and excitement around “Planet 9.” “This Week in Space History” is just one feature of our What’s Up segment with Bruce Betts and Mat Kaplan

The Dawn Mission Chief Engineer Marc Rayman returns for another report on the ion-engine powered mission, now orbiting 240 miles above dwarf planet Ceres in the Asteroid Belt. Emily Lakdawalla explains the bittersweet quality of Cassini’s latest images of Saturn’s moons. Bill Nye talks about two more milestones in commercial space access. Mat and Bruce offer an ISS Above system in the new space trivia contest.

Francis McCubbin is the new Astromaterials Curator at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, where the priceless collection includes the Apollo moonrocks. Join Mat Kaplan’s visit. Emily Lakdawalla reports on Curiosity’s busy and beautiful Mars trek. Bill Nye remembers David Bowie and remarks on the role of space in popular entertainment. Mat and Bruce learn on What’s Up that beer was invented just one year ago. One Sednan year

Mat Kaplan visits the Ad Astra Rocket Company in Texas where they are perfecting the VASIMIR electric rocket engine. Emily Lakdawalla has created a comprehensive timeline tracing missions throughout the solar system. Bill Nye salutes Planetary Society colleagues who gathered to record a Planetary Radio Extra year in review conversation. The new year’s sky is chock full of planets according to Bruce Betts.

Our year-end review features the “best of 2015” lists from Jason Davis, Casey Dreier, Emily Lakdawalla and Bill Nye the Science Guy. What’s Up offers planets, a comet, and a nice prize package for the space trivia contest.