A Tale of Two Asteroids

The asteroid belt is portrayed in movies as a crowded place with massive rocks bouncing each other like pool balls, capable of sending a mile-wide missile hurtling toward Earth at any moment. The reality is much more fascinating.

Host Dr. Michelle Thaller speaks with Dr. Lucy McFadden, Co-Investigator of NASA’s Dawn Mission to orbit the asteroids Vesta and Ceres. She shares what they’ve learned by traveling 130 million miles to visit places we’ve always viewed from afar.

Episode Extras

PIA15506_hiresThis image of asteroid Vesta is one of many images taken by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft to create an animation showing the diversity of minerals through color representation.

PIA20562_hiresThis view from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft shows a fresh crater among older terrain on Ceres.

Learn more about Dawn and see even more amazing photos right here.

Orbital Path is produced by Justin O’Neill and hosted by Michelle Thaller.

Chasing An Eclipse

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Michael Kentrianakis loves eclipses and has seen them from all over the world. Host Michelle Thaller and Mike talk about the stages of the eclipse we can see in his video that went viral a few months ago after an Alaska Airlines flight. That flight was diverted for better eclipse viewing thanks to Joe Rao, who has convinced airlines to do this before. We’ll hear how he pulled it off and learn where best to view the August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse.

Episode Extras

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Mike Kentrianakis taking a photo of the eclipse.

MeLookingLindsayCourtesy6FMike viewing the eclipse with a solar filter.

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Joe Rao and the captain.

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Full group of eclipse chasers on the flight.

Orbital Path is produced by Justin O’Neill and hosted by Michelle Thaller.

Photos courtesy of Michael Kentrianakis.

Michelle & Her Mom


Michelle (L), her mom and sister.

In this special Mother’s Day episode, Michelle talks with her mom about what it was like raising a space-obsessed daughter in Wisconsin and watching her grow into a scientist.


Big hair ’80s. Michelle’s sister, Michelle and her mom.

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Michelle’s sister, Michelle, and her mom today.

In Praise of Volcanoes

Astronomer Michelle Thaller talks with Ashley Davies, a research scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, about the importance of volcanoes in the creation of Earth and how the study of volcanos in space can help us understand life here. Davies has journeyed to remote volcanos like Mt. Erebus in Antarctica and Erta Ale in Ethiopia as a way to help map volcanos like those on Jupiter’s moons, Io and Europa, and in turn come that much closer to understanding how life began.


Lauren Ober, Producer
Andrea Mustain, Editor
Genevieve Sponsler, Production and Distribution Manager
John Barth, PRX Chief Content Officer

Mass Extinctions Get Personal

Host Dr. Michelle Thaller talks to Prof. Lisa Randall, a theoretical particle physicist at Harvard, about her new book, Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs: The Astounding Interconnectedness of the Universe. The scientists explore what caused the dinosaurs’ extinction and the role dark matter plays in the universe and our world.