Broadcast 1069 (Special Edition)

The Space Foundation Conference

09 Dec 2008 Dr. Thomas D. Jones, Dr. Ellen Stofan
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Guests: Dr. Tom Jones and Dr. Ellen Stofan were the guests for this program to discuss their new book, "Planetology: Unlocking The Secrets Of The Solar System." We started our discussion with Drs. Jones and Stofan telling us how they got together and collaborated on this book which contains 250 unique color photographs plus an equal amount of exciting and informative text. Tom and Ellen told us how this book came to be and why it is different from other planetary books in that it portrays a comprehensive portrait of the solar system including Earth, not a planet by planet description which seems to be more common for books dealing with planetary science. We talked about harsh features throughout the solar system including Earth, but that we have life here which may suggest Earth is actually less harsh than other planets in our solar system. Listen to what Tom and Ellen had to say about this. We also discussed radar images of Earth, what the colors mean and cloud penetration, as well as how they were taken from orbit. We further discussed Earth imaging in the context of better enabling us to be good stewards of Earth. We spoke about specific images in the book, images both of Earth and throughout the solar system. In fact, as you will hear me say some of the Earth images look exactly like images on Mars or another planet as Tom and Ellen show not just differences that exist throughout the solar system but similarities as well. One part of our discussion that I found particularly interesting involved the Earth imaging of the Congo, specifically the area known as the Virunga volcano chain, home of the endangered mountain gorilla. These images from orbit, and the others in the book, are outstanding, most interesting, and very informative. Toward the end of the show, we talked about planetary defense and possible incoming asteroid hits on Earth. Do not miss this discussion. We also talked about finding Earth-like planets around other star systems. This is also the last chapter in Tom and Ellen's book and you will want to both read what they say and hear their comments on finding such planets. Another topic of interest addressed the time line for doing planetary space missions. Is the time line so long because of funding or for other reasons? Listen to what our guests said about the time line for project development and funding. This is a great book for holiday gifts. Also, it would be outstanding for schools so one possibility might be your gifting it to a school library. To learn more, visit Tom's website, You can send comments or email to Tom at To send your comments to Ellen, please use As always, you can send your comments to them both through me at



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