In the very recent past, the idea of traveling to Mars was the stuff of science fiction (and frequently bad science fiction at that). Thanks to advances in technology and a surge of private companies entering the space race—not to mention the seemingly strong possibility of flowing water beneath the surface—traveling to Mars simply isn’t that wacky of an idea anymore. Wannabe astronauts may want to start preparing themselves for the journey, so we put together a playlist of helpful (and fascinating) podcasts, full of enough ideas and trivia to keep even the most ardent stargazer engaged for the 300-day journey to the Red Planet.
This podcast is set almost entirely inside the Hawai’i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS), which was built by NASA and the University of Hawai’i to simulate what a long-term mission to Mars might be like. A bold group of researchers was willing to lock themselves into an igloo-like structure for a year-long exploration of Martian life, and based on their recordings, well, you’re definitely going to want to vet your fellow travelers.
I Need My Space
Each week or so Inverse editor Rae Paoletta and comedian Steve Ward sit down with some of the brightest minds in the solar system. The show features a veritable parade of astrophysicists, space suit designers, astronauts, astrobiologists, and other people who are probably smarter than you to talk about space exploration, Jupiter’s new moons, what it is like to live in space, and more.
Houston We Have A Podcast
If you’re interested in the realities of space travel, it’s best to go right to the source—NASA. The official podcast of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, which is home to the International Space Station’s mission control, is a space nerd’s dreamscape. Episodes have played audio from inside the Orion capsule, interviewed engineers and mission control flight directors, detailed what’s needed to get to Mars, and taught listeners about the right stuff by following Scott Tingle’s path from test pilot to astronaut. Because this is NASA, there’s a bit of an unfair advantage here over other space podcasts. After all, can any other show beam in astronauts straight from the ISS?
This podcast explores nearly impossible ideas and talks to the people trying to make them a reality. The result is fascinating conversations with robot ethicists, human body hackers, human brain hackers, people designing driverless cities, nano-satellite enthusiasts, spaceship energy engineers, and other people you don’t hear from very often.
The How We Got To Now author Steven Johnson tackles the scientific innovations that helped take the idea of traveling to Mars from science fiction to reality, things like DNA science, artificial intelligence, even smartphones. The show discusses how science and technology have transformed the world we live in, while telling the stories of the scientists, engineers, and regular folks behind these incredible discoveries.
Star Talk Radio
Despite some serious competition, Neil deGrasse Tyson is definitely the star of space (at least on this planet). Between his work as an astrophysicist, author, director of the Hayden Planetarium, Twitter maven, and host of Cosmos, he also manages to release an always-interesting podcast. He shares his insight into life on Mars, planetary defense, and the search for black holes, and interviews everyone from Bill Nye the Science Guy to Anthony Bourdain to Kelly Clarkson. If for some reason, you’re only going to listen to one space podcast, this is the one.
Anatomy of Next
The Founders Fund has put together a fascinating series on technology and human potential. On each episode a panel of experts—professors, engineers, other smarty pants—exploring the tough questions about life on Mars, like How would you build an atmosphere on Mars, and Can you farm on the red planet. They even geek out over the many ways to kick the bucket in zero gravity.
If you’re planning on spending your life on Mars, this podcast is mandatory listening. It delves into all aspects of the exploration of the Red Planet, including how to get there, what technology is required to make the trip, and how to survive and stay healthy once you’ve landed. Host and space fan Jake Robins talks to everyone with even a tangential relationship to Mars travel. There are the researchers behind Mars analogs here on Earth, including the engineers behind Lockheed Martin’s Mars Base Camp project, chats about the importance of manganese, the rise of electric vehicles in space, and conversations with the people designing space policy as space travel becomes increasingly privatized.