I’m especially proud of this issue because of its broad scope. It celebrates our past and peers into our future as a spacefaring species. On page 13, our main feature, “Why We Explore” by Paul Schenk of Houston’s Lunar and Planetary Institute, describes the early days of planetary exploration. It shows some of the ways our spacecraft explorers have revealed the solar system to us since the launch of Mariner 2, half a century ago. Now, 50 years later, the most advanced spacecraft laboratory ever built roves Mars, providing new insight into the history of water and, possibly, life on the Red Planet. On page 6, Bruce Betts recaps Curiosity’s landing and early days on Mars.
What's more, the issue contains many and varied examples—described in our columns and short features—of how we involve our members in space exploration, from influencing the future of NASA to helping support scientific searches for potentially hazardous asteroids or looking for extraterrestrial signals. Last but not least, there’s fun: a look at Planetfest, the giant party we threw to celebrate Curiosity’s landing; an opportunity for you to name an asteroid; and good times for young readers with the cool experiment, word puzzle, and “Did you know that” facts of our Planetary Kids section.
For our cover, we chose this black and white picture that Curiosity took of itself because it’s just plain awesome, then we polished it the print version with silver ink to make it even more so.
For those of you who aren’t members, if you want to have your own print copy of this issue as a free bonus—along with four more issues of The Planetary Report—sign up for a year’s membership. We’ll send your September issue to you right away.