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The Planetary Report • June Solstice 2018

Smarter Robots

On the Cover: Three years into its time on Mars, Curiosity’s human operators uplinked artificial intelligence software onto its main computer, enabling the rover to choose for itself which rock targets to zap with its investigative laser beam. Thanks to this Autonomous Exploration for Gathering Increased Science (AEGIS) software, Curiosity can select promising targets without commands from the people who created it. This self-portrait of Curiosity, taken on Vera Rubin Ridge, is assembled from images taken by its Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) on January 23, 2018. The rim of Gale crater is visible at left (north) and right (south).
NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Features

6 Automating Science on Mars: Raymond Francis and Tara Estlin detail the intelligent targeting system onboard Curiosity and Opportunity.

12 Instagram Adventure: Andy De Fonseca hopes for a darker sky.

18 Our Engaged Community: Richard Chute introduces PlanetVac donors, Emily Lakdawalla's book, and our new Kick Asteroid campaign.

20 Integrated and Delivered: Bruce Betts reports on LightSail 2's recent milestones.

22 Where Are All the Samples? Casey Dreier discusses the history and uncertain future of sample-return missions.

Departments

4 Your Place in Space Bill Nye reports on PlanetVac's Mojave test, progress in Washington, D.C., and LightSail 2.

19 What's Up All five naked-eye planets, the Perseids, and a total lunar eclipse!

24 Snapshots From Space Emily Lakdawalla presents a painterly portrait of Jupiter.

astronaut on Phobos
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