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The Planetary Post - U.S. National Parks

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Good morning, Robert Picardo here.

Welcome to The Planetary Post! This month, we explore the night skies of the U.S. National Parks and much more.

Go beyond my video log and discover more:

Horizon Goal: A New Reporting Series on NASA's Journey to Mars: The U.S. is on the brink of its first presidential transition in eight years. How might that affect NASA's plans for sending humans to Mars? To find out, we're teaming up with the Huffington Post for a multi-part reporting series exploring the past, present, and future of NASA's human spaceflight program.

OSIRIS-REx Launch: The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is traveling to Bennu, an asteroid whose rocky surface may record the earliest history of our solar system. Bennu may contain the molecular precursors to life on Earth. NASA's latest deep-space mission is scheduled to take off aboard an Atlas V rocket on September 8. We will be onsite at Cape Canaveral for the launch, follow us on Facebook and Twitter for live updates!

Juno's First Science Perijove: On August 27, Juno will swing close by Jupiter, its first close pass since orbit insertion. This time, Juno will be allowed to turn on all its science instruments, gathering the first rich close-up data set of the mission. Expect spectacular photos from JunoCam, including full-globe shots of the north and south poles and the closest-ever views of Jupiter's colorful cloud tops.

Curiosity’s Mars Landing Anniversary: Four Earth years ago, a rover landed on Mars and stole our hearts. Curiosity recently celebrated its four-year Marsiversary on August 6. This year, the rover celebrated in silence, but three years ago it sang itself a little birthday tune on the Red Planet.

China’s Lunar Rover Lives (Probably): Despite what you may have read recently, China's Yutu lunar rover is probably still alive and functional on the surface of the Moon. Yutu has been incapable of any motion since 2014, and none of its science instruments work anymore. But it's not dead yet, according to Chinese space officials! It could still wake up in the lunar morning and communicate with the ground again, as it has done 33 times before.

New Membership Program Takes Off: The Society launched its new Membership Program at the end of July, and the response has been stratospheric! By making it easier than ever for members around the world to join, we welcomed over 500 new members and hundreds of current members renewed early or upgraded to get our cool new T-shirt or The Planetary Society lapel pin. Join us and become part of the world's largest non-profit space organization at

Thanks for reading. You can click the image below to download a magnificent, high-resolution copy this month’s Picardo’s Pic.

Curioisty at

NASA / JPL-Caltech / MSSS

Curioisty at "Marimba" drilling target
The Curiosity Mars rover's extended arm over a patch of bedrock selected as a target ("Marimba") for a drilling operation. The drilling collects rock powder for onboard laboratory analysis.

I hope you enjoyed this issue of The Planetary Post. See you in September!

Robert Picardo

Robert Picardo
Board Member, The Planetary Society


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