The summer edition of The Planetary Report has printed and will soon be at your door. If you’d rather read it on your screen, you can pick it up now here.
We have a lot to celebrate!
As you know, we launched and flew our LightSail test mission in late May. And it was, indeed, a test in every sense of the word. But, we got it done. This issue opens with Doug Stetson’s brief recap of launch day and LightSail’s roller coaster ride to the finish. We are now hard at work analyzing every aspect of the test mission in preparation for LightSail’s primary mission. To read a detailed report of the team’s internal review, click here.
People (including me) love Pluto. The public response to Pluto’s change in status from classic planethood demonstrated that this small denizen of the outer solar system holds a special place in Earthlings’ hearts. Now that New Horizons has successfully flown by, scientists will be busy studying the mission’s astonishing findings for years to come. But before a spacecraft could get to Pluto, that spacecraft had to be approved, built, and launched. And it took several iterations—and cancellations—before that mission became a reality. Jason Davis recounts The Planetary Society’s unflagging efforts to get us to this moment.
Looking further out, Jason Rhodes wants to find and image an Earthlike planet around another star. He also wants to understand something we’re all curious about: dark matter. Now NASA is awaiting approval of its next ambitious flagship space telescope, the Wide Field Infrared Space Telescope, or WFIRST. In this issue, Jason describes WFIRST’s awesome potential for answering some very big questions—and for capturing a portrait of another pale blue dot.
Just to add more toppings to this sundae, Casey Dreier reports on the Society’s Humans Orbiting Mars Workshop, Bruce Betts announces the latest Shoemaker NEO Grant winners, and Richard Chute shares fundraising success. Bill Nye sums it all up by reminding us that, in our 35 years, The Planetary Society has remained unwavering in our strategy of taking small, determined steps toward realizing our big picture goals.
If you are not yet a part of this picture, you can step into it here.
The Planetary Report