I'm absolutely delighted to present to you all my first issue of The Planetary Report as editor. It continues the magazine's long tradition of connecting readers with mission scientists and engineers. I'm proud to feature original articles by ESA's Elsa Montagnon and the China University of Geosciences' Long Xiao, who explain all about the upcoming BepiColombo flight to Mercury and Chang'e lunar lander missions. Plus, there's a mini-feature by Sriram Bhiravarasu on Chandrayaan-2. As usual, you'll also find updates on The Planetary Society's efforts in technology development (PlanetVac and LightSail) and in the development of the new Australian space agency.
While I'm following established practice in some ways, I'm proud to be breaking a longstanding tradition. With the September Equinox 2018 issue of The Planetary Report, we are going open-access. And not just this issue; I'm making the entire 38-year archive of our flagship magazine, all 212 issues, available to everyone, paid members or not. This was my second-highest priority for my first year as editor -- second only to delivering the magazine on time.
Going open-access isn't a decision that The Planetary Society took lightly. We discussed it at great length. It's an old habit -- even among staff -- to view a Planetary Society membership as a subscription to the magazine. So doesn't it devalue membership to make the magazine free to all?
Our answer is a resounding NO. It's The Planetary Society's mission to educate, advocate, and inspire. Our members support our mission with their dues and donations -- by joining, our members are taking part in a global effort to make space exploration happen. We can educate and inspire more people by making The Planetary Report freely available. To make the magazine, like our website, open-access is to make our members' support travel farther. It helps us reach and include people who don't have the means to join us -- at least not right now -- but who nonetheless deserve to participate in the grand adventures of exploring our solar system and searching for life elsewhere.
You can access a digital version of the September Equinox 2018 issue of The Planetary Report here. It is provided both as a web page and a PDF for your reading comfort. If you prefer to receive the print edition, four times a year, that's a perk that's still reserved for members. Of course, it being the 21st century now, nearly 20 percent of our members have opted out of the print version, preferring to read it digitally. Some of you have expressed a desire for a digital format other than PDF; I hope that the web page version meets your needs. If you would like to join this growing group, login to our Member Center (click here or look in the website’s footer for the link). Once you’ve logged in, navigate to the Email Preferences screen and scroll to the bottom where you may select “I’ll save paper….” You’ll get your next Planetary Report via email.
If you support educational efforts like The Planetary Report and planetary.org and are not yet a member, please consider joining. If you are already a member, thank you for your support. Enjoy the magazine!