The Spring 2017 issue of The Planetary Report is in the mail. And Planetary Society members who want to read the magazine on their screens can download it here.
Space exploration, like life itself, is not a smooth ride. Whether they are economic, political, or just plain physical, our mission to explore the cosmos is rarely free from challenges. On the physical (and hopeful, and beautiful) side, our lead story takes us to Antarctica, the most remote and inhospitable continent on Earth. Recently, space artist and journalist Michael Carroll teamed up with NASA volcanologist (and Planetary Society advisor) Rosaly Lopes to research planetary analogs on Antarctica—specifically Mt. Erebus, the only still-active volcano on the continent. Plus, some regions of Antarctica, such as its dry valleys, are also home to some of the closest Mars analogs on our planet. Michael and Rosaly experienced the challenges of working in a harsh, Mars-like environment and in “Antarctica: An Alien Ice World on Earth,” they take us along on the journey.
But we can’t take Mars exploration for granted. In this issue, Casey Dreier, our director of space policy, looks at the future of NASA's robotic Mars program. In “The Fading Fortunes of Mars,” he traces the history of NASA’s missions to the Red Planet and, unless commitments to a new generation of missions are made soon, raises concerns about the collapse of the agency’s Mars Program.
Earlier this year, scientists confirmed the presence of four more Earth-size planets orbiting TRAPPIST-1, a dwarf star about 40 light-years from Earth. This detection brings the total of known planets in the system to seven. What makes the discovery so remarkable is that three of these world orbit in TRAPPIST-1’s habitable zone, where liquid water and, possibly life, could exist. The SETI Institute’s Franck Marchis tells us more.
Plus, Bruce Betts updates us on the Society’s unflagging commitment to planetary defense; Kate Howells reports on our dedicated and diverse Global Volunteer Network; and Bill Nye has some announcements to make. Hint: it’s all about science.
And science—space science—is what The Planetary Society is all about. We work hard to make sure everyone on this planet has a chance to learn about and support the exploration of this cosmos we live in. The Planetary Report is a quarterly gift we send to members of The Planetary Society. If you are not in the club yet, we’d love to have you join us.
The Planetary Report