Kate HowellsDec 01, 2023

The best of 2023

The results are in for the Best of 2023! People around the world voted, and here are the winning space images, missions, exploration milestones, and more.

Best Solar System image

A solar eclipse seen from the Moon

Hakuto-R sees solar eclipse from Moon
Hakuto-R sees solar eclipse from Moon The Japanese ispace Hakuto-R lunar lander captured this image of a total solar eclipse from lunar orbit on April 20, 2023.Image: ispace

Most exciting moment in planetary science

OSIRIS-REx successfully returning a sample of asteroid Bennu to Earth

The NASA spacecraft delivered a sample of asteroid Bennu to Earth in September, completing a seven-year mission that spanned 7.1 billion kilometers (4.4 billion miles).

Bennu bits in the OSIRIS-REx sample collector
Bennu bits in the OSIRIS-REx sample collector A view of the outside of the OSIRIS-REx sample collector. Sample material from asteroid Bennu can be seen on the middle right. Scientists have found evidence of both carbon and water in initial analysis of this material. The bulk of the sample is located inside.Image: NASA/Erika Blumenfeld & Joseph Aebersold

Best Mars image

Curiosity's 'Postcard' of Marker Band Valley

Curiosity's 'Postcard' of 'Marker Band Valley'
Curiosity's 'Postcard' of 'Marker Band Valley' Through the lens of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover's black-and-white navigation camera, the red planet robotic explorer captured breathtaking panoramas of the "Marker Band Valley" at two different times on April 8, 2023. The photos were subsequently merged and enhanced with color, infusing an artistic touch into the scene: the morning panorama adorned with vibrant yellow hues, while the afternoon panorama embraced soothing blues.Image: NASA / JPL-Caltech

Best “Fact Worth Sharing” from our weekly Downlink newsletter

With trillions of galaxies in the Universe, each containing hundreds of billions of stars, most of which are likely to host planets, many of which host moons, the number of worlds out there is staggering — as is the likelihood that life exists beyond Earth.

Favorite planetary science mission that was active this year

The James Webb Space Telescope

James Webb Space Telescope, the world's new great space observatory

JWST is observing galaxies that formed just after the Big Bang and determining whether planets orbiting other stars could support life.

Favorite Planetary Society member artwork 

Pluto's Peaks by Marilynn Flynn

Pluto's Peaks
Pluto's Peaks Planetary Society member Marilynn Flynn created this painting that depicts a vista of spectacular methane-frosted peaks on Pluto.Image: Marilynn Flynn/Tharsis Artworks

Most exciting upcoming planetary science mission

NASA’s Artemis Program to the Moon

Artemis, NASA's Moon landing program

Artemis is NASA's effort to send astronauts back to the Moon for the first time since the Apollo program.

The best Planetary Society accomplishment thanks to the support of our members

Advocating for exploration

This year The Planetary Society coordinated a series of advocacy actions throughout the year to get the VERITAS mission to Venus, the Mars Sample Return program, and the NEO Surveyor asteroid-hunting space telescope the funding they need.

Action Center

Whether it's advocating, teaching, inspiring, or learning, you can do something for space, right now. Let's get to work.

If your personal highlights from this year in space didn’t win or weren’t on the voting list, share them in The Planetary Society’s online member community! This is where space enthusiasts come together to share and discuss the latest in space science, exploration, and much more. It’s exclusive to Planetary Society members, so join us today if you haven’t already!

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