The Downlink: NASA Works to Save Mars Experiment, Saturn Gets 20 New Moons
NASA, ESA, A. Simon (GSFC), M.H. Wong (University of California, Berkeley) and the OPAL Team
Hubble's 2019 Saturn Portrait
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope captured this view of Saturn on 20 June 2019 as the planet made its closest approach to Earth at about 1.35 billion kilometers away.
Welcome to the second issue of The Downlink, a new planetary exploration news roundup from The Planetary Society! Here's everything that crossed our radar this week.
Scientists announced the discovery of 20 new moons around Saturn. The wide-ringed gas giant now officially has 82, surpassing Jupiter's 79 to become the solar system's current leader. It's not a contest, though—both likely have more to be found, and Jupiter probably has more in total. Want to help name Saturn's new moons? Click here for details.
Engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory successfully tested the cable-assisted separation of the Mars 2020 rover's descent stage. The separation occurs just before the rover touches down, and after touchdown the rocket-powered descent stage cuts the cables and flies away safely. The rover will now undergo environmental testing, and won't be connected with the descent stage again until both arrive at Kennedy Space Center before their July 2020 launch. Learn more about Mars 2020 here.
NASA astronauts aboard the International Space Station completed the first of 5 upcoming spacewalks to install new lithium-ion batteries that store power generated by the station's solar arrays. On 21 October, Christina Koch and Jessica Meir are slated to perform the first all-female spacewalk. Learn more about the International Space Station here.