The DownlinkApr 12, 2024

A sight to remember

Space Snapshot

Matthew matyszczuk eclipse

A solar eclipse passed over North America on Monday, April 8, and it was spectacular. Planetary Society member Matthew Matyszczuk captured this stunning view of the eclipse showing the diamond ring, the final flash of light before totality, from his vantage point in Fredericton, New Brunswick. Planetary Society members can see each others’ eclipse photos in our online member community. Image credit: Matthew Matyszczuk.

Fact Worth Sharing

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The 2024 eclipse may hold the record for the most-watched total solar eclipse in history. Hundreds of millions of people were within driving distance of totality, and tens of millions more watched live streams of the eclipse online.

Mission Briefings

Waxing crescent moon nasa

What time is it on the Moon? The White House wants to know. A new White House policy was issued this week directing NASA and other government agencies to develop a lunar timing standard it calls Coordinated Lunar Time (LTC), in coordination with other nations, by the end of 2026. This will support operations on and around the Moon. Pictured: The waxing crescent Moon, imaged by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. Image credit: NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio.


The first non-American to walk on the Moon will be Japanese. U.S. President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio announced this week that two Japanese astronauts will join future American missions to the Moon, one of whom will become the first non-American to land on the lunar surface. As part of this agreement, Japan will provide a pressurized rover for astronauts to use on the Moon.


One lunar orbiter imaged another last month. NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter captured several images of Korea Aerospace Research Institute’s Danuri lunar orbiter in March as the two spacecraft, traveling in nearly parallel orbits, zipped past each other in opposite directions. Both spacecraft were traveling so fast relative to each other that LRO’s image of Danuri is stretched to 10 times its actual size in the opposite direction of travel.


NASA is investing in the next Moon buggy. The agency has selected three companies to develop technology capabilities for a lunar terrain vehicle that Artemis astronauts will use to travel around the Moon’s surface. Each company will spend the next year on a special study to develop designs for a system. NASA will then select one provider to further develop its design.

From The Planetary Society

Eclipse o rama crowd
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Eclipse-O-Rama 2024 brought hundreds together for the eclipse. Members from around the world came to Fredericksburg, Texas, to witness totality at The Planetary Society’s eclipse festival. But the eclipse was only part of the experience. Science talks, games, screenings, and other fun activities made the two-day celebration an event to remember… not to mention CEO Bill Nye coming out of a helicopter in a tuxedo. Pictured: A crowd of Eclipse-O-Rama 2024 attendees taking in the eclipse. Image credit: Merc Boyan for The Planetary Society.

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All eyes were on our Moon this week, but let’s not forget about Zoozve. This week on Planetary Radio, we explore the story behind the naming of Zoozve, a quasi-moon of Venus, with Latif Nasser, co-host of Radiolab. He shares how a typo on a space poster led the Radiolab team on an epic quest to convince the International Astronomical Union to name this quirky space object.

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What are the “real” and “acceptable” reasons for exploring space? Former NASA Administrator Mike Griffin joined the latest episode of Planetary Radio: Space Policy Edition to discuss his notable 2007 speech outlining the “real” and “acceptable” reasons for investing in space exploration and how different reasons resonate with different audiences.

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Share your own reasons for believing in space exploration. It’s not too late to register for the 2024 Day of Action, coming up on April 28-29 in Washington, D.C. Join other space advocates from across the United States to advocate for space in the most effective way possible: through in-person meetings with your representatives in Congress. Learn more and register today.

What's Up

Saturn illustration

This week look for reddish Mars and the similarly bright, yellowish Saturn in the pre-dawn east, very low to the horizon. In the early evening, look for very bright Jupiter in the west. Find out what else April’s night skies have in store.

Wow of the Week

Carol taylor eclipse snacks

Planetary Society member Carol Taylor made the most of the partial eclipse in Florida by creating a solar snack station at work and sharing eclipse glasses with her colleagues. Surrounded by mini Milky Way bars, her snack station featured lemon curd tart Suns with blackberry Moons, and brownie bite Moons with solar corona icing. Image credit: Carol Taylor.

Send us your artwork!

We love to feature space artwork in the Downlink. If you create any kind of space-related art, we invite you to send it to us by replying to any Downlink email or writing to [email protected]. Please let us know in your email if you’re a Planetary Society member!