The DownlinkOct 06, 2023

Cosmic cocktail hour

Space Snapshot

Jupiter olive

Jupiter looks like a giant pimento-stuffed cocktail olive in this 2018 image from NASA’s Juno spacecraft. Juno is still snapping amazing pictures of the giant planet, including one of our picks for the coolest space images of the month for September. Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / SwRI / MSSS / Gerald Eichstäd / Seán Doran.

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Fact Worth Sharing

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In space, it would be better to drink a martini than a can of soda. Burping doesn't really work in microgravity, so carbonated drinks can cause major discomfort. With alcohol banned on the International Space Station, it's probably best to stick to water.

Mission Briefings

Parker solar probe venus

The Parker Solar Probe may have solved a Venusian mystery. The NASA mission passed by Venus on its way to its target, the Sun, in 2021. While nearby, the spacecraft collected data about Venus, which recently produced a new finding: that flashes of light observed in Venus’ atmosphere might not be lightning, as previously thought; instead, they could be connected to disturbances in the magnetic fields surrounding the planet. Pictured: An artist’s impression of the Parker Solar Probe passing Venus. Image credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Steve Gribben.


Psyche is set to launch next week. NASA’s mission to a metallic asteroid of the same name is scheduled to lift off on Oct. 12, 2023 at 10:16 a.m. EDT (14:16 UTC). It will take six years for the Psyche spacecraft to reach its target, located in the outer reaches of the main asteroid belt. One of the mission’s main objectives is to determine whether the unusual, metal asteroid Psyche is the core of an ancient, rocky world or a new type of object from the Solar System’s early days.

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New Horizons’ mission has been extended. NASA announced this week that the mission’s operations will continue until the spacecraft exits the Kuiper Belt, which is expected around the end of the decade. New Horizons will focus on collecting heliophysics data, much like NASA’s Voyager probes did as they entered the interstellar medium.

From The Planetary Society

2023 eclipse degrees
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Your total eclipse toolkit is here. If you’re planning on witnessing this month’s annular solar eclipse or next April’s total eclipse — or if you’re just curious about eclipses in general — be sure to visit for everything you need. You’ll find all kinds of educational resources, viewing tips, and fun stuff for kids, as well as interactive eclipse maps via our partners The Eclipse Company. Pictured: A map of the October annular/partial eclipse. Image credit: The Eclipse Company.

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Wonder what it feels like to name a world? Mike Puzio knows. The now 19-year-old won a Planetary Society contest in 2013 to name the asteroid target of OSIRIS-REx’s sample return mission with his idea: Bennu, named after an Egyptian deity. When OSIRIS-REx brought its sample of Bennu to Earth in September, we caught up with Mike to talk about how his relationship with this mission has impacted his life, his career ambitions, and his perspective on space.

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The future of space, part two. This week’s Planetary Radio returns to NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) symposium, where host Sarah Al-Ahmed interviewed NIAC fellows about the potentially game-changing space exploration concepts they are working on. This week: an on-demand astro-pharmacy, a Venusian glider, and more.

What's Up

Jupiter illustration

This week you’ll find yellowish Saturn high up in the evening sky, with the bright star Fomalhaut below it. Very bright Jupiter rises in the early evening east and is easy to see as it gets higher in the sky as the hours pass. On Oct. 10, look for super bright Venus in the east before dawn, quite close to the crescent Moon. Find out what else you’ll see in October’s night skies.

Wow of the Week

Sagan cosmos still

“If you wish to make a cosmopolitan from scratch, you must first invent the Universe.” Sure, the original quote is about making an apple pie, not a cocktail. But we’re happy to tweak it for the purpose of plugging our 2013 series, “Cosmos with Cosmos.” If you haven’t seen Carl Sagan’s 1980 television show “Cosmos: A Personal Voyage,” this is a great way to get into it. “Cosmos with Cosmos” features a discussion of each episode of the iconic series, along with updates on the science developments that have happened since it aired. Whether you fix yourself a cocktail to go along with it is up to you. Pictured: A still from the series. Image credit: Cosmos.

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!