The DownlinkApr 28, 2023

Have a nice flight!

Space Snapshot

Hope deimos over mars

This week the United Arab Emirates Space Agency's Hope Mars Mission shared this view of the Martian moon Deimos with the red planet in the background. You can also see an animation showing several images from the flyby, which took place in March. Image credit: Emirates Mars Mission.

Help power more missions to explore these fascinating worlds. We need 350 new members by the end of April, and you can help! If you aren’t already a member, now is the time to join. If you’re with us already, share this newsletter with someone who loves space and help grow our global community of space advocates.

Fact Worth Sharing

Mars illustration

Mars’ moons are both very small. Deimos is so small and has such low gravity that if you stood on its surface and jumped you could achieve escape velocity and leave the moon forever.

Mission Briefings

Perseverance from ingenuity april 2023

Ingenuity continues to fly above Mars and snap amazing pics of Perseverance. During its 51st flight, the experimental drone spacecraft captured this view from about 12 meters (40 feet) up. The Perseverance rover nearly blends into the red rocks at the rim of Belva Crater, in the upper left of the image. Ingenuity’s shadow can be seen in the foreground against a hill that the science team will soon be directing Perseverance to study. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.


The Japanese ispace lunar lander is presumed to have crashed. The HAKUTO-R Mission 1 lander, which was developed by the private company ispace, attempted a landing on the lunar surface on April 25, which ended with a loss of communication from the lander. ispace CEO Takeshi Hakamada said that the mission still yielded a lot of valuable information that will help future lunar missions succeed.


China has announced new plans for two of its space science programs. The China National Space Administration announced this week that its Tianwen-3 Mars sample return mission, scheduled to launch around 2030, will likely use a small helicopter like NASA’s Ingenuity to collect samples near the accompanying lander. The agency also announced its plans to build and launch an array of telescopes in deep space to search for habitable planets orbiting other stars.

From The Planetary Society

Juice jupiter high res
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Juice has taken flight! The European Space Agency’s Juice mission to the icy moons Europa, Callisto, and Ganymede launched this month, embarking on an eight-year journey to Jupiter. Juice project scientist Olivier Witasse joins this week’s Planetary Radio to share the thrilling details about the launch and the next steps for this groundbreaking mission to explore Jupiter’s icy moons. Pictured: An artists’ impression of ESA’s JUICE spacecraft at Jupiter. Image credit: ESA/NASA/DLR.

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Bookworms and space nerds unite! The Planetary Society held our first-ever virtual book club meeting this week in our online member community. Author Andy Weir joined Mat Kaplan and a virtual room full of Planetary Society members to chat about his latest book, Project Hail Mary. Our book club will meet each month to discuss a new book and hear from different authors and experts. The club is exclusive to Planetary Society members, so if you’re not already a member, join today!

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The Moon is in its first quarter phase — what does that mean? Our guide to the phases of the Moon explains what each phase name means, why the Moon has phases in the first place, and why we don’t get eclipses every month.

What's Up

Saturn illustration

Venus shines very bright in the west after sunset. Mars is up higher in the sky, looking reddish and much dimmer, moving gradually towards Venus night after night. In the predawn, Saturn is getting higher and higher in the east. The Eta Aquarid meteor shower peaks overnight on May 5-6, with best viewing from the Southern Hemisphere and near the equator. Northern Hemisphere viewers should still be able to catch a few meteors appearing to come from the constellation Aquarius.

Wow of the Week

Dragonfly ar model

Because of its low gravity and extremely dense atmosphere, flying on Titan is easier than it is on most other worlds. This will allow the Dragonfly quadcopter, which NASA is planning on sending to the Saturnian moon in 2034, to be much, much larger than the only other current interplanetary ’copter, Ingenuity. Whereas Ingenuity is about the size of a small drone that you might see people flying around in parks or at the beach and weighs about 1.8 kilograms, Dragonfly (seen here in augmented reality next to Planetary Society Digital Community Manager Ambre Trujillo at the 2023 Space Symposium) will be about the size of an SUV and will weigh 400 to 450 kilograms. Image credit: Johns Hopkins University.

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!