The Downlink • Aug 06, 2021
NASA’s Juno spacecraft launched 10 years ago on August 5, 2011, and there are so many reasons to celebrate that successful launch. Since arriving in orbit around Jupiter in 2016 the mission has yielded amazing discoveries and extraordinary images, like this one of Jupiter’s complex cloud systems. Jupiter’s splendor has never been on better display, and we hope Juno keeps going for many more years to come. Image credit: NASA et al.
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Perseverance continues preparations to collect its first sample. The NASA Mars rover scoured off a rock’s outer crust to give scientists a glimpse of what lies beneath (pictured). The samples Perseverance collects will eventually be returned to Earth by future missions. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.
Lucy arrived at its final destination on Earth. The NASA spacecraft is now at Kennedy Space Center preparing to blast off during a 23-day launch window that opens Oct. 16. Lucy will be the first spacecraft to visit a group of asteroids called Trojans that share Jupiter's orbit around the Sun. The mission will give us insights into the early days of our solar system.
The Government Accountability Office denied a protest by Blue Origin and Dynetics that argued NASA should choose a second company to build a Moon lander. The news means SpaceX’s Starship vehicle will for now be NASA’s sole choice to land humans on the Moon under the agency’s Artemis program. SpaceX is preparing for the first orbital flight test of Starship from its launch site near Boca Chica, Texas.
From The Planetary Society
What can space tourism do for science? Planetary scientist Alan Stern joins this week’s Planetary Radio to talk about how Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin might be opening up a new era of affordable space research. Stern is also the principal investigator of NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto and gives a few updates on that mission and everything we’ve learned so far about Pluto. Pictured: Small science payloads on Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo. Image credit: Virgin Galactic.
In the early evening you can see Venus low in the west with Jupiter and Saturn rising in the east and crossing the sky over the course of the night. Jupiter is the brighter of the two, with Saturn to its upper right. The Perseid meteor shower peaks this coming week, with the greatest number of meteors visible on August 12-13 after the Moon sets around midnight. Learn more at planetary.org/night-sky.
Jupiter is Always in Style
Celebrate Juno’s launch anniversary with this beautiful t-shirt from our partners at ChopShop inspired by Juno images of Jupiter’s south pole. Space gear like this sparks conversations about space everywhere you go, helping you spread the passion, beauty, and joy of exploration.
Wow of the Week
Jupiter’s swirling clouds are psychedelic enough as they are, but art can take them to the next level. Artist Mik Petter created this unique, digital artwork using data from an image taken by the JunoCam imager on NASA’s Juno spacecraft. The art form, known as fractals, uses mathematical formulas to create art with an infinite variety of form, detail, color, and light.