The DownlinkJun 21, 2024

Now you see me…

Space Snapshot

Iss florida

The International Space Station (ISS) is not only one of the most impressive engineering feats of all time, it also makes for easy stargazing. Find out where and when to look in the night sky and you can catch a glimpse of the orbiting space lab that hundreds of astronauts have called home. It’s possible to see the ISS from almost anywhere on Earth, including major cities. Image credit: NASA

Fact Worth Sharing

Jupiter illustration

Scientists aren’t completely sure why Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is red. One of the leading hypotheses is that radiation from the Sun breaks down certain substances in the upper layers of the Spot, which would mean that the clouds beneath it lack the red tones and are instead grayish white.

Mission Briefings

20161003 europa grs from voyager 1 march 3 1979

The Great Red Spot may be younger than train travel. Using observations dating back to the invention of the telescope, a team of scientists concluded that Jupiter’s famous storm has probably only been around for about 200 years. Though astronomers in the Renaissance did report seeing a spot on the giant planet, the researchers claim it was a different storm that faded away around the turn of the 19th century. Their simulations of Jupiter’s atmosphere support the idea. Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Alexis Tranchandon / Solaris.


A seeming crisis aboard the International Space Station gave space fans around the world a scare. NASA’s space station livestream accidentally aired audio of ground team members directing aid to an astronaut with severe decompression sickness, suggesting they be put in a space suit pumped with pure oxygen and even mentioning an emergency evacuation. NASA later clarified the audio was from a drill. Crew members were, in fact, likely asleep at the time.


Rovers and orbiters on Mars have recorded multiple strong solar storms over the past month. A gigantic X12-class flare, followed by a coronal mass ejection, were both particularly powerful. They caused aurorae, briefly shut down a camera aboard NASA’s Mars Odyssey orbiter, and showed up on the Curiosity rover’s navigation cameras as streaks and specks from charged particles. It was the biggest radiation surge Curiosity had ever recorded in its 12 years on Mars.

From The Planetary Society

Asteroid bennu
Planetary Society logo bullet

Planetary defense means knowing asteroids. Whether or not we can deflect a potentially dangerous asteroid could come down to how well we understand what’s barreling toward us. Our new guides bring you the latest on what asteroids are made of — everything from solid metal and loose rubble to the building blocks of life on Earth — as well as the oddities of binary asteroid systems, which offer a special challenge to planetary defense. Image credit: NASA / Goddard / University of Arizona / Edited by The Planetary Society

Planetary Society logo bullet

Europe is back on track to land a rover on Mars. ESA’s Rosalind Franklin rover was originally set to launch in 2022 to look for signs of life on the red planet, but it was temporarily put on hold after Russia — which was to provide science instruments and the lander — invaded Ukraine. Read about the mission’s checkered history and learn how a collaboration with NASA has put Rosalind Franklin back on its way to the launchpad.

Planetary Society logo bullet

The Sun is nearing the peak of its activity cycle. Gigantic solar storms have recently hit both Earth and Mars. On this week’s Planetary Radio, Nour Rawafi, project scientist for NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, shares how the first spacecraft ever to touch the Sun is helping build the scientific understanding we need to live safely with our star.

Planetary Society logo bullet

Calling all designers! What’s your vision for our magazine? The Planetary Report has been an integral part of The Planetary Society since our very earliest days, and it’s due for a makeover. We’ve opened up a public call for designers to reimagine the look and feel of our quarterly member magazine. If this is you, we want to hear from you! This call is open to qualified individuals and organizations from anywhere in the world. Learn more.

New in the member community

Search for life course

New free course alert! Explore the Search for Life beyond Earth and learn how you can actively contribute to efforts to discover life elsewhere in the Universe. Featuring leading scientists and NASA experts, this course will take you on a tour of the galaxy to uncover how humanity is working to answer the age-old question: Are we alone? Along the way, you’ll hear about everything from Earth-like worlds and icy moons to Mars missions and UAP. Not yet a member? Join today.

What's Up

Mars illustration

In the pre-dawn, look for Jupiter to the east, reddish Mars a little higher, and yellowish Saturn higher still. Find out more about what to look for in June’s night skies.

Wow of the Week

Change 6 from lro

NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter snapped this image of Chang’e-6 after the lander touched down on the far side of the Moon. The spacecraft is the white square in the center of the photo, and the surrounding streaks of gray mark places where its thrusters disturbed the Moon’s surface. Chang’e-6 is the second mission ever to soft-land on the far side of the Moon. By the time this picture was taken, it had drilled samples from the Moon’s surface, launched them into orbit, and transferred the sample capsule into an orbiting vehicle for delivery back to Earth. Image credit: NASA / Goddard / Arizona State 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!