The DownlinkFeb 11, 2022

Olympic-worthy world(s) records

Space Snapshot

Perseverance tracks 2022

NASA’s Perseverance rover took this image on Feb. 4, 2022, looking back on its tracks after setting a new record for the longest drive made by a rover in a single Martian day. Perseverance traveled more than 245 meters (806 feet), beating the record held by NASA's Opportunity rover since 2015, when it traversed 214 meters (702 feet) in a single sol. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

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Fact Worth Sharing

Earth illustration

Voyager 2, which launched in 1977, holds the record for the longest a spacecraft has been operational in deep space. It’s been operational for so long that 23 Olympic Games, including the current Winter Games, have happened since its launch.

Mission Briefings

Venus from parker solar probe

Venus is the hottest planet in the solar system, and it shows. NASA’s Parker Solar Probe recently confirmed that this photo it took of Venus during a 2020 flyby is the first visible light image ever to show the planet’s surface through its clouds. Even on the nightside, Venus is so hot that its rocky surface visibly glows, like a piece of iron pulled from a forge. This glow helps distinctive features like continental regions, plains, and plateaus show through the planet’s thick cloud cover. Learn more.


Astronomers have found an asteroid that may break the record for most moons. Like many asteroids in the solar system, asteroid 130 Elektra has two moons — one spotted in 2003 and the other in 2014. But recent observation using the Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile shows 130 Elektra may actually have a third, making it the first asteroid found with three moons.

From The Planetary Society

Brown dwarf illustration
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Brown dwarfs would hold the record for largest planet or smallest star, if only they counted as either. These strange astronomical objects are in a class of their own, too big to be planets but too small to be stars. Johanna Vos, an astrophysicist at the American Museum of Natural History, joins this week’s Planetary Radio to talk about her research on brown dwarfs. She’s joined by her colleague Sam Grunblatt, who studies another unfortunate cosmic bunch: planets that are being devoured by their host stars. Pictured: Artist’s conception of a brown dwarf, featuring the cloudy atmosphere of a planet and the residual light of an almost-star. Image credit: NASA/ESA/JPL.

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Government agencies aren’t the only groups going to the Moon now. NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payloads Services initiative has opened the door for private companies to compete for contracts to deliver NASA payloads to the lunar surface. The selected missions can also carry non-NASA payloads, allowing companies to do more in the lunar environment than ever before.

What's Up

Venus illustration

Low in the western evening sky you can still catch Jupiter for a few more days. It's a great time to see Venus in the predawn sky. The planet is at its brightest this month, rising with Mars and Mercury in the east. Learn more at

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Wow of the Week

Sweden solar system scale model 13

The Sweden Solar System is the world's largest permanent scale model of the solar system. At a scale of 1:20 million, the model extends over 950 km (590 mi) from Stockholm to Kiruna, above the Arctic Circle. It includes the Sun, the planets, several moons, dwarf planets, comets, asteroids, trans-Neptunian objects, and even the edge of the heliosphere. Pictured: A sculpture in the countryside representing asteroid Saltis, which was discovered by Swedish astronomer Alexis Brandeker. Image credit: Bengt Oberger.

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