The DownlinkJun 12, 2020

Perseverance, optimism, and an undeniably cool poster

Space Snapshot

Installing Perseverance's Sample Tubes

NASA’s Perseverance rover is almost ready to depart for Mars, with a launch planned for as early as 20 July. Here a team of engineers and technicians is seen installing sample tubes into the belly of the rover. These tubes will be used to collect and store samples of Martian soil for future return to Earth. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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Fact Worth Sharing

Mars illustration

NASA’s Perseverance mission includes a small helicopter, named Ingenuity, which will deploy from the rover in 2021. If it works, this will be the first powered flight from the surface of another planet.

Mission Briefings

Orion Artemis III shell

Ever wonder what the bare shell of a spacecraft looks like? NASA shared this picture of a window panel for its Orion spacecraft being built at AMRO Fabricating Corp. in California. The panel started as a larger piece of aluminum that is being gradually shaved into the proper shape. This particular panel will form part of the Orion spacecraft for Artemis III, the mission slated to send astronauts to the lunar surface in 2024. Learn more about NASA’s back-to-the-Moon Artemis program here. Image credit: NASA.


NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission released a giant mosaic of asteroid Bennu’s surface created from 347 images taken last month at an altitude of just 250 meters. The mosaic shows Osprey, a backup location from which the spacecraft could collect a sample. OSIRIS-REx is scheduled to collect a sample from another spot called Nightingale in August and bring the sample back to Earth in 2023. The sample may tell scientists how ancient asteroids contributed to the origin of planets, and what role they may have played in the origin of life on Earth.


Northrop Grumman is preparing to ship from Utah to Florida segments of the solid rocket boosters that will power NASA’s first Space Launch System flight, which is scheduled for next year. There are 10 booster segments, 5 of which comprise each of the big rocket’s boosters. The boosters are similar to those used for the Space Shuttle, and will be similarly stacked inside the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center.


NASA said astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will likely remain aboard the International Space Station until at least August. The duo launched aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon on 30 May and arrived at the station safely a day later. Crew Dragon is currently certified to stay at the station up to 4 months, depending on how well it performs. Learn more about the International Space Station and NASA’s Commercial Crew program on our website.

From The Planetary Society

Leland Melvin and Bill Nye
Planetary Society logo bullet

Retired NASA astronaut Leland Melvin joined Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye in a conversation this week to share how his personal experiences of racial injustice could have changed the course of his career in space exploration. He also expresses his optimism for the future of our world. You can hear more from Leland Melvin on Twitter and on his website.

Planetary Society logo bullet

Be a space advocate! Take a minute right now to sign a petition to U.S. President Donald Trump and presumptive presidential nominee Joe Biden to ask them to prioritize NASA funding for missions that will advance space science and exploration. Wherever you live in the world, adding your name to this petition tells these leaders that exploration is worth the investment. If you want to go above and beyond, you can also make a gift to support The Planetary Society’s space advocacy program.

What's Up

Jupiter illustration

Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars are the brightest planets in this week’s night sky. Jupiter rises first in the late evening, closely followed by Saturn to the east, and then a few to several hours later by Mars.

Worlds for Your Walls

Explore Worlds poster

Bring the adventure of exploration home with this gorgeous new poster from The Planetary Society’s online store. Showing our solar system’s most intriguing worlds, the artwork is a testament to what we know about our place in the cosmos and what we have yet to learn. Every purchase from our store supports The Planetary Society’s mission to advance space science and exploration.

Wow of the Week

Black Lives Matter Mural from Space

On 5 June, the Earth observation company Planet shared this image of Washington, D.C. taken from orbit by one of their satellites. Visible is an enormous Black Lives Matter mural, which was approved by the city’s mayor, on a street leading to the White House. Several other cities have followed suit, creating huge anti-racism slogans that are visible from space.

Do you have a suggestion for the Wow of the Week? We’re looking for space-related art, music, gadgets, quotes, fashion, burning questions, brief sci-fi passages, or anything else that will make our readers go “Wow!” Send us your idea by replying to this email, and please let us know if you’re a Planetary Society member.