This weekly newsletter is your toolkit to learn more about space, share information with your friends and family, and take direct action to support exploration. Anyone can subscribe at planetary.org/connect to receive it as a weekly email.
Fact Worth Sharing
A solar eclipse always comes within about 2 weeks of a lunar eclipse. These eclipse pairings normally happen every 6 months when the Moon’s orbital plane is lined up with the Earth and Sun.
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
James Webb Space Telescope tower test
Once in space, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) must extend the spacecraft’s warm electronics away from its ultra-sensitive gold mirror and scientific instruments. JWST is designed to pick up faint heat signatures from faraway astronomical objects—including exoplanets—and must be kept extremely cold to work.
NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST; pictured) successfully tested a crucial tower extension it must perform in space to move the spacecraft’s warm electronics away from its ultra-sensitive gold mirror and scientific instruments. JWST is designed to pick up faint heat signatures from faraway astronomical objects—including exoplanets—and must be kept extremely cold to work. Learn why and how we study exoplanets.
The European Space Agency’s ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter has detected a green glow above Mars caused by sunlight interacting with carbon dioxide in the planet’s atmosphere. A similar process makes Earth’s auroras green. The green Mars glow has long been suspected to exist, but this is the first time a spacecraft has directly detected it. Learn why we study Mars.
On 25 June 2019, LightSail 2 launched to space aboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket. Space enthusiast Stephen Marr captured the launch along with this special light-painted message.
LightSail 2’s primary mission is nearly complete! On 25 June you’re invited to join CEO Bill Nye and the LightSail 2 mission team in a special virtual event to celebrate this milestone and the beginning of the mission’s extended operations phase. You can join the event for free on Thursday, 25 June 2020 from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. EDT. Register here. Pictured: Astrophotographer Stephen Marr captured LightSail 2’s 2019 launch along with a special light-painted message.
Spot Jupiter, Saturn, and later, Mars in this week’s night sky. The main celestial drama of the week will be 21 June’s annular solar eclipse.
Old-School Space Style
Chop Shop Store / The Planetary Society
Old-School Space Style
Forty years after our founding date, we still love the style of The Planetary Society’s original logo. You can get in on this blast from the past with our awesome retro t-shirt. Every purchase supports our mission to advance space science and exploration.
Wow of the Week
Help NASA teach its rovers
Want to help NASA teach its rovers to drive autonomously on Mars? The agency is recruiting citizen scientists to identify different types of terrain in pictures taken by the Curiosity rover. The data will be used to develop software that could help rovers drive themselves, steering clear of hazards like large rocks and slippery sand dunes. Pictured are 3 images showing different kinds of Martian terrain.
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.