The DownlinkJan 06, 2023

Worthy goals for a lifelong love of space

Space Snapshot

Aurora borealis canada

Have you ever seen an aurora? Witnessing this spectacle is one of the items in our new, crowdsourced list of Space Life Goals. Our global community of members and supporters helped compile the ultimate list of things that space enthusiasts like you might aspire to see and do in your lifetime. Whether you’re looking to tick off the things you’ve done or get new ideas and inspiration, this downloadable, printable list of Space Life Goals can help level-up your passion for space. Pictured: The Aurora Borealis over Canada, as seen from the International Space Station. Image credit: NASA.

You love space, now take action!

To achieve the Space Life Goal of teaching someone something about space, share any of the things you learn in this week’s Downlink, or just forward this email to a friend!

Fact Worth Sharing

Earth illustration

If one of your Space Life Goals is to visit a space center or see a launch, you’re not alone! Over 1.5 million people visit NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida each year.

Mission Briefings

Oort cloud meteor

Scientists think they have spotted a rocky meteoroid from the Oort Cloud. Researchers from the University of Western Ontario in Canada recently announced that a fireball observed over the skies of Alberta was caused by a rocky meteoroid with a trajectory that suggests it came from the Oort Cloud. This surprising finding hints that the Oort Cloud may contain rocky objects as well as icy ones. Comets are the most famous visitors from the Oort Cloud — seeing one might be one of your Space Life Goals! Image credit: University of Alberta.


French aerospace company Gama has launched its solar sail. The mission, which drew on lessons learned from The Planetary Society’s LightSail 2 mission, aims to further test solar sailing technology. The Gama Alpha spacecraft consists of a 6U cubesat (the size of a large shoebox) that will deploy a sail about the size of a tennis court. If you were a LightSail supporter, be sure to tick the Space Life Goal for “Contribute to a crowd-funded space project.”


NASA’s planetary science head says their budget remains under stress. Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s planetary science division, said at a recent meeting of the American Geophysical Union that despite an increase to their budget, the division is struggling with high costs relating to the ongoing impacts of the pandemic, among other things. All the more reason to pursue the Space Life Goal to “Contact your government to advocate for space exploration.”

From The Planetary Society

Mat and sarah handshake
Planetary Society logo bullet

Planetary Radio’s new host Sarah Al-Ahmed has taken over the reins. This week’s episode features an interview with former host Mat Kaplan, looking back over his 20 years at the helm of the show. A worthy Space Life Goal for a PlanRad fan: “Listen to every episode of Planetary Radio.” Pictured: Sarah and Mat in the Planetary Radio studio.

What's Up

Jupiter illustration

In the evening look low in the west for Venus, with Saturn higher and yellowish. Jupiter is even higher in the sky, looking bright. Higher still, look for reddish Mars. Find out what else January has in store in our guide to the month’s night skies, and take a look at the backyard astronomy section in our Space Life Goals.

Wow of the Week

Goldilocks valley martin eichinger

Planetary Society member Martin Eichinger can now tick off the Space Life Goal for “Create space-related art,” having made this piece titled “Goldilocks Valley.” Martin’s work, which is inspired by imagery from Hubble and JWST, is made of several layers of poured epoxy that result in translucent panels that can be hung and viewed from both sides. “The process is slow and involves chemical additives that evolve as if geologically within the slowly setting epoxy,” says Martin. “Crystalline patterns that I can influence, but not completely control, emerge overnight as I sleep. It's kind of a Rumpelstiltskin thing, except I have not had to promise my firstborn child away. It's more like a free gift from the Universe. I just think ‘Edge of Galaxy’ and then pour my best guess. Then I give it up to Rumpel and wait for ‘EoG’ to emerge.”

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!