The Downlink • May 13, 2022
Your cosmic community
The team behind NASA’s JWST mission has released a teaser image of just how powerful this new space telescope is. The two pictures shown here are of the same part of the Large Magellanic Cloud, a small satellite galaxy of the Milky Way with dense star fields. On the left, you see an infrared image taken by NASA’s now-retired Spitzer Space Telescope’s Infrared Array Camera. On the right, the dramatically crisper image taken by JWST’s Mid-Infrared Instrument. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech (left), NASA/ESA/CSA/STScI (right).
If you’re excited about the future of JWST, join our global community of like-minded people who not only appreciate space but actively work to advance exploration! Become a Planetary Society member today and help us reach our goal of 500 new members by May 15th.
NASA’s InSight Mars lander has detected the largest quake ever observed on another planet. The mission’s seismometer measured a magnitude 5 Marsquake, which on Earth would be considered of medium intensity. Bruce Banerdt, InSight’s principal investigator at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, says that this quake will provide a view into the planet like no other. “Scientists will be analyzing this data to learn new things about Mars for years to come.” Pictured: InSight’s seismogram of the “Big Martian Quake.” Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.
Perseverance paused its exploration to wait for its buddy Ingenuity, and it paid off. The solar-powered Mars helicopter went silent after a period of high dust levels inhibited its ability to recharge its batteries. Perseverance mission engineers commanded the rover to stop and listen for Ingenuity’s signal for nearly an entire sol (one Martian day), and finally heard from the ’copter. Ingenuity should be back up and running soon.
Canada is joining the United States in banning anti-satellite weapons tests. The Canadian government’s announcement was largely symbolic, since the nation has never made or tested such weapons. But with orbital debris becoming an increasingly pressing global issue, Canada’s announcement aims to encourage other nations to commit to the ban and establish responsible norms for space utilization.
From The Planetary Society
It’s sol 437, do you know where your rover is? NASA’s Perseverance rover has been exploring Mars and collecting samples of its surface for more than a year now, with the Ingenuity helicopter tagging along. The rover has also been doing really neat experiments with its microphone, an instrument that Planetary Society members have been advocating to send to Mars for decades. Get the full scoop on what the mission has been up to on this week’s Planetary Radio, featuring a conversation with project scientist Ken Farley. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Kevin M. Gill.
Peaceful space exploration isn’t immune from conflicts here on Earth. In the latest Planetary Radio: Space Policy Edition, chief advocate Casey Dreier speaks with Mariel Borowitz, an expert in international space policy and space sustainability, about how the war in Ukraine is affecting space and what impacts may yet be to come.
A total lunar eclipse will be visible on the night of May 15-16 from North and South America, and parts of western Europe and western Africa. Learn how to see it. All week you’ll be able to see Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and Mars, all in the eastern pre-dawn sky.
Wow of the Week
Planetary Society members share many things: a passion for space, a thirst for knowledge and discovery, and a cosmic perspective on life. These qualities are what bring us together and what powers our collective efforts to advocate for space. Longtime Planetary Society member Ron Davison created this piece of artwork titled "Over the Vortex." He says that it came about as he was wondering what it would be like for a society to launch into space and see their world for the first time hanging over a spiral galaxy.
If you share Ron’s appreciation of the cosmos and want to see a brighter future in space, join us today.