Above: Natural color images of the planet Venus as taken by the JAXA Akatsuki probe. Imaging in the ultraviolet, visible, and infrared, Akatsuki is providing a wealth of atmospheric information as it orbits Venus every 10 days. JAXA/ISAS/DARTS/Damia Bouic
The cover article highlights the recent selections of the DAVINCI+ and VERITAS missions in the interest of greatly expanding our understanding of our sister planet Venus. Germane to several articles in previous issues, this improved understanding will address (1) what happened to Venus to make it the hellish (relatively speaking, of course) landscape that it is and (2) if Venus might be the fate of all rocky planets on the too-hot-side of stellar Goldilocks Zones after enough time has passed. If the answer to (2) is “yes,” that might mean that any future explorations of such planets in other solar systems will be (exo)paleontological/archaeological in nature. It might also mean that any existing life forms are going to be real tough hombres.
Our editor Michele continues his discussion and documentation of recent efforts to identify and classify (often) technological extraterrestrial intelligences – provided they reveal themselves, of course. In this issue, the ichnoscale (footprint scale) is presented, “which defines the relative value of a hypothetical alien technosignature with respect to its terrestrial expression.” What one might take from the several recent issues where Michele discusses these topics is that there is an active component of the SETI-and-similar community that is hedging the discovery bets on the assumption that aliens will be more-or-less at our point of technological development – and will have produced similar signals of their presence because they will have evolved in a similar way (nothing -> combustion -> renewables). Ask again when Webb is up and running.
Yet another Mars 2020 mission success that cut uncomfortably close to the submission and translation deadline for the magazine, and humbled yet again by its inclusion as the cover story (although the mission probably had something to do with it).
Point of fact, this issue is unique in that both sides of my parents' families also have some level of contribution to featured articles. For Ingenuity, this connection comes from my mother's side, where my Aunts Anglia and Shelly both work for AeroVironment, one of the component manufacturers. As for the two articles about M87, my genius (not used lightly) cousin George Wong, A.B.D. was a contributing researcher to the first study, including the imaging of the supermassive black hole at its center.
The second of the two articles, "How to measure the relativistic jet of M87," is an interesting combination of imaging and straightforward math by authors Aniceto Porcel and Miguel Sánchez to obtain a quality estimate of a feature that any equipped amateur astronomer could manage to capture photons of. The ALPO now has its own exoplanet division – if amateurs can detect and monitor exoplanets from their backyards (one almost giggles at the thought of how fast the community has adopted and adapted to advancements in optics and detectors), something as blindingly bright as the relativistic jets from a number of known candidates should be an easy catch for a future imaging and dimensional estimate award.