Free Astronomy Magazine – March-April 2021 Issue Available For Reading And Download

Above: Taken from the descent stage, a snapshot of Perseverance rover from about two meters above the Martian surface. This image was sent down the coiled umbilical into Percy for later transmission before the descent stage disconnected from the rover and flew off to a safe distance. [NASA/JPL-Caltech]

The most recent issue of Free Astronomy Magazine (March-April 2021) is available for your reading and downloading pleasure at www.astropublishing.com.

The entire issue celebrates the successful (fortunately) landing of Perseverance by summarizing the history of all five NASA rovers (Sojourner, Spirit and Opportunity, Curiosity, "Percy") – with as much Martian eye candy as will fit into 60-ish pages.

For those who'd never heard of Jezero Crater before discussion of the descent on the nasa.gov live feed, I refer you to the Jan/Feb 2020 issue for a full background.

For the record – Percy’s landing on the 18th did not leave a whole lot of time to prep a full article that then needed to be translated into three other languages by the 28th. Additionally, it would have been awful (on many levels) to put together a full article on all of the exciting science and imaging to be done by Percy and Ingenuity – only to then have to scrap the whole article if the rover itself ended up as scrap on the surface (or several feet below depending on the speed of impact).

That said, the landing of Curiosity was exceptional and nine years is a long time to perfect a technique. As such, the final article only required a few changes of verb tense and the “Nixon-Apollo 11” alternate version was not necessary to have out early for its separate translation. In the words of Thomas Zurbuchen as he tore the thin stack of papers up during the first press briefing, “Here’s for the contingency plan!”

I will say, however, that the last-minute-ness of the prep may have resulted in a few glitches working their way into the final edition. People finding them means people are reading, so all the better. As expressed to our fearless leader Michele and in the words of Paul Valéry, “Aux yeux de ces amateurs d’inquiétude et de perfection, un ouvrage n’est jamais achevé, – mot qui pour eux n’a aucun sens, – mais abandonné."

Browser-readable version: www.astropublishing.com/2FAM2021/

Jump to the PDF download (18.7 MB): March-April 2021

Apollo Special Part 2! Free Astronomy Magazine – July-August 2019 Issue Available For Reading And Download

Above: Neil Armstrong taking a photo of Buzz Aldrin on the Moon(!), with Armstrong in the helmet reflection, with Buzz in the helmet reflection helmet reflection, and Armstrong in the helmet reflection helmet reflection helmet reflection… And Michael Collins. Image courtesy NASA Public Domain.

A closing quote in praise of the 400,000-ish NASA employees and contractors who made the Apollo missions and, by connection, all future missions possible:

"We would like to give special thanks to all those Americans who built the spacecraft; who did the construction, design, the tests, and put their hearts and all their abilities into those craft. To those people tonight, we give a special thank you, and to all the other people that are listening and watching tonight, God bless you. Good night from Apollo 11." – Neil Armstrong

As part of that anniversary celebration, Michele Ferrara at Free Astronomy Magazine has worked up an excellent two-parter on the mission itself, starting with a massive article and image spread in the May-June 2019 issue (see My Announcement) and finishing in the July-August 2019 issue being announced in this post.

My upcoming NASA Solar System Ambassador lectures will be leaning heavily on both the great insights and wonderful image selections in this two-parter series, all in the hopes of having quality slides prepped and ready to go when it comes time to celebrate the 100th.

And, as always, the rest of the issue is filled with other excellent mission and astronomy/astrophysics updates.

Also, as always, please download, read, and pass along. Also, check out the many back issues at www.astropublishing.com

astropublishing.com/4FAM2019/ | Direct PDF

Click the Table of Contents image above for a full-size view. Or just go get the magazine.