Delighted to have as my first Solar System Ambassador article for the year the successful launch and delivery of the James Webb Space Telescope. With a hard cut-off for translation and publishing of February 15th for this issue, it was impossible to include the several significant updates to have occurred since the final edits went out for review. Just like the Perseverance article! Just like the DAVINCI+/VERITAS article! Something about trying to cover cutting-edge space science in a bi-monthly magazine translated into four languages…
Additional original content includes our fearless editor's extensive review of the detection and additional searching for Proxima b (with reports of the confirmation of Proxima d also coming just as this issue was version-locked for publication), as well as François Blateyron's article about sundials and the Shadows app – which I'd never before heard of before but am now inclined to try to expand the utility of the backyard garden.
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.