10 Things for the Week of Feb. 3 - 9
1 February 2013
Your weekly look at upcoming events and stories from around our solar system:
1. TOUGH START
Nobody said it was easy. Take a minute this week to remember the robotic pioneers that didn't make it. Losses such as 1964's U.S. Ranger 6 (Feb. 2) and 1963's Soviet Ye-6/3 unmanned lunar lander (Feb. 3) helped work the engineering kinks out of deep space exploration.
2. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JULES VERNE (1828-1905)
Jules Verne (1828-1905) was born 185 years ago Friday (Feb. 8). His 1865 science fiction novel "From the Earth to the Moon" inspired rocketry pioneers like Robert Goddard, Hermann Oberth and Konstantin Tsiolovsky to work out the real mathematics and engineering of space flight. One-hundred-and-four years later, American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first human beings to walk on the moon.
3. THREE OF FIVE
The gap in the U.S.-Soviet Space Race widened a bit in 1967 with the successful launch of Lunar Orbiter 3 (Feb. 5). Lunar Orbiters enaabled NASA scientists to select preliminary landing sites for Apollo, including where Apollo 11 and Apollo 12 would ultimately touch down.
4. FIRST SURVIVABLE MOON LANDING (UNMANNED)
The story was a little different only a year earlier when the Soviet Luna 9 spacecraft made the first survivable landing on the moon and sent first pictures from the surface of a celestial body.
5. RIGHT NOW AT MERCURY
One spacecraft is currently working at Mercury. NASA's MESSENGER continues an extended mission to study the innermost planet.
6. RIGHT NOW AT VENUS
One spacecraft is currently working at Venus. The European Space Agency's Venus Express is on an extended mission to explore our solar system's hottest planet from orbit.
7. RIGHT NOW AT MARS
Five spacecraft are hard at work at Mars. NASA's Opportunity and Curiosity rovers are exploring the surface. NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Mars Odyssey and Europe's Mars Express are studying the Red Planet from orbit.
8. RIGHT NOW IN THE ASTEROID BELT
NASA's Dawn spacecraft is chasing dwarf planet Ceres around the Sun. It will catch up and enter orbit in 2015.
9. RIGHT NOW AT JUPITER
NASA's Juno orbiter is still working its way to our solar system's largest planet.
10. RIGHT NOW AT SATURN
Cassini continues to make amazing discoveries from its orbital perch at Saturn. It will make another Titan flyby on Feb. 17
Read More by Phil Davis