10 Things for the Week of Feb. 17 - 23
15 February 2013
Wow, after last week's asteroid-and-meteor richness, it's good to get back to a more normal pace. Here's your weekly look at upcoming events and stories from around our solar system.
1. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MIRANDA
This is cheating a little since the actual date was last week (Feb. 16), but it's been 65 years since Gerard Kuiper introduced us to Miranda (pictured above), one of Uranus' most intriguing moons. Miranda was the last moon discovered at Uranus until Voyager 2 flew by in 1986.
2. IT KEEPS GOING AND GOING
Sunday (Feb. 17) marks 15 years since Voyager 1 surpassed Pioneer 10 to become the most distant human-made object from Earth. Voyager 1 is escaping our solar system at a speed of about 325.3 million miles per year (523.6 million km), or about 869,900 miles per day(1.4 million km).
3. TOURING TITAN
Cassini will fly past Saturn's giant moon Titan on Sunday at a distance of only 1,978 km (1,229 mi). Visit the Cassini mission homepage for raw images and details of the orbiter's extended mission at Saturn.
Sunday also marks launch anniversaries for the successful NEAR (1996) and ARTEMIS (2007) missions. As noted last week, NEAR logged historic firsts by orbiting asteroid 433 Eros in 2000 and landing on it 2001. The twin Artemis orbiters are currently hard at work at our moon.
5. REMEMBER RANGER 6
The space race was still a tossup when Ranger 6 launched for the moon in 1966.Ranger 6 made it to the Moon and impacted as planned, but no pictures were returned due to a short in the power supply for the TV camera package. The next mission - Ranger 7 - was a success and marked a key turning point in U.S. exploration efforts.
6. MOON AND JUPITER
The moon will occult Jupiter on Monday (Feb. 18) and they'll make a nice show in the night sky.
7. A STAR IS BORN
Four hundred and fifty years ago Tuesday (Feb. 19), Nicolas Copernicus was born and the world took a step closer to understanding our universe. Copernicus grew up to be the founder of modern astronomy by advancing the bold theory (at the time) that the Earth revolved around the sun and not the other way around.
8. SOLSTICE ON MARS
Saturday (Feb. 23) is winter solstice on Mars.
9. NEW MOON TOOLKIT
We've been making changes to our lunar portal site. One recent addition is a toolkit to help prepare for this summer's LADEE launch. It's also got cool folders and links to much moon goodness.
The moon will almost be full by the end of the week. Take to look pretty much in the center and you'll also be seeing at the landing spot for Surveyor 6. The Surveyor series was so successful in preparing the Apollo astronauts for landing that they sent Surveyor 7 to the moon on a mission of pure science.
Read More by Phil Davis