10 Things for the Week of May 26 - June 1
20 May 2013
Happy Memorial Day everyone. No doubt, your thoughts are turning towards summer and vacation possibilities. Where will you go? A tried and true retreat, or perhaps you are yearning for new destinations? Ever taken a cruise-ship vacation?
Did you know that this Friday an asteroid larger than nine cruise ships will fly by the Earth in a close flyby? This week there are many missions celebrating anniversaries too -- this may not have been a relaxing time for the missions' team members, but with each we ended up in quite a location. Also this holiday weekend, we have a sky-treat for you.
1. Trail Blazer
55 years ago last week (May 23, 1958), the last data was transmitted to the Earth from America's first successfully launched mission: Explorer 1. Explorer 1, besides proving launch capabilities, found a radiation belt around Earth which came to be called the Van Allen Belt.
2. Sunday Treat
Look to the west at dusk on Sunday, May 26th. Venus, Jupiter and Mercury will form a three-degree-wide triangle shape in the sky. Live in an urban area? Don't worry: each of the planets forming the triangle are very bright, and will be visible even to viewers who live in areas with heavy light pollution.
"I am very fond of sunsets. Come, let us go look at a sunset now." -- "Le Petit Prince," Antoine de Saint Exupéry
44 years ago this week, the crew of Apollo 10 returned to Earth. The Apollo 10 mission encompassed all aspects of an actual crewed lunar landing, except the landing. Two months later Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon.
4. Happy Memorial Day
Monday, May 27, 2013. Today, always: Remember those who have served and given their lives to protect your freedom.
5. Space Monkeys
54 years ago Tuesday (May 28, 1959), two monkeys named Able and Baker flew to space, experienced weightlessness and safely returned home. Able and Baker were two of the animal trailblazers that helped pave the way for human spaceflight.
6. Photo Tour
Thursday, May 30th marks 42 years (1971) since Mariner 9 launched for the Red Planet. Mariner 9 went on to become the first spacecraft to orbit another planet. While at Mars, Mariner 9 transmitted more than 7,000 images including the first detailed views of Olympus Mons, the solar system's largest volcano; Valles Marineris, a vast canyon system that dwarfs the Grand Canyon; the polar caps; and the moons Phobos and Deimos.
Also come Thursday, it has been 47 years (1966) since Surveyor 1 launched for the moon. Surveyor 1 was the first spacecraft to successfully land on the moon in a soft landing. Surveyor 1 was also the first mission to transmit images from the surface of the moon.
This Thursday (well, really any day), take a look at our history gallery. You might just find an image you will want to use for a throwback. (Feel free to post the images to your social media account. All NASA images belong to the public.) Connect with us: @NASASolarSystem
On Friday, May 31st an asteroid will sail safely past the Earth in a close flyby. This asteroid, coincidentally named QE2 (1998 QE2), is actually nine times larger than the cruise ship of the same name. (If you enjoy radar astronomy, this asteroid will make a great target -- you will need at least a 70-meter (230-foot), or larger, radar telescope to view it.
10. Long-Distance Traveler
Also on May 31st, asteroid 3066 McFadden will have its close flyby. However, this asteroid will sail at a much farther distance. (1998 QE2 will come only as close as about 5.8 million km (3.6 million miles)). McFadden's closest approach will take it within about 1.2 astronomical units (AU) from the Earth. One AU equals about 150 million km (93 million miles); that is the rough distance between the Earth and the sun.
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