10 Things for the Week of June 2 - 8
31 May 2013
Your weekly look at upcoming events and stories from around our solar system:
1. EUROPE'S FIRST TRIP TO MARS
Sunday (June 2) marks 10 years since the European Space Agency's first Mars mission - Mars Express - launched for the Red Planet. The spacecraft has been delivering spectacular images and science data since it arrived in orbit. They'll be celebrating at ESA headquarters all week. Mars Express also carried England's Beagle 2 lander, but that spacecraft was lost in a difficult landing attempt.
2. TARGET VENUS
Thirty years ago the Soviet Union launched the twin Venera 15 and 16 spacecraft on a mission to map Venus. The Veneras were the only interplanetary missions launched in 1983.
The art and science of photography was improving when astronomers spotted bright comet Donati in the night sky 155 years ago this week. It's not surprising several photographers turned their cameras to it - producing the first known photos of a comet.
4. DOWN UNDER OBSERVATORY
One hundred and sixty-five years ago a simple time-ball tower in Sydney, Australia, was built and soon became a famous observatory - helping build the first atlas of the sky. The observatory is now a fine museum of astronomy.
5. SCENIC STAR PARTIES
It's a good week for star parties in exceptionally scenic locations:
6. ROCK STARS
Asteroid 19383 Rolling Stones makes a distant pass by Earth (1.209 AU) on June 6. Not surprisingly, one of several space rocks named in honor of rock stars. There also are asteroids named for The Beatles, Frank Zappa and the Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia. The rules on naming asteroids are less strict, but you can't name it after your pet.
7. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, PETE. WE MISS YOU.
Sunday would have been the 83rd birthday of astronaut Pete Conrad, the third man to walk on the moon. Not a tall man, Conrad stepped down onto the lunar surface in November of 1969 and gleefully commented, "Whoopie! Man, that may have been a small one for Neil, but that's a long one for me." Conrad died in a motorcycle accident in 1999.
8. ON TOP OF THE SUN
This month in 1994 the international Ulysses spacecraft made the first-ever pass over the north pole of the sun. The spacecraft used an unprecedented gravity assist maneuver at Jupiter to hurl itself out of the plane of the ecliptic and into its solar polar orbit.
9. REMEMBERING PHOENIX
June 8 is an auspicious day for science pioneers. Giovanni Cassini was born on this day in 1625 and Christian Huygens was born 70 years later in 1695. Spacecraft bearing their names have pioneered the exploration of Saturn and its giant moon Titan.
10. EXPLORATION STORIES
Robotics Software Engineer Ashley Stroupe reflects on the last 50 years of planetary exploration in our historical exploration stories series.
Read More by Autumn Burdick