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10 Things for the Week of January 26 - February 1
Columnist: Autumn Burdick

10 Things for the Week of January 26 - February 1
24 January 2014

What's the buzz? Been taking all those quizzes that have been coming out? If there was a quiz for NASA space missions, which one would you be?

This week is the anniversary of the Explorer 1 launch. Without that first successful launch we could not have gone to all the places we've been within our solar system. Listed further below are a few of my personal favorites.

1. FIRST

On Friday (January 31st) it's the 56th anniversary of the Explorer 1 launch. Explorer 1 was the first spacecraft successfully launched by the U.S. This launch proved that the United States could successfully launch a satellite into Earth orbit.

2. MARS THE BEAUTIFUL

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) is quite the spacecraft -- it keeps on sending us more and more data: 204 terabits and counting. In 2011, the amount of data received back to Earth (136 terabits) was over three times the amount of data from all other deep-space missions combined at the time; not just the missions to Mars, but every mission that has flown past the orbit of the Earth's moon.

Part of that data is images, and the images are beautiful. Many laud MRO's HiRISE images as works of art. (The above is one such image.)

3. RINGED WONDER

Saturn, so majestic, so lovely -- and the spacecraft that has best revealed the ringed wonder to us in spectacular detail is Cassini. Cassini has been orbiting Saturn and flying by it various moon since 2004.

4. TWIN TRAVELERS

The Voyagers -- two special spacecraft that are still going ... Voyager 1 has passed into interstellar space. Voyager 2 gave us our first close up looks at Uranus and Neptune, and in fact is the only spacecraft to have visited these two gas planets. Among the Voyager mission's discoveries are the volcanoes on Jupiter's moon Io. Check out the link below for more discoveries.

5. FAMILY ROAD TRIP

Sojourner, Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity -- names that immediately call up visions of wheel tread marks on red soil. The rover family has been wowing and inspiring future scientists and engineers since 1997. So many discoveries and more to come too. Are you looking forward to Mars 2020?

6. HISTORIC MOMENT

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has allowed us to improve our first looks at the moon. A LRO video commemorated the 45th anniversary of Apollo 8's historic flight by recreating the moment when the crew first saw and photographed the Earth rising from behind the moon. (It is really great.)

7. FOOTPRINT

Speaking of the moon ... who can forget the Apollo missions and that first step on the surface of the moon.

8. A NEW DAY

Dawn showed us Vesta and is on its way to Ceres. Scientist's just announced conclusive evidence for water vapor on Ceres. This world will be interesting to view once Dawn arrives there.

9. NEW HORIZONS

It's been a long journey, but soon New Horizons will reach Pluto and other bodies for the first time. Get ready for some up close and personal views: "By closest approach in July 2015, a whole new world will open up to the spacecraft's cameras. If New Horizons flew over Earth at the same altitude, it could see individual buildings and their shapes."

10. DISCOVER

Discover your favorite missions in our mission's section.


Read More by Autumn Burdick

About: Autumn Burdick
Photo of Autumn Burdick
Autumn is the science writer who enjoys bringing this weekly look at upcoming events and stories from around our solar system to you. Follow SSE on Twitter: @NASASolarSystem
Read More by Autumn Burdick
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Last Updated: 24 Jan 2014