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10 Things for the Week of February 2 - February 8
Columnist: Autumn Burdick

10 Things for the Week of February 2 - February 8
1 February 2014

The Olympics start this coming Friday (February 7th), and the Superbowl takes place this Sunday.

Without gravity, sports on Earth would be a little bit different. Ice skaters would continue into space while making that triple, or perhaps quadruple, salchow. And skiers would never land again on the powder below. We need gravity, and in space we need gravity to reach distant and special destinations. Keep reading to find out how, plus remember a few record holders.

1. TORCH BEARERS

Back in November the Olympic torch flew aboard the International Space Station, and was even taken outside for a spacewalk.

2. TOUCHDOWN

Beside football, Sunday is also the 50th anniversary of Ranger 6's impact of the moon. Ranger 6 did impact the moon as planned, but it was unsuccessful in capturing images of the moon prior to impact.

3. LOCKED IN

Come Saturday, February 8, it's been 22 years since Ulysses, a NASA/ESA mission to study the heliosphere of the sun, made an encounter of Jupiter in order to obtain a gravity assist to its primary destination.

4. ASSIST

Speaking of gravity assists ... did you know that Mariner 10 was the first mission to use such a technique to reach the planet Mercury? It's true. 40 years ago Wednesday, Mariner 10 used the gravity of Venus to alter its speed and trajectory.

5. RECORD HOLDER

Stardust is a bit of a record holder, and this week is a special anniversary for this special mission:

Friday, February 7th is the 15th anniversary of the launch of the Stardust mission. Stardust became the first mission to collect comet samples and return them to Earth. In those samples, scientists discovered glycine, a fundamental building block of life.

6. WINTRY

We need ice and snow to play just about all of the sports in the Winter Olympics. Ice hockey is of course fun to play, but how would you live if it was cold all of the time and everywhere on Earth? What about other places in the solar system? This week there is a conference concerning the habitability of icy worlds. More information in the below.

7. NO. 1

45 years ago Saturday, the Allende Meteorite fell to the Earth. Allende is the largest carbonaceous chondrite meteorite ever found on Earth.

8. SOCIETY

The American Meteorological Society (AMS) will hold their 94th annual meeting in Atlanta, Ga. this week (February 2-6, 2013).

9. "STICK" LANDING

Monday, February 3rd is the 48th anniversary the Luna 9 landing on the moon.

The Soviet Union's Luna 9 spacecraft was the first to survive landing on another celestial body, and was the first to send pictures from the surface of another world. This mission also proved that the surface of the moon could support a heavy lander. (Before this mission it was thought that a lander could sink into the lunar dust.)

10. HOLE IN ONE

And since we are talking about the moon ...

There is less gravity on the moon, but that didn't stop the Apollo 14 astronauts from playing golf there on February 6, 1971. Alan Shepard was not only the first American in space, he is also the first to play a sport on a location other than the Earth. How far did those golf balls go?


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: 6 Feb 2014