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10 Things for the Week of March 30 - April 5
Columnist: Autumn Burdick

10 Things for the Week of March 30 - April 5
28 March 2014

America is the result of pioneers. And the early exploration of our outer solar system is also made up of pioneers, with a capital P. It's all here, and more in this week's edition of 10 Things.

1. CAPE OF CURRENTS

501 years ago, Wednesday Ponce de León discovered Florida.

Did you know that it was León who named Cape Canaveral? Cape Canaveral means Cape of Currents. León named the area this due to the fact that while sailing, he came upon some rough currents here.

2. THE ORIGINAL RINGED PLANET

Forty-one years ago Saturday, Pioneer 11 launched to become the first spacecraft to visit Saturn. Can you guess which launch location sent Pioneer 11 into space. (Hint: Its name is another word for currents.)

3. RINGED ASTEROID

Ringed planets, for sure. But, did you hear about the ringed asteroid yet? The news just came out on March 26th. The asterioid is named Chariklo and it has two rings.

"This is the smallest object by far found to have rings and only the fifth body in the solar system -- after the much larger planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune -- to have this feature."

4. MARK TWAIN

This asteroid does not have a ring, but it will be making its closest approach to the Earth on Monday. Asteroid 2362 Mark Twain will come within 1.613 AU of Earth on March 31st. Did you know that there is also a crater on Mercury named for Mark Twain?

"Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first." -- Mark Twain

5. PIONEER

17 years ago March 31st (Monday), the Pioneer 10 mission came to an end.

Pioneer 10 was the first spacecraft to pass the asteroid belt and visit the gas giant, Jupiter.

6. FIRST

Interestingly also on March 31st (and concerning Jupiter), 11 years ago the Galileo spacecraft completed its Jupiter observations.

During its mission, the Galileo spacecraft became the first human-made object to fly past an asteroid (Gaspra, in 1991). Pioneer 10 was the first to fly through the asteroid belt and Galileo was the first to fly by an asteroid ...

7. RETURN VISITOR

1,640 years ago on Tuesday, April 1st (374 AD), comet Halley made one of its regular visits to the inner solar system. Halley is a short period comet and comes back to the inner solar system every 75-76 years. It will return in 2061.

8. INTERNATIONAL COMETS

Beginning Tuesday, April 1st and continuing through Thursday, April 3rd there will be an international cometary workshop titled, "Comets as Tracers of Solar System Formation and Evolution." The workshop will take place in Toulouse, France.

9. LITERARY

April 2nd marks the 209th anniversary of the birth of Danish author, Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875). Talk about international stardom: Andersen's Fairy Tales is in the top 10 of most language translations.

Andersen's legacy has even had an influence on naming a rover, even if the name was not chosen in the end. The plucky rover named Sojourner could have been named Thumbelina after the character of the story of the same name. I wonder what Mars 2020 will be named ...

10. NEW KID ON THE BLOCK

And if you haven't heard yet, there is a new trans-Neptunian object in the neighborhood.


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: 2 Apr 2014