October 17, 1604German astronomer Johannes Kepler observes a supernova in the constellation Ophiuchus.
Supernova 1604, also known as Kepler's Supernova, Kepler's Nova or Kepler's Star, was a supernova that occurred in the Milky Way, in the constellation Ophiuchus. As of September 2011, it is the last supernova to have been unquestionably observed in our own galaxy, occurring no farther than 6 kiloparsecs or about 20,000 light-years from Earth. Visible to the naked eye, it was brighter at its peak than any other star in the night sky, and all the planets (other than Venus), with apparent magnitude −2.5. It was visible during the day for over three weeks.
October 15, 2001
NASA's Galileo spacecraft passes within 112 miles of Jupiter's moon Io.
The radiation environment near Io in particular was very unhealthy for Galileo's systems, and so these flybys were saved for the extended mission when loss of the spacecraft would be more acceptable.
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October 24, 1851
William Lassell discovers the moons Umbriel and Ariel (moon) orbiting Uranus.
Umbriel named after a character in Alexander Pope's poem The Rape of the Lock. Ariel named for a sky spirit in Alexander Pope's The Rape of the Lock and Shakespeare's The Tempest.
January 2, 1959Luna 1, the first spacecraft to reach the vicinity of the Moon and to orbit the Sun, is launched by the U.S.S.R.
Luna 1 (E-1 series), first known as First Cosmic Ship, then known as Mechta (Dream) was the first spacecraft to reach the vicinity of the Moon and the first of the Luna program of Soviet automatic interplanetary stations successfully launched in the direction of the Moon.
, Luna 1
January 3, 1999The Mars Polar Lander is launched.
The Mars Polar Lander, also referred to as the Mars Surveyor '98 Lander, was a 290-kilogram robotic spacecraft lander, launched by NASA on January 3, 1999, to study the soil and climate of Planum Australe, a region near the south pole on Mars, as part of the Mars Surveyor '98 mission. However, on December 3, 1999, after the descent phase was expected to be complete, the lander failed to reestablish communication with Earth. It was determined the most likely cause of the mishap was an improperly ceased engine firing prior to the lander touching the surface, causing the lander to impact at a high velocity.
January 4, 2004Spirit, a NASA Mars Rover, lands successfully on Mars at 04:35 UTC.
Spirit, MER-A (Mars Exploration Rover – A), is a robotic rover on Mars, active from 2004 to 2010. It was one of two rovers of NASA's ongoing Mars Exploration Rover Mission. It landed successfully on Mars at 04:35 Ground UTC on January 4, 2004, three weeks before its twin, Opportunity (MER-B), landed on the other side of the planet. Its name was chosen through a NASA-sponsored student essay competition. The rover became stuck in late 2009, and its last communication with Earth was sent on March 22, 2010.
October 27, 1961NASA launches the first Saturn I rocket in Mission Saturn-Apollo 1.
The Saturn I was the United States' first heavy-lift dedicated space launcher, a rocket designed specifically to launch large payloads into low Earth orbit. Most of the rocket's power came from a clustered lower stage consisting of tanks taken from older rocket designs and strapped together to make a single large booster, leading critics to jokingly refer to it as "Cluster's Last Stand".
November 3, 1957
The Soviet Union launches Sputnik 2.
On board is the first animal to enter orbit, a dog named Laika. Sputnik 2 was the second spacecraft launched into Earth orbit, on November 3, 1957, and the first to carry a living animal, a dog named Laika. Sputnik 2 was a 4-meter (13 foot) high cone-shaped capsule with a base diameter of 2 meters (6.6 feet). It contained several compartments for radio transmitters, a telemetry system, a programming unit, a regeneration and temperature control system for the cabin, and scientific instruments.
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November 5, 2007China's first lunar satellite, Chang'e 1 goes into orbit around the Moon.
Chang’e 1 was an unmanned Chinese lunar-orbiting spacecraft, part of the first phase of the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program. The spacecraft was named after the Chinese Moon goddess, Chang'e.
January 14, 2005Landing of the Huygens probe on Saturn's moon Titan.
The Huygens probe was an atmospheric entry probe carried to Saturn's moon Titan as part of the Cassini–Huygens mission. The probe was supplied by the European Space Agency (ESA) and named after the Dutch 17th century astronomer Christiaan Huygens. The combined Cassini–Huygens spacecraft was launched from Earth on October 15, 1997. Huygens separated from the Cassini orbiter on December 25, 2004, and landed on Titan on January 14, 2005 near the Xanadu region. This was the first landing ever accomplished in the outer solar system. It touched down on land, although the possibility that it would touch down in an ocean was also taken into account in its design. The probe continued to send data for about 90 minutes after reaching the surface. It remains the most distant landing of any craft launched from Earth.
November 14, 1969
NASA launches Apollo 12, the second manned mission to the surface of the Moon.
Apollo 12 was the sixth manned flight in the American Apollo program and the second to land on the Moon (an H type mission). It was launched on November 14, 1969 from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, four months after Apollo 11. Mission commander Charles "Pete" Conrad and Lunar Module Pilot Alan L. Bean performed just over one day and seven hours of lunar surface activity while Command Module Pilot Richard F. Gordon remained in lunar orbit. The landing site for the mission was located in the southeastern portion of the Ocean of Storms. Key objectives were achievement of a more precise landing (which had not been achieved by Apollo 11), and to visit the Surveyor 3 probe to remove parts for analysis. The mission ended on November 24 with a successful splashdown, having completed the main mission parameters successfully.
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November 15, 1988In the Soviet Union, the unmanned Shuttle Buran is launched on her first and last space flight.
The Buran spacecraft analogous in function and design to the US Space Shuttle and developed by Chief Designer Gleb Lozino-Lozinskiy of Energia rocket corporation. To this day, Buran remains the only space shuttle vehicle from the Soviet Buran program that was launched into space before the program closure. The Buran completed one unmanned spaceflight in 1988. The program was cancelled in 1993. In 2002, the Buran was destroyed when the hangar in which it was stored, at the Baikonur cosmodrome, collapsed.
November 19, 1969Apollo 12 astronauts Pete Conrad and Alan Bean land at Oceanus Procellarum (the "Ocean of Storms")
and become the third and fourth humans to walk on the Moon.
, Apollo 12
November 19, 1881A meteorite lands near the village of Grossliebenthal, southwest of Odessa, Ukraine.
November 26, 1965In the Hammaguir launch facility in the Sahara Desert, France launches a Diamant-A rocket with its first satellite, «Asterix-1» on board,
becoming the third country to enter outer space. With Astérix, France became the sixth country to have an artificial satellite in orbit, behind the USSR (Sputnik 1, 1957), the USA (Explorer 1, 1958), the United Kingdom (Ariel 1, 1962), Canada (Alouette 1, 1962) and Italy (San Marco 1, 1964) but the third to launch the satellite there on its own (the UK, Canada and Italy's satellites were launched on American rockets).
November 28, 1964NASA launches the Mariner 4 probe toward Mars.
Mariner 4 was the fourth in a series of spacecraft intended for planetary exploration in a flyby mode and performed the first successful flyby of the planet Mars, returning the first pictures of the Martian surface. It captured the first images of another planet ever returned from deep space; their depiction of a cratered, seemingly dead world largely changed the view of the scientific community on life on Mars.Mariner 4 was designed to conduct closeup scientific observations of Mars and to transmit these observations to Earth. Other mission objectives were to perform field and particle measurements in interplanetary space in the vicinity of Mars and to provide experience in and knowledge of the engineering capabilities for interplanetary flights of long duration. On December 21, 1967 communications with Mariner 4 were terminated.
, Mariner 4
November 29, 1965The Canadian Space Agency launches the satellite Alouette 2.
Alouette 2 was a Canadian research satellite launched at 04:48 UTC on November 29, 1965 by a Thor Agena rocket with Explorer 31 from the Western test range at Vandenberg AFB in California. It was (like its predecessor Alouette 1, and Explorer 31) designed to explore the ionosphere.
, Canadian Space Agency
December 15, 1970Soviet spacecraft Venera 7 successfully land on Venus. It is the first successful soft landing on another planet
The Venera 7 was a Soviet spacecraft, part of the Venera series of probes to Venus. When it landed on the Venusian surface, it became the first man-made spacecraft to successfully land on another planet and to transmit data from there back to Earth.
, Venera 7
December 18, 1958Project SCORE, the world's first communications satellite, is launched.
Project SCORE (Signal Communications by Orbiting Relay Equipment) was the world’s first communications satellite. Launched aboard an Atlas rocket on December 18, 1958, SCORE provided a first test of a communications relay system in space, as well as the first successful use of the Atlas as a launch vehicle. It captured world attention by broadcasting a Christmas message via short wave frequency from U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower through an on-board tape recorder.
January 18, 2000The Tagish Lake meteorite impacts the Earth.
Fragments of the Tagish Lake meteorite landed upon the Earth on January 18, 2000 at 16:43 UT (08:43 local time in Yukon) after a large meteoroid exploded in the upper atmosphere at altitudes between 50 and 30 km with an estimated total energy release of about 1.7 kilotons. Following the reported sighting of a fireball in the in southern Yukon and northern British Columbia, Canada, more than 500 fragments of the meteorite were collected from the lake's frozen surface. Post-event atmospheric photographs of the trail left by the associated fireball and U.S. Department of Defense satellite information yielded the meteor trajectory. Most of the stony, carbonaceous fragments landed on the Taku Arm of the lake, coming to rest on the lake's frozen surface. The passage of the fireball and the high-altitude explosion set off a wide array of satellite sensors as well as seismographs.
, Tagish Lake
January 25, 2004Opportunity rover lands on surface of Mars.
Opportunity, MER-B (Mars Exploration Rover – B), is a robotic rover on the planet Mars, active since 2004. It is the remaining rover in NASA's ongoing Mars Exploration Rover Mission. Launched from Earth on 7 July 2003, it landed on the Martian Meridiani Planum on 25 January 2004 at 05:05 Ground UTC (about 13:15 local time), three weeks after its twin Spirit (MER-A) touched down on the other side of the planet.
January 31, 1958The first successful launch of an American satellite into orbit.
was launched on January 31, 1958 at 22:48 Eastern Time (equal to February 1, 03:48 UTC because the time change goes past midnight) atop the first Juno booster from LC-26 at the Cape Canaveral Missile Annex, Florida. It was the first spacecraft to detect the Van Allen radiation belt, returning data until its batteries were exhausted after nearly four months. It remained in orbit until 1970, and has been followed by more than 90 scientific spacecraft in the Explorer series.
Space Shuttle Columbia
February 1, 2003
Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrates during reentry into the Earth's atmosphere.
Columbia Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery
The Space Shuttle Columbia
disaster occurred on February 1, 2003, when shortly before it was scheduled to conclude its 28th mission, STS-107, the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated over Texas and Louisiana during re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere, resulting in the death of all seven crew members. Debris from Columbia fell to Earth in Texas along a path stretching from Trophy Club to Tyler, as well as into parts of Louisiana.
February 3, 1966The unmanned Soviet Luna 9 spacecraft makes the first controlled rocket-assisted landing on the Moon.
Luna 9 was an unmanned space mission of the Soviet Union's Luna program. On February 3, 1966 the Luna 9 spacecraft was the first spacecraft to achieve a soft landing on the moon, and hence any planetary body other than Earth, and to transmit photographic data to Earth.
, Luna 9
February 18, 1930While studying photographs taken in January, Clyde Tombaugh discovers Pluto.
Pluto, formal designation 134340 Pluto, is the second-most-massive known dwarf planet in the Solar System (after Eris) and the tenth-most-massive body observed directly orbiting the Sun. Originally classified as the ninth planet from the Sun, Pluto was recategorized as a dwarf planet and plutoid due to the discovery that it is one of several large bodies within the newly charted Kuiper belt.
February 19, 1986
The Soviet Union launches its «Mir» spacecraft.
Space station «Mir»
Mir was a space station operated in low Earth orbit from 1986 to 2001, at first by the Soviet Union and then by Russia. Assembled in orbit from 1986 to 1996, Mir was the first modular space station and had a greater mass than that of any previous spacecraft, holding the record for the largest artificial satellite orbiting the Earth until its deorbit on 21 March 2001 (a record now surpassed by the International Space Station). Mir served as a microgravity research laboratory in which crews conducted experiments in biology, human biology, physics, astronomy, meteorology and spacecraft systems in order to develop technologies required for the permanent occupation of space.
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February 23, 1987Supernova 1987a is seen in the Large Magellanic Cloud.
SN 1987A was a supernova in the outskirts of the Tarantula Nebula in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a nearby dwarf galaxy. It occurred approximately 51.4 kiloparsecs from Earth, approximately 168,000 light-years, close enough that it was visible to the naked eye. It could be seen from the Southern Hemisphere. It was the closest observed supernova since SN 1604, which occurred in the Milky Way itself. The light from the supernova reached Earth on February 23, 1987. As it was the first supernova discovered in 1987, it was labeled "1987A". Its brightness peaked in May with an apparent magnitude of about 3 and slowly declined in the following months. It was the first opportunity for modern astronomers to see a supernova up close and observations have provided much insight into core-collapse supernovae. Voyager 2, then enroute to Neptune, was able to observe the supernova with its cameras.
Space Shuttle Discovery
February 24, 2011Final Launch of Space Shuttle Discovery
(OV-103). The mission launched at 4:53 pm EST on February 24, was carrying the Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM) Leonardo, the ELC-4 and Robonaut 2 to the ISS. This was the final mission for the Space Shuttle Discovery.
March 9, 1961Sputnik 9 successfully launches, carrying a human dummy nicknamed Ivan Ivanovich, and demonstrating that Soviet Union was ready to begin human spaceflight.
Ivan Ivanovich first flew into space on Sputnik 9 on March 9, 1961, accompanied by a dog named Chernushka, various reptiles, and eighty mice and guinea pigs, some of which were stuffed inside his body. To test the spacecraft's communication systems, an automatic recording of a choir was placed in Ivanovich's body - this way, any radio stations who heard the recording would understand it was not a real person. Ivan was also used to test the landing system upon return to Earth, when he was successfully ejected from the capsule and parachuted to the ground.
, Ivan Ivanovich
Rings of Uranus
March 10, 1977Astronomers discover rings around Uranus.
The planet Uranus has a system of rings intermediate in complexity between the more extensive set around Saturn and the simpler systems around Jupiter and Neptune. The rings of Uranus were discovered on March 10, 1977, by James L. Elliot, Edward W. Dunham, and Douglas J. Mink. More than 200 years ago, William Herschel also reported observing rings (in 1789); some modern astronomers are skeptical that he could have actually seen them, as they are very dark and faint – others are not.
March 13, 1781
William Herschel discovers Uranus.
Size comparison of Earth and Uranus
Uranus is the seventh planet from the Sun. It has the third-largest planetary radius and fourth-largest planetary mass in the Solar System. It is named after the ancient Greek deity of the sky Uranus, the father of Cronus (Saturn) and grandfather of Zeus (Jupiter). Though it is visible to the naked eye like the five classical planets, it was never recognized as a planet by ancient observers because of its dimness and slow orbit. Sir William Herschel announced its discovery on March 13, 1781, expanding the known boundaries of the Solar System for the first time in modern history. Uranus was also the first planet discovered with a telescope.
March 17, 1958The United States launches the Vanguard 1 satellite.
Vanguard 1 was the fourth artificial Earth satellite launched and the first satellite to be solar powered. Although communication with it was lost in 1964, it remains the oldest manmade satellite still in orbit. It was designed to test the launch capabilities of a three-stage launch vehicle as a part of Project Vanguard, and the effects of the environment on a satellite and its systems in Earth orbit. It also was used to obtain geodetic measurements through orbit analysis.
March 18, 1965Cosmonaut Aleksei Leonov, leaving his spacecraft Voskhod 2 for 12 minutes, becomes the first person to walk in space.
Leonov had no means to control his motion other than pulling on his 50.7-foot (15.5 m) tether. After the flight, he claimed this was easy, but his space suit ballooned from its internal pressure against the vacuum of space, stiffening so much that he could not activate the shutter on his chest-mounted camera.
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March 23, 2001The Russian Mir space station is disposed of, breaking up in the atmosphere before falling into the southern Pacific Ocean near Fiji.
Mir's deorbit was carried out in three stages. The first stage involved waiting for atmospheric drag to reduce the station's orbit to an average of 220 kilometres (140 mi). This began with the docking of Progress M1-5, a modified version of the Progress-M carrying 2.5 times more fuel in place of supplies. The second stage was the transfer of the station into a 165 × 220 km (103 × 137 mi) orbit. This was achieved with two burns of Progress M1-5's control engines at 00:32 UTC and 02:01 UTC on 23 March 2001. After a two-orbit pause, the third and final stage of Mir's deorbit began with the burn of Progress M1-5's control engines and main engine at 05:08 UTC, lasting a little over 22 minutes. Reentry into Earth's atmosphere (100 km/60 mi AMSL) of the 15-year-old space station occurred at 05:44 UTC near Nadi, Fiji. Major destruction of the station began around 05:52 UTC and the unburned fragments fell into the South Pacific Ocean around 06:00 UTC.
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March 23, 1965NASA launches Gemini 3, the United States' first two-man space flight.
Gemini 3 was the first manned mission in NASA's Gemini program, the second American manned space program. On March 23, 1965, the spacecraft, nicknamed Molly Brown
, performed the seventh manned US spaceflight, and the 17th manned spaceflight overall (including X-15 flights over 100 kilometers). It was also the final manned flight controlled from Cape Canaveral, Florida before mission control functions were shifted to the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston, Texas.
Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9
March 24, 1993Discovery of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9.
Comet Shoemaker–Levy 9 (formally designated D/1993 F2) was a comet that broke apart and collided with Jupiter in July 1994, providing the first direct observation of an extraterrestrial collision of Solar System objects. This generated a large amount of coverage in the popular media, and the comet was closely observed by astronomers worldwide. The collision provided new information about Jupiter and highlighted its role in reducing space debris in the inner Solar System.
(March 9, 1934 - March 27, 1968)
Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin was a Soviet pilot and cosmonaut. He was the first human to journey into outer space, when his Vostok spacecraft completed an orbit of the Earth on 12 April 1961. Gagarin became an international celebrity, and was awarded many medals and honours, including Hero of the Soviet Union, the nation's highest honour. Vostok 1 marked his only spaceflight, but he served as backup crew to the Soyuz 1 mission (which ended in a fatal crash). Gagarin later became deputy training director of the Cosmonaut Training Centre outside Moscow, which was later named after him. Gagarin died in 1968 when a MiG 15 training jet he was piloting crashed.
March 29, 1974NASA's Mariner 10 becomes the first spaceprobe to fly by Mercury.
The first Mercury encounter took place at 20:47 UT on March 29, 1974, at a range of 703 kilometres (437 mi), passing on the shadow side.
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March 31, 1966The Soviet Union launches Luna 10 which later becomes the first space probe to enter orbit around the Moon.
Luna 10 (E-6S series) was a Soviet Luna program, robotic spacecraft mission, also called Lunik 10. The Luna 10 spacecraft was launched towards the Moon from an Earth orbiting platform on March 31, 1966. It was the first artificial satellite of the Moon (or another heavenly body, for that matter). The spacecraft entered lunar orbit on April 3, 1966 and completed its first orbit 3 hours later (on April 4, Moscow time). Scientific instruments included a gamma-ray spectrometer for energies between 0.3—3 MeV (50–500 pJ), a triaxial magnetometer, a meteorite detector, instruments for solar-plasma studies, and devices for measuring infrared emissions from the Moon and radiation conditions of the lunar environment. Gravitational studies were also conducted. The spacecraft played back to Earth The Internationale
during the Twenty-third Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Luna 10 was battery powered and operated for 460 lunar orbits and 219 active data transmissions before radio signals were discontinued on May 30, 1966.
April 12, 1981The first launch of a Space Shuttle (Columbia) launches on the STS-1 mission.
Space Shuttle Columbia
was the first spaceworthy Space Shuttle in NASA's orbital fleet. First launched on the STS-1 mission, the first of the Space Shuttle program, it completed 27 missions before being destroyed during re-entry on February 1, 2003 near the end of its 28th, STS-107. All seven crew members were killed. Following an independent investigation into the cause of the accident, President Bush decided to retire the Shuttle orbiter fleet in 2010 in favor of the Constellation program and its manned Orion spacecraft. However, President Obama signed the NASA Authorization Act of 2010 on October 11 which officially brought the Constellation program to an end.
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April 19, 1971Launch of Salyut 1, the first space station.
Salyut 1 (DOS-1) was the first space station of any kind, launched by the USSR on April 19, 1971. It was launched unmanned using a Proton-K rocket. Its first crew came later in Soyuz 10, but was unable to dock completely; its second crew launched in Soyuz 11 and remained on board for 23 days. A pressure-equalization valve in the Soyuz 11 reentry capsule opened prematurely when the crew was returning, killing all three. Following the accident, missions were temporarily suspended and the station was burned in the atmosphere purposely after a total of 6 months in orbit.
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April 26, 1962NASA's Ranger 4 spacecraft crashes into the Moon.
Ranger 4 was a spacecraft of the Ranger program designed to transmit pictures of the lunar surface to Earth stations during a period of 10 minutes of flight prior to crashing upon the Moon, to rough-land a seismometer capsule on the Moon, to collect gamma-ray data in flight, to study radar reflectivity of the lunar surface, and to continue testing of the Ranger program for development of lunar and interplanetary spacecraft. An onboard computer failure caused failure of the deployment of the solar panels and navigation systems; as a result the spacecraft crashed on the far side of the Moon without returning any scientific data.
May 1, 1006Supernova SN 1006, the brightest supernova in recorded history, appears in the constellation Lupus.
SN 1006 was a supernova, widely seen on Earth beginning in the year 1006 AD; Earth was about 7,200 light-years away from the supernova. It was the brightest apparent magnitude stellar event in recorded history, reaching an estimated -7.5 visual magnitude. First appearing in the constellation of Lupus between April 30 and May 1 of that year, this "guest star" was described by observers in China, Egypt, Iraq, Japan, Switzerland, and possibly North America.
, SN 1006
May 18, 1910The Earth passes through the tail of Comet Halley.
Halley's Comet or Comet Halley is the best-known of the short-period comets, and is visible from Earth every 75 to 76 years. Halley is the only short-period comet that is clearly visible to the naked eye from Earth, and thus the only naked-eye comet that might appear twice in a human lifetime. Other naked-eye comets may be brighter and more spectacular, but will appear only once in thousands of years.
May 30, 1971Mariner 9 is launched to map 70% of the surface, and to study temporal changes in the atmosphere and surface, of Mars.
Mariner 9 is a NASA space orbiter that helped in the exploration of Mars and was part of the Mariner program. Mariner 9 was launched toward Mars on May 30, 1971 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and reached the planet on November 14 of the same year, becoming the first spacecraft to orbit another planet — only narrowly beating Soviet Mars 2 and Mars 3, which both arrived within a month. After months of dust-storms it managed to send back clear pictures of the surface.
, Mariner 9
July 23, 1972The United States launch Landsat 1, the first Earth-resources satellite.
Landsat 1, originally named "Earth Resources Technology Satellite 1", was the first satellite of the United States' Landsat program. It was a modified version of the Nimbus 4 meteorological satellite and was launched on July 23, 1972 by a Delta 900 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The near-polar orbiting spacecraft served as a stabilized, Earth-oriented platform for obtaining information on agricultural and forestry resources, geology and mineral resources, hydrology and water resources, geography, cartography, environmental pollution, oceanography and marine resources, and meteorological phenomena.