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James van Allen and the Weather in Space

James van Allen and the Weather in Space

On September 7, 1914, astrophysicist and space pioneer Dr. James Van Allen was born. The Van Allen radiation belts were named after him, following the 1958 satellite missions (Explorer 1 and Explorer 3) in which Van Allen had argued that a Geiger counter should be used to detect charged particles. “Apparently, something happens on the sun. It sends out a burst of gases. The reservoirs above our earth shake like a bowl…
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Shoemaker-Levy 9 hits Jupiter

Shoemaker-Levy 9 hits Jupiter

On July 22, 1994, the last parts of the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 collided with the largest planet within our solar system, Jupiter. This was the first time, that an extraterrestrial collision of two objects could be directly observed. Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 approaching Jupiter Shoemaker-Levy 9 got its name from the US-American scientists Eugene Shoemaker, his wive Carolyn, and David Levy, it was the 9th periodic comet to be discovered. The first prediction…
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To Boldly Go Where No Man Has Gone Before – Voyager 2

To Boldly Go Where No Man Has Gone Before – Voyager 2

On July 9, 1979 the interplanetary spacecraft Voyager 2 passed Jupiter, the largest planet in the Solar System. The space probe had been launched by NASA on August 20, 1977 to study the outer Solar System and eventually to push forward into interstellar space. Until today,  operating for more than 30 years the spacecraft still receives routine commands and transmits data back to the Deep Space Network, a world-wide network of large antennas…
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Jupiter and the Galilean Moons

Jupiter and the Galilean Moons

Montage of Jupiter’s four Galilean moons, in a composite image from top to bottom: Io, Europa, Ganymede, Callisto ©NASA On January 7, 1610, physicist and astronomer Galileo Galilei turned his new telescope to the nocturnal sky to watch the planet Jupiter and discovered the eponymous four moons of Jupiter, Io, Europa, Ganimede, and Callisto.[1,2] Based only on uncertain descriptions of the first practical telescope which the Dutch lens maker Hans Lippershey [3] tried to…
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Galileo and the Exploration of Jupiter

Galileo and the Exploration of Jupiter

Artist Impression of Galileo encountering Io On October 18, 1989, the unmanned NASA spacecraft Galileo was launched on her mission to study the planet Jupiter and its moons. Named after the astronomer Galileo Galilei, it consisted of an orbiter and entry probe, which descended into Jupiter’s atmosphere. It was Galileo Galilei, who connected us to the skies in 1609, when he demonstrated the improved instrument “for seeing things far away as if…
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