space

Apollo 17 – The Last Men on the Moon…so far

Apollo 17 – The Last Men on the Moon…so far

On December 11, 1972, Apollo 17 with Commander Eugene A. Cernan, Command Module Pilot Ronald E. Evans, and Lunar Module Pilot Harrison H. Schmitt landed in the Taurus-Littrow valley on the lunar surface and were (so far) the last men to set foot on the Moon. Apollo 17 was the eleventh and final mission of the United States‘ Apollo program, the sixth mission to land humans on the Moon. Background While earlier Apollo…
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The Sputnik Shock and the Start of the Space Race

The Sputnik Shock and the Start of the Space Race

On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union shocked the western world by announcing the first successful launch of an artificial satellite orbiting the earth – Sputnik 1. Prelude – The International Geophysical Year The 1950’s were politically difficult times for the United States and the Soviet Union. In 1952, the International Council of Scientific Unions declared the time lasting from July 1, 1957 to December 31, 1958 as the International Geophysical Year…
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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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The First Image from Abroad – Earth Rising and Lunar Orbiter 1

The First Image from Abroad – Earth Rising and Lunar Orbiter 1

On August 23, 1966, the space probe Lunar Orbiter 1 sent the very first images of the earth rising above the moon‘s surface back to earth. Lunar Orbiter 1 was part of the Lunar Orbiter program started in the 1960’s in preparation to the Apollo moon landing. The project consisted of five unmanned spacecrafts, equally built to take pictures of the moon. The purpose was to find a safe landing place for…
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The Eagle has Landed – The First Man on the Moon

The Eagle has Landed – The First Man on the Moon

On July 20, 1969 (for Western Europeans it was one day later, i.e. July 21, 3:56 MEZ) United States‘ space mission Apollo 11 reached the moon with the lunar module Eagle and the two astronauts Neil Armstrong [4] and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin about 76 hours after they left earth from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.” (Neil Armstrong) What once was only science fiction had turned into reality. 6 hours…
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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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The Supernova of 1054

The Supernova of 1054

On July 4, 1054, Chinese astronomers observed a new star in the constellation of Taurus, which later turned out to be a supernova. However, even before the Chinese, on 11 April 1054, a monk in Flanders noticed a “bright disc in the afternoon“. This was the first traditional observation of a supernova explosion. China was able to contribute to the developments in the science of astronomy critically. In their philosophy, the harmony between…
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Houston, we have a Problem

Houston, we have a Problem

On April 11, 1970, at 13:13 CST Apollo 13 was launched from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, but the lunar landing was aborted after an oxygen tank exploded two days later, crippling the service module upon which the Command Module depended. Despite great hardship caused by limited power, loss of cabin heat, shortage of potable water, and the critical need to jury-rig the carbon dioxide removal system, the crew returned safely to…
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Christiaan Huygens and the Discovery of Saturn Moon Titan

Christiaan Huygens and the Discovery of Saturn Moon Titan

On March 25, 1655, Saturn‘s largest moon Titan was discovered by astronomer and physicist Christiaan Huygens. Titan is considered as the most Earth-like moon discovered so far and the second largest in the solar system. Christiaan Huygens was born into an influential family and provided with a decent education all his life, leaning several foreign languages mathematics, logic, and rethoric. His father was friends with Galileo Galilei and René Descartes who early…
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Mariner 10 and the Swing-By at Planet Venus

Mariner 10 and the Swing-By at Planet Venus

On February 5, 1974, space probe Mariner 10 passed by at planet Venus shooting 4,165 high resolution pictures and continued its journey to Mercury, using the slingshot maneuver. Mariner 10 was the last of NASA‘s Mariner program and executed to measure the environment of Mercury as well as its surface and its atmosphere. The spacecraft was the second of all time to perform the gravitational slingshot maneuver, using Venus to bend its flight…
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