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March 24, 2014 - A New Old World

A New Old World We live in a unique period in the history of planetary exploration: worlds we never knew existed are being discovered, and other worlds, known since antiquity, are being explored for the first time up close. Mercury has always been an elusive target; its small size and its proximity to the Sun make ground-based observations difficult. Even so, astronomers in the 1800s identified some surface features, and radar measurements in the 1960s confirmed its rotational period. We didn’t get our first close look at Mercury until Mariner 10 made its first of three flybys forty years ago this week. These images, processed by Ted Stryk using original data, show Mercury looming larger and more detailed as Mariner 10 approached (top), and the opposite hemisphere receding after closest approach (bottom).

Image credit: Processed images © Ted Stryk; Raw data: NASA / JPL

Weekly Calendar

March 24-30, 2014

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History

 

Moon phase Monday 24

Pallas appears stationary

1893: Walter Baade born
1992: STS-45 Atlantis launched

Moon phase Tuesday 25

1655: Christiaan Huygens discovers Titan, moon of Saturn
1996: Comet Hyakutake closest approach to Earth
2000: IMAGE spacecraft launched

Moon phase Wednesday 26

2009: Soyuz TMA-14 launched carrying ISS Expedition 19/20 crew

Moon phase Thursday 27

Venus 4° south of Moon
Moon at perigee

1969: Mariner 7 launched
1972: Venera 8 launched
1989: Contact lost with Phobos 2
1999: First Sea Launch mission

Moon phase Friday 28

Neptune 5° south of Moon

1802: Heinrich Olbers discovers asteroid Pallas
1963: Fourth Saturn C-1 rocket (SA-4) launched
2013: Soyuz TMA-08M launched carrying ISS Expedition 35/36 crew

Moon phase Saturday 29

Mercury 6° south of Moon

1807: Heinrich Olbers discovers Vesta
1974: Mariner 10 first Mercury flyby
1989: Starfire 1 launched
2006: ISS Expedition 13 crew launched

Moon phase Sunday 30

New Moon 2:45 PM ET

Suggestions for new history dates or better links? Corrections for errors on this page? Please e-mail me.