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June 29, 2020 - Fourth of July Blast

Fourth of July Blast  Fifteen years ago this week, NASA pulled off a celestial fireworks show unlike any Independence Day celebration in history. The Deep Impact spacecraft was designed to study the composition of a comet by intentionally crashing an impactor probe into the nucleus of Comet Tempel while the main craft observed from a safe distance. In this image, taken by the main craft just 67 seconds after impact, scattered light from the collision saturated the camera’s detector, creating the bright splash seen here. Linear spokes of light radiate away from the impact site, while reflected sunlight illuminates most of the comet surface. The impact created a crater the size of two football fields, and the explosion was witnessed not only by the Deep Impact main spacecraft, but also by Earth-based telescopes.

Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / UMD

Weekly Calendar

June 29 - July 5, 2020

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History

 

Moon phase Monday 29

Moon at perigee

1868: George Ellery Hale born
1961: Transit 4A launched, first nuclear-powered satellite
1971: Soyuz 11 crew dies during reentry

Moon phase Tuesday 30

Mercury in inferior conjunction

1908: Tunguska impact levels hundreds of miles of Siberian forest
2001: WMAP spacecraft launched

Moon phase Wednesday 1

Canada Day (Canada)

1917: 100” mirror arrives at Mt. Wilson Observatory
1972: Wernher von Braun retires from NASA
1997: STS-94 Columbia launched

Moon phase Thursday 2

1985: European Space Agency launches Giotto probe to study Halley’s Comet
2019: Orion spacecraft second launch abort test

Moon phase Friday 3

1935: Harrison Schmitt born

Moon phase Saturday 4

Independence Day

Earth at aphelion

1054: Crab Nebula supernova observed
1868: Henrietta Swan Leavitt born
1997: Mars Pathfinder lands on Mars
2005: Deep Impact probe collides with comet Tempel 1
2006
: STS-121 Discovery launched
2016: Juno spacecraft begins orbiting Jupiter

Moon phase Sunday 5

Full Moon 12:44 AM ET (Penumbral eclipse)
Jupiter 1.9° north of Moon

1966: Apollo-Saturn 203 launched
1982: Space Shuttle Challenger arrives at Kennedy Space Center for first time

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