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January 2, 2017 - Waiting for the Dust to Settle

Waiting for the Dust to Settle  The 1965 Mariner 4 Mars flyby put an end to any belief in a Martian civilization when its twenty-one photos revealed a barren, cratered, lifeless world. In 1971, the more sophisticated Mariner 9 became the first spacecraft to orbit another planet. When it arrived at Mars, however, the Red Planet was almost completely shrouded in a global dust storm. Biding its time for over a month while the dust settled, Mariner 9 began mapping Mars forty-five years ago this week, photographing the entire surface in unprecedented detail. Of particular interest was the Mariner Valley, a canyon that stretches 5,000 km (3,000 mi)—nearly a quarter of the way around Mars. This Mariner 9 image shows 400 km (240 mi) of the “labyrinth” area at the western end of the Mariner Valley.

Image credit: NASA

Weekly Calendar

January 2-8, 2017

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History


Moon phase Monday 2

Venus 1.9° south of Moon
Neptune 0.4° south of Moon

1900: Leslie Peltier born
1920: Isaac Asimov born
1959: Luna 1 is first spacecraft to leave Earth’s gravitational field
1972: Mariner 9 begins mapping Mars
2004: Stardust encounters Comet Wild 2

Moon phase Tuesday 3

Mars 0.2° south of Moon
Quadrantid meteor shower

1962: NASA publicly announces and names Gemini program
2004: Mars rover Spirit lands

Moon phase Wednesday 4

Earth at perihelion
Quadrantid meteor shower

1970: NASA cancels Apollo 20 mission; further production of Saturn V launch vehicles ceases

Moon phase Thursday 5

First Qtr Moon 2:47 PM ET
Uranus 3° north of Moon

1969: Venera 5 launched
1972: President Nixon announces approval to develop the Space Shuttle
2005: UB313 (Eris) discovered, ignites the Pluto-Planet debate

Moon phase Friday 6


1998: Lunar Prospector launched

Moon phase Saturday 7

Pluto in conjunction with Sun

1610: Galileo discovers Callisto, Europa, & Io
1964: First power tool for space demonstrated
1968: Surveyor 7 launched

Moon phase Sunday 8

Mercury appears stationary

1587: Johann Fabricius born
1942: Stephen Hawking born
1973: Luna 21 & Lunokhod 2 launched
1987: Challenger debris buried

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