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October 16, 2017 - Orbiting Yardstick Gets a Lift

Orbiting Yardstick Gets a Lift  Thundering aloft through the Florida sky twenty-five years ago this week, the space shuttle Columbia sets off on the STS-52 mission. The main objective of the flight was deploying the second Laser Geodynamic Satellite (LAGEOS II), a joint project between NASA and the Italian Space Agency. The spherical LAGEOS II  is covered with over 400 retroreflectors, or prisms, that can reflect a laser beam from Earth directly back at its source. Laser ranging stations on Earth measure the round-trip time of the laser beam and calculate their locations with great accuracy and can thus determine very small fluctuations in the movement of Earth’s crust or any “wobble” in Earth’s rotation. LAGEOS II will orbit Earth indefinitely at an altitude of 5,900 km (3,700 mi).

Image credit: NASA

Weekly Calendar

October 16-22, 2017

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History


Moon phase Monday 16

Moon phase Tuesday 17

Mars 1.8° south of Moon
Venus 2° south of Moon

1956: Mae Jemison born
2016: Shenzhou-11 launched

Moon phase Wednesday 18

1967: Venera 4 makes first direct studies of Venus’s atmosphere
1989: STS-34 Atlantis launched
1993: STS-58 Columbia launched
2003: ISS Expedition 8 crew launched

Moon phase Thursday 19

Uranus at opposition
New Moon 3:12 PM ET

1910: Subramanyan Chandrasekhar born
1967: Mariner 5 flies past Venus
2005: Final Titan IV rocket launched
2016: ExoMars arrives at Mars
2016: Soyuz MS-02 launched carrying ISS Expedition 49/50 crew

Moon phase Friday 20

1970: Zond 8 launched
1995: STS-73 Columbia launched

Moon phase Saturday 21

Orionid meteor shower

1923: First public planetarium show, Deutsches Museum in Munich
: Hubble Heritage Project website launched
2008: Chandrayaan-1 lunar probe launched

Moon phase Sunday 22

Orionid meteor shower

2136 BCE: First record of solar eclipse
1905: Karl Jansky born
1966: Luna 12 launched
1975: Venera 9 orbits Venus
1992: STS-52 Columbia launched

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