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March 25, 2019 - Modern View of an Ancient World

Modern View of an Ancient 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. Still, astronomers in the 1800s saw hints of surface features, and radar measurements in the 1960s confirmed its rotational period. Our first close look at Mercury didn’t come until Mariner 10 made its first of three flybys 45 years ago this week. This mosaic, taken from 200,000 km (125,000 mi) away, shows the brightly rayed crater Kuiper (just above center), the first fully recognizable feature on Mercury’s surface.

Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

Weekly Calendar

March 25 - 31, 2019

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History


Moon phase Monday 25

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

Moon phase Tuesday 26

Jupiter 1.9° south of Moon

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

Moon phase Wednesday 27

Mercury appears stationary

1969: Mariner 7 launched
1972: Venera 8 launched
1989: Contact lost with Phobos 2
1999: First Sea Launch mission
2015: Soyuz TMA-16M launched carrying ISS Expedition 43/44 crew

Moon phase Thursday 28

Last Qtr Moon 12:10 AM ET

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 Friday 29

Saturn 0.05° north of Moon
Pluto 0.3° 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 Saturday 30

2017: SpaceX launches SES-10 satellite, first reflight of orbital-class rocket

Moon phase Sunday 31

Moon at apogee

1962: NASA approves final design of Gemini spacecraft
1987: Kvant-1 module launched to Mir space station
1997: Pioneer 10 mission officially ends

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