This Day In Astro History


October 10

1999 - Space scientists cross fingers as Spacecraft Galileo completes an 18 hour day of discovery at Jupiter. Then they celebrate when their craft survives to tell the story. The spacecraft flies past Callisto first at 1:10 am PDT, at a distance of 1.2 million kilometers (0.75 million miles).  Approximately four hours later, the spacecraft makes its closest approach to Ganymede at a distance of 923,000 kilometers (574,000 miles). Eight and a half hours after Ganymede, the spacecraft flies past Europa at a distance of 221,000 kilometers (137,000 miles).  Two and a half hours prior to Io closest approach, the spacecraft flies past Jupiter at a distance of 5.5 Jupiter Radii (393,000 kilometers or 244,000 miles). Saving the best for last, the spacecraft flies past Io at 9:33 pm PDT-SCET (10:06 pm PDT-ERT), skimming past the fiery moon's surface at a distance of 612 km (380 miles). (NASA) "It was a heroic effort to pull this off," said Galileo Project Manager Jim Erickson. "The team diagnosed and corrected a problem we'd never come across before, and they put things back on track."  "We waited four years for this encounter and we would do everything in our power to make it happen," said Eilene Theilig, spacecraft and sequence team chief. "Each person in this talented, dedicated and professional group knew what he or she had to do." (Ron Baalke) The Io torus is a region of intense plasma and radiation activity, in which there are strong magnetic and electric fields.  Recording devices are vulnerable to "blindness" and computer systems vulnerable to "reboots" when impacted by this environment. The Io torus is our solar systems largest DC current, producing 2 trillion watts of electricity. 

1986 - Asteroid 3753 Cruithne was officially discovered by D. Waldron, working with R. McNaught, M.Hartley and M. Hawkins at Siding Spring Observatory, Coonabarabran, Australia. The strange nature of the asteroid's orbit was uncovered by Paul Wiegert and Kimmo Innanen, working at York University in Canada, and Seppo Mikkola, working at the University of Turku in Finland. The fact that Cruithne accompanied the Earth in it's orbit was revealed by computer simulations of the near-Earth asteroids performed during early 1997. The interaction of Cruithne with the Earth is unusual, and takes place over several hundred years. Because of this, fairly long and careful simulations of its orbit are required to make its true nature clear. In addition, there are more technical reasons: the asteroid's high inclination (20 degrees) and eccentricity (0.51) seemed to make it a very unlikely candidate for such a delicate relationship with the Earth, as horseshoe orbits had previously only been thought possible if an asteroid was on an orbit with a very low eccentricity and inclination.

1960 - Mars 1960A (USSR) failed to reach Earth orbit.

1846 - William Lassell discovers Neptune's moon Triton only a few weeks after the discovery of Neptune.
Galileo Flyby of Io Galileo Flyby of Fiery Io

William Lassell
William Lassell
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It is my conclusion that human evolution and the motions of matter in space are intrinsically linked. The observation and understanding of the complexity of biological history on Earth cannot be complete without the tandem observation and understanding of a dynamic greater cosmos. - SpaceGene