This Day In Astro History


Galileo deployed
Galileo is deployed from 
the bay of Shuttle Atlantis STS-34


first image of Moon's farside
First picture of the Moon's Farside - Luna 3 

October 18

1989 - Galileo , the Jupiter Mission, is launched from the payload bay of STS-34 6 hours after the shuttle launch. Delayed since May of 1986 because of the Challenger accident and a redesign of a trajectory solution required when the Centaur booster was forbidden to be on a space shuttle.  Trajectory experts discovered that if they launched the spacecraft toward the planet Venus they would be able to get to Jupiter using a series of gravity assists. The spacecraft would fly by Venus and then twice by the Earth itself. These three gravity assists would make up for chemical energy that was lost with the banned Centaur rocket. The trajectory was named “VEEGA” for “Venus–Earth–Earth Gravity Assist.” 

1977 - Charles Kowal discovers Chiron, the first of a population of smallish icy objects, known as the Oort Cloud and the Kupier Belt>/a>, that reside in the outer solar system.

1959 - The USSR's
Luna 3 returns the first photos of the Moon's far side. Luna 3 was the third spacecraft successfully launched to the Moon. The craft was a cylindrically shaped canister which was equipped with radio communication and telemetering systems, an imaging system with an automatic film processing unit, a set of scientific instruments, three solar cells for electric power supply, and a temperature control system. It had gas jets for stabilization and photoelectric cells to maintain orientation with respect to the Sun and Moon.  The spacecraft's closest approach to the Moon was 6200 km. On October 7, 1959, the television system obtained a series of 29 photographs over 40 minutes, covering 70% of the surface, that were developed on-board the spacecraft. The photographs were scanned and 17 were radio transmitted to ground stations in facsimile form on October 18, 1959. The spacecraft returned very indistinct pictures, but, through computer enhancement, a tentative atlas of the lunar farside was produced. These first views of the lunar far side showed mountainous terrain, very different from the near side, and two dark regions which were named Mare Moscovrae (Sea of Moscow) and Mare Desiderii (Sea of Dreams). (NASA) 

1967 - First spacecraft probe of Venus' atmosphere, by the USSR's Venera 4.
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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