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October 26, 2009 - Land of Lakes

Land of Lakes When the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft flew by Saturn in 1980 and 1981, they were able to pay only fleeting attention to Titan, the second largest moon in the solar system (larger even than the planet Mercury) and the only solar system moon with an appreciable atmosphere. Titan’s atmosphere has long intrigued scientists, who speculated that it created conditions sufficient to support lakes of liquid methane on Titan’s surface. Five years ago this week, the Cassini spacecraft made the first of what would be dozens of close flybys of Titan, some bringing the spacecraft (and its cloud-penetrating radar) to within 600 miles of the moon. Subsequent flybys of Titan, particularly one in 2006 that created this false-color radar view, provided definitive evidence for large bodies of liquid methane on the surface.

Image credit: NASA / JPL

Weekly Calendar

October 26 - November 1, 2009

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History

Moon phase Monday 26

1977: Fifth and final glide test of Space Shuttle Enterprise
2004: Cassini spacecraft completes first flyby of Titan

Moon phase Tuesday 27

Jupiter 3° south of Moon
Neptune 3° south of Moon

1961: SA-1 launched, first Saturn rocket
2003: ISS Expedition 7 crew returns to Earth after 184 days in orbit

Moon phase Wednesday 28

1971: Britain launches its first satellite
1974: Luna 23 launched
2009: Ares I-X test flight

Moon phase Thursday 29

1964: First flight of Lunar Landing Research Vehicle
1987: Cosmos 1894 becomes 2,000th satellite
1991: Galileo flies past Gaspra
1998: STS-95 Discovery launched

Moon phase Friday 30

Uranus 6° south of Moon

1981: Venera 13 launched
1985: STS-61A Challenger launched
1997: First successful Ariane 5 rocket launched

Moon phase Saturday 31

Halloween

Juno appears stationary
Ceres in conjunction with Sun

2005: Hubble Space Telescope discovers two new moons orbiting Pluto
2006: NASA announces SM4, the fifth and final Hubble servicing mission

Moon phase Sunday 1

Daylight Savings Time ends 2:00am

Venus 4° north of Spica

1962: Mars 1 launched
1999: Area Code 321 goes into effect for areas near Kennedy Space Center

Suggestions for new history dates or better links? Corrections for errors on this page? Please e-mail me.