September 6, 2010 - Southern Exposure

Southern Exposure The Viking 2 spacecraft, like its twin, Viking 1, was really two spacecraft in one: an orbiter and a lander. Launched thirty-five years ago this week, Viking 2 entered orbit around Mars in August 1976, and the lander touched down at Utopia Planitia the following month. For nearly three years, the Viking 2 orbiter circled Mars in a highly-inclined orbit that allowed it to pass over the Martian poles. In this mosaic of eighteen Viking 2 orbiter images, the south pole of Mars is located just off the lower left edge of the polar cap. The large crater near the right edge is about sixty miles wide. When these images were taken, the south residual polar cap was nearing its final stage of retreat just prior to the spring equinox. It is about 240 miles across and consists mainly of carbon-dioxide frost.

Image credit: NASA / JPL / USGS

Weekly Calendar

September 6-12, 2010

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History

Moon phase Monday 6

Labor Day

1947: First rocket launch (V-2) from an aircraft carrier
1983: STS-8 Challenger makes first shuttle night landing

Moon phase Tuesday 7

1995: STS-69 Endeavour launched

Moon phase Wednesday 8

Rosh Hashanah begins at sunset

New Moon 6:30 AM ET
Moon at perigee

1966: “Star Trek” premieres
1967: Surveyor 5 launched
2000: STS-106 Atlantis launched
2004: Genesis spacecraft crash-lands on return to Earth

Moon phase Thursday 9

Saturn 8° north of Moon

1789: William Bond born
1892: E. E. Barnard discovers Amalthea
1975: Viking 2 launched
1982: Conestoga 1 launched
1994: STS-64 Discovery launched
2006: STS-115 Atlantis launched

Moon phase Friday 10

1857: James Keeler born
1967: Surveyor 5 lands on Moon
1978: Venera 11 launched
2011: GRAIL spacecraft launched

Moon phase Saturday 11

Mars 5° north of Moon
Venus 0.3° north of Moon
Mercury appears stationary

1877: James Jeans born
1985: International Cometary Explorer satellite probes Comet Giacobini-Zinner (first comet flyby)
1997: Mars Global Surveyor arrives at Mars

Moon phase Sunday 12

1959: Luna 2 launched
1966: Gemini XI launched
1970: Luna 16 launched
1991: STS-48 Discovery launched
1992: STS-47 Endeavour launched
1993: STS-51 Discovery launched

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