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November 28, 2011 - A Warmer, Wetter Mars

A Warmer, Wetter Mars Fifteen years ago this week saw the launch of a truly unique mission to the Red Planet. Mars Pathfinder, the first mission to bring a rover to Mars, would also be the first to use inflatable landing bags (one of which is partially visible above) to cushion the final descent to the surface. Once safely settled, Pathfinder deployed the remote-controlled Sojourner rover, seen above inspecting a rock called Yogi. Pathfinder’s landing site uncovered evidence that water once flowed on Mars. The rocks and rounded pebbles in the Ares Valley appear to have been washed down from the highlands and deposited in this ancient outflow channel by a catastrophic flood. Abundant liquid water could only have existed in the past if Mars once had a thicker atmosphere and was warmer.

Image credit: NASA / JPL

Weekly Calendar

November 28 - December 4, 2011

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History

Moon phase Monday 28

1964: Mariner 4 launched
1983: STS-9 Columbia launched

Moon phase Tuesday 29

1967: First Australian satellite launched

Moon phase Wednesday 30

1954: Elizabeth Hodges bruised by a ten-pound meteorite in Alabama
2000: STS-97 Endeavour launched

Moon phase Thursday 1

Neptune 6° south of Moon

1957: Ballistic shape of Mercury spacecraft proposed by Max Faget

Moon phase Friday 2

First Quarter Moon 4:52 AM ET

1974: Pioneer 11 closest approach to Jupiter during flyby
1988: STS-27 Atlantis launched
1990: STS-35 Columbia launched
1992: STS-53 Discovery launched
1993: STS-61 Endeavour launched
1995: SOHO launched

Moon phase Saturday 3

1973: Pioneer 10 closest approach to Jupiter during flyby

Moon phase Sunday 4

Uranus 6° south of Moon
Mercury in inferior conjunction

1965: Gemini VII launched
1978: Pioneer-Venus 1 orbiter arrives in orbit around Venus
1996: Mars Pathfinder launched
1998: STS-88 Endeavour launched

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