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February 11, 2013 - Finding Prospero's Daughter

Finding Prospero’s Daughter Unlike most of the moons in our solar system, which have been given names from mythology, the moons of Uranus have been named after characters in the literature of William Shakespeare and Alexander Pope. Sixty-five years ago this week, Gerard Kuiper discovered the fifth satellite of Uranus. Named after the magician Prospero’s daughter in Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Miranda was a mystery until Voyager 2 visited it in 1986, when it was revealed to be a bizarre world whose surface is an assortment of huge faults, deep canyons, steep cliffs, smooth plains, and curiously-shaped rifts. Only 470 km (293 mi) across, Miranda appears to have had a traumatic past, leading some scientists to speculate that we are seeing a battered world that has been turned partially inside-out.

Image credit: NASA / JPL / Ted Stryk

Weekly Calendar

February 11-17, 2013

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History

Moon phase Monday 11

Mercury 5° south of Moon

1970: First Japanese satellite launched
1984: STS-41B Challenger makes first shuttle landing at KSC
1997: STS-82 Discovery launched
2000: STS-99 Endeavour launched
2010: Solar Dynamics Observatory launched

Moon phase Tuesday 12

1963: NASA selects contractor to build the Crawler Transporter
1974: Mars 5 enters orbit around Mars
2001: NEAR-Shoemaker lands on asteroid Eros

Moon phase Wednesday 13

Ash Wednesday

Uranus 4° south of Moon

1852: Johan Dreyer born

Moon phase Thursday 14

Valentine’s Day

1972: Luna 20 launched
1980: Solar Max launched
1990: Voyager 1 takes solar system "family portrait"
2000: NEAR-Shoemaker orbits asteroid Eros

Moon phase Friday 15

1564: Galileo Galilei born
1973: Pioneer 10 becomes first spacecraft to pass through the asteroid belt
2013Meteor explodes over Chelyabinsk, Russia injuring 1,500 people

Moon phase Saturday 16

Mercury at greatest elongation (18° E)

1948: Gerard Kuiper discovers Miranda, moon of Uranus
1965: Saturn SA-9 launched

Moon phase Sunday 17

First Quarter Moon 3:31 PM ET

1959: Vanguard 2 launched
1965: Ranger 8 launched
1996: NEAR-Shoemaker spacecraft launched
2007: THEMIS spacecraft launched
2009Dawn spacecraft flies by Mars

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