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July 3, 2017 - Hot Wheels on a Cold Planet

Hot Wheels on a Cold Planet   Robotic exploration of the Red Planet took a quantum leap forward twenty years ago this week when the Mars Pathfinder spacecraft bounced onto the chilly surface of Mars, protected by inflatable landing bags. Pathfinder soon righted itself, unfolded its three solar panel petals and deployed the remote-controlled Sojourner rover. The plucky 11 kg (25 lbs) Sojourner rover (named after Sojourner Truth, a nineteenth-century abolitionist and champion of women’s rights) operated for eighty-four days—twelve times its planned life—and traveled as far as 9 meters (30 ft) from the lander.  Sojourner’s technology inspired the Mars Rovers Spirit and Opportunity—181 kg (400 lbs) each—and the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity, which weighs in at over 590 kg (1,300 lbs).

Image credit: NASA / JPL

Weekly Calendar

July 3-9, 2017

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History

 

Moon phase Monday 3

Earth at aphelion

1935: Harrison Schmitt born

Moon phase Tuesday 4

Independence Day

1054: Crab Nebula supernova observed
1868: Henrietta Swan Leavitt born
1997: Mars Pathfinder lands on Mars
2005: Deep Impact probe collides with comet Tempel 1
2006
: STS-121 Discovery launched
2016: Juno spacecraft begins orbiting Jupiter

Moon phase Wednesday 5

1966: Apollo-Saturn 203 launched
1982: Space Shuttle Challenger arrives at Kennedy Space Center for first time

Moon phase Thursday 6

Moon at apogee
Saturn 3° south of Moon

1687: Isaac Newton publishes his Principia

Moon phase Friday 7

1995: Final test flight of DC-X rocket
1998: First satellite launch from a submarine
2003: Mars rover Opportunity launched
2016Soyuz MS-01 launched carrying ISS Expedition 48/49 crew

Moon phase Saturday 8

1994: STS-65 Columbia launched
2009: First flight test of Max Launch Abort System
2011: STS-135 Atlantis launched, final shuttle mission

Moon phase Sunday 9

Full Moon 12:07 AM ET

1945: White Sands Missile Range opens
1979: Voyager 2 flies past Jupiter

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