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February 17, 2020 - Ranger Drops In

Ranger Drops In  The mid-1960s Ranger program sent a series of spacecraft speeding toward the surface of the Moon, returning increasingly detailed images of potential Apollo landing sites until the moment of impact. Ranger 7 completed this first successful reconnaissance nose-dive, and Ranger 8 followed suit 55 years ago this week. After spending 65 hours traveling to the Moon, Ranger 8 turned on its cameras when it was 2,500 km (1,560 mi) from the Moon and radioed back over 7,000 images in the next 23 minutes. Its first image is shown in the background above, overlaid by seven images from closer distances (top to bottom), ending with the final image, obtained from an altitude of just 3.6 km (2.2 mi). The complete transmission of the final image was interrupted when Ranger 8 impacted the Moon.

Image credit: NASA

Weekly Calendar

February 17 - 23, 2020

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History


Moon phase Monday 17

Presidents' Day

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

Moon phase Tuesday 18

Mars 0.8° south of Moon

1930: Pluto discovered by Clyde Tombaugh
1970: HL-10 sets lifting body speed record
1977: First captive flight of space shuttle Enterprise

Moon phase Wednesday 19

Jupiter 0.9° north of Moon

1473: Nicholas Copernicus born
1986: Mir space station launched

Moon phase Thursday 20

Pluto 0.7° north of Moon
Saturn 1.7° north of Moon

1962: Friendship 7 launched; John Glenn becomes first American to orbit Earth
1965: Ranger 8 impacts the Moon, returns photographs
1994: Clementine enters lunar orbit

Moon phase Friday 21

1931: Germany's first liquid-fuel rocket launched by VfR flies 3m (10 ft)
2019: Hayabusa2 makes touchdown on asteroid Ryugu and captures sample

Moon phase Saturday 22

1966: Cosmos 110 launched, sets record for dogs in space (22 days)
1978: First Navstar GPS satellite launched
1996: STS-75 Columbia launched

Moon phase Sunday 23

New Moon 10:32 AM ET

1987: Supernova 1987a explodes
1990: Pioneer 11 leaves solar system
1997: Flash fire in Mir Kvant module

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