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1720
Edmund Halley was appointed the second Astronomer Royal of England.

1861
A De Gasparis discovered asteroid #63 Ausonia (son of Odysseus).

1868
Died, Sir David Brewseter, Scottish scientist (polarization of light, kaleidoscope)

Sir David Brewster, (11 December 1781 - 10 February 1868) was a Scottish scientist. His most important subjects of inquiry fall under five headings: (1) The laws of polarization by reflection and refraction, and other quantitative laws of phenomena; (2) The discovery of the polarizing structure induced by heat and pressure; (3) The discovery of crystals with two axes of double refraction, and many of the laws of their phenomena, including the connection between optical structure and crystalline forms; (4) The laws of metallic reflection; (5) Experiments on the absorption of light. In this line of investigation the prime importance belongs to the discovery (1) of the connection between the refractive index and the polarizing angle, (2) of biaxial crystals, and (3) of the production of double refraction by irregular heating.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Brewster

1902
Born, Walter H Brattain (at Amoy, China), US physicist (transistor, Nobel 1956 with Shockley and Bardeen "for their researches on semiconductors and their discovery of the transistor effect")
http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/1956/brattain-bio.html

1907
A Kopff discovered asteroid #624 Hektor.

1911
Born ("New Style" date, 28 January "Old Style"), Mstislav Vsevolodovich Keldysh, Russian scientist, considered the Chief Theoretician of the Soviet missile and space programs, played a key role in virtually every space project decision until his death
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mstislav_Keldysh

1913
J H Metcalf discovered asteroids #740 Cantabia and #741 Botolphia.

1923
Died, Wilhelm Rontgen, discover of X-Rays

Wilhelm Conrad Rontgen (27 March 1845 - 10 February 1923) was a German physicist, of the University of Wurzburg, who on 8 November 1895 first produced electromagnetic radiation in wavelengths now known as X-rays. For this discovery, he was awarded the very first Nobel Prize in Physics in 1901.


http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/1901/rontgen-bio.html

1927
K Reinmuth discovered asteroid #933 Susi.

1931
G Van Biesbroeck discovered asteroid #3211.

1934
E Delporte discovered asteroid #1698 Christophe; and G Reiss discovered asteroid #1300 Marcelle.

1940
K Reinmuth discovered asteroid #1528 Conrada.

1964
Died, Eugen Sanger, Austrian aerospace engineer

Eugen Sanger (22 September 1905 - 10 February 1964) was an Austrian aerospace engineer best known for his contributions to lifting body and ramjet technology. Although many of his advanced ideas have not been constructed to date, his work on lifting body designs ultimately proved important to the X-15, X-20 Dyna-Soar, and Space Shuttle programs in the US.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugen_S%E4nger

1974
The USSR Mars 4 probe flew past Mars at a range of 2200 km instead of going into orbit because an onboard component failure precluded firing the retrorockets. Marginal scientific data was returned.

USSR Mars 4 photo, courtesy of NASA

Mars 4, 5, 6, and 7 comprised an associated group of Soviet spacecraft launched towards Mars in July and August of 1973. Mars 4, launched 21 July 1973, was intended to be a Mars orbiter mission. It was presumably very similar in design and intended mission to the Mars 5 orbiter that was launched 4 days later. The orbiter had a fully fueled launch mass of 3440 kg. It was put into Earth orbit by a Proton SL-12/D-1-e booster and launched from its orbital platform roughly an hour and a half later on a Mars trajectory. A mid-course correction burn was made on 30 July 1973, and it reached Mars on 10 February 1974. Due to use of helium in preflight tests of the computer chips, which resulted in degradation of the chips during the voyage to Mars, the retro-rockets never fired to slow the craft into Mars orbit, and Mars 4 flew by the planet at a range of 2200 km. It returned one swath of pictures and some radio occultation data which constituted the first detection of the nightside ionosphere on Mars. It continued to return interplanetary data from solar orbit after the flyby. Its final heliocentric orbit is 1.02 x 1.63 AU, 2.2 degree inclination, with a 556 day period.

Mars 4 was equipped with a television imaging system comprised of two cameras. One, called Vega, was f/2.8 with a focal length of 52 mm, a 23 x 22.5 mm frame, and a 35.7 degree look angle. The other camera, Zufar, was f/4.5 with a 350 mm focal length, 23 x 22.5 mm frame, and a 5.67 degree look angle. The images were taken through red filters and could be facsimile scanned at 1000 x 1000 or 2000 x 2000 pixels and transmitted to Earth. The cameras provided pictures with resolutions of 100 m to 1 km. In addition, there was a single-line scanning device with a 30 degree field of view to provide panoramic images in the visible and near-infrared.

The spacecraft was also equipped with a Lyman-Alpha photometer to search for hydrogen in the upper atmosphere, a magnetometer, plasma ion traps and a narrow angle electrostatic plasma sensor to study the solar wind, an infrared radiometer (8-40 microns) to measure surface temperature, a radio telescope polarimeter (3.5 cm) to probe the subsurface dielectric constant, two polarimeters (0.32-0.70 microns) to characterize surface texture, and a spectrometer (0.3 - 0.8 microns) to study emissions in the upper atmosphere.

There were four photometers on board: one for 2 carbon dioxide bands to obtain altitude profiles, one at 0.35 - 0.7 microns for albedo and color studies, one in the water vapor band (1.38 microns) to study water in the atmosphere, and a UV photometer (0.26 and 0.28 microns) to measure ozone. The probe was equipped with a radio-occultation experiment to profile atmospheric density and a dual-frequency radio occultation experiment to profile ionospheric density. The spacecraft also carried French experiments, one called Zhemo to study the distribution and intensity of fluxes of solar protons and electrons, and one known as Stereo-2 to study solar radio emissions.


http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/database/MasterCatalog?sc=1973-047A

1985
The space shuttle Challenger was moved to Vandenberg AFB for mating for the STS 51-E mission.

1990
NASA's Galileo spacecraft passed Venus on its way to Jupiter, coming within 25,000 km of the surface.

Space Shuttle Atlantis, with the Galileo spacecraft aboard, was launched from Kennedy Space Center on 18 October 1989. Galileo was deployed on the 6th orbit around the Earth, with the first stage IUS burn executed an hour later. The second stage IUS burn occurred 5 minutes later to place Galileo on an Earth escape velocity of 7.1 miles/sec. 7 hours 46 minutes after launch, the IUS went into a first stage spinoff to deploy the RTG and science booms. The second stage IUS spinoff at a rate of 2.9 revolutions/minute for the separation of the IUS from Galileo soon followed. At that point, telemetry data were transmitted and received by the DSN (Deep Space Network).

The Galileo mission consisted of two spacecraft: an orbiter and an atmospheric probe. The trajectory which the spacecraft followed was called a VEEGA (Venus-Earth-Earth Gravity Assist), traveling first in toward the Sun for a gravity assist from Venus on 10 February 1990 before encountering the Earth two times on 8 December 1990 and two years later, on 8 December 1992. These encounters with Venus and the Earth allowed Galileo to gain enough velocity to get it out to Jupiter.

During the flybys of Venus and the Earth, Galileo scientists studied these two planets as well as the Moon, making some unprecedented observations. In addition, following each Earth flyby, Galileo made excursions as far out in the solar system as the asteroid belt, enabling scientists to make the first close-up studies of two asteroids, Gaspra (29 October 1991) and Ida (28 August 1993). Galileo scientists were also the only ones with a "direct view" of the Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 fragment impacts on Jupiter in July 1994. All of this was prior to the primary missions of sending an atmospheric probe into Jupiter's atmosphere and studying Jupiter, its satellites, and its magnetosphere for two years with the orbiter.

Interplanetary studies were also made sporadically by some of the other Galileo instruments, including the dust detector, magnetometer, and various plasma and particles detectors, during its six year journey to Jupiter.

The probe was released from the orbiter on 12 July 1995, 147 days prior to its entry into the Jovian atmosphere on 7 December 1995, the same day the main spacecraft went into orbit around Jupiter.

The Galileo spacecraft's 14-year odyssey came to an end on Sunday 21 September 2003 when the spacecraft passed into Jupiter's shadow then disintegrated in the planet's dense atmosphere after 35 orbits around the planet. Its propellant was depleted, it was maneuvered to enter the Jovian atmosphere at 18:57 GMT (11:57 AM PDT). Entry was at 48.2 km/s from an orbit with a periapsis 9700 km below the 1-bar atmospheric layer. The spacecraft continued transmitting at least until it passed behind the limb of Jupiter at 1850:54 GMT, when it was 9283 km above the 1-bar level, surprising Galileo veterans who feared it might enter safe mode due to the high radiation environment. On its farewell dive, it had crossed the orbit of Callisto at around 1100 on 20 September, the orbit of Ganymede at around 0500 on 21 September, Europa's orbit at about 1145, Io's orbit at about 1500, Amalthea's orbit at 1756, and the orbits of Adrastea and Metis at 1825. Galileo was destroyed to prevent the possibility that its orbit would eventually be perturbed in such a way that it would crash on and biologically contaminate Europa, which was considered a possible place to search for life. Light travel time from Jupiter to Earth was 52 min 20 sec at the time of impact, and the final signal reached Earth at 1943:14 GMT.


http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/galileo/mission/index.cfm

1997
Comet Shoemaker-Holt 2 made its closest approach to Earth. (1.9245 AU, approx. 179 million miles)

1997 14:09:30 UTC
Soyuz-TM 25 was launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Tyuratam, Kazakhstan to the Mir space stationwith cosmonauts Vasili Tsibliyev, Aleksandr Lazutkin and Reinhold Ewald aboard.
http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/nmc/spacecraftDisplay.do?id=1997-003A


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