10 Things: March 20
20 Mar 2017
10 Things: March 20
State of the Solar System: 10 quick updates from around our galactic neighborhood.
1. Powered by the Sun
Fifty-nine years ago, Vanguard 1 launched to demonstrate a new spacecraft technology—solar power. We've been going farther and for longer ever since.
+ More on Vanguard 1
2. Mapping Mercury
A big week in history for exploration of the innermost planet. On March 16, 1975, NASA's Mariner 10 made its third and final flyby of Mercury. One day and 36 years later (March 17, 2011), NASA's MESSENGER became the first spacecraft to orbit Mercury. Next up: ESA's BepiColumbo, undergoing testing now, is set to launch for Mercury in 2018.
+ Missions to Mercury
3. Return to Venus
U.S. and Russian scientists are discussing a planned revival of the successful Venera program that revealed much about Venus in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. Meanwhile, Japan's Akatsuki orbiter continues to study our sister planet.
+ More on Venera-D
4. Rocket Power
Back on Earth 91 years ago (March 16, 1926), inventor and dreamer Robert Goddard changed the world forever with the first test of a liquid-fueled rocket. We've been going farther and faster ever since.
+ More on Goddard
5. Moon Watch
NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has been sending a steady stream of high-resolution images back to Earth for more than seven years.
+ More on LRO
6. Busy Mars
There are currently six orbiters (NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Mars Odyssey, MAVEN, ESA's Mars Express and ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, and India's Mars Orbiter Mission) and two rovers (NASA's Curiosity and Opportunity) exploring Mars, making it second only to Earth in the number of robotic spacecraft studying its secrets.
+ Meet the Mars Fleet
7. Vote for Jupiter
Polls close today (March 20) so vote now to point a real spacecraft camera at Jupiter during the mission's 5th perijove pass.
8. Science to the Last Second
In a little less than six months, NASA's Cassini orbiter will plunge into Saturn in a spectacular finale to its 19-year mission — but not before it embarks on a completely new mission into unexplored space between Saturn and its mighty rings.
+ More on Cassini's Grand Finale
9. By George?
Happy belated birthday to Uranus, discovered on March 13, 1781 by William Herschel. The English astronomer wanted to name his discovery — the first planet discovered in recorded history — "Georgium Sidus" after England's King George III. But he was overruled, and astronomers stuck with traditional mythological names – creating an opportunity for 263 years of student jokes at the expense of the ice giant planet's name.
+ More on Uranus
10. Go Farther
The round trip light time from Voyager 1 to Earth is more than 38 hours. Voyager 1 is almost 13 billion miles from Earth.
+ More on Voyager
See previous editions of 10 Things.