“Today, the wheels of Curiosity have begun to blaze the trail for human footprints on Mars. Curiosity, the most sophisticated rover ever built, is now on the surface of the Red Planet, where it will seek to answer age-old questions about whether life ever existed on Mars — or if the planet can sustain life in the future.” – Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator
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Science is always moving forward. From blurry images and dogs in space to fresh produce and Mars Rover selfies, August highlights some of these great progressions of science in the age of space exploration.
August 6, 2012
The Mars Rover Landing is considered to be the biggest space mission in the social media era. The mission launched on November 26, 2011. After surviving “Seven Minutes of Terror” as it descended through the atmosphere, Curiosity landed successfully in the Gale Crater on August 6, 2012.
As of today, the Curiosity rover is still operational. You can find updates on the Curiosity Rover on the Mars Science Laboratory website.
August 7, 1959
Launched by NASA on August 7, 1959, was a small satellite designed to study trapped radiation in the upper atmosphere. Explorer 6 was equipped with a scanning device that was designed to photograph cloud cover on Earth. This device captured the first images of Earth from orbit.
The photograph was taken on August 14 from about 17,000 miles above Earth’s surface. While the image isn’t much to look at by today’s standards, it was an exciting development in space exploration.
August 10, 2015
Red lettuce was the first food to be grown and harvested in space. The lettuce grew for 15 months with the help of a system called Veg-01. Veg-01 uses red, blue, and green LED lights to grow plants.
Crew members Scott Kelly and Kjell Lindgren (NASA) and Kimiya Yui (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, JAXA) of Expedition 44 harvested and sampled the lettuce. Half of the harvest was packed, frozen, and returned to Earth for scientific analysis.
August 19, 1960
Launched by the USSR, Korabl-Sputnik 2 (also know as Sputnik 5) was the third test flight of the Vostok spacecraft and the first to carry and safely return animals from orbit. This mission paved the way for Vostok 1 and man’s first orbital flight.
Korabl-Sputnik 2 carried 2 dogs, 40 mice, 2 rats and an assortment of plants. During orbit, Korabl-Sputnik 2 passed by the US Echo satellite. An onboard radio system captured the two dogs, Belka and Strelka, barking as they passed the foil covered, nitrogen-filled balloon.
One year later, Strelka had a litter of puppies. One of those puppies, Pushinka, was sent to First Lady Jacqueline “Jackie” Kennedy as a goodwill present after she had asked Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev about Strelka’s puppies at a state dinner in Vienna.
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