July 23 – Accomplishments and Discoveries, Times Three

Posted on July 23, 2018

There are so many accomplishments in science every day, every year. Today is the anniversary of several in the area of space exploration:

On this date in 1972, the U.S. launched Landsat, the first Earth-resources satellite. It was designed to get information that could be used in agriculture, forestry, geology and mineral resources, geography and map-making, hydrology and water resources, environment and pollution, oceanography and sea resources, and weather. After years of operation, the satellite had beamed back hundreds of thousands of images, but one of the systems eventually failed and the satellite was decommissioned.

A volcano erupting in Japan
There is an island called Landsat Island that was discovered by this satellite.
Landsat Island is off the coast of Labrador, in Canada.

The two tails of a comet:

The bright tail is made of dust reflecting
The fainter, bluer tail is made of 
glowing electrically-charged ions...
On this date in 1995, the Comet Hale-Bopp was discovered. Two different astronomers discovered it on the same night - and you may have guessed that one was named Hale and the other Bopp. It's interesting to note that, although Alan Hale was a professional astronomer, Thomas Bopp was just an amateur! It's so cool when amateurs can make discoveries - especially when their name gets plunked onto their discovery!

Hale-Bopp became visible to the naked eye in May 1996, and it was bright enough by January of 1997 
to provoke a lot of curiosity. At that time, the internet was becoming the internet - and websites tracking the comet sprang up and helped people get more excited about the comet.

Because it was visible to the naked eye a record 18 months, twice as long as the previous record holder, the Great Comet of 1811, Hale Bopp was named the Great Comet of 1997.

Hale-Bopp taking advantage of all the usual photo ops. 
Above, Joshua Tree National Park in California.

Below, one of the Egyptian pyramids and Stonehenge.

On this date in 2015, NASA announced the discovery of a rocky planet around another star - a planet whose orbit is in the "Goldilocks Zone" scientists think best suited to the development of life. Unfortunately, sensing a planet that is 1,400 light years away from us is hard, and it may be that the planet doesn't actually exist. Scientists aren't sure - but they ARE sure that we should try to check and recheck the finding until we are sure that it does or does not exist!

Since we don't even know if this
exoplanet (planet from outside of
our solar system) exists,
we certainly do not have a photo
of it! This is an artist's concept
of what our current data tells us...

If you are wondering how far 1,400 light years are, this planet is about 8,230,100,000,000,000 miles away. It takes light 1,400 years to travel there, and humans and spaceships cannot travel as fast as light. So...we're not going to this planet (if it exists) any time soon!

Also on this date:

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