August 17 – Extraordinary Journeys Day

Posted on August 17, 2018

One thing you could do to
celebrate Extraordinary Journeys
Day is to read the Jules Verne
story collection!
The first spacecraft to transmit data from the surface of another planet - extraordinary!

The first ship to reach the North Pole - hard to do, because this was back when it was covered with ice!

The first balloon to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Would you want to cross an entire ocean - with a balloon??

On this date in 1970, Venera 7 was launched by the Soviet Union, heading toward Venus. It later became the first
spacecraft to land on another planet AND the first spacecraft to transmit data from another planet's surface.

This was not without problems. By design, the lander remained attached to the interplanetary bus as long as possible so that the bus could cool the lander during the journey through Venus's thick atmosphere. When the lander ejected and opened its parachute, the parachute apparently failed. The lander ended up falling to the surface much quicker than planned - and therefore it hit the surface much harder than planned. 

The moment of impact, the spacecraft seemed to go silent. But, luckily, the recording tapes here on Earth still turned...just in case...A few weeks later, scientists reviewing the tapes discovered that there was a very weak signal, after all. The best guess is that the lander had bounced onto its side and left the antennae at the wrong angle to send a strong signal back to Earth.

Still, the weak signal told us that the lander had survived. And that the temperature on the surface of Venus was 475 degrees Celsius - that's 887 degrees Fahrenheit! - and THAT meant that there could be no liquid water on Venus, and that humans couldn't survive there.

This is an artist's idea of what the surface of Venus looks like.
Notice that it's hot-hot-hot!

So none of this:
Above and two below:
Back in the day, people imagined that
there might be creatures, even people,
on Venus....

Another big Soviet coup happened on this date in 1977, when the nuclear-powered icebreaker Arktika became the first surface ship to reach the North Pole.

The sudden, scary melting of Arctic sea ice has
scientists concerned. We need to work on reducing
global warming!!
The last extraordinary journey was completed on this date in 1978. This time, it was Americans daring to dare: three men piloted their balloon Double Eagle II from Maine to France. This first-ever balloon crossing of the Atlantic Ocean took a bit more than 137 hours!

The day before, on August 16, the men had had to give up their plans of hang gliding during the last bit of descent, because they had to drop the hang glider as ballast! Later, they crossed the Irish coast - and that right there made them the first to successfully cross the ocean in a balloon, even though they hadn't yet successfully landed! People at the Shannon Airport alerted the Double Eagle crew that they'd been spotted, but the balloonists continued on to France. 

Once there, authorities closed LeBourget Airfield so that the balloon could safely land there, and they radioed the crew with that offer. And that was a really nice offer - that's the place where Charles Lindbergh landed after his first solo transatlantic flight! But the balloon pilots knew that trying to make it all the way to that historic airfield would put them and others on the ground in danger. They were running out of ballast; they played it safe and landed in a field of barley near Miserey, rather than trying to make it to Paris.

1 comment:

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