This Day In Astro History

July 18

1997 - Galileo spacecraft discovers a tenuous atmosphere on Europa , Jupiter 's waterworld moon. Evidence of the planetary ionosphere indicates that Europa is not just a chunk of dead matter. Active geologic processes of surface material and atmosphere suggests that life, perhaps not as we know it, may have started. Read More at Wikipedia.

1980 - India launches Rohini-1B. Launched from Sriharikota. Weight was 35 kg and orbit was 305 x 919 km, 44.7. It was India's first successful launch.

1966 - Gemini 10 Launch. Commander, John W. Young ; Co-Pilot, Michael Collins. Mission objectives docking, rendezvous and EVA. Mission cut short due to fuel reserve shortage.

1921 - Birthday, John Glenn, American astronaut and politician.
Gene Shoemaker1997 - Gene Merle Shoemaker, one of the founders of the field of Planetary Geology, is killed instantly in a car accident near Alice Springs, Australia.

On July 31, 1999, some of his ashes were carried to the Moon by the Lunar Prospector space probe in a capsule designed by Carolyn Porco. To date, he is the only person whose ashes have been buried on the Moon. The brass foil wrapping of Shoemaker's memorial capsule is inscribed with images of Comet Hale-Bopp, the Barringer Crater, and a quotation from Romeo and Juliet reading

"And, when he shall die Take him and cut him out in little stars And he will make the face of heaven so fine That all the world will be in love with night And pay no worship to the garish sun."

The Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous space probe was renamed "NEAR Shoemaker" in his honor. It arrived at asteroid 433 Eros in February 2000, and landed on the asteroid after a year of orbital study.
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It is my conclusion that human evolution and the motions of matter in space are intrinsically linked. The observation and understanding of the complexity of biological history on Earth cannot be complete without the tandem observation and understanding of a dynamic greater cosmos. - SpaceGene