This Day In Astro History

Messenger launch
Messenger launch

August 3

2004 - Messenger Mission Launch, to become the first spacecraft to orbit Mercury.
The name comes from "MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging," highlighting the project's broad range of scientific goals.  Messenger was the seventh mission selected for the NASA Discovery Program.
Mission Questions
  • Why is Mercury so dense?
  • What is the geologic history of Mercury?
  • What is the nature of Mercury's magnetic field?
  • What is the structure of Mercury's core?
  • What are the unusual materials at Mercury's poles?
  • What volatiles are important at Mercury?

2000 - Xinhua News Agency reports that China begins construction of a 1.2 metres Near Earth Object observatory to find and study comets and asteroids that may threaten the planet.

1999 - Asteroid 1566 Icarus Closest Approach To Earth (0.651 AU)
2005 - Astronaut Stephen K. Robinson, STS-114 mission specialist, anchored to a foot restraint on the International Space Station's Canadarm2
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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