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 . Space History News - People and events in development of space travel Space History News - People and events in development of space travel Space History News - People and events in development of space travel  

Space History for March 10

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The telephone was born when Alexander Graham Bell called to his assistant, "Mr. Watson! Come here! I want to see you!" after spilling chemicals on himself in his upstairs laboratory.

A Charlois discovered asteroid #289 Nenetta.

Almon Strowger, an undertaker in Topeka, Kansas, patented the strowger switch, a device which led to the automation of telephone circuit switching.

A Charlois discovered asteroid #359 Georgia.

A meteorite entered the Earth's atmosphere and exploded over New Martinsville, West Virginia. The debris caused damage but no human injuries were reported.

K Reinmuth discovered asteroid #929 Algunde; and W Baade discovered asteroid #930 Westphalia.

E Delporte discovered asteroid #1128 Astrid.

G Van Biesbroeck discovered asteroid #2463.

G Kulin discovered asteroid #1513 Matra.

Herb H. Hoover became the first civilian to exceed the speed of sound, at Edwards Air Force Base, California.

Died, Charles Gordon Curtis, American engineer, inventor (Curtis Turbine)

H Alikoski discovered asteroid #2573 Hannu Olavi.

Peter Twiss set a new world air record speed at 1,132 mph (1,822 kph).

Born, Laurel Blair Salton Clark (at Ames, Iowa, USA), Captain USN, astronaut (STS 107) (deceased, Columbia re-entry failure)

Astronaut Laurel Clark, NASA photo

1967 12:57:00 GMT
USSR launched Cosmos 146, a precursor to the Zond series, from the Baikonur cosmodrome into a highly elliptical, translunar-type orbit. It was not aimed at the Moon, and no recovery was planned or attempted.

Uranus' rings were first observed during an occulation by astronomers James L. Elliot, Edward W. Dunham, and D. Mink aboard the Kuiper Airborne Observatory.

1978 13:45:00 GMT
USSR Soyuz 28 returned to Earth carrying cosmonauts Gubarev and Remek on their return from the Salyut 6 space station.

Soyuz 28, launched 2 March 1978, carried cosmonauts A.A. Gubarev (USSR) and V. Remek (Czechoslovak Socialist Republic) to the Soviet space station Salyut 6. It was the first international "Intercosmos" team to carry out scientific research and experiments jointly developed by Soviet and Czech specialists. Soyuz 28 returned to Earth 10 March 1978.

All 9 planets were aligned on the same side of the Sun, loosely described as a syzygy (Greek: "yoked together"), although the term is more properly used in astronomy for a situation where three bodies are situated along a straight line.

E Barr discovered asteroid #3743.

2001 00:38:00 CST (GMT -6:00:00)
NASA's STS 102 (Discovery) docked at the ISS for the International Space Station Flight 5A.1 mission.

NASA launched Discovery as STS 102 on 8 March 2001 for the International Space Station Flight 5A.1 mission. Its primary objectives were to deliver the Expedition Two crew and the Leonardo Multi-Purpose Logistics Module to the station.

Discovery spent almost 13 days in orbit, with nearly nine of those days docked to the International Space Station. In addition to the crew transfer and attaching the Leonardo Multi-Purpose Logistics Module, the shuttle crew transferred supplies and equipment to the station, and completed two space walks.

Space walkers spent a total of 15 hours and 26 minutes during two STS-102 excursions outside the docked complex. The first space walk was the longest in space shuttle history.

Mission Specialists Susan Helms and James Voss - who later became Expedition Two crewmembers - prepared the Pressurized Mating Adapter 3 for repositioning from the Unity Module's Earth-facing berth to its port-side berth to make room for the Leonardo Multi-Purpose Logistics Module supplied by the Italian Space Agency.

Two days later, Mission Specialists Paul Richards and Andy Thomas spent 6.5 hours outside the International Space Station, continuing work to outfit the station and prepare for delivery of its robotic arm.

The Expedition One/Two crew transfer was a carefully choreographed process carried out one replacement at a time to ensure the three current members of the station crew would be able to return home, at any time during the switch, aboard the Soyuz spacecraft attached to the station. As a member of the Expedition Two crew formally transferred from the space shuttle to the station, that crew member's custom-designed seat liner, called an Individual Equipment Liner Kit, was installed in the Soyuz spacecraft docked to the station: Crew members officially join the station when they install their seat liners in the Soyuz. The seat liner of the replaced crew member was removed from the Soyuz, and he then became a member of the shuttle crew.

STS 102 ended 12 days, 19 hours, 49 minutes after launch, on 21 March 2001, when Discovery landed on Runway 15 at the Kennedy Space Center following a surprising turnaround in the Florida weather: Entry Flight Director Wayne Hale made the decision to land at Kennedy just before midnight after cloudy skies and gusty winds due to a low pressure system that raced through the Shuttle Landing Facility area faster than expected the previous night had cleared. The shuttle had traveled a total of 5,357,762 statute miles during its flight.

The flight crew for STS 102 was: James D. Wetherbee, Commander; James M. Kelly, Pilot; Andrew S.W. Thomas, Mission Specialist 1; Paul W. Richards, Mission Specialist 2; Yury V. Usachev, Expedition 2 Commander (remained at ISS); James S. Voss, Expedition 2 Flight Engineer (remained at ISS); Susan J. Helms, Expedition 2 Flight Engineer (remained at ISS); William M. Shepherd, Expedition 1 Commander (returned from ISS); Sergei Krikalev, Expedition 1 Flight Engineer (returned from ISS); Yuri P. Gidzenko, Expedition 1 Soyuz Commander (returned from ISS).

NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) reached Mars and executed a 1641 second orbit insertion burn, entering a 400 x 35000 km polar capture orbit with a 35 hour period.

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), launched 12 August 2005 on an Atlas V, was designed to orbit Mars over a full Martian year and gather data with six scientific instruments, including a high-resolution imager. The science objectives of the mission are to: characterize the present climate of Mars and its physical mechanisms of seasonal and interannual climate change; determine the nature of complex layered terrain on Mars and identify water-related landforms; search for sites showing evidence of aqueous and/or hydrothermal activity; identify and characterize sites with the highest potential for landed science and sample return by future Mars missions; and return scientific data from Mars landed craft during a relay phase. MRO was planned to return high resolution images, study surface composition, search for subsurface water, trace dust and water in the atmosphere, and monitor weather.

The launch window opened at Kennedy Space Center on 10 August 2005, with launch opportunities available until 5 September. The cruise to Mars took about seven months and included checkouts, calibrations, navigation, and three trajectory correction maneuvers (TCMs). The planned fourth TCM and possible fifth TCM were not required, saving 60 pounds (27 kg) of fuel, usable during MRO's extended mission. On 10 March 2006, MRO reached Mars and performed a Mars orbit insertion maneuver, passing under the southern hemisphere of Mars at an altitude of 370–400 km (230–250 mi) and firing its main engines for about 27 minutes. Signals that the burn had started reached Earth at 21:24 UT (4:24 PM EST) on 10 March. With 6 minutes left in the burn MRO passed behind Mars as seen from Earth. Radio communication resumed when it re-emerged about 30 minutes later.

The 1641 second orbit insertion burn slowed the spacecraft by about one km/sec, leaving it in a 400 x 35000 km polar capture orbit with a 35.5 hour period. The helium pressurization tank was colder than expected, which reduced the pressure in the fuel tank by about 21 kilopascals (3.0 psi). The reduced pressure caused the diminished engine thrust by 2%, but MRO automatically compensated by extending the burn time by 33 seconds. Shortly after insertion, the periapsis (closest approach to Mars) was 426 km (265 mi) from the surface (3,806 km (2,365 mi) from the planet's center). The apoapsis (the farthest distance from Mars) was 44,500 km (27,700 mi) from the surface (47,972 km (29,808 mi) from the planet's center).

Aerobraking was used over the next five months, from 30 March to 30 August 2006, to lower the orbit. MRO fired its thrusters twice more in September 2006 to fine-tune its final, nearly circular science orbit to approximately 250 to 316 km (155 to 196 mi) above the Martian surface (with periapsis over the south pole and apoapsis over the north pole). There are twelve sun-synchronous orbits per day so that the orbiter will always see the ground at 3:00 PM local time at the equator.

The SHARAD radar antennas were deployed on 16 September 2006. All of the scientific instruments were tested and most were turned off prior to the solar conjunction which occurred from 7 October to 6 November 2006. The "primary science phase" began after the conjunction ended.

MRO took its first high resolution image from its science orbit on 29 September 2006, resolving items as small as 90 cm (3 feet) in diameter. On 6 October, NASA released detailed pictures from the MRO of Victoria crater with the Opportunity rover on the rim above it. On 17 November 2006 NASA announced the successful test of the MRO as an orbital communications relay: Using the NASA rover Spirit as the point of origin for the transmission, the MRO acted as a relay for transmitting data back to Earth.

HiRISE continues to return images enabling discoveries regarding the geology of Mars. Among these is the banded terrain observations indicating the presence and action of liquid carbon dioxide (CO2) or water on the surface of Mars in its recent geological past. HiRISE photographed the Phoenix lander during its parachute descent to Vastitas Borealis on 25 May 2008 (sol 990). On 6 August 2012 (sol 2483) the orbiter passed over Gale crater, the landing site of the Mars Science Laboratory mission, during its EDL phase. The HiRISE camera captured an image of the Curiosity rover descending with its backshell and supersonic parachute.

On 3 March 2010, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter passed another significant milestone, having transmitted over 100 terabits of data back to Earth, which was more than all other interplanetary probes sent from Earth combined.

Science operations took place nominally from the end of solar conjunction in November 2006 to the start of the next solar conjunction in November 2008, roughly one Martian year. Following the nominal mission, extended science and communications relay missions have been undertaken.

In November 2006, problems began to surface with two MRO instruments: A stepping mechanism in the Mars Climate Sounder (MCS) skipped on multiple occasions, resulting in a field of view that is slightly out of position. By December normal operations of the instrument were suspended, although a mitigation strategy allows the instrument to continue making most of its intended observations. Also, an increase in noise and resulting bad pixels has been observed in several CCDs of the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE). Operation of the camera with a longer warm-up time has alleviated the issue, but the cause is still unknown and the problem may return. The orbiter continued to experience recurring problems in 2009, including four spontaneous resets, culminating in a four-month shut-down of the spacecraft from August to December. While engineers did not determine the cause of the recurrent resets, they have created new software to help troubleshoot the problem should it recur.

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter consists of a main bus, constructed of titanium, carbon composites, and aluminum honeycomb. Extending from the bus are two solar panel wings and a 3 meter high-gain antenna dish. The bus houses the propulsion system, telecommunications, command, guidance, and science instruments. The maximum spacecraft mass was 2180 kg, including 1149 kg of propellants.

Propulsion is provided by a total of 20 thrusters. Six 170N monopropellant (hydrazine) main-engine thrusters were used for the Mars Orbit insertion burn, which used about 70% of the total fuel onboard. Six 22N thrusters are used for trajectory correction maneuvers and eight 0.9N thrusters for pointing. All thrusters are fed from a single propellant tank mounted near the center of the main bus. A pressurant tank is used to force propellant to the motors. Spacecraft control is achieved with the use of reaction wheels and reaction control system thrusters. Navigation and attitude knowledge is determined by 16 Sun sensors, two star tracker cameras, and two inertial measurement units which use accelerometers and gyroscopes.

Two way telecommunications is done via X-band at about 8000 MHz, primarily through the 3 m diameter steerable high-gain dish antenna. Two low-gain Ka-band antennas, mounted on the high-gain dish, are also available for transmission and reception. Two transponders and three TWT amplifiers allow maximum data rates of 6 megabits/sec. Power is provided by the two solar cell array wings mounted on opposite side of the bus. Each array has an area of 10 square meters and contains 3744 solar cells. The panels produce 1000 Watts at Mars which is used to run the equipment directly, and to charge two nickel-hydrogen 50 A-hr, 32-volt batteries. Thermal control is achieved by a combination of radiators, surface coatings, insulation, and heaters.

MRO's science payload includes the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE), a visible stereo imaging camera; the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM), a visible/near-infrared spectrometer to study the surface composition; the Mars Climate Sounder (MCS), an infrared radiometer to study the atmosphere, a shallow subsurface sounding radar (SHARAD) provided by the Italian Space Agency to search for underground water; the Context Camera (CTX), to provide wide-area views; and the Mars Color Imager (MARCI), to monitor clouds and dust storms. In addition, there are three engineering instruments aboard MRO: the Electra UHF communications and navigation package, used as a relay between the Earth and other Mars missions; the optical navigation camera, tested for possible navigational use on future planetary spacecraft; and the Ka-band telecommunications experiment package, for testing high performance Ka-band communications. Engineering accelerometer data is used to study the structure of the Martian atmosphere, and tracking of the orbiter is used to study the gravity field of Mars.

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