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Space History for November 27

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Born, Anders Celsius, inventor, astronomer

Anders Celsius (27 November 1701 - 25 April 1744) was a Swedish astronomer.

Celsius was born at Uppsala in Sweden. He was professor of astronomy at Uppsala University from 1730 to 1744, but travelled from 1732 to 1735 visiting notable observatories in Germany, Italy and France.

At Nuremberg in 1733 he published a collection of 316 observations of the aurora borealis made by himself and others over the period 1716-1732. In Paris he advocated the measurement of an arc of the meridian in Lapland, and in 1736 took part in the expedition organized for that purpose by the French Academy of Sciences.

Celsius was one of the founders of the Uppsala Astronomical Observatory in 1741. He is best known for the Celsius temperature scale, first proposed in a paper to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1742.

He died of tuberculosis in Uppsala.

Died, Pierre Lemonnier, French astronomer

Died, Ada Lovelace, regarded as the first computer programmer

Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace (10 December 1815 - 27 November 1852) is mainly known for having written a description of Charles Babbage's early mechanical general-purpose computer, the analytical engine.

Ada was introduced to Charles Babbage on 5 June 1833 by Mary Somerville, a noted researcher and scientific author of the 19th century. During a nine-month period in 1842-1843, Ada translated for Babbage the memoirs written by Italian mathematician Louis Menebrea on Babbage's newest proposed machine, the Analytical Engine. With the article, she appended a set of Notes which specified in complete detail a method for calculating Bernoulli numbers with the Engine, recognized by historians as the world's first computer program. Her prose acknowledged some possibilities of the machine which Babbage never published, such as speculating that "the Engine might compose elaborate and scientific pieces of music of any degree of complexity or extent."

R Luther discovered asteroid #82 Alkmene (named for the mother of Hercules).

A meteor was photographed for the first time, by Austro-Hungarian astronomer Ladislaus Weinek during the Andromedids meteor shower.

A Borrelly discovered asteroid #322 Phaeo.

Born, L[yon] Sprague de Camp, US science fiction author (Goblin Tower, Hand of Zei)

J H Metcalf discovered asteroid #653 Berenike.

The first rocket interception of an airplane occurred at White Sands, New Mexico when a Nike-Ajax guided missle shot down a QB-17 drone.

Born, James D. Wetherbee (at Flushing, New York, USA), Captain USN, NASA astronaut (STS 32, STS 52, STS 63, STS 86, STS 102, STS 113)

James D. Wetherbee (born 27 November 1952) is an American astronaut and a veteran of six space shuttle missions.

Wetherbee earned a degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Notre Dame before receiving his commission in the United States Navy. Aa a Navy test pilot, Wetherbee worked extensively on the F/A-18 aircraft before being selected as an astronaut candidate in 1984. He piloted mission STS-32 in 1990 and commanded missions STS-52 (1992), STS-63 (1995), STS-86 (1997), STS-102 (2001), and STS-113 (2002). The final four missions were space station dockings with Mir and the ISS; STS-113 was the last complete space shuttle mission before the Columbia disaster.

Astronaut James Wetherbee, NASA photo

Filming started for the "Star Trek" pilot "The Cage" (originally aired as the foundation for the first season two-part episode "The Menagerie").

The USSR Mars 2 descent module became the first manmade object to reach the surface of Mars.

The Soviet Mars 2 and Mars 3 missions consisted of identical spacecraft, each with a bus/orbiter module and an attached descent/lander module. The primary scientific objectives of each orbiter were to image the Martian surface and clouds, determine the temperature on Mars, study the topography, composition and physical properties of the surface, measure properties of the atmosphere, monitor the solar wind and the interplanetary and Martian magnetic fields, and act as a communications relay to send signals from the lander to Earth.

Mars 2 was launched towards Mars on 19 May 1971. Mid-course corrections were made on 17 June and 20 November. Mars 2 released the descent module 4.5 hours before reaching Mars on 27 November 1971. The descent module entered the Martian atmosphere at roughly 6.0 km/s, at a steeper angle than planned. The descent system malfunctioned, and the lander crashed at 45 deg S, 302 deg W, delivering the Soviet Union coat of arms to the surface. The cause of the failure may have been related to the extremely powerful Martian dust storm taking place at the time. Mars 2 was the first manmade object to reach the surface of Mars. Meanwhile, the orbiter engine performed a burn to put the spacecraft into a 1380x24,940 km, 18 hour orbit about Mars with an inclination of 48.9 deg. Scientific instruments were generally turned on for about 30 minutes near periapsis.

For scientific experiments (most mounted in a hermetically sealed compartment) the Mars 2 orbital bus carried: a 1 kg infrared radiometer with an 8- to 40-micron range to determine the temperature of the Martian surface to -100 degrees C; a photometer to conduct spectral analysis by absorption of atmospheric water vapor concentrations in the 1.38-micron line; an infrared photometer; an ultraviolet photometer to detect atomic hydrogen, oxygen, and argon; a Lyman-alpha sensor to detect hydrogen in the upper atmosphere; a visible range photometer covering six narrow ranges between 0.35 and 0.70 microns; a radiotelescope and radiometer instrument to determine the reflectivity of the surface and atmosphere in the visible (0.3 to 0.6 microns) and the radio-reflectivity of the surface in the 3.4 cm range and the dielectric permeability to give a temperature estimate to a depth of 35 to 50 cm below the surface; and an infrared spectrometer to measure the 2.06 micron carbon dioxide absorption band, allowing an estimate of the abundance along a line of sight to determine the optical thickness of the atmosphere and hence the surface relief.

Additionally, the craft carried a phototelevision unit with one 350 mm focal length 4 degree narrow angle camera and one 52 mm focal length wide angle camera, on the same axis and having several light filters, including red, green, blue, and UV. The imaging system returned 1000 x 1000 element scanned pictures with a resolution of 10 to 100 meters by facsimile after development in an automatic onboard laboratory. Radio occultation experiments were also performed when communications transmissions passed through the Martian atmosphere in which the refraction of the signals gave information on the atmospheric structure. During the flight to Mars, measurements were made of galactic cosmic rays and solar corpuscular radiation. Eight separate narrow angle electrostatic plasma sensors were on board to determine the speed, temperature, and composition of the solar wind in the range 30 to 10,000 eV. A three axis magnetometer to measure the interplanetary and Martian fields was mounted on a boom extending from one of the solar panels.

The Mars descent module consisted of a spherical 1.2 m diameter landing capsule, a 2.9 m diameter conical aerodynamic braking shield, a parachute system and retro-rockets. The entire descent module had a fueled mass of 1210 kg, the spherical landing capsule accounted for 358 kg of this. An automatic control system consisting of gas micro-engines and pressurized nitrogen containers provided attitude control. Four "gunpowder" engines were mounted to the outer edge of the cone to control pitch and yaw. The main and auxiliary parachutes, the engine to initiate the landing, and the radar altimeter were mounted on the top section of the lander. Foam was used to absorb shock within the descent module. The landing capsule had four triangular petals which would open after landing, righting the spacecraft and exposing the instrumentation.

The lander was equipped with two television cameras with a 360 degree view of the surface as well as a mass spectrometer to study atmospheric composition; temperature, pressure, and wind sensors; and devices to measure mechanical and chemical properties of the surface, including a mechanical scoop to search for organic materials and signs of life. It also contained a pennant with the Soviet coat of arms. Four aerials protruded from the top of the sphere to provide communications with the orbiter via an onboard radio system. The equipment was powered by batteries which were charged by the orbiter prior to separation. Temperature control was maintained through thermal insulation and a system of radiators. The landing capsule was sterilized before launch to prevent contamination of the Martian environment.

The Mars 2 and 3 landers carried a small walking robot called PROP-M. The robot had a mass of 4.5 kg and was tethered to the lander by a cable for direct communication. The rover was designed to "walk" on a pair of skis to the limit of the 15 m cable length. The rover carried a dynamic penetrometer and a radiation densitometer. The main PROP-M frame was a squat box with a small protrusion at the center. The frame was supported on two wide flat skis, one extending down from each side, elevating the frame slightly above the surface. At the front of the box were obstacle detection bars. The rover was planned to be placed on the surface after landing by a manipulator arm, to move in the field of view of the television cameras, and stop to make measurements every 1.5 m during its travels. The traces of movement in the Martian soil would also be recorded to determine material properties.

The Mars 2 and 3 orbiters sent back a large volume of data from December 1971 to March 1972, although transmissions continued through August. It was announced Mars 2 and 3 had completed their missions by 22 August 1972, after 362 orbits completed by Mars 2 and 20 orbits by Mars 3. The probes sent back a total of 60 pictures. The images and data revealed mountains as high as 22 km, atomic hydrogen and oxygen in the upper atmosphere, surface temperatures ranging from -110 C to +13 C, surface pressures of 5.5 to 6 mb, water vapor concentrations 5000 times less than in Earth's atmosphere, the base of the ionosphere starting at 80 to 110 km altitude, and grains from dust storms as high as 7 km in the atmosphere. The data enabled creation of surface relief maps, and gave information on the Martian gravity and magnetic fields.

USSR Mars 2 descent module, photo courtesy of NASA

1980 14:18:00 GMT
USSR launched Soyuz T-3 with cosmonauts Leonid Kizim (Commander), Oleg Makarov (Flight Engineer), and Gennady Strekalov (Flight Engineer) to the Salyut 6 space station.

T Seki discovered asteroid #3182 Shimanto.

1989 16:30:18 PST (GMT -8:00:00)
NASA STS 33 (Discovery 9, 63rd US manned flight) landed at Edwards Air Force Base at the close of the fifth shuttle mission dedicated to the US Department of Defense.

STS 33 was launched 22 November 1989, the first night launch since the shuttle Challenger was destroyed during its launch, after the 20 November launch attempt was rescheduled to allow changeout of suspect integrated electronics assemblies on the twin solid rocket boosters. This was the fifth shuttle mission dedicated to the US Department of Defense.

The mission ended when Discovery landed on revolution 79 on Runway 4, Edwards Air Force Base, California, on 27 November 1989. Rollout distance: 7,764 feet. Rollout time: 46 seconds. Launch weight: classified. Landing weight: 194,282 pounds. Orbit altitude: 302 nautical miles. Orbit inclination: 28.45 degrees. Mission duration: five days, zero hours, six minutes, 48 seconds. Miles traveled: 2.1 million. Discovery was returned to KSC on 4 December 1989.

The STS 33 flight crew was: Frederick D. Gregory, Commander; John E. Blaha, Pilot; F. Story Musgrave, Mission Specialist; Manley L. Carter, Jr., Mission Specialist; Kathryn C. Thornton, Mission Specialist.

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