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Lesson 6.1 - Exploring the Solar System
Transcript of Lesson 6.1 - Exploring the Solar System
In our attempts to learn more about the Solar System in which we live, scientists have launched numerous missions into space to explore, orbit, fly-by and even crash into our many planetary neighbours
In this lesson, we will look at some of the more notable missions from history
1956 - Sputnik 1
Sputnik was the first satellite that was launched into orbit around the Earth.
It completed about 1400 low atmosphere orbits of the Earth over about 3 months before burning up in the atmosphere as it left orbit.
The successful launch of Sputnik 1 is considered the beginning of the 'Space Race'.
Before we began to explore our Solar System, we had to start by exploring our own little blue world
1957 - Sputnik 2
Later that year, The Soviet Union launched a second satellite named Sputnik 2. On board Sputnik 2 was the first animal in orbit around the Earth, a small dog named Laika.
1959 - 1969 - The Moon
Having successfully demonstrated the humans could survive in space, the Soviet Union and USA began some more ambitious projects. Largely, this decade of space exploration saw the race to the moon take place. Whilst the Soviet Union, reluctant to endanger human lives, launched numerous Luna missions to crash into the moon's surface and return samples to Earth, the NASA Lunar Surveyor and Apollo missions were more ambitious and successfully 'won' the space race for the USA when Apollo 11 successfully landed on the Moon in 1969 and the safely returned
its crew with some samples to Earth
1961 - Vostok 1
Vostok 1 was the first manned mission into space. On board this tiny orbiter was Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. Yuri and his spacecraft Vostok 1 completed 1 orbit of the Earth over a period of about 108 minutes before returning to Earth safely.
But while the Moon did occupy the main focus, we did visit some other worlds...
Known as our sister planet, this cloud covered world had astronomers curious. Was this world a Dagobah style swampy world or was it an immense desert world constantly covered by cloud?
1962 - Mariner 2
Mariner 2 was a NASA spacecraft that successfully managed to 'fly-by' Venus. It measured the temperature of Venus' atmosphere and collected data on the magnetic field around the planet. It was the first object to successfully interact with another planetary body besides the Earth-Moon system.
1965 - Venera 3
In 1963, the Soviet Union was successful in getting Venera 3 to 'land' on another planetary object. When we say land, really, Venera 3 actually crashed into the surface of Venus but sent back no data as communications were lost before it even entered the atmosphere.
1970 - Venera 7
The Soviet Union continued it's Venera program and continued to bombard Venus to learn more about this cloud covered planet. Venera 7 was the first object to successfully land on the planet and transmit data back to Earth. While it did not transmit much data, it did manage to send back data telling us the the temperature on Venus was a whopping 475 degrees Celcius.
1975 - Venera 9
With each successive probe, the USSR was getting better at surviving in the Venusian atmosphere. Venera 9 survived long enough to be able to send back photos of the surface... what they saw though suggested Venus wasn't a great holiday destination.
The Venera Missions continued up until 1983, with the USSR sending more orbiters and landers and learning more about our sister planet. Venus was so inhospitable though, with high winds, high temperatures and high pressures, astronomers began looking for more people friendly places to visit.
It wasn't until 1973 that we first visited the closest planet to our Sun, Mercury.
1973 - Mariner 10
Mariner 10 visited Mercury after having first flown past Venus. It made numerous fly-by's of the planet and gave us our first detailed images of Mercury's surface.
In 1975 the satellite ran out of fuel and was turned off by Scientists on Earth. Mariner 10 is thought to still be out there orbiting the Sun
2004 - Messenger
While Mariner 10 gave us a good picture of what Mercury was like, it didn't give us a complete picture (some parts were literally missing). So NASA sent Messenger in 2004. Messenger entered into orbit around Mercury in 2011. It was crashed into Mercury in September 2015.
While the USSR were still bombarding Venus with Venera Probes, NASA had moved on to Mars. in 1971, Mariner 9 became the first satellite to orbit the red planet.
1971 - Mariner 9
1996 - Mars Pathfinder
The Mars Pathfinder mission was a low cost mission that successfully landed a fully functional rover onto Mars' surface via a large air bag lander. It led the way for other Mars rovers such as Spirit and Opportunity.
2012 - Curiosity
Curiosity was one of the most ambitious missions undertaken by NASA. It involved landing a Jeep sized rover on Mars. It has been a massive success, returning some amazing results including, most recently, evidence that Mars was once capable of supporting life as we know it. Curiosity has exceeded it's two year mission and is still going strong.
1972 - Pioneer 10
Pioneer 10 was the first mission to successfully visit the largest planet in our Solar System, Jupiter. It took over 500 images of Jupiter and it's moons, was the first object to traverse the asteroid belt and after visiting Jupiter, it continued on outwards. It made it a distance of 12 Billion km (80 AU) before we lost contact with it.
1989 - Galileo
The Galileo Mission to Jupiter and its moons provided us with detailed information about the Galilean Moons and the composition of Jupiter's atmosphere. It did this by jettisoning a probe upon arrival at Jupiter into the atmosphere.
Upon termination of the mission, Galileo was sent on a crash course with Jupiter and burned up as it entered the Gas Giant's atmosphere.
1977 - Voyager 1 and 2
The Voyager missions made use of a rare alignment of the gas giants to slingshot past them and provide us with amazing photographs of these giants and their moons.
Whilst Voyager 2 was launched first and visited all 4 gas giants, Voyager 1 travelled much faster and is currently the furthest man made object to ever travel from Earth.
We still can recieve information from these 2 probes which are currently at, what we believe is, the very edge of our Solar System.
1997 - Cassini-Huygens
in 1997 the Cassini-Huygens probe was launched to explore Saturn and it's moons in great detail. It is still in orbit around Saturn and transmitting data back to Earth.
As part of the Mission, Cassini-Huygens released a probe that descended into the atmosphere of Saturn's largest moon, Titan.
The Huygen's probe parachuted into Titan's atmosphere and took photos of methane lakes and rivers on the moons surface. It then landed on the surface and transmitted back the image shown here
2015 - New Horizons
In 2015 the New Horizons Mission is arrived at Pluto giving us our first clear photos of this 'dwarf planet' and it's moons. The New Horizons Probe gave us amazing images of what turned out to be a very interesting world.
It is now en-route to a Kuiper Belt Object known as 2014MU69. It should arrive here in 2019.
*Interestingly enough, when New Horizons was launched, Pluto was still considered the 9th planet in the Solar System.
So where to next?
Well that's up to you.
We would like you to continue working on your mission proposal to visit something in our Solar System.
Who knows, one day your mission might be added to this Prezi too!
2016 - Juno
Juno successfully entered into orbit around Jupiter
in July of 2016. Juno's primary mission is to map
Jupiter's gravitational and magnetic fields to
determine if if Jupiter has a solid core.
It has 3 massive solar panels
which is rare for an outer solar
It will enter a polar orbit around
Jupiter in October of 2016 and
will complete 37 orbits of Jupiter
before crashing into the planet.
Ceres & Vesta
2011/2015 - Dawn
The Dawn Spacecraft is currently in orbit
around the largest object in the Asteroid Belt,
Ceres. It arrived here in 2015.
Prior to that it visited the second largest object in the asteroid belt;
Vesta. It is the first space probe to use ion-propulsion to get around.
It is expected to remain a permanent satellite of Ceres now despite having just enough fuel to perhaps visit another asteroid.
2014 - Rosetta
Rosetta is the first (and only) probe to have
visited a comet. It is still in orbit around Comet 67P and will continue to send back information as the comet comes closer to the Sun giving us valuable data about how comets transform as they get closer.
2014 - Philae Lander
When Rosetta arrived around Comet 67P it also deployed a lander known as Philae. This probe successfully landed on the comet but, unfortunately, landed in an awkward position and could no longer get enough sunlight to provide power to the probe. It's batteries ran out after 2 days.