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MESSENGER Snaps Earth-Moon Image in Approach to First Flyby

Emily Lakdawalla • June 02, 2005

As MESSENGER began its approach for its August 2 flyby of Earth, its cameras have snapped their first images. The images clearly show a cloudy Earth—and, to scientists' surprise, the Moon as well.

Launching Cosmos 1 on a Soviet ICBM

Louis D. Friedman • May 25, 2005

The biggest reason that NASA—as well as other western space agencies—has not attempted a solar sail flight is that the cost of launching even a small spacecraft is so high that they are unwilling to carry out a mission with very modest goals.

Martian Orbiter Takes Pictures of Neighboring Crafts Passing By

Amir Alexander • May 19, 2005

During April 2005, the Mars Global Surveyor happened to pass relatively close to Odyssey and Mars Express. What resulted were remarkably clear pictures of human-made spacecraft orbiting and alien world.

New Mosaics of Huygens' Titan Images

Emily Lakdawalla • May 05, 2005

Although the two spacecraft traveled a billion kilometers together to study Titan, Cassini and Huygens are two very different types of missions.

Astronomers Revise Torino Scale Asteroid Advisory System

A.J.S. Rayl • April 20, 2005

Astronomers have revised the Torino scale, the color-coded advisory system to assess the threat of asteroids and other near-Earth objects (NEOs) to make it easier for the public to understand.

Pluto: The Discovery of a Planet

Amir Alexander • February 18, 2005

To mark the 75th anniversary of the discovery of the planet Pluto, The Planetary Society presents to its readers the remarkable story of the discovery.

The Discovery of a Planet, Part 6: From Pluto to Sedna

Amir Alexander • February 17, 2005

74 years after Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto as a faint dot on a pair of photographic plates, a modern group of astronomers made another remarkable discovery. On March 15, 2004, Michael Brown of Caltech, Chad Trujillo of the Gemini Observatory, and David Rabinowitz of Yale announced the discovery of Sedna – the furthest object ever detected in the Solar System.

The Discovery of a Planet, Part 5: The Aftermath

Amir Alexander • February 16, 2005

The discovery of Planet X was announced to the world on March 13, 1930, which marked the anniversary of William Herschel’s discovery of Uranus in 1781 as well as Percival Lowell’s birthday. The observatory’s communiqué emphasized that the discovery was no coincidence, but the vindication of Lowell’s predictions made years before.

The Discovery of a Planet, Part 4: Clyde's Search

Amir Alexander • February 15, 2005

Since his teenage years Clyde Tombaugh had been an avid amateur astronomer and a gifted telescope builder. Based on instructions contained in an article from a boy’s Sunday school paper, he built a series of telescopes of increasing power and quality on the family farm.

The Discovery of a Planet, Part 3: Planet X

Amir Alexander • February 14, 2005

The discovery of Neptune accounted for nearly all the unexplained motions of the outer planets of the Solar System. Nevertheless, several astronomers insisted that some unexplained residual motions remained, pointing to the presence of a ninth planet beyond the orbit of Neptune.

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