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This Week in Astronomy History: Feb. 1-7

1 Feb 2021, 20:48 UTC
This Week in Astronomy History: Feb. 1-7
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Photo: Clyde Tombaugh studies photographic plates through the Blink Comparator | Lowell Observatory Archives
Feb. 2, 1964: Ranger 6 crash-lands on the Moon
The Ranger 6 Robotic Spacecraft | NASA Headquarters – GReatest Images of NASA (NASA-HQ-GRIN) – Great Images in NASA Description
On February 2, 1964, the Ranger 6 probe was deliberately crash-landed on the surface of the Moon to obtain up-close, high-resolution photos of the lunar surface during the final minutes before impact. The probe made impact in the Sea of Tranquility, a lunar mare1 located in the Moon’s Tranquillitatis Basin. The probe carried 6 television cameras, each containing their own power supply and transmitter to ensure the highest probability of success. However, due to a failure in the probe’s camera system, no images could be returned to Earth.

1 A lunar mare (plural “maria”) is a large, dark, basaltic plain on Earth’s Moon, formed by volcanic activity. They were called maria (Latin for “seas”) by early astronomers who mistook them for bodies of water on the lunar surface.
Feb. 4, 1906: Clyde Tombaugh is born
Astronomer Clyde Tombaugh was born in Streator, Illinois on February 4, 1906. He is best known for his groundbreaking discovery of dwarf ...

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