Voyager 2 at Neptune

NeptuneThe unmanned space probe Voyager 2, almost exactly 12 years after leaving Earth, visits its last planet in the solar system, Neptune. Since mission planners have no further targets for Voyager, they have a free hand in picking its final destinations. An extremely close trajectory over Neptune’s north pole, bringing Voyager 2 within 18,000 miles of the cloudtops of the solar system’s windiest planet, deflects Voyager downward behind Neptune for a close look at its large moon, Triton. Six new moons are discovered, and the “ring arcs” that astronomers have theorized for years turn out to be complete rings made of extremely dark material. After the surprisingly featureless face of Uranus, Neptune proves to be unexpectedly active, with a large dark storm dominating its atmosphere.

Uranus moons Hubble

UranusAstronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope discover two new moons of Uranus that eluded detection during Voyager 2’s 1986 flyby: Cupid and Mab. Both small, dark bodies that orbit closer to Uranus than any of the planet’s large satellites, Cupid and Mab raise the number of known Uranian satellites above 20. Mab’s orbit keeps it within the planet’s outermost ring, while Cupid’s orbit is only 500 miles further out than that of Belinda, one of the small moons discovered in 1986 by Voyager 2. Cupid is the tiniest of the inner moons of Uranus, roughly 11 miles in diameter.

Masters Of Science Fiction: The Discarded

Masters Of Science FictionThe fourth episode of ABC’s science fiction anthology series Masters Of Science Fiction, drawing on the genre’s literary greats and hosted by Professor Stephen Hawking, is broadcast. John Hurt (Alien, The Elephant Man, Doctor Who) and Brian Dennehy (First Blood, Cocoon) star in an adaptation of a Harlan Ellison short story. Alex Zahara (Jeremiah, Babylon 5: Legend Of The Rangers) and Ellison himself guest star; Jonathan Frakes (Star Trek: First Contact) directs.

This series is not yet chronicled in the LogBook. You could help change that.

Voyager 1 close to the edge of the solar system?

Voyager35 years after its departure from Earth, NASA’s Voyager 1 space probe registers major changes in its environment, including a large spike in radiation readings believed to indicate the presence of interstellar cosmic radiation. Some scientists claim that these changes in Voyager 1’s surroundings meet the expected criteria for space beyond the influence of Earth’s sun, making Voyager 1 the first man-made craft to reach interstellar space; others, including former Voyager project scientists, disagree with that assessment. Voyager 1 has no further planetary stops, and is expected to pass within two light years of the star Gliese 445 in 40,000 years.

Neil Armstrong, first man on the moon, dies

Neil ArmstrongAmerican astronaut – and the first human being to walk on the surface of the moon – Neil Armstrong dies at the age of 82. On July 20th, 1969, he took the “giant leap” onto another world that instantly made him perhaps the most famous citizen of the 20th century – moreso than the Beatles, more than Hitler or Churchill, more than any actor. That century will be defined by the exploration of the moon forever, and as many men walked on its surface, Armstrong’s will be the name that is forever associated with that exploration.