Mariner 2 visits Venus

Mariner 2NASA’s unmanned Mariner 2 probe is the first unmanned spacecraft to successfully reach and take measuresments of another planet in the solar system. Passing by Venus at a distance of 25,000 miles, Mariner 2 detects a cool atmosphere with a blistering hot surface underneath it – quickly dispelling any hopes of finding life there. Mariner 2 isn’t equipped with any cameras, which is just as well: unless any cameras had ultraviolet filters, they would have seen nothing but featureless clouds at Venus. Mariner 2 continues on into a solar orbit, shutting down early in 1963.

RCA Studio II

Studio IILaunched just prior to Christmas 1976 (so late, in fact, that most consumers aren’t aware of its existence until early ’77), RCA takes its only step into the video game world with the underpowered Studio II console. With its black-and-white graphics and all-in-one design forcing both players to sit directly in front of the console, Studio II is behind the times from the moment it’s introduced, despite being the second cartridge-based programmable video game (or, as RCA labels it, “television programmer”) to hit the market. Studio II fails to make a significant dent in the sales of Fairchild’s Video Entertainment System – the dominant cartridge-based game of the day – and RCA retreats from the video game business in just 14 months.

More about Studio II in Phosphor Dot Fossils

Cosmos: Encyclopaedia Galactica

The 12th episode of Carl Sagan’s groundbreaking science documentary series Cosmos premieres on PBS. A popular history of science and scientific theory vs. tradition and superstition, segueing into Sagan’s field of expertise (astrophysics), Cosmos is a major milestone in American documentary filmmaking and the popularization of science and the scientific method (and makes an instant celebrity out of Sagan).


StarstruckThe long-awaited, long-delayed feature film adaptation Dune premieres, based on the best-selling SF novel by Frank Herbert. Starring Kyle McLachlan (Twin Peaks), Sean Young (Blade Runner), featuring Patrick Stewart (Star Trek: The Next Generation) and Sting (lead singer of The Police), and directed by David Lynch (The Elephant Man, Twin Peaks), the movie meets with very mixed reviews, compressing many of the book’s events into a narrative that viewers not already familiar with the book find confusing.

More about Dune in the LogBook

Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Hush

Buffy The Vampire SlayerThe 66th episode of Joss Whedon’s supernatural series Buffy The Vampire Slayer, starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, airs on the WB network. James Marsters, Anthony Stewart Head, and Alyson Hannigan also star. Doug Jones (The Shape Of Water, Star Trek: Discovery) guest stars.

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Chang’e 3: China’s lunar lander

Chang'e 3China successfully lands the unmanned lunar lander Chang’e 3 on the surface of the moon, only the third country on Earth to achieve a controlled lunar landing (and the first soft landing of a man-made space vehicle on the moon since the 1970s). With Chang’e 3 confirming that its solar panels have properly deployed, preparations are made to deploy its robotic lunar rover, Yutu, the first lunar rover since 1973, breaking a four-decade drought in exploring the surface of the moon.