Cometary Impact and Other Space History Items

Fifteen years ago today — July 18, 1994 — fragment G of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 comet hit the planet Jupiter. Pieces of the comet had started impacting the gas giant on July 16, and continued to bombard it until July 22.

(Hubble Space Telescope images of the Shoemaker-Levy “Fragment G” impact. The bottom image shows the plume about 5 minutes after impact on July 18, 1994, and the next shows the “fresh impact site” about 90 minutes later. The upper images show the evolution of the impact area over the next few days due to Jupiter’s winds. NASA image from

In other space history, which I didn’t post yesterday because it was a crazy busy day:

Eighty years ago yesterday — July 17, 1929 — Dr. Robert Goddard launched a liquid-fueled rocked in Auburn, Massachusetts. The vehicle carried a small camera, a thermometer, and a barometer, and actually generated publicity about a possible “moon rocket.”

It only took forty years before men were on their way to the moon on the same date. Pity that we haven’t made similar progress since.

And 25 years ago yesterday — July 17, 1984 — Soyuz T-12 launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome to carry Vladimir A. Dzhanibekov, Svetlana Y. Savitskaya, and Igor P. Volk to the Salyut 7 space station. A few days later, Savitskaya would become the first woman to conduct a spacewalk.

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Keep Watching the Skies

This weekend’s meteor shower is supposed to be a good one, with its peak in the early hours of Monday morning. The earth will be passing through one of the denser portions of the trail of debris left along the orbit of Halley’s Comet.

[:rolleyes:] Of course, some of those comet pieces probably have water in them, which will contribute to rising sea levels … I guess we have to take the good with the bad … [cough, cough].

Anyway, hopefully it will be a good show. More details are in this New Scientist story.

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