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The Space Portal

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Hubble ultra deep field.jpg

Space (or outer space) describes the vast empty regions between and around planets and stars. The study of these, and other, astronomical objects is called astronomy, one of the oldest sciences. It is often said that space exploration began with the launch of Sputnik 1, the first man-made object to orbit the Earth. Then, in an almost unbelievable feat of human achievement, in 1969 Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin travelled to the Moon and set foot on the surface during the Apollo 11 mission. Recently, it has become clear that the possibility of space colonization may no longer be exclusively reserved for science-fiction stories, and many controversial issues surrounding space have come to light, including commercial spaceflight, space laws and space weapons.

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Image of Space Shuttle Challenger's smoke plume

The Space Shuttle Challenger disaster was a space disaster that occurred at 11:39 a.m. EST on January 28, 1986, when the NASA Space Shuttle Challenger disintegrated 73 seconds into its flight after an O-ring seal in its right solid rocket booster (SRB) failed. The seal failure caused a flame leak from the solid rocket booster that impinged upon the adjacent external propellant tank. Within seconds, the flame caused structural failure of the external tank, and the orbiter broke up abruptly due to aerodynamic forces. The shuttle was destroyed and all seven crew members were killed. The disaster resulted in a 32-month hiatus in the shuttle program and the formation of the Rogers Commission, a special commission appointed by President Ronald Reagan to investigate the accident. The Rogers Commission found that NASA's organizational culture and decision-making processes had been a key contributing factor to the accident. The Challenger disaster has been used as a case study in many discussions of engineering safety and workplace ethics.

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Credit: The Apollo 17 crew

"The Blue Marble" is a famous photograph of Earth. NASA officially credits the image to the entire Apollo 17 crew — Eugene Cernan, Ronald Evans and Jack Schmitt — all of whom took photographic images during the mission. Apollo 17 passed over Africa during daylight hours and Antarctica is also illuminated. The photograph was taken approximately five hours after the spacecraft's launch, while en route to the Moon. Apollo 17, notably, was the last manned lunar mission; no humans since have been at a range where taking a "whole-Earth" photograph such as "The Blue Marble" would be possible.

Astronomical events

3 January Pluto at conjunction
4 January, 06:36 Earth at perihelion
4 January, 04:53 Full moon
9 January Comet Lovejoy at brightest
9 January, 18:11 Moon at apogee
11 January, 07:39 Mars southern solstice
14 January, 20:30 Mercury at greatest eastern elongation
20 January, 13:14 New moon
21 January, 20:00 Moon at perigee
25 January, 11:52 Moon occults Uranus
30 January, 13:48 Mercury at inferior conjunction

Space-related portals

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