Seventeenth century Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei discovers three of Jupiter’s moons: Io, Europa and Callisto. Six days later he discovered the Jovian moon Ganymede.
Japan’s Sakigake spacecraft launches from Kagoshima Space Center on a mission to research the interaction between Halley’s Comet and
solar wind. The probe discovered the comet affected solar wind as far away as 7 million kilometers.
The Soviet Union launches Luna 21 on a Proton rocket from the BaikonurCosmodrome
the Moon. Upon reaching lunar orbit, Luna 21
sent a lander equipped with the Soviet Union’s second lunar rover, the 840-kilogram Lunokhod 2
, which analyzed lunar soil samples until it stopped functioning in May of that year.
The People’s Republic of China launches the unmanned Shenzhou 2, its second unmanned Earth-orbiting capsule, on a Long March 2 from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. The capsule carried several animals to test its life support systems.
18th century German-born
�British astronomer William Herschel discovers Uranus’ moons Titania and Oberon.
The People’s Republic of China downs an aged weather satellite, Fengyun-1C, with a ground-based missile. In doing so, China joins Russia and the United States as the only nations to have successfully tested an anti-satellite weapon.
The Space Shuttle Columbia launches from Kennedy Space Center, Fla. The STS-61C flight carried an RCA Americom communications satellite. It also was the first spaceflight for a member of the House of Representatives, Rep. Bill Nelson (
D-Fla.), and for a U.S. Hispanic man, Franklin Chang-Diaz
NASA’s Deep Impact launches on a Delta 2 rocket from Kennedy Space Center, Fla. The spacecraft’s mothership propelled a probe into Comet Tempel 1 July 4, 2005. The Deep Impact team later reported observing water ice released from the comet as a results of the impact.
Ice, Cloud and land Elevation (ICE) Satellite launches on a Delta 2 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The primary mission for the Earth science satellite was to measure changes in the Earth’s polar ice sheets.