Pioneer 10’s Closest Approach to Jupiter

On this day in 1973 the Pioneer 10 spacecraft made its closest approach to Jupiter, sending back photos of the planet of increasing size. These were the first direct observations and close up images of Jupiter we had yet obtained. In its closest encounter the spacecraft came within 81,000 miles of Jupiter’s atmosphere. The measurements Pioneer 10 took of the intense radiation surrounding Jupiter were critical in the designs of later spacecraft for the Voyager and Galileo missions. http://www.nasa.gov/content/forty-years-ago-pioneer-10-closest-approach-to-jupiter

Pioneer 10 Jupiter

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Darwin’s Relentless Urge to Collect

“One day, on tearing off some old bark, I saw two rare beetles, and seized one in each hand. Then I saw a third and new kind, which I could not bear to lose, so I popped the one which I held in my right hand into my mouth. Alas! It ejected some intensely acrid fluid, which burnt my tongue so that I was forced to spit the beetle out, which was lost, as was the third one.”
Darwin wouldn’t let anything stop him from collecting!
This awesome illustration is by Boris Kulikov –> http://boris-kulikov.blogspot.com/
Darwin Beetles
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Carl Sagan on the Hole in the Ozone Layer

The hole in the ozone layer is a kind of skywriting. At first it seemed to spell out our continuing complacency before a witch’s brew of deadly perils. But perhaps it really tells of a newfound talent to work together to protect the global environment.
– Carl Sagan

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The Death of the Last Tasmanian Tiger

On this day in 1936 the last captive Tasmanian Tiger, also known as the Thylacine, died in an Australian zoo. The species was the largest carnivorous marsupial of modern times. Both sexes had pouches, which is rare for marsupials. Though they were formidable apex predators, Thylacines were shy and nocturnal. Although officially classified as extinct, some still claim that they have sighted individuals in the wild and there has been an ongoing project to clone a Thylacine using DNA from museum specimens.

Tasmanian Tiger
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Viking 2 Spacecraft Lander – On This Day in 1976

On this day in 1976 the Viking 2 spacecraft lander touched down on Mars and began sending back photos of the red planet to earth. The lander operated on the surface for 1316 days testing soil and searching for life. The orbiter returned almost 16,000 images to earth before it broke down.

Learn more about the Viking missions here –> http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/viking

Viking 2 Mars Landscape

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A Pioneer 10 Anniversary

On this day 33 years ago the Pioneer 10 spacecraft became the first man-made object to pass beyond Pluto’s orbit and out of our solar system. The craft sent back the first close up photos and direct observations of Jupiter. The last faint signal from Pioneer 10 was received in 2003, but it continues to travel further into space. It is headed toward the star Aldebaran in the constellation Taurus, and should reach it in about 2 million years.

Pioneer 10 Art
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Five Awesome Images from Galileo’s Works

Galileo improved upon the rudimentary telescopes of his day, creating instruments which allowed him to see the objects of outer space with greater clarity than anyone before him. He made careful observations and drew meticulous sketches to document what he saw. Despite the fact that he was labeled a heretic for believing that his observations show the earth is not the center of the universe, and despite the fact that his works were not fully released from the Catholic Church’s ban until 1835, his amazing words and illustrations survived. Here are a few examples of his accomplishments…

Observations of the Moon

Galileo Moon Sketches

In Galileo’s time it was believed that the heavenly bodies were all perfectly created spheres, that could not have their own orbiting moons, or any mountains, craters, or other features that would mar their perfection. When Galileo looked at the moon through his telescope he was able to see that the moon clearly has many mountains and craters and was definitely not a perfectly smooth sphere. He made detailed sketches of what he saw, part of the evidence that led him to believe that the other planets are not perfect spheres orbiting the earth as others believed in his day.

Sketches of the Phases of Venus

Galileo Phases of Venus

Galileo observed that the planet Venus goes through phases over time, just like the moon. This would only happen if the planets orbited the sun, and not the earth. These observations provided strong evidence that the geocentric model of the solar system was not correct. Despite this and other evidence, Galileo’s belief in the heliocentric model still ended up being labeled as heretical.

Sketches of Sun Spots

Galileo Sun Spots

Galileo created meticulous drawings of the movement of sunspots over time, showing how they traveled across the face of the sun and would seem to appear and disappear. Others had argued that sunspots were simply the planet Mercury crossing in front of the sun, or bodies orbiting the sun. Galileo argued that sunspots were more like clouds on the surface of the sun, something which contradicted the prevailing view of the perfect and unchanging heavenly bodies.

Observations of the Moons of Jupiter

Galileo Jupiter Moons

When Galileo looked at Jupiter through his telescope, he observed small points of light around it that he first thought were stars. He noticed however, that the lights appeared at different positions through time. Galileo created simple sketches representing Jupiter with a circle, and the lights as asterisks. He showed that the lights must be moons orbiting Jupiter, something that many were unwilling to believe, because it was thought that only the earth could have orbiting bodies.

Sketches of the Pleiades Constellation

Galileo Pleiades

Galileo studied the stars and the Milky Way and the constellations that were known in his time. He found that there were many more stars visible with a telescope than could be seen with the naked eye. Galileo was seeing stars that no one had seen before, and he recorded his observations with beautiful sketches.

Galileo’s works would eventually help to change our views on the nature of the universe and our place within it. Thankfully, despite the censorship imposed on his ideas, his works are still here for us to enjoy and learn from today.

Check out this t-shirt design we created featuring a quote from Galileo! Available here!

Galileo Authority Science Design

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Science Quote – Theodore Roszak on Nature’s Loveliest Poems

Theodore Roszak Quote
*created using a public domain photo of the Carina Nebula taken by NASA’s Hubble telescope, and this photo of moth wing scales by Wiki user Peter Znamenskiy, which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
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Check out our Pinterest for Awesome Science Pics!

On our Pinterest page you’ll find lots of awesome pics related to biology, chemistry, astronomy, geology, science tattoos, cool science products, awesome scientists, and more! We’ll be pinning regularly, so be sure to follow us!

Here are a few examples of our boards:

 

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