Tech History

February 12, 2001

Spacecraft Lands on an Asteroid

A spacecraft is depicted near the surface of an asteroid, which is partly shown in the lower right of the image.

 

1The Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous – Shoemaker (NEAR Shoemaker), renamed after its 1996 launch in honor of planetary scientist Eugene Shoemaker, was a robotic space probe designed by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory for NASA to study the near-Earth asteroid Eros from close orbit over a period of a year. The mission succeeded in closing in with the asteroid and orbited it several times, finally terminating by touching down on the asteroid on 12 February 2001.

 

Tech History

February 10, 1990

Spacecraft Flies by Venus

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The spacecraft Galileo flies by Venus on its way to Jupiter. Galileo used the flyby of Venus along with two flybys of Earth as a “gravitational slingshot” in order to reach Jupiter with the least amount of fuel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is gravitational slingshot ?

This is simple definition from Wikipedia:

In orbital mechanics and aerospace engineering, a gravitational slingshot, gravity assist maneuver, or swing-by is the use of the relative movement (e.g. orbit around the Sun) and gravity of a planet or other astronomical object to alter the path and speed of a spacecraft, typically in order to save propellant, time, and expense