Out of This World Party

We can go anywhere we like! NASA gave us a passport to explore space!

This cocktail is out of this world! It’s a Samarian Sunset!

The best time to visit Mercury is in March. In March 1975, NASA’s Mariner 10 made its third and final flyby of Mercury. Then in March 2011, NASA’s Messenger became the first spacecraft to orbit Mercury. Next up is ESA’s BepiColombo, undergoing testing now, set to launch for Mercury in 2018.

Mars just isn’t the quiet neighbourhood it used to be. There are currently six orbiters (NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Mars Odyssey, MAVEN, ESA’s Mars Express and ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, and India’s Mars Orbiter Mission) and two rovers (NASA’s Curiosity and Opportunity) exploring Mars. It is second only to Earth in the number of robotic spacecraft studying its secrets.

Galileo Galilei and Simon Marius apparently discovered Jupiter’s four largest moons, or satellites, around the same time in 1610. Galileo initially named his discovery the Cosmica Sidera (Cosimo’s stars), but the names that eventually prevailed were chosen by Simon Marius (suggested to him by Johannes Kepler) — Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. These are the names we use today.

Saturn was the most distant of the five planets known to the ancients. In 1610, Galileo Galilei was the first to gaze at Saturn through a telescope. He thought there were other objects attached to the planet. It was Christiaan Huygens in 1659, using a more powerful telescope than Galileo’s, who proposed that Saturn was surrounded by a thin, flat ring. In 1675, Jean-Dominique Cassini discovered a “division” between what are now called the A and B rings. We now know that the gravitational influence of Saturn’s moon Mimas is responsible for the Cassini Division, which is 4,800 kilometres wide.

Uranus was discovered on March 13, 1781 by William Herschel. The English astronomer wanted to name his discovery — the first planet discovered in recorded history — Georgium Sidus after England’s King George III. But he was overruled, and astronomers stuck with traditional mythological names — creating an opportunity for 236 years of student jokes at the expense of the ice giant planet’s name. Hee, hee!

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