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On this day in 2006 - August 17th - Voyager 1 was 100 AU from the Sun.

100 AU (astronomical units) is 100 times farther away from the Sun than Earth is, and twice as far away as Pluto is at the most distant part of its orbit.


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On this day in 1936 - August 17th - Margaret Hamilton was born.

Hamilton was the lead developer for the Apollo flight software, and her rigorous systems approach was essential to its success.


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On this day in 1877 - August 18th - American astronomer Asaph Hall discovered Phobos, a second moon of Mars.

Moons had long since been found for all the other planets beyond Earth, so Hall's discoveries were quite a sensation.


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On this day in 1868 - August 18th - during a total solar eclipse French astronomer Pierre Janssen observed an unknown line in the spectrum of the Sun, which turned out to be a new element, helium.

The same result was found independently by British astronomer Norman Lockyer, and both Janssen's and Lockyer's communications were presented to the French Academy of Sciences on October 26, 1868.


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On this day in 1646 - August 19th - English astronomer John Flamsteed was born.

Flamsteed was the first Astronomer Royal at the Royal Observatory Greenwich and his star atlas was the standard for a nearly a century.


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On this day in 1646 - August 19th - American astronomer Milton Humason was born.

Humason's careful measurement of the radial velocities of several hundred galaxies underpinned the work of Edwin Hubble.


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On this day in 1982 - August 19th - Soviet cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya became the second woman to go into space.

Her flight on the Soyuz T-7 was 19 years after that of the first woman in space Valentina Tereshkova.


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On this day in 1977 - August 20th - NASA's Voyager 2 was launched.

It visited all four of the Solar System's gas giants and is the only spacecraft to have visited either Uranus or Neptune. It's now over 120 AU from Earth, and still transmitting.



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On this day in 1975 - August 20th - NASA's Viking 1 was launched.

Viking 1 was the first of two spacecraft (along with Viking 2) sent to Mars as part of NASA's Viking program. A year after its launch it became the first spacecraft to land successfully on Mars and perform its mission.


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On this day in 1976 - August 22nd - The Soviet Luna 24 returned soil samples from the Moon.

These samples were different from the previous ones because they were collected from 2.5 meters below the surface.


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