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On this day in 2001 - October 24th - NASA's Mars Odyssey was inserted into Martian orbit. It's the longest-surviving continually active spacecraft orbiting a planet other than Earth.

From orbit, it's looking for evidence of past or present water and ice, as well as studying the planet's geology and radiation environment. It also acts as a relay for the Curiosity rover.


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On this day in 2007 - October 24th - China launched Chang'e 1.

The unmanned lunar-orbiting spacecraft was part of the first phase of the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program - it was named after the Chinese Moon goddess.


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On this day in 1851 - October 24th - English astronomer William Lassell discovered two moons of Uranus, Umbriel and Ariel.


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On this day in 1998 - October 24th - NASA's Deep Space 1 spacecraft was launched.

It would go on to test advanced technologies and make a flyby of asteroid 9969 Braille and of comet 19P/Borrelly.


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On this day in 1946 - October 24th - the first photograph of Earth was taken from space.

It was captured from a rocket 105 km above the ground that had been launched from the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, USA.


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On this day in 1671 - October 25th - Jean Dominique Cassini discovered Iapetus, moon of Saturn.


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On this day in 1887 - October 25th - American astronomer Henry Norris Russell was born.

Russell was one of the major figures of early 20th century astronomy. He's best known for his development of the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram which demonstrates stellar evolution. (Danish astronomer Ejnar Hertzsprung independently made the same discovery.)


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On this day in 2006 - October 25th - NASA launched STEREO.

STEREO is a solar observation mission which uses two identical spacecraft in two slightly different orbits. That permits stereoscopic imaging of the Sun. The mission was originally planned to last for two years, but is still in operation.


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On this day in 1961 - October 27th - SA-1, the first Saturn space launch vehicle, was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

This was the first mission of the Apollo program - Saturn V space launch vehicles would one day take astronauts to the Moon.


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On this day in 1971 - October 28th - the United Kingdom became the sixth nation to launch a satellite.

The Prospero satellite, the only satellite launched by a British rocket, carried a series of experiments to investigate the effects of the space environment.


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