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On this day in 1836 - May 17th - English scientist and astronomer Norman Lockyer was born.

Lockyer and French scientist Pierre Janssen independently discovered the gas helium in the light spectrum of the Sun decades before any was found on Earth.





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On this day in 2009 - May 18th - the final spacewalk to service the Hubble Space Telescope took place.

Amongst other things the astronauts installed some new instruments, made repairs to two instruments, replaced old batteries, and added new gyroscopes.





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On this day in 1990 - May 20th - the Hubble Space Telescope sent back its first image, that of several stars, captured with its Wide Field/Planetary Camera.

Unfortunately, they then discovered there was a flaw in the main mirror which meant fuzzy images for three years until the first shuttle servicing mission. Interestingly, the images were still much better than the ones from ground-based telescopes of the time.



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On this day in 1991 - May 18th - Helen Sharman became the first Briton (and first European woman) in space.

She was launched with crew mates Anatoli Artsebarsky and Sergei Krikalev on a Soyuz spacecraft, orbiting Earth for two days before docking with the Mir space station where she performed a number of experiments.


Mona Evans
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On this day in 1990 - May 20th - the Hubble Space Telescope sent back its first image, that of several stars, captured with its Wide Field/Planetary Camera.

Unfortunately, they then discovered there was a flaw in the main mirror which meant fuzzy images for three years until the first shuttle servicing mission. Interestingly, the images were still much better than the ones from ground-based telescopes of the time.


Mona Evans
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On this day in 2010 - May 21st - the Japanese experimental aircraft IKAROS was launched.

IKAROS (Interplanetary Kite-craft Accelerated by Radiation Of the Sun) is the first spacecraft to successfully demonstrate solar sail technology in interplanetary space.


Mona Evans
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On this day in 2008 - May 25th - NASA's Phoenix lander landed on Mars.

Phoenix was expected to spend 90 Martian sols searching for environments suitable for microbial life. It carried out its mission for 157 Martian sols. (A sol is a Martian day - it's about 40 minutes longer than an Earth day).


Mona Evans
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On this day in 1961 - May 25th - President John F. Kennedy challenged the USA to "commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth."

Sadly, Kennedy didn't live to see it happen.


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On this day in 1983 - May 26th - ESA's X-ray observatory, Exosat, was launched.

Exosat was the first European Space Agency mission to study the Universe at X-ray wavelengths, and one of the first unmanned satellites to feature an onboard computer. The spacecraft was operational from May 1983 to April 1986.


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On this day in 1951 - May 26th - physicist, engineer, educator and astronaut Sally Ride was born.

Ride was the first American woman in space, her first flight almost twenty years to the day after cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space.


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