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On this day in 1931 - May 27th - Swiss physicist and explorer Auguste Piccard, with Paul Kipfer, became the first persons to travel into the stratosphere.

They reached a record altitude in a balloon with a pressurized aluminum gondola designed by Piccard. Piccard wanted to measure the activity of cosmic rays and investigate Einstein's theory of relativity.


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On this day in 1919 - May 29th - Einstein's General Theory of Relativity was tested during a total solar eclipse.

By comparing the apparent distance between stars in the constellation Taurus, with and without the Sun between them, British astrophysicist Arthur Eddington confirmed the theoretical predictions about gravitational lensing.

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On this day in 1794 - May 29th - German astronomer Johann Heinrich von Mädler was born.

Von Mädler, along with Wilhelm Beer, published Mappa Selenographica. It was the most complete map of the Moon at that time, and it remained unsurpassed for over forty years.

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On this day in 1963 - May 30th - English chemist, astronaut and science communicator, Helen Sharman, was born.

Chosen to train as a cosmonaut, Sharman was the first Briton in space and the first woman to visit the Mir space station.

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On this day in 1934 - May 30th - cosmonaut Alexi Leonov was born.

Among Leonov's many accomplishments, he was the first person to carry out a spacewalk.

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On this day in 1975 - May 30th - nine countries signed the convention to establish the European Space Agency (ESA).

The convention came into force on 30 October 1980 with the deposit of the last instrument of ratification.

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On this day in 1959 - May 30th - Claudia Joan Alexander was born.

Alexander, a geophysicist and planetary scientist, was the last project manager of NASA's Galileo mission to Jupiter and until her death was the project manager and scientist of NASA's role in the European Rosetta mission.

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On this day in 1858 - June 2nd - Giovanni Battista Donati first observed the comet that bears his name.

Comet Donati, formally designated C/1858 L1 and 1858 VI, was one of the most brilliant comets of the 19th century. It inspired artists and poets and was also the first comet to be photographed, though the photograph has apparently been lost.

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On this day in 1930 - June 2nd - Apollo astronaut Charles "Pete" Conrad Jr. was born.

Conrad was the commander of the Apollo 12 mission and the third person to walk on the Moon.

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On this day in 2003 - June 2nd - ESA launched Mars Express and Beagle 2.

Mars Express is still an operational orbiter. The British lander Beagle 2 was damaged as it landed on Mars and never became operational.

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