. 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."
. 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).
. 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.
. 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.
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.
. On this day in 1925 – May 29th – Irish astronomer Mary Brück, née Conway, was born in Ballivor, County Meath.
Mary Brück was a a senior lecturer at the University of Edinburgh, her astronomical research including investigations of stars, the interstellar medium and the Magellanic Clouds. However she is probably best remembered as a writer, with a particular interest in the history of science and women in astronomy.
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