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On this day in 1054 – July 4th – Chinese astronomers observed the supernova explosion that created the Crab Nebula (Messier 1) in the constellation Taurus.

The supernova would have occurred some 6500 years before it was observed on Earth, since it's around 6500 light years away.


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On this day in 1868 – July 4th – American astronomer Henrietta Swan Leavitt was born in Lancaster, Massachusetts.

Her discovery of the relationship between the period and the luminosity of Cepheid variable stars made possible Edwin Hubble's work on galactic distances.


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On this day in 1997 – July 4th – NASA's Mars Pathfinder landed on Mars.

The robotic spacecraft consisted of a lander, renamed the Carl Sagan Memorial Station, and a wheeled robotic rover named Sojourner. It was the first successful Mars rover.


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On this day in 2005 – July 4th – NASA's Deep Impact probe collided with comet Tempel 1.

The Deep Impact mission was designed to study the interior composition of the comet Tempel 1 (9P/Tempel) by releasing an impactor into it.


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On this day in 1687 – July 5th – Edmond Halley published the Principia of Isaac Newton.

Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Latin for 'Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy') states Newton's laws of motion and of universal gravitation. It's regarded as one of the most important works in the history of science.


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On this day in 2016 – July 5th – NASA's Juno spacecraft went into polar orbit around Jupiter.

The Juno mission is exploring Jupiter, seeking to unlock secrets of the giant planet and our solar system.


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On this day in 2003 – July 7th – NASA's Mars rover Opportunity was launched on a three-month mission.

Opportunity was still at work on the red planet until the summer of 2018 when it was unable to recover after a massive planetwide dust storm.


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On this day in 2011 – July 8th – Atlantis was launched, the final space shuttle mission.

By the end of that mission, Atlantis, in its lifetime, had orbited the Earth a total of 4,848 times, traveling nearly 126,000,000 mi (203,000,000 km) – more than 525 times the distance from the Earth to the Moon.


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On this day in 1962 – July 10th – Telstar 1 was launched.

It was the beginning of a revolution in global communications.


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On this day in 1732 – July 11th – French astronomer Jérôme Lalande was born in Bourg-en-Bresse.

He held the chair of astronomy in the Collège de France in for nearly half a century and a number of his students became distinguished astronomers. As well as being an observer, Lalande also gave popular lectures and wrote about astronomy.


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