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On this day in 2006 – August 17th – Voyager 1 was the first spacecraft to be 100 AU from the Earth.

The spacecraft went on to become the first craft to leave the heliosphere, the bubble that the solar wind makes in space.


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On this day in 1868 – August 18th –during a total solar eclipse, French astronomer Pierre Janssen observed an unknown line in the spectrum of the Sun, which turned out to be a new element, helium.

The same result was found independently by British astronomer Norman Lockyer, and both Janssen's and Lockyer's communications were presented to the French Academy of Sciences on October 26, 1868.


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On this day in 1877 – August 18th –American astronomer Asaph Hall discovered Phobos, a second moon of Mars.

Moons had long since been found for all the other planets beyond Earth, so Hall's discoveries were quite a sensation.


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On this day in 1646 – August 19th – English astronomer John Flamsteed was born in Denby, Derbyshire.

Flamsteed was the first Astronomer Royal at the Royal Observatory Greenwich, and his star atlas was the standard for a nearly a century.


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On this day in 1891 – August 19th – American astronomer Milton Humason was born in Dodge Center, Minnesota.

Humason's careful measurement of the radial velocities of several hundred galaxies underpinned the work of Edwin Hubble.


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On this day in 1982 – August 19th – Soviet cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya became the second woman to go into space.

Her flight on the Soyuz T-7 took place 19 years after that of the first woman in space, Valentina Tereshkova.


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On this day in 1975 – August 20th – NASA's Viking 1 was launched.

Viking 1 was the first of two spacecraft (along with Viking 2) sent to Mars as part of NASA's Viking program. A year after its launch it became the first spacecraft to land successfully on Mars and perform its mission.


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On this day in 1977 – August 20th – NASA's Voyager 2 was launched.

It visited all four of the Solar System's gas giants and is the only spacecraft to have visited either Uranus or Neptune. In November 2018 it crossed into interstellar space.


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On this day in 1976 – August 22nd – the Soviet Luna 24 mission returned soil samples from the Moon.

These samples were different from the previous sample return missions because they were collected from 2.5 meters below the surface.


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On this day in 1966 – August 23rd – NASA's Lunar Orbiter 1 took the first picture of the Earth ever taken from the Moon.

The spacecraft's primary mission was to photograph smooth areas of the lunar surface for selection and verification of safe landing sites for the Surveyor and Apollo missions.


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