TRAVELING INTO THE UNKNOWN
About Space Shuttles
The space shuttle is used to send astronauts and satellites into space. The shuttle takes off from Earth. (Normally after a count-down!) Because the gravity is so strong on Earth, the shuttle needs powerful rockets to take off. It will go around the earth a few times and then goes to its destination. It lands like an airplane. To make sure the shuttle lands right and functions well, space stations back on Earth will try to be in contact with it every moment. If it loses contact it is normally very hard to get back in contact. If this happens, the shuttle will probably develop a problem and then most likely burn or explode. But shuttles always help explore space so over all, space shuttles are an excellent way to get into space!
All About Satellites
In astronomy, a satellite is an object that orbits another object. For example, the moon would orbit the Earth and the Earth would orbit the sun. The definition of a Ďsatelliteí that is most familiar is the human-made satellite that is sent into space. Right? Well, even if itís not, we will be talking about that type of satellite. As we talked about earlier, a real satellite is one that orbits another object. So the ones we send into space wouldnít be considered real satellites. They are called artificial satellites. Why? People back on Earth have made them and programmed them to orbit. So as you can guess, these are called artificial satellites. But just because they are artificial doesnít mean they arenít important. People back on Earth send them on important missions into space. Some satellites create our communications technologies, such as satellite and cable TV, pagers, and computer communications. If you have ever seen a map of the weather conditions, it came from a satellite in outer space! Some of the satellites go to different planets and take pictures, do experiments, collect data or look for signs of life. Why are these tests important? Lets just say that someday you might just have a very foreign friend (aliens!).
Parts of Satellites
See our timeline to learn about Explorer I, the first U.S. satellite.
Did you know? On July 10, 1962, Telstar l is launched by NASA. Privately built for communications, it beamed the first telephone and television signals carried via satellite.
About Space Probes
A spacecraft that that is sent a very long distance is called a space probe. Some probes are launched into space to explore space. Others are programmed to land on planets to do experiments. The work they do is great help for people on Earth. The probe can take pictures and do experiments (like satellites) on planets that they are sent to. Space probes have been sent to every planet in our Solar System except Pluto. But donít lose hope! A mission to Pluto is being planned right now! Probes were first sent to the moon. Probes were first launched by the Soviet Union and United States in the late 1950ís and early 1960ís. We know what the planets and moons look like because of space probes, which makes them an important part of space travel!
Famous Space Probes
Mariner 9 orbits Mars in 1971
Mariner 11 travels through the asteroid belt to Jupiter and Saturn
Mariner 10 orbits Mercury in
Verana 9-12 travels to Venus for experiments in 1975 & 1978
Viking 1 & 2 travels to Mars looking for signs of life in 1976
Voyager 1 & 2 takes pictures of all the outer planets
Pioneer Venus 1 & 2 explores Venus
More about Mars probes
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