30 Years ago on June 18, 1983, Sally Ride flew into space aboard the Challenger mission STS-7. She was the first American woman to travel to space. She paved the way for 44 more American women who have so far become astronauts, in addition to countless more in the future. This year in 2013, four out of the eight astronauts are women. Sally Ride passed away last July, but she remains an inspiration to women in science.
Hopefully you were able to see Mercury in the twilight sky over the weekend! Now see the first planet from the Sun up close… This awesome image was taken by the Messenger Spacecraft a few weeks ago. The border between the night and day sides of a planet is called its terminator. Look closely at the image… Notice in some of the craters there are central peaks. These happen when objects smash into the surface with exceptional force, this causes the land to deform downward then back upward again. (Imagine a droplet falling into a glass of water). Messenger is studying the topography of Mercury using lasers. Remember how Mercury wasn’t very bright in the sky? In this image you can see that Mercury’s surface is rough and somewhat dark, you can see that Mercury is not a very shiny planet.