Facts About Space Exploration

Mimas - one of Saturn's moons - bearing an uncanny resemblance to the Death Star from Star Wars!
Mimas – one of Saturn’s moons – bearing an uncanny resemblance to the Death Star from Star Wars!
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Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech.

Since the dawn of time mankind has been fascinated with the exploration of the sky and in more recent years the discovery of our place in the universe has led to an increased interest in space exploration. By attempting to learn more about space and what lies in space we can go some way towards discovering more about ourselves and whether there is more life out in space other than just the life found on Earth.

If we are able to find other habitable planets or celestial bodies in space there is potential in the future of our race colonising new worlds. This wouldn’t be possible now because the technology doesn’t exist for us to travel in space the distances required to get to possible new worlds, but based on the speed of technological advancements that have been made to further our study of space in recent years, there is a possibility that sometime in the future humans will be able to travel interstellar distances. As it is, we have studied our solar system to the greatest degree and although mankind have set foot on the Moon we have not yet visited neighbouring planets such as Mars other than via unmanned space probes sent to study the surface.



Found out more facts about our exploration of space.

Our first method to discover space was through the formation of astronomy. By developing every more sophisticated forms of telescopes and viewing equipment we have been able to view deep into space from the surface of the Earth and later from satellites and probes that not only orbit the Earth, but travel deep into space recording detailed studies of the surroundings.

The most exciting area of space exploration is human exploration of space. Unfortunately it is the area that we have least experience and it is by far the most challenging.

The last manned mission to the Moon was around 40 years ago.

The first life form from the Earth in space was a dog called Laika that was launched into space by the Russian Sputnik 2 spacecraft in 1957. Several other dogs have been launched into space around the late 1950’s and early 1960’s as well as monkeys, rats, goldfish and frogs among other things.

The first man in space was Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin in 1961.

The first flyby of Venus was successfully made in 1962 by the Mariner 2 spacecraft. There have been more lander missions sent to Venus than any other planet.

The first man to walk in space was Russian Alexei Leonov who left his Voskhod 2 craft for a 12 minute space walk in 1965.

The first successful manned landing on the Moon was in 1969 by the US spacecraft Apollo 11. Neil Armstrong stepped onto the surface of the Moon first and said the famous words “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”, he was closely followed by his astronaut partner Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr.

The first probes to land on Mars were the Soviet Union’s Mars 2 and Mars 3 in 1971. Neither were successful missions as the first probe crash landed and the second stopped working seconds after landing. The first successful landings on Mars were made by the American Viking 1 and Viking 2 in 1976.

Uranus has only been visited by one craft, Voyager 2 in 1986. The same craft did a flyby of Neptune in 1989.

One of the most important tools for studying space is called the Hubble Space Telescope which was launched in 1990.

Mercury is the least explored of the inner planets in our solar system. Only the Mariner 10 and Messenger missions have made close examinations of the planet.

Saturn was first viewed by on a flyby mission by the Cassini spacecraft in 2004.

The only spacecraft to have orbited Jupiter is the Galileo craft which did so in 2005.

Pluto (once considered our ninth planet) has never been visited by a spacecraft although it is hoped that the New Horizons craft will reach the dwarf planet in 2015.

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