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Interesting Facts about Space II
Posted In: Space and Astrology  9/20/11
By: Yona Williams

The field of astronomy is filled with many interesting facts - from the deliberate destruction of NASA property to the ins and outs of artificial satellites. In this article, you will learn more about the many uses of satellite technology.

The Destruction of Galileo

The spacecraft Galileo was deliberately destroyed upon entering Jupiter's atmosphere so that the moon Europa was not compromised by bacteria from Earth. The spacecraft made its trip in 2003 to Jupiter. Other spacecraft associated with the study of Jupiter was Pioneer 10, which flew by in 1973 and New Horizons, which flew by in 2007.

Artificial Satellites

The first artificial satellite to enter Earth's orbit was Sputnik 1, which belonged to the USSR. Weighing 184 pounds, the satellite was a metal sphere that sent back signals to Earth. This continued for three weeks until its batteries went dead. The United States started to launch their own satellites in 1958. They sent five into orbit. All early satellites have since crashed back into our planet with the exception of Vanguard 1, which is still in space to this very day. It is most likely that the satellite will stay in space for another 200 years.

Over the past 50 years, a great deal more artificial satellites have been launched into space. Over the years, the satellites have increased capabilities. There are many different kinds of satellites – some of which are used beyond astronomy. Some of the most common include:

Satellites for the Military – The government uses satellites (often dubbed 'spies in the sky') as a way to conduct surveillance. The exact capabilities of such satellites are not fully understood by the public.
Satellites to Observe Earth – Satellites can transmit images of the weather and the environment of Earth to scientists. These spacecraft assist researchers in analyzing the depletion of the ozone layer.

Satellites for Travel – Global positioning system (better known as GPS) is becoming an increasingly important part of travel. This system is comprised of 24 linked satellites that allow people to pinpoint their exact position anywhere on Earth. The United States Department of Defense watches over the system and also uses it to guide their aircraft and ships. Today's cars are now being equipped with GPS as part of their standard features.

Satellites for Communication – There are more than 5,000 satellites that have been launched into space as a way to transmit telephone, radio, and television signals around the world. A little less than half of these satellites are still orbiting, and many of them have already stopped working.

Astronomy Satellites – Of course there are satellites that assist astronomers. The Hubble Space Telescope has been capturing images of far-away galaxies since 1990.


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